To his old classmates in Boston, Jigme Wangchuk is a normal 11-year-old schoolboy - but in India he is worshipped by thousands of Buddhists who consider him the reincarnation of one the faith's holiest figures
He has traded his American life for a monastery in the Himalayan hill town Darjeeling to fulfil his "destiny" as a spiritual leader and live among his followers throughout Bhutan, Nepal and India's Himalayan states. His parents have also given up their restaurant business to be near his Drukpa Sangag Choeling Monastery.
They say they discovered their son was not like other children two years ago when he started talking about his "past life". At first, they dismissed it as a childish fantasy, but began taking it seriously during a trip to a monastery in Mysore, southern India.
"He used to always talk of his past life but we did not take it seriously, dubbing it as a child's fantasies," said his mother Dechen. At one point she claims he stopped playing and went into a trance in which he recounted the story of his former life as "His Holiness the Second Galwa Lorepa" lama who died in 1250 in Tibet.
While in a trance he described a celebrated Buddhist monastery with a 35ft dragon on the roof. After hearing his description of the temple he had not visited, the monks proclaimed he was the reincarnation of the 'Rinpoche' or high priest Galwa Lorepa, the founder of one of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
Now he will spent the next ten years in virtual seclusion and only be able to communicate with his former school friends by email. "It has been a very difficult period for us over the past two years. I have been crying for the past five months, but have, at last, come to terms with it," said his mother Dechen.
"When we were in New Delhi on our way to Darjeeling, I asked him whether he would like to go back to Boston. He said he has to fulfil his responsibilities to his people." But for 'His Holiness' Jigme, there's no regrets. "I will miss my school days but I am happy in my new role. I like it here," he said.
Gyalwa Lorepa was born in 1187 and passed away in 1250. His parents had no children, after making offerings to a very holy statue of Avalokiteshvara in Lhasa, his mother had very auspicious dreams when he was conceived and as usual, many auspicious omens appeared at his birth. Even at a very young age, he had clear visions of Tara and by 6 years old, he was already very familiar with Prajna Paramita and many other holy texts. At the age of 16, Gyalwa Lorepa and his father who was a Nyingma yogi, received many profound teachings and empowerments from Tsangpa Gyare himself. Gyalwa Lorepa wanted to renounce and become a monk, but his parents were opposing to this and had arranged marriage for him. So he hid himself in Namdruk, stayed with Tsangpa Gyare so that he could receive teachings and practised under his beloved guru's guidance. He was such an expert in the practice of tummo which helped him to keep his body heat all the time that he only needed to wear a thin piece of cotton cloth, no matter how cold the weather was. For those of you who have been to Namdruk in the winter or even in the summer at night and in the morning, you would know how cold that can be. So Gyalwa Lorepa was able to wear only a thin sheet of cotton and because of this, he became known as "Lorepa" or "the cotton clad of the Lo clan"
His parents and relatives never stopped asking him not to become a monk and they wanted him to get married. Some of them even became very angry with Tsangpa Gyare. Gyalwa Lorepa told his angry parents and relatives that even if one owned the greatest wealth in the world, at the time of death, the wealth would not be of any use, and since even the beloved ones could not prevent death from happening, Gyalwa Lorepa would not even disrobe if he was faced with the threat of death. His teaching moved everyone and even his father accompanied him to receive teachings and empowerments from Tsangpa Gyare in Namdruk.
Gyalwa Lorepa became a very close disciple and attendant to Tsangpa Gyare when his guru was falling ill. During this time, he received many prophesies from his guru. When Tsangpa Gyare passed away, he performed all the rituals for his guru. After his guru passed away, he went everywhere to meditate. In Mount Kailash, he meditated for 13 years. After that, his activities blossomed and he built many monasteries in Tibet and founded Tharpa Ling monastery in Bumthang, Bhutan.
The great yogi master, Gyalwa Lorepa, passsed away at the age of 63, after giving a major Chakrasamvara initiation. When his health became worse, he sent back all his belongings to Namdruk as his offering and passed away in the middle of many auspicious signs. The followers of Gyalwa Lorepa later became known as "Lower Drukpas".
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