Professor Samdhong Rinpoche

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Professor Samdhong Rinpoche, photo courtesy of Matthew Pistono

Professor Samdhong Rinpoche or Samdhong Lobsang Tenzin (Tib. ཟམ་གདོང་བློ་བཟང་བསྟན་འཛིན་, Wyl. zam gdong blo bzang bstan 'dzin) (b. 1939) — the first elected Kalön Tripa or Prime Minister of the Tibetan government in exile. He held this position from 2001 to 2011.


Venerable Professor Samdhong Rinpoche was born as Samdhong Lobsang Tenzin in 1939, in the Tibetan province of Kham. At age five, he was recognized and enthroned as the reincarnation of the fourth Samdhong Rinpoche. He began his monastic studies at age 12 at the University of Drepung in Tibet and eventually obtained a Doctorate in Buddhist sciences at Gyütö Monastery, Dalhousie, India in 1970. In 1959, Rinpoche fled to India to escape the repressive Chinese government in Tibet. There, he was commissioned by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to serve as a teacher to monks in exile. He was appointed director of the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Varanasi in 1988 and remained there until 2001. On July 29, 2001, Rinpoche was named Kalön Tripa, or Prime Minister of the Tibetan Exile Government, the first political leader to be directly elected by the people in exile.

He is an eminent and distinguished scholar, teacher and philosopher, and a life-long campaigner for Gandhian principles especially that of non-violence or peaceful resistance.


  • Samdhong Rinpoche, Uncompromising Truth for a Compromised World: Tibetan Buddhism and Today's World, World Wisdom, 2006

Further Reading

  • Jay L. Garfield, 'The "Satya" in Satyagraha: Samdhong Rinpoche's Approach to Nonviolence' in Empty Words: Buddhist Philosophy and Cross-Cultural Interpretation, Oxford University Press, 2002

Visits to Rigpa Centres

  • Lerab Ling, 23-24 July 2006
  • Lerab Ling, 23-31 August 2012

External links