Taktser Rinpoche

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Taktser Rinpoche (Tibetan: སྟག་མཚེར་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་, ZYPY: Dagcêr Rinboqê; Chinese: 当彩活佛) is a Tibetan lama of the Gelugpa school. Thupten Jigme Norbu, the brother of Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, was recognized in Tibetan Buddhism as his reincarnation.

On September 5, 2008, Norbu, 86, died at his Indiana, USA home after illness for many years. He was survived by his wife Kunyang Norbu, and 3 sons.[1][2]

Takster Lama[edit]

Thupten Jigme Norbu's predecessor as the Takster Rinpoche, known as Takster Lama, was Norbu's and his brother the 14th Dalai Lama's paternal grandmother's elder brother, in other words their great uncle. One of the 30 or so reincarnated lamas who were part of Kumbum Monastery's tradition, he had been recognised as the Takster Lama some time in the 1860s, taken from his family and raised and educated at Kumbum.[3] Kumbum is a monastery of the Gelugpa tradition.[4]

During political turmoil, Takster Lama left Kumbum to live in Mongolia for several decades at the end of the 19th century. Mongolians being fervent devotees of the Gelugpa school, he was able to develop a devoted following there. Thanks to his Mongolian disciples' generous offerings, at the start of the 20th century he returned to Kumbum Monastery a wealthy lama; he was said to have owned 10,000 camels.[3]

Takster Lama then utilised his newly accumulated wealth to benefit his family in Takster village, including the parents of his eventual successor Thupten Jigme Norbu. He bought back 45 acres of land they had lost when Manchu troops, in quelling a late-19th century rebellion had destroyed the entire village of Takster and driven the family away to live in caves in poverty. They were also enabled to build a new, large home where Thupten Jigme Norbu as well as the future 14th Dalai Lama were eventually born.[5]

At this time, Takster Lama came to know the 13th Dalai Lama, who twice stayed long periods at Kumbum, firstly to avoid the Younghusband Expedition to Lhasa in 1904 and again in 1909 when returning to Lhasa after a trip to Beijing. By his support of the Dalai Lama's reform at Kumbum Monastery and his strict re-enforcement of monastic discipline, which had degenerated, Takster Lama won the Dalai Lama's respect but became unpopular with his fellow monks; when the Dalai Lama left for Lhasa Takster Lama also left for some years. He returned to Kumbum and Takster by the time of Thupten Jigme Norbu's parents' wedding in 1917, and died there a year or two later.[6]

The search for the reincarnation[edit]

The deceased lama's monastic staff were responsible to search for the incarnation. Guided by omens and hints the lama might have given before his death, they sought suitable boys recently born in the area. A shortlist was made and sent to the Dalai Lama in Lhasa, a journey of several months, for divination as to the right candidate. The Dalai Lama's response was that the reincarnation was not on the list since he had not yet been born. When Norbu's mother Diki Tsering gave birth to a girl on 1920 her own mother, hoping it would be a boy and a successful candidate to be chosen as the lama, became so distressed and disappointed that she fell ill and died.[7]

The search resumed but after another year of compilation, whittling down the names and travelling to Lhasa to seek a decision from the Dalai Lama, the second shortlist met with the same answer. Now it was the aging search leader's turn to become sick with distress and disappointment on the way back to Kumbum from Lhasa, and he also died.[8] A new manager was appointed to take his place and meanwhile, in 1922, Diki Tsering gave birth to a son. This time his name was added to the next shortlist, the third, and at last the response from the 13th Dalai Lama was positive - Diki Tsering had given birth to the incarnation of Takster Lama and Thubten Jigme Norbu became Takster Rinpoche.[9]


  • Thondup, Gyalo; Thurston, Anne F. The Noodle Maker of Kalimpong (2015) Rider, London. ISBN 9781846043826


  1. ^ Staff (5 September 2008). "Dalai Lama's brother dies at the age of 86: official". AFP via Google News. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 
  2. ^ Lim, Benjamin Kang (6 September 2008). "Dalai Lama's pro-independence brother dies in U.S.". Reuters. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 
  3. ^ a b Thondup, Thurston 2015, pp.5-8.
  4. ^ Dr Alexander Berzin (September 2003). "A Brief History of Kumbum Monastery". Study Buddhism. Retrieved 6 June 2016. 
  5. ^ Thondup, Thurston 2015, pp.3, 4, 6 et seq.
  6. ^ Thondup, Thurston 2015, pp.6-8.
  7. ^ Thondup, Thurston 2015, pp.8-9.
  8. ^ Thondup, Thurston 2015, p.9.
  9. ^ Thondup, Thurston 2015, pp.9-10.