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Rev. Nawang Chamba Stanzin, Thiksay Khenpo Rinpoche, is the incumbent head of Thiksay Monastery.   He is the 9th reincarnation of Jangsem Sherab Zangpo, a contemporary disciple of Lord Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

He was born to Tsetan Palzin (mother) and Phuntsok Paljor (father) on 20th May 1943. The young boy became an orphan in his early infancy. His mother passed away during childbirth and his father passed away within a year.  He was brought up nourished on cow’s milk and breast fed by his aunt. Stak Drak Rinpoche, a regent of Tibet, sent instructions from Tibet to search for the reincarnation of Sherpa Tulku (reference to the fame achieved by 4th reincarnation of Jangsem Sherab Zangpo, Sherpa Choeje Lobzang Jinpa on his status recongnition as Shartse-choje which is the second position next the highest throne bearer of Gelugpa tradition known as Galden Tripa).  The popular position remained predominant to all other incarnations including the last incarnation, Jampa Choephel, the 8th and the previous incumbent of Thiksay Monastery.  

The monks of Thiksay Monastery had requested His Holiness the Dalai Lama, while propitiating deities of the monastery, to reveal signs to discover the rebirth of the previous Head Lama.  His Holiness the Dalai Lama disclosed a statement that said: “The boy is born at TsePhun to the west of Thiksay Monastery”  A search team had started working on the revelation, investigating villages to the west of Thiksay monastery but the team could not come to a decisive result.  However, a fortunate meeting of the manager of the monastery with a Geshe (equivalent of Ph.D in Buddhist Philosophy) from Sera monastery who was on pilgrimage helped uncover the predictive signs to find the reincarnation.   The pilgrim on his halt, when camped behind the monastery, had a miraculous appearance before him of the principle protector of the monastery - Sri Devi, directing him to take responsibility in discovering the reincarnation of the Head Lama.  As a result of his ardent meditational contemplation and divination he disclosed more signs.  He had particularly announced that there will be a round shaped Mani Wall in front of the house where the boy was born. This greatly helped to consolidate previously revealed signs and eventually confirmed the revelation by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, because “TsePhun” is found to be the contracted name of his parents – Tse as in Tsetan, the mother and Phun as in Phuntsok, the father.  

His Eminence Bakula Rinpoche, Head Lama of Spituk Monastery having accepted the boy as the true reincarnation gave the name Nawang Chamba Stanzin. 

In 1953 at the age of 10 the young Thiksey Rinpoche left for Drepung Monastery in Tibet for religious training and higher studies in Buddhist philosophy. He was enrolled in Gomang Nyari Khangtsen (house) because of his association with the house from his previous incarnations.  He received extensive teachings in Tibetan grammar, philosophy, oral transmissions and initiations from many revered lamas particularly from Khenpo Ngawang Nyima and Gendun Lodoe.  His ordination was conducted by His Eminence Ling Rinpoche, one of the principal tutors of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Thiksay Rinpoche spent two months in Tashi Lhunpo Monastery before he was forced to return to Ladakh as a result of the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959. Rinpoche had witnessed the Chinese annexation over Tibetan people and had a bullet pass through his robe during the military shelling in Lhasa.   He greatly revered Kachen Lobzang Zotpa, a scholar and Tantric master, as his teacher during his sojourn at Tashi Lhunpo and Kachen Lobzang Zotpa later became his principle tutor at Thiksay Monastery until he was sent to be the Abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in South India by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  

Thiksay Rinpoche has given countless teachings and initiations to the public in Ladakh and particularly to the monks of Thiksay Monastery.  Recently he gave oral transmission on Tantric Rites and Prayers of Offerings to all the resident monks for 5 full days.  Since 1989 he has undertaken many essential initiatives such as the establishment of a Common Kitchen to offer free meals to the monks and health care facilities through the Cultural & Welfare Society of the monastery.  He commissioned the building of a 40ft tall monumental statue of Maitreya Buddha which acclaims to be a world class heritage.  This was consecrated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on 27th July 1980 with huge honour and appreciation. 

Apart from his religious services rendered both to the monks and lay people of Ladakh, he has also served by taking various political positions to address the grass root problems faced by the people of the remote region of Ladakh.  During his tenure as the President of All Ladakh Gonpa Association, the residence for His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Choglamsar, which had been kept under suspension for many years, was officially “offered” to him.  He served as Member of Parliament from 1999 to 2002 in Rajya Sabha (Upper house), Government of India.  

Rinpoche has wholeheartedly followed the guidance given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in all his endeavors. After serving the people of Ladakh through his political affairs for some time, he felt the need to forsake political involvement to give way to the younger leaders of Ladakh. Nowadays he is able to dedicate his time to study and religious matters.

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