Biography of Geshe Damchoe Gyaltsen, Director of IBD Dharamsala.

Director of IBD


In 1934, in the small town of Gowo Rongpay Ghongwa, situated at the southeastern Kham province of the cool climatic country The Land of Snow was born a child named Dhamchoe Gyaltsen. He is the middle son the five children begotten by his father Kelsang Phuntsok and mother Kelsang Wangdron of the Norgo Phatha Tsang family. Until the age of five, he stayed at home and memorized verses of prayers, rites and rituals.

In 1939 he entered the sangha commune of their regional Samdrup Goensar Thupten Nyingshar ling monastery. There the monastery arranged Master Palden Choephel and Master Palden Dhargyal as his senior and junior house tutors respectively; and under their tutelage he became perfect at reciting monastery’s prayers and performing its rites and rituals. Then he began studying the five major texts of Buddhist philosophy in order to understand and realize the teaching of Lord Buddha without effort.

1952, when he was 18 years old, he joined the Drepung Loseling monastery’s Gowo Khangtsen abode, which is situated in the U-Tsang province of Tibet. He studied the collected topics ( Due-dra), Prajnaparmita (Pharchin) and Madhyamika ( Uma) under the tutelage of Gyen Lhakpa as his chief master. He also received instruction on the entire text of Madhyamika (Uma) and the first four sections of the Prajnaparmita (Pharchin) text from Lochoe Rinpoche. Additionally, he studied Abhidharmakosha (Zoed), Vinaya (Duelwa) text, Prajnaparmita (Pharchin) and Madhyamika (Uma) text with Gyen Pema Gyaltsen and Shak-khor Khen Rinpoche Nyima Gyaltsen.

After the great upheaval in Tibet in 1959, he fled from his homeland and reached safely here in India; he then shouldered a big responsibility by acting as the supervisor of the Baksar monastery where he gave teachings to his student monks on various subjects including Prajnaparmita (Pharching), Madhyamika (Uma) and many others. He studied the text of Madhyamika (Uma), Prajnaparmita (Pharchin), Abhidharmakosha (Zoed) and Vinaya (Duelwa) text under Gyen Pema Gyaltsen. In addition to this, he undertook any job in relation to his abode (khangtsen) and monastery without complaint in order to serve the sangha commune and earn good merits. Whenever Gyen Nyima Gyaltsen and Gyen Lhakpa happened to visit the monastic seat from Dharamsala, he used to meet them and receive teaching instruction and ask them questions about the scriptures.

Around 1970, when he was about 35 years old, the monastic seats were moved and re-established in southern part of India. There he helped out with every aspects of monastic work and transformed the barren land into fertile farmland. While there he once again refreshed his knowledge of the five major Buddhist treaties and received teachings on the related Tibetan and Sanskrit scriptures from his Master Gyen Pema Gyaltsen.

He also taught himself many other commentaries and transmitted the teaching to all his disciples.

In 1979 he finally earned the prestigious status of the highest Geshe Lharampa degree. In 1980, following an order from the personal office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he accepted the post of teaching instruction master at the exemplary Institute of Buddhist Dialectic at Dharamsala.

In 1995 he was instructed t visit 27 Dharma centers and monasteries in the United States. During the visits he gave basic teachings on insights, practical approaches to Buddha Dharma and three different divisions of Buddhist doctrine: foundation, path and final attainment. He also extensively discussed the common practices and points of views that are shared by Christianity and Buddhism. He made a number of visits to abroad the following year and is still keeping up his good work by fulfilling the wishes of his ardent devotees who rest great hopes upon him.
After very sad, sudden and unexpected assassination of the IBD’s former director, the late holy divine master Geshe Lobsang Gyatso on the evening of February 4th 1997, His Holiness the Dalai lama himself appointed the divine master Geshe Dhamchoe Gyaltsen as the new director of IBD institute.
On April 4th 1997 Geshe Damchoe la personally accepted the post of the institute director. Geshe Dhamchoe la has spent 47 years studying, contemplating and meditating up upon the teachings of Lord Buddha by realizing the insights embedded in the heart of the teachings and putting them in to real practice. Most of all, he always paces himself lower then other people and shows respect to people from all over the world with his heart-warming smile.
Because his better versed in the sutra text than the Tantrayana he often uses lines from the sutra text to support and validate this teachings. Nevertheless, whatever he speaks, he speaks with the confidence and assurance that comes from his complete heart- felt understanding. His unconditional and unwavering love towards all sentient beings, especially his disciples, is demonstrated by his management and academics supervision of both the IBD institute and the college for higher Tibetan studies in Sarah, which lies on the outskirts of Dharamsala. Geshe Dhamchoe la said the following words with happiness ad pride: “In my entire life, my biggest life time achievement is to be able teach the Buddha Dharma to the young enthusiastic student monks.
Compiled by Tenzin Dhamchoe,IBD

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One Comment on “Biography of Geshe Damchoe Gyaltsen, Director of IBD Dharamsala.”

  1. Kunchok Says:

    i haven’t read the whole thing, but nice work on the blog..very informative..i like this one on Gen.Damchoe..definitely one of the rare, not to mention last gems of the old generation..prayers for long life and fulfillment of aspirations..

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