Rinpoche himself is both a scholar and a teacher. A Rimay master, he received traditional monastic training in the renowned Rumtek Monastery and Nalanda Institute, then pursued a doctorate at Harvard University, in 2004 becoming the first incarnate lama to receive a PhD. He has taught extensively since age eleven, instructing monks at monasteries, retreatants at Buddhist centers and students at universities.
Born to Sherpa parents, Rinpoche was recognized at a young age by the supreme head of the Kagyu lineage of Buddhism, the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, as the reincarnation of the 3rd Trungram Gyalwa and an emanation of the great yogi Milarepa, one of the most beloved saints of Tibet and the founder of the Kagyu school of Buddhism over a thousand years ago.
He was enthroned at the Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, seat of the Karma Kagyu lineage, where he began an intensive traditional monastic education. In addition, he received teachings from the heads of Tibetan Buddhism’s four major lineages, including the Dalai Lama. This is an extremely rare distinction, known as Rimay.
Rinpoche earned a Master’s Degree in 1991 with top honors from the Nalanda Institute of the Sampurnan and Sanskrit University in Varanasi, India, where he majored in Buddhist epistemology, ethics and the philosophies of the Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
He joined the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, as a visiting scholar in the Department of Asian Languages and Culture. In 1997 he was accepted by Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences as a doctoral student in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. His dissertation on Gompopa—the most prominent disciple of Milarepa—analyzes the life and work of this pivotal 12th century Tibetan figure and founder of the Karma Kagyu lineage. He graduated in 2004.
Rinpoche is fluent in English, Tibetan, Chinese, Sanskrit and Hindi—in addition to his native Nepali and its distinct Sherpa dialect; he learned these languages in order to help people of various backgrounds.
Rinpoche leads both Buddhist and secular organizations around the globe. While each serves a unique purpose, they are collectively dedicated to spreading Dharma teachings, providing quality education to those in need, and bringing disaster relief and other humanitarian aid to devastated areas.