Geshe Gyeltsen

Last updated

Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen (1923 February 13, 2009) was a Tibetan lama and human rights activist living in the United States. Gyeltsen had been described as "one of the last living Tibetan Buddhist masters to have been trained in Tibet" before 1959. [1]


Geshe Gyeltsen founded the Thubten Dhargye Ling Buddhist center in 1978. [1] He was a member of the same Buddhist sect, known as the Gelug or Yellow Hat sect, as the 14th Dalai Lama. [1]


Early life

Gyeltsen was born Jamphel Yeshe in 1923, in Kham, an eastern ethno-cultural Tibet. [1] [2] [3] He became a Buddhist monk when he was seven years old. [1] He traveled to the Gaden Monastery near Lhasa when he was sixteen years old. [1] Gyeltsen remained as a student at the monastery for the next twenty years. [1] [2] [3]

India and United Kingdom

Gyeltsen and fifty other Tibetan monks fled to India following the 14th Dalai Lama during the 1959 Tibetan uprising. [1] His group, which included fifty monks, travelled for a month over the Himalaya Mountains. [1] [2] [3] Upon reaching the Indian town of Dalhousie, he completed his Buddhist studies at Gyuto Tantric College. [1] He earned the rank and title of Geshe , which has been described as a "doctorate of Tibetan Buddhism", while living in a refugee camp in West Bengal. [1] Gyeltsen went to England in 1963, where he spent more than a decade educating Tibetan refugee children in Tibetan language, culture, and Buddhist philosophy in the United Kingdom. [1] In 1970, Gyeltsen undid his vows and married Jennifer Humphries. While married, Gyeltsen continued teaching Buddhism. In 1976, his wife gave birth to their only child; a boy they named, Tsewang Gyeltsen. [2] [3]

United States

Gyeltsen immigrated to the United States from the United Kingdom in 1976. Shortly after, he and his wife mutually divorced. Gyeltsen then reinstated his vows as a monk and began teaching Tibetan language, meditation and religious studies as a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of California, Los Angeles. [1] [2] [3] Gyeltsen founded the Thubten Dhargye Ling Buddhist Center in Los Angeles (later Long Beach) in 1978. [1] Gyeltsen also founded Tibetan Buddhist centers throughout North America, including Texas, Colorado, Alaska, Mexico, the Grass Valley in northern California, as well as Europe. [1] [2] [3]

Gyeltsen hosted the Dalai Lama on visits to Los Angeles on six separate occasions. The most recent visit by the Dalai Lama was in 2006. [1] [2] [3]

He served as a member of the board of directors of the International Campaign for Tibet, an independence group founded by actor Richard Gere. [1] Gyeltsen wrote the books Mirror of Wisdom and Compassion: The Key to Great Awakening. [1]


Geshe Gyeltsen died on February 13, 2009, at his home at the Thubten Dhargye Ling Buddhist center at the age of 85 after a short illness. [1] Gyeltsen cremation ceremony was held in southern India. His relics were then returned to the center. Gyeltsen is survived by a son, Tsewang Gyeltsen of Long Beach; a sister and several nieces and nephews. [2] [3]

Related Research Articles

1st Dalai Lama Dalai Lama of Tibet

Gedun Drupa was considered posthumously to be the 1st Dalai Lama.

Ganden Tripa title of the spiritual leader of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism

The Ganden Tripa or Gaden Tripa is the title of the spiritual leader of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, the school that controlled central Tibet from the mid-17th century until the 1950s. The 103rd Ganden Tripa, Jetsun Lobsang Tenzin died in office on 21 April 2017. Jangtse Choejey Kyabje Jetsun Lobsang Tenzin Palsangpo is the current Ganden Tripa.

Thubten Yeshe Tibetan Buddist

Thubten Yeshe (1935–1984) was a Tibetan lama who, while exiled in Nepal, co-founded Kopan Monastery (1969) and the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (1975). He followed the Gelug tradition, and was considered unconventional in his teaching style.

Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition

The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) was founded in 1975 by Lamas Thubten Yeshe and Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, who began teaching Buddhism to Western students in Nepal. The FPMT has grown to encompass over 160 Dharma centers, projects, and services in 37 countries. Since the death of Lama Yeshe in 1984, the FPMT's spiritual director has been Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

Geshe or geshema is a Tibetan Buddhist academic degree for monks and nuns. The degree is emphasized primarily by the Gelug lineage, but is also awarded in the Sakya and Bön traditions. The geshema degree is the same as a geshe degree, but is called a geshema degree because it is awarded to women.

