Foreword by Choyang Kuten (1917- 2002)
The following account is a response to repeated questions asked of me and it is my sincere wish that what I have said will be truly understood.

Apart from that, at present in this wide world, there are many biographies said to be mine, told independently for whatever reasons great or small, among which are several which are discordant with the real story. Thus keep this account at the heart of your memory.

Choyang Kuten 1988


Region of birth and childhood

First of all I shall explain in a few words about my native country, Tibet. Tibet is divided into four major provinces. I was born in U -Tsang province, in Toepa region which is in the western part of Tibet. My birthplace is Khele, a village whose name means 'corner of the mountain'. It is near a larger town called Yenchoetenkar. My mother's name name was Lhagpa. In Tibet there was no tradition to record the date of birth except for aristocratic families or high lamas. I was born in Earth-Sheep year 1917, 15 Rapchung, according to Tibetan system. I was born on Tuesday (Sa Migmar), so I was called Migmar Tsering, my original name.

At seven I was admitted to a large monastery called Ngamring. There were three main monasteries in my native region; Lhatse, Ngamring and Phuntsog-ling. All were part of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery. I studied there until I was thirteen, going through all the basic training and rituals of that monastery. At thirteen I went to see my parents during the vacation. My parents were nomadic farmers so they traveled like merchants. I joined them on a merchant journey to Phagri.

Phagri Monastery

Phagri is a very strategic area, only an hour's journey from Bhutan. It is also close to India. In that area was a monastery which was a branch of Shartse Collage that had been established by Geshe Palden Tendar. He was a great scholar and practitioner who came second in his final examination above thousands of other monks. After his arrival in Phagri he established the monastery, and engaged tantric retreats. On arrivl in Phagri I left my relatives to join this monastery.

It was the custom of a monastery of another tradition in that area to recieve geshes from upper Tantric College every three years, and so Geshe Palden Tendar came to Phagri. At the end of his three years Geshe Palden Tendar did not leave, but stayed in the area to benefit all beings there. He estabnlished a monastery and built a retreat hermitage in the mountains, engaging in Yamantaka retreats many times. It is through his activities and those of Dromo Geshe Rinpoche that the Gelugpa tradition was established in this remote part of Tibet. The dharmapala of both Dromo Geshe Rinpoche and Geshe Palden Tendar was Gyalchen Dorje Shugden, the Vajra Mighty One.

The influence of these two great lamas reached India, to Darjeeling and Kalimpong, for example. Dromo Geshe Rinpoche left messages placing all responsibility for his monastery with Trijang Dorje Chang (1901-1981), who later became tutor to the present Dalai Lama, and also with His Holiness the Thirteenth Dalai Lama. He also gave instructions for how his body should be treated and how the stupa containing his relics should be built. Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang came to Phagri to fullfill these instructions and from that time many lamas came to the area to teach.

Therefore the florishing of the Gelugpa tradition in these areas is due to the kindness of Dromo Geshe Rinpoche, Geshe Palden Tendar and Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang.

Generally, all monks studying in the two tantric colleges belong to one of the 'Three Grat Seats'. Geshe Palden Tendar belonged to Ganden Shartse College. Due to the requests of local people he engaged in intensive retreats in the Phagri area and then built a monastery with a large Maitreya statue. He also obtained copies of the Tibetan Canon. On the advice of His Holiness the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, he gave this monastery's administration to Shartse College. They sent a geshe every three years to run the monastery as an abbot.

Geshe Palden Tendar was held in high esteem in that province. He was constantly consulted by lay people and by the monks of the monastery. He personally gave me instructions to look after my body and health carefully, and left instructions to elder monks to care for me because I could prove to be of benefit to beings in the future. I remained in that monastery from the age of thirteen to seventeen. Sometimes I moved to Dromo Geshe Rinpoche's monastery for climatic reasons.

Autobiography of His Eminence
Choyang Duldzin Kuten Lama

His Eminence Choyang Kuten Lama. Enlargement

This is a story how a common nomad boy became an Oracle Lama,
a high position in the Tibetan hierarchy, and how he served his
countrymen in difficult times in Tibet and in refugee camps in India.
His Eminence's presentation is a unique contribution to the
documentation of Tibetan modern history.



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