Finding Khen Rinpoche's Rebirth
Posted on Mon, Sep 20, 2010 at 8:45 PM by Geshe Lothar
Dear students of Sera Mey Khensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche:
The following is a brief description of the manner in which the reincarnation of our precious teacher, Khensur Rinpoche, was discovered.
About three years after the passing of holy Khensur Rinpoche, when I was visiting the United States, many of his students approached me with questions about how to go about finding his reincarnation. At that time, there was also some speculation that several young children in the United States might be his reincarnation. I explained what I knew about reincarnations, including past accounts of the discovery of different Lamas and some of the general instructions that are known about the process. Nevertheless, a number of individuals continued to express a variety of personal views.
Although I had planned to begin searching for a reincarnation several years after Rinpoche’s passing, these inquiries created a greater sense of urgency. In addition, on a number of occasions during his lifetime, Khensur Rinpoche expressed to me some of his personal views and advice. In particular, he said that in his next life he wanted to return to Sera Mey College and pursue Dharma studies there. Urged further by these recollections, I took it as my responsibility to see that this wish might be fulfilled.
After hearing the thoughts of Khensur Rinpoche’s students, I realized that the effort to find his unmistaken reincarnation is not something that could be undertaken by ordinary persons like me. So I decided to accept this important task but to seek the advice and guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in order to avoid even the slightest hint of controversy.
Carrying letters of support from the Mahayana Sutra and Tantra Centers of New Jersey and Washington, D.C, as well as the Rashi Gempil Ling Temple of Howell, NJ, I was able to meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on November 9, 2007. At that time, I made the first request that he assist us in searching for the unmistaken reincarnation of Khensur Rinpoche in India, Tibet, or any other country where he might have been reborn. After receiving assurances from His Holiness that he would continue to give his attention to this matter until it reached a successful outcome, I received a response in the form of a somewhat brief statement on February 25, 2008 that said: “Having made an investigation, an auspicious sign has appeared that points to the Mundgod Tibetan Resettlement Area in south India. Therefore, you are advised to make a search there for a child exhibiting special signs.” Based on this statement, I collected three separate lists of young boys that had been born to parents with ties to the Mundgod camp.
The first list included the names of sixty children who had been born in Mundgod during the years 2006 and 2007, and it was submitted to His Holiness on February 24, 2009. On April 19 of the same year, I received the following response: “Having made an examination of the list that was received of candidates for possible recognition as the reincarnation of Khensur Lobsang Tharchin, none of the names exhibited an auspicious sign. Therefore, you are advised to return to Mundgod and search there again.”
Following the advice expressed in this statement, I returned to Mundgod and was able to locate the names of fifty additional children who had been born between 2006 and 2008. I submitted this second list to His Holiness and received a response dated Otober 29, 2009 which stated that another examination had been made of this second group of children, but that again no auspicious signs had appeared in connection with any of the names. However, the message added that the divinations had revealed that the reincarnation might have been reborn in a family that had a connection with the Mundgod camp but one that was currently living somewhere else, and that this possibility should be pursued.
Following the guidance expressed in this response, we performed rituals at the Sera Mey Ari Khensur Labrang to aid us in our efforts to find Khensur Rinpoche’s reincarnation. After that, I returned to Mundgod and requested a private meeting with the leaders of the settlement camp. They suggested that, based on the guidance received from His Holiness, we should consider having further divinations performed to identify more clearly where in the Mundgod Resettlement Area Khensur Rinpoche’s reincarnation might be found. So we consulted separately with a highly regarded diviner, an astrologer, and a clairvoyant Tibetan woman, all of whom said that Camp One was the most auspicious place to continue our search.
At the strong urging of the leaders of the Mundgod area and the leader of Camp One in particular, a third effort was made to locate possible candidates. Later, after Khensur Rinpoche’s reincarnation was identified as the boy Tenzin Namdrol, we were told that because the parents were not residing at Mundgod and only the elderly grandmother and two other family members were living in the home, they hadn’t thought to submit their child’s name when the earlier inquiries had been made. Also, although a neighbor had been present at the initial meetings, he had not informed the family about the search for Khensur Rinpoche’s reincarnation. Later, just after Tenzin Namdrol’s second birthday, a photo of the young boy was sent to the grandmother. When she remarked that she thought the boy looked like a Lama, the neighbor who had just returned from the most recent meeting said, “In the meeting today, it was announced that a search is being made for a Lama’s reincarnation. We should submit the name of this boy as a candidate.” So the grandmother decided to contact the parents in New Delhi. She placed a telephone call right away and spoke with the mother, who at first was reluctant to submit the boy’s name, because the boy was her only son. Later when the father was asked, he said that if there was a written indication from His Holiness to search for the reincarnation in Mundgod, the boy’s name should be included. So the main leader of the Resettlement Area was told about this boy and his name was added to the list.
