Friday, September 21, 2012

Brief Biography of Lachen Gomchen

The lineage of Lachen Gomchen can be traced to Gnazor Pema Tsenzang a lama of Pemayangtse monastery who was born at Naku Chongpong and was known as Naku Gomchen. He received his teachings from Chumbi Rinpoche and Rapchi Gomchen. The second incarnation was born in Tikputam in a village called Yangtey in West Sikkim and was commonly known as Tikputam Gomchen. He travelled to Lachen and spent many years meditating there.
The third incarnation was born in Namok, North Sikkim and was a monk of Labrang monastery above Phodong. He was given the name of Kunzang Nawang Rinchen by his teacher. He received his early teachings from Phodong Kusho and later became a disciple of Lama Kesang of Tibet. He spent many years in solitary meditation in caves near Namok and Rang Rang. He used to make frequent trips to Tibet through Lachen to receive teachings from his teacher.
The people of Lachen were impressed by his religious scholarship and requested him to stay at Lachen Monastery for three years to guide the people. The Gomchen, during his stay in Lachen, renovated the monastery and also imparted many teachings to the monks. On the completion of three years, he was again requested to stay on in the monastery. He then stayed on in the monastery till his death.
The third Lachen Gomchen came to be well known world-wide through the writings of the French explorer Alexander David Neel who was his disciple. Alexander David Neel got introduced to Buddhism through Lachen Gomchen during her stay in Phodong monastery in North Sikkim [1914-1916]. She was so impressed with him that she tried to take him out of Sikkim but was prevented by the local people.
The fourth Lachen Gomchen was born in Sholepthang in Yangang, South Sikkim in 1949. He was a unique boy and one day when he was playing with some ritual object of a local lama who, sensing the extraordinary nature of the boy, told him that he owned more and better ritual objects in Lachen. When he was seven years old, monks came from Lachen to claim him as the reincarnation of the third Lachen Gomchen. He was then taken to the great Nyingma Rinpoche Jamyang Khyentse Choki Lodro who performed the hair cutting ceremony and gave him the name of Kunzang Dechen Wangyal.
He started his studies at a young age and at the age of ten received advanced teachings from a hidden Najorpa named Jokhang Rinpoche. Under the Rinpoche he completed the three years meditation course with specialization in sadhna of Lama Drakseng and Hayagriva. He then received more advanced teaching from Dujom Rinpoche Jigdal Hishey Dorjee on the Dujom lineage along with Rinchen Terzo and many other subjects for three years.
At the age of twenty, he was enrolled in the Nyingma Collage of Higher Studies in Gangtok, where, after six years, he received the Acharya degree. He became a member of Lhadey Chogpa in 1979 and was elected to the State Legislative Assembly the same year and served as a Minister for four and a half years.
[The writer is the Director General-cum-Secretary, DESME, Govt of Sikkim]

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