Gelek, Ngawang

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English Phonetics Ngawang Gelek Rimpoche
Ngawang Gelek Demo LionsRoar.jpg
Alternate names
  • Gehlek Rinpoche
  • Gelek Rinpoche
Dates
Birth:   1939/10/26
Death:   2017/02/15
Place of birth:   Lhasa


Tibetan calendar dates

About
Religious Affiliation
Geluk

Biographical information

Kyabje Nawang Gehlek Rimpoche (Tibetan: སྐྱབས་རྗེ་དགེ་ལེགས་རིན་པོ་ཆེ།, Wylie: skyabs rje dge legs rin po che/) was a Tibetan Buddhist lama born in Lhasa, Tibet on October 26, 1939. His personal name was Gelek; kyabje and rimpoche, are titles meaning "teacher" (lit., "lord of refuge") and "precious," respectively. He was a tulku, an incarnate lama of Drepung Monastic University, where he received the scholastic degree of Geshe Lharampa, the highest degree given, at the exceptionally young age of 20. The 14th Dalai Lama said "he completed his traditional Buddhist training as a monk in Tibet prior to the Chinese Takeover."

Considered "an important link to the great lineages of Tibet’s great masters, especially of the Geluk school. Known more famously for the Tibetans as Nyakre Khentrul Rinpoche, Rinpoche had been instrumental in reprinting many of the Geluk texts in the 1970s, and also remained an important object of affection for both Kyabje Ling Rinpoche and Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. Of course, his emergence as one of the great Tibetan teachers in the West has also been a source of inspiration for many.” Gelek Rimpoche was a nephew of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso. He was tutored by many of the same masters who tutored the current 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

In 1959, Gelek Rimpoche fled to India from Tibet and gave up monastic life. He was one of the first students of the Young Lamas Home School. He was director of Tibet House in New Delhi, India and a radio host at All India Radio. He conducted over 1000 interviews, compiling an oral history of the fall of Tibet to the Communist Chinese. He was the founder and president of Jewel Heart, "a spiritual, cultural, and humanitarian organization that translates the ancient wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism into contemporary life."

He moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1987 to teach Buddhism. He became an American citizen and founded Buddhist communities in Ann Arbor, Bloomfield Hills, Chicago, Cleveland, Nebraska, New York, Maylaysia and The Netherlands.

Beat-poet Allen Ginsberg was among the more prominent of Jewel Heart's members. Ginsberg met with Gelek Rinpoche through the modern composer Philip Glass in 1989. Allen and Philip jointly staged benefits for the Jewel Heart organization. Professor Robert Thurman, Joe Liozzo, and Glenn Mullin are also Jewel Heart members and frequent lecturers.

Gelek Rinpoche died on February 15, 2017 in Ann Arbor, Michigan after undergoing surgery the previous month. (Source Accessed Aug 25, 2020)

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