Tulku Ogyan Kyab Begins his Studies in India

By Laura Ellis

In November 2014 four year old Tulku Ogyan Kyab began his studies at the Sakya Phuntsok Phodrang in New Delhi. Born in the Year of the Iron Tiger (2010) in Seattle, Tulkula was recognized by His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Rinpoche as the reincarnation of Khyentse Norbu Rinpoche. Tulkula is the fourth reincarnation of Khyentse Norbu Rinpoche of Yaten Gompa, an 800 year old Sakya monastery located in Minyak, Kham, East Tibet. There are over 200 monks in residence at Yaten Monastery.

Tulku Ogyan’s parents are both Buddhists and are devoted students of H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche. Tulkula’s father, Tsering Lama, is Tibetan. His family, most of whom reside in Minyak, have been devotees of the Sakya sect of Tibetan Buddhism for hundreds of years. In that time there have been several great masters that were born into the family. Tulkula’s mother, Laura Ellis, received the Lamdre initiation from Dagchen Rinpoche in Nepal in 2007. Her family have been in America for many generations. Some of her ancestors were British pilgrims that arrived on the Mayflower ship in 1620.

 According to Tibetan tradition tulkus begin their monastic studies at the age of 4 or 5 years old. Tulkula is presently studying Tibetan language and Buddhism in India. He will need a foundation in Tibetan in order to begin his formal Buddhist studies in Tibet next year. The Phuntsok Phodrang, Sakya Heritage Foundation in New Delhi is home to over 100 young monks, teachers, and staff. It is the perfect environment for a lama of Tulkula’s age to learn Tibetan language. When he is not engaged in formal classes with his teacher, he is playing games with the other young monks. By the time Tulkula is ready to move to Yaten Monastery in Tibet in summer 2016, he will be fully conversant in Tibetan.

When Tulkula arrived in New Delhi on November 7, 2014, accompanied by his mother, he was greeted by his paternal uncle, Venerable Jamyang Gyaltsen, who is the administrator of the Sakya Phuntsok Phodrang. Lama Jamyang made all of the arrangements for Tulkula’s education in India: appointing his personal teacher, Venerable Ngawang Lodro, his attendants, and arranging for audiences with important lamas. It is fortunate that Tulkula can be under the supervision and guidance of his caring uncle, Lama Jamyang Gyalstsen.

The timing of Tulkula’s arrival in India was auspicious in that so many great Sakya lamas were gathered for the Golden Jubilee Celebration of Sakya Center.  Shortly after arriving in New Delhi, Tulkula traveled to Dehra Dun for the Golden Jubilee Celebration where he met His Holiness Sakya Trizin Rinpoche and received special blessings. He received blessings from the Sakya Dhungseys of the Drolma Phodrang and the Phuntsok Phodrang : H.E. Ratna Vajra Rinpoche, H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche, H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche, and H.E. Asanga Rinpoche. Also, from H.E. Ngor Luding Khen Chen Rinpoche Tulkula received a hair cutting blessing. He had the good fortune to meet with Dezhung Yangsi Tulku Rinpoche at his residence in Sakya College.

Tulkula will be traveling to Tibet in the summer of 2016 for the formal enthronement ceremony at Yaten Monastery.  The upcoming trip to Minyak will be Tulkula’s second visit to Tibet. The first trip was in September, 2013, when Tulkula was 3 years old. The purpose of that visit was mainly to visit Tulkula’s paternal relatives. He spent one month at the family residence in Minyak along with his mother and sister.  He traveled to several of the major monasteries in the area. Auspicious signs manifested at many key moments during his visit to Minyak.

The people of Minyak, and especially the monks of his own monastery are eagerly awaiting Tulkula’s return. He will be cared for by devoted monk attendants and taught by the most accomplished teachers. It is important for tulkus to receive the teachings and then to contemplate, study, meditate and practice the teachings. A tulku’s duty is vast. All of the monks at his monastery expect Tulkula to be their lama (teacher). Eventually Tulkula will be able to teach the Buddha Dharma, which will be of immeasurable benefit to all beings.

H. H. Dagchen Rinpoche, out of his supreme kindness and compassion for all beings, recognized Tulku Ogyan, so that Tulkula can fulfill his chosen destiny: to liberate beings wandering in the ocean of samsara. May Tulkula follow in our Precious Teacher’s footsteps, victorious over every obstacle, in order to bring happiness to all sentient beings.

May all beings benefit and may the precious Sakya teachings long endure!


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