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The Reincarnate

Hindustan Times, 8th November 2009 (Click here to download actual article in PDF format) - IT WAS PROBABLY the last thing his family expected but inevitably, it was meant to be. Life as he knew it completely changed. His days of playing in the schoolyard with his friends seem a distant memory. MOHINDER VERMA meets the boy who found the key to unlock his past life.

Had it not been for his dreams of a past life, 11-year-old Jigme Wangchuk would still have been playing with his friends in Boston, where his family ran a successful restaurant business. However, now young U.S. has been enthroned as a "reincarnation" of the celebrated twelfth century saint, Gyalwa Lorepa, who passed away in 1250 AD. The boy has now become a rinpoche (high priest) of a Buddhist sub-sect called Drukpa. He will be revered as the Second Gyalwa Lorepa among the lakhs of sect followers from Ladakh, Nepal and Bhutan.

It was guidance by the oracles in a Drukpa monastery in Bhutan, the spiritual upheavals in the boy, and his determination to return to his "home" in a Bhutan monastery (named after Gyalwa Lorepa), that identified the boy, according to the head of the Drukpa Lineage, Gyalwang Drukpa, from Darjeeling. Jigme has been enthroned as the reincarnation of Gyalwa Lorepa, a disciple of the founder of Drukpa Lineage.


Jigme's family says the boy had shown signs of growing restlessness since infancy. "He kept talking of his past life and his home in the Himalayas, but we did not take it seriously, thinking it to be child's fantasy," says his mother Dechen.

Also, while on a pilgrimage to Bhutan, Jigme's uncle, Karma Rinpoche, heard an oracle in a monastery to return Jigme to the care of the Gyalwang Drukpa.

In 2007, when the family was visiting Kagyu Nalanda monastery in Mysore, Jigme suddenly stopped playing and started narrating his past life as if in a trance. "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," says his uncle. Four hours after the boy recited his vision, the twelfth incarnate of Tsangpa Gyare, another Drukpa monk, sent word to the family, recognising the boy as Gyalwa Lorepa. "I even visited the monastery in Bhutan to see if it really matches with Jigme's description," says his mother. "When I found it was true, I realised he was the real incarnate," his mother says.


Now, for Jigme, life would revolve around Buddhist teachings and philosophy as he commences his monastic training in the Darjeeling monastery. Earlier, he studied in class five at St. Peter's School in Boston, and now he will spend nearly six to seven years studying the Buddhist scriptures, away from his old home. "I do miss being a joyful schoolboy and my home, my friends, grandparents, aunts and uncles," says Jigme.

But his parents are by his side. They migrated to the U.S. in 1989 from Dharamsala, but have now moved along with their son to Darjeeling after selling their business in Boston. "We have moved here to be with Jigme while he's studying at the monastery," his mother, Dechen says. Jigme's 10-year-old sister will be admitted in a local school.

Dechen says her tears were endless once she realised her son was to stay away from her forever. But Jigme consoled her, explaining that he was destined to be a rinpoche and could only be happy being here. "Being a rinpoche is such a great honour. I feel blessed with my past responsibilities," he says.