Lobsang Tenzin

Lobsang Tenzin, better known by the titles Professor Venerable Samdhong Rinpoche (zam gdong rin po che) and to Tibetans as the 5th Samdhong Rinpoche (born 5 November 1937), was the previous Prime Minister (then officially called the Kalon Tripa or chairman of the cabinet, currently known as Sikyong), of the Central Tibetan Administration, or Tibetan government-in-exile based in Dharamshala, India. Lobsang Sangay was elected to this position in April 2011.

Lobsang Tenzin
At his office in Benaras.jpg
Former Prime Minister of the Central Tibetan Administration
In office
5 September 2001 – 8 August 2011
MonarchTenzin Gyatso
Preceded bySonam Topgyal
Succeeded byLobsang Sangay
Personal details
Born (1939-11-05) 5 November 1939 (age 80)
Jol, Tibet
Alma materDrepung Monastery
Tenzin at a fund-raising dinner in Sydney, Australia. (2006)

A close associate of 14th Dalai Lama, the Tibetan leader, he was elected Kalon Tripa on 5 September 2001 and left this office on 8 August 2011.

Early lifeEdit

Samdhong Rinpoche was born in Jol, in eastern Tibet. At the age of five, he was recognised, according to Tibetan tradition, as the reincarnation of the 4th Samdhong Rinpoche and enthroned in Gaden Dechenling Monastery at Jol. Two years later he took vows as a monk, started his religious training at Drepung Monastery in Lhasa and completed it at the Madhyamika School of Buddhism.

Exile to India and life as an EducationistEdit

Children of Tibet with Samdhong Rinpoche

After his training in Lhasa, he fled to India in 1959, after the Tibet Rebellion, along with the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. From October 1961, he served as the religious teacher of Tibetan School in Shimla and in 1963 served as the acting Principal. In 1964 he worked as religious teacher of Darjeeling Tibetan School and in 1965 at the age of 26, he was appointed as the Principal of Central School for Tibetans, Dalhousie and served there till 1970. He received his Lharampa degree in the year 1968 and Ngagrimpa degree in 1969.[1] In 1971 he became Principal of Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies (CIHTS) at Varanasi (Benares), and from 1988 to 2001 he was the director.[1][2][3]

From 1994 to 1995, he was awarded National Lectureship from Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR), New Delhi.[4] He assumed many important responsibilities including President of the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), a strong academic group of more than 250 Vice-Chancellors of Indian Universities, Chancellor of Sanchi University of Buddhist-Indic Studies[5] and Chairman of various Trust and Foundations. He is regarded as one of the leading Tibetan scholars of Buddhism and is also an authority on the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. He is fluent in Hindi and English, Tibetan being his mother tongue.[1] Rinpoche is one of the very few Buddhist scholars in the world with this depth, experience and clarity in Buddhist philosophy and he also spent many years exploring directly with J. Krishnamurti, who was one of the great educationists in India.[6] Rinpoche has been an honored guest at many forums in India. He has spoken on challenges India faces today, and has stressed on inclusion of the poor masses in development of the country.[7]

Political ActivitiesEdit

In 1991 Lobsang Tenzin was appointed by the Dalai Lama as a member of the Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies, and later was unanimously elected as its chairman. Rinpoche served twice as the Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile from 1991 to 2001.[8] Between 1996 and 2001 he was an elected member of the Assembly representing exiled Tibetans from Kham province and also its chairman. Rinpoche contributed in drafting the new constitution of Tibetan Government in Exile, introduced educational and economic reforms, and ensured a policy of non-violence, transparency, environmental sustainability and organic farming.[9]

In 2000 the Dalai Lama decided that the Tibetan people in exile should elect their own Prime Minister, and in July 2001 Lobsang Tenzin was elected with about 29,000 votes, or about 84% of those cast, which is about 25% of the exile Tibetan population. Juchen Thubten Namgyal, the other candidate, won the remainder.[10] Since 2001 he has travelled extensively to gain support for the cause of Tibetan autonomy and raise awareness of the Dalai Lama's proposals for negotiating autonomy with the Chinese government.

