11-year-old boy from US becomes Darjeeling lama
An 11-year-old Boston schoolboy was on Wednesday anointed the head of a Buddhist sect in Darjeeling as the reincarnation of a high-ranking lama who died more than 750 years ago.
Jigme Wangchuk, a fifth grade student of St Peter’s School in Boston, will be known as His Holiness (HH) the Second Galwa Lorepa, head of the Drukpa sect. The first Galwa Lorepa died in
1250 in Tibet.
The US-born Wangchuk, now revered by lakhs of followers in Nepal, Bhutan and Ladakh as the rinpoche (high priest) of the Drukpa Sangag Choeling Monastry in Darjeeling, told HT at the monastery: “It’s a big transition. I do miss being a cheerful schoolboy. I miss my home, my grandparents, aunts and uncles. However, being a rinpoche is a great honour.”
The “cheerful schoolboy”, as he described himself, will continue his (monastic) studies at the monastery itself. “But my parents will keep visiting me here. And I’ll keep in touch with my friends through email,” he added.
His parents, who moved to the US from Dharamsala in 1989, have sold their restaurant in Boston and moved to Darjeeling. And his 10-year-old sister, Tashi Norzum, who is very close to him, will soon join a school in Darjeeling.
Talking about Wangchuk’s transition, his mother Dechen said: “He used to always talk of his past life but we did not take it seriously, dubbing it as a child’s fantasies.”
But two years ago, when the family was visiting the Kagyu Nalanda Monsatery in Mysore, Wangchuk suddenly stopped playing and started narrating his past life as if in a trance. After other senior lamas corroborated the Gyalwang Rinpoche’s finding, it was decided to initiate the boy into priesthood.
“It has been a very difficult period for us over the past two years,” said Dechen. “I have been crying for the past five months, but have, at last, come to terms with it. When we were in New Delhi on our way to Darjeeling, I asked him whether he would like to go back to Boston. He said he has to fulfill his responsibilities to his people.”