Central Tibetan Administration Mourns the Demise of Taktser Rinpoche

File photo of Taktser Rinpoche/ Courtesy: Jeremy Hogan, Herald-Times.

Dharamshala: The Central Tibetan Administration mourns the demise of Taktser Rinpoche Thupten Jigme Norbu, former representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Japan and former abbot of Kumbum monastery in Amdo.

Taktser Rinpoche, who is the eldest brother of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, breathed his last at his home in Indiana in the United States, on Friday evening, 5 September, owing to prolonged illness. He was 86 years old.

As a mark of respect and gratitude for dedicating his entire life to the revival of Tibet’s heritage and hope for the Tibetan people, the departments and offices of the Administration would remain closed this afternoon, following an hour-long prayer session at 2 p.m.

Senior officials of the Central Tibetan Administration, including the members of the Kashag, will attend the prayer session.

In his brief address, Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche expressed his condolences to the family members over the sad demise of Taktser Rinpoche.

Taktser Rinpoche was recognized at the age of three as the reincarnated abbot of Kumbum monastery in Amdo, Tibet, one of the most important monasteries in Tibet, and was therefore already a prominent figure in Tibet’s religious hierarchy even before his brother His Holiness the Dalai Lama was born.

Officials of the Central Tibetan Administration at the prayer session on Saturday, 6 September 2008/Photo:Sanjey Kep

In 1950, when His Holiness the Dalai Lama was still in Lhasa, Chinese officials attempted to persuade Taktser Rinpoche to travel to Lhasa and convince His Holiness the Dalai Lama to accept the “peaceful liberation” of Tibet, even promising to make him the governor of Tibet if he succeeded, according to one account. Taktser Rinpoche eventually agreed to travel to Lhasa to see His Holiness, but evaded his Chinese escorts on route and instead conveyed to His Holiness the Dalai Lama his deep misgivings about China’s influence in Tibet, and urging His Holiness to retreat to the border with India.

Upon leaving Tibet in the 1950s and over a long and prolific writing career, he wrote several academic papers and books on Tibet including his own autobiography, Tibet Is My Country, one of the first books on the Tibetan experience to have scholarly credibility. He went on to serve as Professor of Tibetan Studies at Indiana University in the United States, where in 1979 he founded the Tibetan Cultural Center.

Taktser Rinpoche was a tireless advocate for the protection of Tibetan culture and the rights of the Tibetan people in Tibet. Each year – including this year prior to the Beijing Olympics – he participated in long walks and cycle rides to raise awareness of the plight of the Tibetan people.

He is survived by his wife Kunyang Norbu, and three sons.