US Boy, 11, declared reincarnated holy man

A US boy is not going back to school – after he was declared the reincarnation of a Buddhist holy man who first died in 1250.

Boston-born Jigme Wangchuk, 11, has now moved to India where he has been made the head of a Buddhist sect in the country’s eastern Darjeeling city.

His parents say they discovered their son was not like other children two years ago when he started talking about his “past life”. At first, they dismissed it as a childish fantasy, but began taking it seriously during a trip to a monastery in Mysore, southern India.At one point, he went into a trance in which he described a celebrated Buddhist monastery with a 35ft dragon on the roof.

After hearing his description of the temple he had never visited, the monks proclaimed he was the reincarnation of the ‘Rinpoche’ or high priest Galwa Lorepa, the founder of one of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism.Now he will spent the next ten years in virtual seclusion and only be able to communicate with his former school friends by email.”It has been a very difficult period for us over the past two years. I have been crying for the past five months, but have, at last, come to terms with it,” said his mother Dechen.”When we were in New Delhi on our way to Darjeeling, I asked him whether he would like to go back to Boston. He said he has to fulfil his responsibilities to his people.”But for ‘His Holiness’ Jigme, there’s no regrets: “I will miss my school days but I am happy in my new role. I like it here,” he said.

The drone of gyaling (a Tibetan musical instrument) reverberated across Darjeeling and masked dancers performed the traditional cham as 11-year-old Jigme Wangchuk from Boston was enthroned today as the reincarnation of Gyalwa Lorepa, more than 750 years after the monk of the Drukpa sect died.

For Wangchuk, a fifth grader at St Peter’s School, Boston, the recognition as the incarnate of the monk who passed away in 1250 AD, had come two years ago. From today, however, Wangchuk’s seat will be the Druk-Sa-Ngag Choeling monastery at Dali in Darjeeling. “It is after 700 years that the reincarnation has arrived,” said Karma Rinpoche, who is the boy’s uncle.

Reincarnations are identified through an elaborate procedure. In 2007, when Wangchuk was visiting the Kagyu-Nalanda monastery near Mysore he had spoken of his past life describing his vision of monasteries as they stood then, including one in Bhutan.

“He talked about the monastery (in Bhutan) being situated in a rocky area of the Himalayas with a 35-foot long dragon adorning its rooftop,” recalled Karma Rinpoche. Four hours after Wangchuk recited his vision, the 12th incarnate of Tsangpa Gyare — another Drukpa monk — sent word to the family, recognising the boy as Gyalwa Lorepa.

The first Lorepa had received his initial teachings from Gyare. After Gyare passed away, Lorepa had meditated at Mount Kailash for 13 years and founded the Tharpa Ling monastery in Bhutan. His followers belong to the Drukpa lineage, which is part of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism.

Hundreds of people today attended the ceremony to pay obeisance to the reincarnation but the parents found it difficult to part ways with the boy. “I even visited the monastery in Bhutan to see if it really matches with his description. When I found it was true, I realised he was the real incarnate,” said his mother, Dechen.

The family members had always been told by other religious heads that the boy was special. When he was actually recognised as an incarnate, the family had little choice but to accept it. “We have left Boston and have to live in Darjeeling along with my husband Chosang and my 10-year-old daughter Tashi Norzum,” said Dechen. Her husband is a businessman.

The family now wants to serve the Lorepa incarnate and is planning to send the daughter to a school in Darjeeling. As for the reincarnate, he does miss “being a joyful school boy and my friends, my home”. Even though he did not speak, he gave written replies to a few questions posed to him.

Wangchuk believes there has been a “big transition” but realises that being a rinpoche is “such a great honour and I feel blessed with my past responsibilities”. The Lorepa reincarnate has promised to remain in touch with his friends through “the email”, in tune with present day life.

Source : http://www.telegraphindia.com/1091029/jsp/siliguri/story_11673153.jsp

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