Name: Alak Rita Rinpoche
Interview Age: 92
Date of Birth: 1925
Birthplace: Khotse, Amdo, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1956
Political Prisoner: No
Interview No.: 29U
Location: Clement Town, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India
Categories: Culture and History
Keywords: Amdo, childhood memories, customs/traditions, monastic life, nomadic life, houses/villages, religious art
Alak Rita Rinpoche was born to a poor nomadic family in Khotse, Amdo Province in 1925. His family was completely dependent on their animals for survival. They owned only 20-40 at a time so Alak Rita Rinpoche's father occasionally had to hunt Tibetan gazelle when they were desperate for food. Unlike many Tibetan nomads, they lived in a chamgur, which was a type of round tent that originated in Mongolia. Pastures were allotted to groups of 30-40 families and they relocated according to the seasons.
When he was 8 years old, Alak Rita Rinpoche was recognized as the 4th reincarnation of the previous Alak Rita. He tells the story of how another revered lama, Kunkhyen Jamyang Sherpa, assisted the monks in locating him. They took him to Labrang Tashi Khyil, the biggest monastery in Amdo. Alak Rita Rinpoche describes each year of his education at the monastery and his success at philosophical debate as a result of his animated performances.
At the age of 18 Alak Rita Rinpoche was assigned as an abbot to a local monastery, serving a 4-year term there before being assigned a 3-year term at another location. Then in 1956 he travelled to Lhasa to attend the Kalachakra empowerment and continued on to India for a pilgrimage. Although never formerly trained in traditional Tibetan Buddhist painting called thangka, he always had a strong interest and secretly taught himself by copying other paintings. He explains the religious significance of properly creating a thangka.
- Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
- Tenzin Yangchen (Interpreter)
- Tenzin Choenyi (Videographer)