Ven. Geshe Jampel Thardo

( 1924 - 2008 )

The ven. Geshe Jampel Thardo was born in the Wood Mouse year of the Fifteenth cycle (1924/25 ce) in the Tsang region of central Tibet. He entered Namgyal Monastery -- the personal monastery of His Holiness the Dalai Lama -- at the age of nine. When he was seventeen he entered the Loseling College of Drepung Monastic University where he commenced his studies towards the degree of Geshe (Doctor of Religious Philosophy -- pronounced "ge-shay"). Having completed his course work, he was studying for his concluding exams when the failed uprising against the Chinese occupation took place in Lhasa in 1959 and was subsequently imprisoned by the Chinese. After several months, members of his family managed to secure his release from prison following which he made his way to Nepal and eventually joined his fellow Drepung monks in exile in the Buxadur refugee camp.

Having obtained work as a physical laborer for the Indian government, he eventually was able to send himself to college in Varanasi, where he obtained an Acarya (Masters) degree. Persuaded by one of his former teachers, he returned to Drepung Monastery -- then re-established in exile in south India, and completed his final exams obtaining the degree of Hla-ram-pa Geshe (Doctor of Religious Philosophy, summa cum laude) in 1969.

At the recommendation of his teachers, Geshe Thardo was asked to go to America and join several other lamas at a center in New Jersey. He agreed and arrived with no knowledge of English in 1973. Eventually leaving New Jersey to travel around the country teaching, he settled in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1983, where he served as resident lama for the Buddhist community for twenty-five years.