October 31, 2009

News Update: US schoolboy anointed as reincarnation of Buddhist high priest

Friday, 30 October 2009

Source: Belfast Telegraph

A US schoolboy has been anointed in India as the reincarnation of a Buddhist high priest who died over 750 years ago.

Jigme Wangchuk, from Boston, is now revered by hundreds of thousands of followers in Nepal, Bhutan and India after taking up residence as the rinpoche, or high priest, of the Drukpa Sangag Choeling Monastery in Darjeeling, West Bengal.

The 11 year old from St Peter's School in Boston has been given the title of His Holiness the Second Galwa Lorepa, head of the Drukpa sect. The first Galwa Lorepa died in Tibet in 1250.

Although he misses his family, he said it was an honour to be a rinpoche.

"It's a big transition," Jigme told Indian newspaper the Hindustan Times. "I do miss being a cheerful schoolboy. I miss my home, my grandparents, aunts and uncles. But being a rinpoche is a great honour."

His parents migrated to the US from the Indian town of Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh 20 years ago. When visiting the Kagyu Nalanda Monastery in the south Indian city of Mysore in 2007, Jigme reportedly began narrating his past life as if in a trance.

He had spoken of a past life before, his mother Dechen said, but the family did not take him seriously.

She said: "He used to always talk of his past life, but we did not take it seriously, dubbing it as a child's fantasies."

Jigme was initiated into priesthood after his narration was verified by other senior lamas or priests.

The family have sold their restaurant in Boston and moved to Darjeeling, where his sister Tashi Norzum, 10, will continue studying. His family live in the city but not at the monastery with Jigme.

"It has been a very difficult period for us over the past two years," his mother said. "I have been crying for the past five months, but have at last come to terms with it."

The new rinpoche will spend his time in monastic study at the monastery in Darjeeling, but said he would keep in touch with friends over the internet.

"My parents will keep visiting me here, and I will keep in touch with my friends through email."

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