Interviewee Profile

Name: Arjia Rinpoche
(Alias: No)

Gender: Male

Interview Age: 62

Date of Birth: 1950

Birthplace: Dhashae, Amdo, Tibet

Year Left Tibet: 1998

Profession: Rinpoche

Monk/Nun: Currently

Political Prisoner: No

Interview Details

Interview No.: 7C/24B - Part 1

Date: 2013-06-10

Language: English

Location: Mill Valley, California, United States

Categories: Chinese Invasion and Occupation

Keywords: Amdo, brutality/torture, childhood memories, Chinese -- oppression under, Cultural Revolution, forced labor, monasteries -- destruction of , monastic life, Panchen Lama


Arjia Lobsang Thupten Jigme Gyatso, known as Arjia Rinpoche, was born in 1950 in Amdo. He talks about his Mongolian and Tibetan heritage and fondly remembers his childhood days. He recalls how he was recognized as the reincarnation of the 7th Arjia Rinpoche at the age of 2 and describes in detail his life in the Kumbum Monastery as a reincarnate lama, and the responsibilities and privileges that go with it.

Arjia Rinpoche talks about the drastic changes that came with the Chinese occupation. His life of privilege ended abruptly with the imprisonment of his teacher and entire staff. He was sent to a Chinese school for a few years and then was fortunate to be taken to Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Lhasa. When the Cultural Revolution began he was sent back to Kumbum to work in the fields with the other disrobed monks. He describes the Panchen Lama's initial influence over the Chinese, his patriotism and how the Chinese denounced him subsequently.

After the death of Chairman Mao, Arjia Rinpoche met the first Tibetan delegation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama that visited Tibet in 1980. As religious freedom improved he was appointed Chairman of the Buddhist Association and visited many monasteries in Tibet. He explains the struggle to re-open monasteries and re-establish the system of reincarnated lamas.

Interview Team:

  • Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
  • Tony Sondag (Videographer)
Interview Video

Link: Watch On Youtube

Topic: Interview with Arjia Rinpoche on 6/10/2013

Length: 02:01:25

Short Videos

Link: Watch On Youtube

Topic: Privileges and Challenges of Being a Reincarnated Lama

Length: 00:04:12

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