His Eminence Choden Rinpoche Passes Away


”We are very saddened to share the news that His Eminence Choden Rinpoche passed away on September 11 at 1:30 a.m. India time. Choden Rinpoche was a highly respected Buddhist master  and a much loved teacher, who taught at many FPMT centers over the years.

Choden Rinpoche was born in 1933 in eastern Tibet and was recognized at age three. At age eight he entered Rabten Monastery, and at age fifteen he went to Sera Je Monastery, where he studied the five main texts. Choden Rinpoche became an expert on the teachings on Vinaya – monastic discipline. He was a highly respected scholar and was chosen as one of two Sera Je monks to debate with His Holiness the Dalai Lama during His Holiness’ geshe exams.

During the communist Chinese takeover of Tibet in 1959, Choden Rinpoche stayed in Tibet and went into solitary retreat. He never left his small, dark room in Lhasa from 1965 to 1985, and was virtually unknown in his monastery for this reason. In 1985 he was allowed to leave Tibet for India and has since taught for many years at Sera Je Monastery in South India as well as at Dharma centers throughout the world, including many FPMT centers.

On August 29, 2015, His Holiness the Dalai Lama met with Choden Rinpoche in New Delhi. His Holiness told Choden Rinpoche that he remembered the first time that Choden Rinpoche came to his attention. It was many years ago during an audience with monks at Norbulingka, the summer palace of His Holiness in Tibet. His Holiness said that he remembered seeing how the rays of the sun were falling on Rinpoche’s head and how an insect landed on his head. Choden Rinpoche said he had no memory of that. His Holiness said that at the time he thought that Choden Rinpoche was a very calm lama.

His Holiness also said that since arriving in India, Rinpoche has done his best in many ways such as giving teachings, imparting philosophy lessons to the monks and sharing the Buddhadharma with students throughout the world. His Holiness said that it is important to rejoice in this work.

Mandala will have a complete obituary for His Eminence Choden Rinpoche in the January-June 2016 issue.

1. “The Life of a Hidden Meditator: Choden Rinpoche” from Mandala July 2000 to read more about Choden Rinpoche’s experiences in Tibet at Sera Monastery and in Lhasa after 1959.
2. Read more recent stories about Choden Rinpoche on FPMT.org.