During his Prime Ministership, Rinpoche negotiated many times with the Chinese officials to bring a suitable solution to the Tibetan cause. However no meaningful development could be made in this direction.[11]

Advocacy and teachingsEdit

Samdhong Rinpoche is an advocate of Gandhian philosophy, is a lifelong campaigner of non violence and is on the board of trustees of Swaraj Peeth Trust, a Gandhian centre for non violence and peace.[12] He has held lectures and talks with exchange groups in Germany, Switzerland and USA where he spoke extensively on Buddhist ideology and its importance in contemporary politics and economy.[13] A large score of his lectures on general subjects like peace, happiness and compassion, electoral reforms, modern ethics, the environment, Swaraj and non violence are available in audio and video on his website and Soundcloud.[14][15]

Stance on "Middle Way Approach"Edit

Rinpoche is a staunch supporter of the middle path and in sync with the views of the Dalai Lama. He is of the opinion that the Tibet issue is alive on the international forum and has received widespread support due to its right direction and commitment to non violence.

In his own words

“Tibet cause is a just cause and not a power struggle. It is neither a political struggle nor a battle against the system. It is the struggle between truth and falsehood; justice and injustice.”[16]

A lifelong campaigner of Gandhian principles, he seeks not only political freedom for the Tibetan people but also to preserve the Tibetan Culture. In an interview he said,

“Our ultimate goal is not just political freedom but the preservation of Tibetan culture. What will we gain if we win political freedom but lose what gives value to our lives? It is why we reject the option of violence. For respect for life is an inseparable aspect of the Tibetan culture we are fighting for."[17]

Note on his nameEdit

Lobsang Tenzin is his given Tibetan name. His legal name in India is Samdhong Rinpoche, although in fact this is a Tibetan religious title, like the Dalai Lama. In English he is commonly called Professor Rinpoche, and accepts this although it is incorrect. Tibetans address him as Rinpoche, which literally means "the precious one", used to be styled tulkus (incarnate lamas).


  1. Buddhist Meditation
  2. Zam-gdoṅ Rin-po-cheʼi gsuṅ bśad daṅ gsuṅ rtsom phyogs bsgrigs
  3. Samdhong Rinpoche Uncompromising Truth for a Compromised World
  4. Bod kyi da ltaʼi dza drag gnas bab daṅ ṅa tshoʼi las ʼgan [18]



  1. ^ a b c "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Himachal PLUS". www.tribuneindia.com. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  2. ^ "Sanchi University" (PDF).
  3. ^ "A SPECIAL EVENT- Talks with the Venerable Samdhong Rinpoche, October 15 & 16, 2008, Ojai, California". www.kfa.org. 4 April 2017. Archived from the original on 4 April 2017. Retrieved 3 April 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  4. ^ "ICPR" (PDF).
  5. ^ "CSPA | CSPA Committee". www.designandpeople.org. Archived from the original on 14 March 2017. Retrieved 8 December 2017. He was former Member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities and a visiting Professor with Tasmania University, Australia and Hampshire University USA. Among his notable positions in Indian Academia are: Member of the Governing Body of The Krishnamurti Foundation of India, Chennai and of the Central Tibetan School Administration (CTSA), New Delhi. He is a Trustee Member of the Norbulingka Institute in Sidhpur, Dharamshala. And he is a Chancellor of the Sanchi University of Buddhist-Indic Studies, Govt of Madhya Pradesh.
  6. ^ "Students question Buddhist teacher - www.phayul.com". www.phayul.com. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  7. ^ "His Holiness the Dalai Lama Confers Award on Indian Actor". Phayul.com. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  8. ^ "Successive Chairman and Speaker | Tibetan Parliament in Exile". tibetanparliament.org. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  9. ^ "Constitution". Central Tibetan Administration. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  10. ^ It is Samdhong Rinpoche Archived 15 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "International Campaign for Tibet | Tibetan-Chinese Negotiations". www.savetibet.org. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  12. ^ "fnvaworld.org | Ven. Prof. Samdhong Lobsang Tenzin, the 5th Samdhong Rinpoche". fnvaworld.org. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  13. ^ "Dynamic Interrelation (Tendrel) Between Mind and Reality | Tarab Institute International". tarab-institute.org. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  14. ^ "Audios". samdhongrinpoche.com. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  15. ^ "His Eminence Prof.Samdhong Rinpoche". SoundCloud. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  16. ^ "If India wants, it can sacrifice Tibet issue". www.rediff.com. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  17. ^ Mishra, Pankaj (18 December 2005). "The Restless Children of the Dalai Lama". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  18. ^ OpenLibrary.org. "samdhong rinpoche - search | Open Library". openlibrary.org. Retrieved 4 April 2017.


External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Sonam Topgyal
Prime Minister of the Central Tibetan Administration
Succeeded by
Lobsang Sangay