Kunsang Detchen Rinpoche

The following article is from the Winter, 1996 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

Arunachal Pradesh and Assam are two insulated states in the northeastern region of India. Today among the numerous indigenous peoples that live there, the Mon, Sherdukpen and Tibetan refugees are the only people who practice the Tibetan form of Buddhism. The entire area is strictly out of bounds to foreigners because of its sensitive status as a geo-political buffer zone between India and the Chinese-occupied Pema Kod region of Tibet.

Kunsang Detchen Rinpoche lives in Arunachal Pradesh. He was born in 1929, in Tibet. From 1946 through 1949, while he was studying with His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche in central Tibet, the master addressed him as Lodhak Terton because Kunsang Detchen Rinpoche is the reincarnation of Terton Longsel Nyingpo, belonging to the Drubchen Melong Dorje lineage. In 1972 he was forced to migrate to India where he settled among the Tibetan and Sherdukpen people of West Kameng district. From the old Gompa in Rupa, Rinpoche has been discharging his spiritual duties to the community in addition to running a Nyingmapa religious school where he guides about 100 monks and nuns, including orphans. Presently, with his own limited resources, he has started work on building two monasteries. One is Zangdok Palri in Chillipam village, and the other an Ani (nun) monastery, in Nykmadong village.

There are several holy places connected with Padmasambhava's activities in Kameng District as well as in Assam (Kamarupa in ancient times). Among the most important are Urgyenling in Tawang, and Bagajang near Sela Pass at 14,000 feet. The Indian Government maintains the policy of protecting the indigenous cultures of the area from missionary intrusion, but its ability to aid them financially is severely limited. Following the 1959 Sino-Indian conflict, Arunachal has been out of bounds to foreigners as well as to Indians who don't have special permits.

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Kunsang Detchen Rinpoche at site for Ani Gompa.

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Gate at Zangdok Pali.

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Zangdok Pali Monastery under construction.

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Anis at prayer outside present Ani Gompa Building.

Buddhists now living in the region are essentially disconnected from the global networks of support that have emerged in the past 15 years and have benefited at least some of the Tibetan diaspora. Ironically, this area also happens to be on the escape route of Tibetan refugees (including His Holiness the Dalai Lama).

Kunsang Detchen is asking for help to complete the monastery projects. Under Rinpoche's guidance all contributions will be used to realize these projects. The goal is none other than to ensure that the ancient lineage seed may grow to be a resilient and many-branched tree on these far eastern slopes of the Himalayas.

To make a tax-deductible donation, contact Arunachal Pradesh Project, c/o T. Hazarika, 174 Prospect Park West, 4R, Brooklyn, NY 11215, (718) 832-2855. ä_æ

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