by Michael Joseph

Loden Rinpoche meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama for the hair cutting ceremony

Since April 2018, and with the guidance of His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist Society has been searching for Loden Rinpoche, the reincarnation of Sera-Je Geshe Acharya Thubten Loden.  

Geshe Penpa, a student of Geshe Loden’s and resident at Loden Labrang in Sera Monastery, has been instrumental in the search, visiting Ladakh on four occasions. Loden Rinpoche was formally acknowledged by His Holiness in June 2023. 

Loden Rinpoche near His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s temple in McLeod Ganj, with his guardian, Geshe Penpa

In October of that year, Geshe Penpa met with Rinpoche and his family in Ladakh to inform them of the recognition, and in February 2024 Rinpoche made the trip with his family to McLeod Ganj in India.   

Arrival in Dharamsala, 24 February 2024 

Rinpoche’s family were met in Dharamsala by Geshe Penpa and Kunga, one of Geshe Loden’s nephews, on the morning of the 24 February, and together they drove up to McLeod Ganj.  

During the drive Rinpoche was subdued, but upon exiting the car he ran ahead of everyone to the room where several students from the Tibetan Buddhist Society were waiting to greet him. They presented khataks to Loden Rinpoche which he received solemnly and, as per the custom, touched foreheads with each of them.  

Loden Rinpoche looked closely for several seconds at a photo of his previous incarnation, Geshe Thubten Loden, that had been set up in the room.  

Haircutting ceremony with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, 26 February 2024 

The ceremony took place on the morning of Monday 26 February. It was a beautiful crisp morning.  

When he arrived in monks’ robes with Geshe Penpa at His Holiness’s temple in McLeod Ganj, Rinpoche individually greeted each of the Tibetan Buddhist Society people. Geshe Penpa and Rinpoche made prostrations to the large Buddha image at the side of the temple.  

The first step of ordination – the haircutting ceremony – for Loden Rinpoche

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, performed the haircutting ceremony and held Rinpoche close. He advised Rinpoche that he should above all study, study, study, and gave him the transmissions of the Manjushri and Tsong Khapa mantras. Throughout the haircutting ceremony, Rinpoche was composed, looking His Holiness directly in the eye. 

Enthronement at Denma Khangtsen, 29 February 2024 

Rinpoche travelled to Denma Khangtsen, Geshe Acharya Thubten Loden’s college at Sera-Je monastery, accompanied by the representatives from the Khangtsen, who had greeted him in Mysore. 

Rinpoche was met outside by the Denma Khangtsen monks who formed a line to greet him. Entering the temple, he did full length prostrations, and then held his hands at his forehead for some seconds in a gesture of respect.  

Rinpoche was escorted around the temple and offered a khatak to each of the holy images. He took his place on an elevated seat, a throne, and received presentations of objects symbolising the Three Jewels – Buddha, Dharma and Sangha – each of which he touched to his forehead in the traditional manner.  

Accepting offerings in the Dhenma Khangsten temple

The monks of Denma Khangtsen all made offerings of a khatak and Rinpoche looked each monk in the eye, touching foreheads with them. 

Welcome at Loden Labrang, 29 February 2024 

Loden Labrang is Rinpoche’s new home. On arrival he made prostrations in the shrine room and presented khatak offerings to each of the holy images. Once again, he looked closely at the photo of Geshe Loden for some seconds. Then he received offerings from members of the Labrang. 

Within days of his Denma enthronement Loden Rinpoche started school.

Other observations 

At times Rinpoche was a playful, young boy with a fascination for anything technological. At other times, when fulfilling the role of a reincarnate lama, he was serious and composed and behaved impeccably. Our sense was of a special, charismatic young boy who was a delight to be around.

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