China allows banned Tibetan lama to visit his monastery

DHARAMSALA, Aug 11: In an unusual move, a senior Tibetan spiritual teacher who had been sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment and barred from maintaining any contact with his monastery in connection with the search of the monastery’s spiritual head, has been allowed to return to his monastery and conduct teachings.

On August 5, Lama Dawa Rinpoche (full name: Dawa Rinpoche Khenrap Wangchuk Samten Tenpai Gyaltsen Pel Sangpo) visited Shag Rongpo monastery in Shagchu township in Nagchu prefecture in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) where he gave teachings and empowerments to thousands of monks and lay Tibetans who welcomed him with traditional Tibetan ceremonial scarves.

Lama Dawa Rinpoche
Lama Dawa Rinpoche

Since his arrest in 2010 from Lhasa for allegedly contacting the Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama over the search for the ninth reincarnation of Rongpo Choeje, the spiritual head of Shag Rongpo monastery, Lama Dawa Rinpoche was barred from visiting and maintaining contacts with the monastery. He was stripped of all his positions and later sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment.

Despite repeated pleas and petitions made by the local Tibetans urging authorities to let Lama Dawa Rinpoche return to the monastery and reinstate him to his earlier stature, nothing came about.

Although, Lama Dawa Rinpoche has been finally allowed to visit his monastery, sources say local Tibetans remain wary of the Chinese authorities’ intention.

“They feel that it might be a tactical move by the authorities to silence the western media which had been criticizing the Chinese government for lack of religious freedom in Tibet” a source said.

Due to continued restrictions placed on communication channels in the region, further details could not be ascertained.

Local Tibetans lining up the path to welcome Lama Dawa Rinpoche.
Local Tibetans lining up the path to welcome Lama Dawa Rinpoche.

Shag Rongpo monastery, also known as Gaden Dhargyeling monastery was founded by Drupthop Lobsang Thinley, the first Rongpo Choeje under the guidance of the great fifth Dalai Lama and is one of the most significant monasteries of Gelug school of Tibetan buddhism in the region with around 300 years of history.

The monastery has been shut down since July last year after Chinese authorities attempted to impose its own choice of reincarnation and monks left the monastery to escape harassment and political education.


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