12th Gyalwang Drukpa

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The Twelfth Gyalwang Drukpa, the spiritual head of Ladakh.
The Gyalwang Drukpa in Alice Springs, 1991
The Gyalwang Drukpa and his mother in Alice Springs, 1991

The Twelfth Gyalwang Drukpa, Jigme Pema Wangchen (b. 1963), is the head of the Drukpa Lineage school, which is one of the independent Sarma (new) schools of Tibetan Buddhism.[1]

The Drukpa lineage was founded in 1206 after Drogon Tsangpa Gyare, (Drogon - 'Protector of Beings'; Tsang - 'born in the land of Tsang'; Gya - 'from the noble clan of Chinese (Gya) origin'; Re - 'a cotton-clad yogi') after he saw nine dragons fly into the sky from the ground at Namdruk. He is known as the First Gyalwang Drukpa and is recognized as the indisputable emanation of Naropa (1016–1100).[2]

Jigme Pema Wangchen is the twelfth and present incarnation of the Gyalwang Drukpa. He was born while his parents were on pilgrimage in Tso Pema, (Rewalsar) Himachal Pradesh, a sacred place of Padmasambhava, during the festival and a major ceremony of lama dances and a holy feast celebrating Guru Padmasambhava's birthday, in 1963. His father, Zhichen Bairochana, is a Dzogchen Master, these days commonly called Bairo Rinpoche. His mother, Kelsang Yudron, commonly known as Mayumla, came from Lhodrak, in southern Tibet.[3]

The name Jigme Pema Wangchen was given right after his birth by Dudjom Rinpoche, at that time head of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism:

"My name, Jigme Pema Wangchen was given by the holy Master Dudjom Yeshe Dorje with his traditional congratulations and divine blessings. Ever since then, I am blessed and entirely protected by him and Guru Padmasambhava forever."[3]

He was enthroned as a reincarnation of the 11th Gyalwang Drukpa at the age of four at Druk Thupten Sangag Choeling Monastery in Darjeeling, his main monastery.

The monastic centres of the Drukpa lineage are:

Humanitarian projects of the present Gyalwang Drukpa[edit]

He is the founder of The Druk White Lotus School in Ladakh, India, an award-winning environmentally friendly institution that provides a blend of traditional and modern education for the children of Ladakh.

In 2010 he was awarded the Bharat Jyoti Award of the India International Friendship Society.[5]


  1. ^ The Biographies of Rechungpa: The Evolution of a Tibetan hagiography. Roberts, Peter Alan. Routledge, 2007. ISBN 0-415-76995-7pg. 53
  2. ^ "The Drukpa Lineage"
  3. ^ a b "Autobiography"
  4. ^ "Monastic & Spiritual Practice Centres."
  5. ^ His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa received the prestigious Bharat Jyoti Award

External links[edit]