In all, the names of 118 children born between 2005 and 2008, either at Mundgod or to parents who had a connection with the Mundgod Resettlement Area, were collected and submitted in three different lists. As a result, on May 8, 2010, after His Holiness the Dalai Lama had performed divinations and made investigations with his transcendent awareness, the following message was received: “In response to a request to perform a divination that was received from the faithful one, Geshe Lobsang Thardö, the result of the examination is that the boy Tenzin Namdrol, born to the father Lobsang Puntsok and the mother Tenzin Chönyi of Camp One [at the Mundgod Resettlement Area], should be recognized as the reincarnation of the former [Sera Mey Khensur Lobsang Tharchin].”
Immediately after receiving this message, I went to House 43 at Camp One in Mundgod to try and find the boy and meet with his parents. A neighbor told me that the father was in New Delhi where the family was now living, and the mother and the young boy were travelling in Europe. So I wasn’t able to make contact with the family right away. Eventually, a former Tibetan official named Kushab Takhla Sitar, who has helped us at Ari Khensur Labrang a number of times before, was able to reach Tenzin Namdrol’s father by telephone. At first, the father indicated that because the boy was his and his wife’s only son, they were reluctant to give him up. However, when he asked what Lama had been reborn as their son, he was told that His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s seal was on a document that identified the boy as the reincarnation of Sera Mey Khensur Lobsang Tharchin. He was also told that decades earlier this Lama he had been known as the Simla Chö-ge Rinpoche (“the Precious Dharma Teacher from Simla School”). When the father heard this, he immediately replied without hesitation, “Tell the monks from Ari Khensur Labrang to send me a letter, along with His Holiness’ official document. After that, we can arrange a meeting at Mundgod.”
Following this, the date of July 2, 2010 was set for a meeting, at which I and several monks from Ari Khensur Labrang planned to offer a set of monk’s robes to the young boy. We confirmed to the parents that we would be coming, and this was, in fact, the first time that we met Khensur Rinpoche’s reincarnation. We learned that the father had been a student of Khensur Rinpoche when he taught at the Simla Tibetan Refugee School, and that before Khensur Rinpoche had gone to America, he had stayed four days at his family’s home. Also, the mother had originally lived at the Bylakuppe Tibetan Resettlement Area, and only later moved to Mundgod. All of these circumstances pointed to the accuracy of the identification of Tenzin Namdrol as Khensur Rinpoche’s reincarnation. In addition, the parents related that they both had experienced many difficulties after the boy was conceived. This is common when a true spiritual being takes birth. In some instances, a family’s entire wealth is lost.
Since February 25, 2008, we had been performing prayers regularly to help avoid any difficulties in finding Khen Rinpoche’s reincarnation. Now our prayers had been fulfilled. The mother told us that during her pregnancy she had experienced a number of auspicious signs—for instance, there had been a tremor in New Delhi during that period of time. As Khen Rinpoche's reincarnation neared birth, his mother went to the hospital for a regular medical examination. Her doctor informed her that the baby inside her womb was not in a downward-facing position, as is normal just before being born. Instead, he remained sitting upright with palms joined together. Because of this, the doctor said that it wold be very difficult for the baby to emerge through the birth canal.
After the boy was one year old, whenever he visited a monastery or a temple, he would make prostrations and place his palms together without anyone telling him to do so. If a photograph of a Buddha was upside down, he would turn it right side up and touch it to his head or join his palms together. These and other similar actions are indications that he is a holy being. Also, for about ten days following his birth, he did not open his eyes and kept his hands in the gesture of joined palms. After he was one year old, whenever he saw an apple he would indicate that he wanted it, even though he wasn’t old enough to eat it. He is also particularly fond of Tibetan Mo Mo, or meat dumplings.
When we showed Tenzin Namdrol the document with His Holiness seal, or a photo of Khen Rinpoche, or any of his published books, even though he doesn’t speak many words yet he would point to the object and act very happy, make a variety of different sounds, and even move around as if he were dancing. In short, many aspects of the young boy’s behavior are very reminiscent of Khensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche.
The essence of what I want to say is that while we cannot place much trust in what ordinary beings perceive and think, there cannot be the slightest doubt about the divinations performed by the transcendent wisdom of an emanation of Arya Avalokiteshvara. So I have tried to describe here why we should all be very confident and happy that His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s identification of Khensur Rinpoche’s reincarnation is truly unerring.
Finally, the extent of spiritual knowledge and activities that Khensur Rinpoche’s reincarnation—now formally known as Tenzin Jikme Namdrol Rinpoche—will exhibit in the future depend largely on the merit, faith, devotion, and continued spiritual practice of his former life’s disciples. Therefore, on behalf of all the monks at Sera Mey Ari Khensur Labrang, I would like to express my sincere hope that you, Khensur Rinpoche’s American Dharma students, will arrange to hold a Sixteen Arhats Puja at least once or twice a year, in order to help bring to fruition the aims of our holy Lama and as a way of repaying the great kindness that he extended to all of us.
Geshe Lobsang Thardo
Ari Khensur Labrang
Sera Mey College
Bylakuppe, Mysore State