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19th Kushok Bakula Rinpoche

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Bakula Rinpoche
See also: Tribute to the Venerable Kushok Bakula Rinpoche

19th Kushok Bakula Rinpoche (May 21, 1917 – November 4, 2003) was a reincarnation of the Kushok Bakula Rinpoche. He was one of the best known lamas of Ladakh, a statesman and international diplomat of the Republic of India.

He is known for his efforts in reviving Buddhism in Mongolia and Russia, linking them with the community of Tibetan exiles in India.

A descendant of Ladakh's royal family, he was given to monkhood at an early age.

He was recognized by the Thirteenth Dalai Lama as a reincarnation of Bakula Arhat, one of the Sixteen Arhats (direct disciples of Gautama Buddha).

Later he served in the Parliament of India, and was deeply engaged with welfare, education and rights of Scheduled Castes and Tribes of India. In his later years, he became India's Ambassador in Mongolia.

In 2005, the Leh airport was renamed as the Kushok Bakula Airport.

Biography by FPMT

Ven. Bakula Rinpoche died while in India on November 4, 2003.

He lived one of the more interesting lives of a Buddhist lama.

Born into a royal family of Ladakh, India, he was later recognized by the Thirteenth Dalai Lama as a reincarnation of Bakula Arhat - one of the Sixteen Arhats (direct disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha who had tremendous spiritual realizations).

Bakula Rinpoche had a keen interest in Mongolia and Russia from a young age, and while other Tibetan teachers were going to the West, Bakula Rinpoche said, "Everyone is going to the west - it's easy to go to the west."

After Rinpoche worked as a minister of the Indian government under Indira Gandhi, he began to travel to Mongolia and the USSR, where he helped re-open ancient monasteries and organize Buddhist peace conferences.

In 1990, was appointed as the Indian ambassador to Mongolia for a period of two years.

When he arrived, Mongolia was still communist, but during his stay - which lasted more than 10 years - it became a free country, so Bakula Rinpoche could travel freely and work to revive pure Buddhism.

After the fall of Communism in Mongolia, Bakula Rinpoche established monasteries and nunneries, hosted His Holiness the Dalai Lama, invited Lama Zopa Rinpoche several times, and granted ordination to many Mongolians. He retired from his position as ambassador in 2000.

Interestingly enough, according to Mongolian folklore, there was a long-held belief that Bakula Arhat would one day come from India to revive Buddhism in Mongolia. Perhaps it wasn't folklore.

On the 26th February 2008, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has confirmed Thupten Ngawang, a child born in Nubra, Ladakh as the reincarnation of Bakula Rinpoche. The child is a bright little boy born on 24th November 2005 and has been chosen from among several children.


The 19th incarnation was Thupstan Chonjor born on May 14, 1917, in a royal family of Matho village of Ladakh.

He was recognize by H.H The 13th Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of Arahat Bakula, one of the 16th Arahat(Nastan Chutuk). He went to Lhasa(Tibet) at the age of 13 and receive education in the great Drepung monastery which was the largest monastic institution in Tibet there he was awarded the degree of Geshe Larampa(the highest degree in Buddhist metaphysics) at the age of 25 and get his geshe ordination from the 13th Dalia Lama.

After returning from Tibet he dedicated his life in serving the people of Ladakh for their better future.

In the very first democratic elections in Ladakh in 1949 the people of Ladakh had elected Bakula Rinpochey as their leader and the president of the National Conference Party.

He served as Minister of State in J&K State Government from 1953 to 1967.

He was the member of the fourth and the fifth Lok Sabha from 1967 to 1977.he also serve as the member of the consultative Committees in Indian Parliament for defense, education and planning.

His role in education was unforgettable, under his guidance the then Ladakh Buddhist Association and All Ladakh Gonpa Association were able to establish the Buddhist philosophy school on 23 October 1959(now CIBS) with only ten students.

In 1949 again with the tireless efforts of Bakula Rinpochey the Government of India sanctioned scholarships for eighteen Ladakhi novices to obtain modern education at Sarnath, and in 1961 another five young monks were sent to study Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

In 1963 with his effort the Ladakh Institute of Higher Studies was established in Delhi with students from various Himalayan regions such as Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Mezoram etc.

the school was government recognized and also scholarships were sanctioned to the students.

Bakula rinpochey during his last years also gave stress on the government of J and K for the need of university in Ladakh in that concern the then (2003) C.M of J and K Mr. Mufti Mohammad Syeed during one of his personal visit at Samkar monastery told Bakula rinpochey that steps has been taken to set up a new university campus in Leh.

In 1968 Bakula Rinpochey was elected unopposed to represent Ladakh in the National Parliament in New Delhi.

On August 7, 1978,Bakula Rinpochey was appointed member of the first Commission on Minorities and served till December 11, 1989.

Then from 1990 till 2000 he served as an Indian Ambassador to Mongolia.

In 1986 Bakula Rinpoche was awarded by a prestigious Padma Bushan. He died on 4 November 2004 in New Delhi.


Wikipedia:19th Kushok Bakula Rinpoche