Rinpoche's enthronement and early years of education

On the 3rd day of the 1st month of the Tibetan lunar calendar Rinpoche arrived at his principal monastery, Tashi Yangkyil which was also known as Magoen, in Yendum (dbyen-dum), the capital of Dagyab. On the very day of his arrival Rinpoche was formally enthroned as the 9th Kyabgoen of Dagyab. Representatives of the Central Tibetan government and of surrounding counties came to participate in the ceremony. A representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama presented him with a yellow brocade. Written on it in cinnabar red pigment was his new name given by the Dalai Lama himself "Lobsang Tenzin Choekyi Gyaltshen".


Rinpoche im Kloster Yendum

Rinpoche at Yendum monastery

After three days of elaborate ceremonies and celebrations, Rinpoche took residence in the Royal Houses, the so called "Gyalkhang". He stayed in its main building, the Red Palace "Phodrang Marpo", until the age of fourteen.


Rinpoche's parents came to see him often as they had moved with him from Menya. His father slept next to him until his death at the age of forty-nine. The Master of Robes "Zimpoen" was one of Rinpoche's personal attendants (mdun-bskor) who also slept there dutifully. One of his two bodyguards, "Zimgag", alternately slept in the anteroom. His parents and a few relatives had been offered by the Dagyab Labrang to stay in the summer residence of the Kyabgoens, which was situated at the foot of the hill close to his own residence. Nowadays, this residence is used by the local government. Rinpoche's father, Lobsang Dorje, was given the title of "Denchang" (ldeu `chang), "key-holder", which represented a promotion to a higher rank. From then on he worked in the main administrative office called "Yigtsang".


From the age of seven, Rinpoche was taught to read Tibetan scripts by his private senior tutor Tsonsang Tulku. He had to memorize many Buddhist texts, learn chanting and how to play religious musical instruments for use in ceremonies. His junior tutor, Geshe Kalsang Phuntsog, was responsible for teaching Rinpoche these skills. Both tutors were very strict but his junior tutor, in particular, was also very kind and skillful.


Even though at that time there were no clocks, Rinpoche's daily routine looked roughly like this:


  • 4AM - 6:30AM learning by rote by the light of butter lamps
  • 7AM - 12PM reading practice
  • 2PM - 4PM writing practice, rituals, and the use of religious musical instruments
  • 4PM - 6PM reading practice
  • 7:30PM - 10PM reciting the text that he had to memorize


    Rest on Sundays was unknown in Tibet. During the year there were a few holidays according to the Tibetan Lunar Calendar, such as during the Tibetan New Year. There were summer picnics in Changrag, the Willow Tree Park. Children's toys were also virtually unknown. Young Rinpoche was permitted to play with lumps of dough to form figures and he was happy when he could play in the park by a small stream. He was always surrounded by adults and did not know any children of his own age. A small dog named Manga was his regular playmate. Rarely did he leave the Red Palace, except when attending ceremonies outside the monastery or when going on summer picnics. Every year on the 15th day of the fourth month of the Tibetan calendar celebrating Saga Dawa, Rinpoche circumambulated the entire monastery on a so called korwa. Saga Dawa commemorates three auspicious events, Buddha Shakyamuni's birthday, the day he attained enlightenment and the day he went into paranirvana, and therefore marks one of the most important days of celebration in Buddhism.


    Rinpoche was also taught meditation practices by his tutors under whose guidance he undertook several retreats.