Thubten Shedrup Ling is the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Australia. It is situated near Bendigo, Victoria, and is a member of the International Mahayana Institute of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT).

Thubten Jigme Norbu Tibetan activist

Thubten Jigme Norbu, recognised as the Taktser Rinpoche, was a Tibetan lama, writer, civil rights activist and professor of Tibetan studies and was the eldest brother of the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. He was one of the first high-profile Tibetans to go into exile and was the first to settle in the United States.

Kumbum Monastery building in Haidong, China

Kumbum Monastery, also called Ta'er Temple, is a Tibetan gompa in Lusar, Huangzhong County, Xining, Qinghai, China. It was founded in 1583 in a narrow valley close to the village of Lusar in the historical Tibetan region of Amdo. Its superior monastery is Drepung Monastery, immediately to the west of Lhasa. It is ranked in importance as second only to Lhasa.

Trisur Rinpoche Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal, also known as Khensur Lungri Namgyel, was born in 1927 in Kham was the 101st Gaden Tripa, the leader of the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

Thekchen Choling is a registered Buddhist organisation in the Republic of Singapore. The organisation was started in 2001 by Namdrol Rinpoche and a group of his initial disciples. The organisation promotes non-sectarian Buddhism, emphasizing understanding of Theravada and Mahayana teachings.

Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa

The Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa (ILTK) in Pomaia, a village in Tuscany, in Italy is a branch of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), an international network of Gelugpa dharma centers. It is named for Tsongkhapa, founder of the Gelugpa monastic order of Tibetan Buddhism. The Dalai Lama has taught there on several occasions.

The Thubten Dhargye Ling Buddhist Center is an American Tibetan Buddhist center founded by Geshe Gyeltsen in 1978.

Thubten may refer to:

Kyabje Lati Rinpoche Born in the Kham region of Eastern Tibet in 1922, Lati Rinpoche was identified as the reincarnation of a great practitioner by Gongkar Rinpoche and entered monastic life at the age of 10.

Ling Rinpoche Tibetan tulku

Kyabje Yongzin Ling Rinpoche is a Tibetan tulku. The best-known incarnation is the sixth incarnation, Thupten Lungtok Namgyal Thinley, a Tibetan buddhist scholar and teacher.

Geshe Acharya Thubten Loden is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan Buddhist Society in Australia. Geshe Loden established the Peaceful Land of Joy Meditation Centre in Yuroke, Victoria, and has written many books. In 2011, he was named Hume Citizen of the Year.

Khyongla Rato

Khyongla Rato, also known as Khyongla Rato Rinpoche, Rato Khyongla Rinpoche, Khyongla Rinpoche and also as Nawang Losang, his monk's name, is a scholar and teacher in the Gelugpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. He was born in what was then the Kham region of Tibet, and was recognized as an incarnate lama at an early age. He spent over 30 years of his life as a monk studying in the monasteries of Tibet and receiving teachings from many highly qualified lamas.

The Tibet Center

The Tibet Center, also known as Kunkhyab Thardo Ling, in New York City, is a center for the study of Tibetan Buddhism, a dharma center. The Tibet Center was founded by Venerable Khyongla Rato Rinpoche in 1975, and is currently directed by Khen Rinpoche, Nicholas Vreeland, who is the abbot of Rato Dratsang. The primary teachers at The Tibet Center are Khyongla Rato Rinpoche, Geshe Nicholas Vreeland, and Anthony Spina.

Tibet Center Institute Tibet Center located in Knappenberg in the region of Hüttenberg, Carinthia, Austria

Tibet Center Institute – International Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies was founded by the 14th Dalai Lama, Lama Geshe Tenzin Dhargye and the Tibet Office Geneva with the support of the Carinthian state government and is located in Knappenberg in the region of Hüttenberg, Carinthia, Austria. The institute provides an authentic and secular education program on Tibet's authentic knowledge and culture on an academic level which makes it unique in Europe.

Kyabje Rinpoche

Kyabje Khensur Kangurwa Lobsang Thubten Rinpoche, was a Buddhist monk, Abbot of Sera Jey Monastery, and the founder of Tibetan Buddhist Institute (Adelaide). Khensur means "former abbot" and Rinpoche means "precious teacher".


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 Woo, Elaine (2009-02-21). "MusGeshe Tsultim Gyeltsen dies at 85; Tibetan lama founded Long Beach Buddhist center". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 2009-05-02.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Ven. Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen". Gaden Shartse Thubten Dhargye Ling.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Ven. Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen". Dorje Shugden. March 1, 2009.