In Memory of Geshe Khenrab Gajam of Ganden Jangtse Monastery

Gaden Jangtse Monastery Geshe Khenrab Gajam

In Memory of H.E Geshe Khenrab Gajam’s Paranirvana Day – 19 October 2016

Geshe Khenrab Gajam was born in 1928 in the province of Kham in eastern Tibet. Entering the local monastery, Nyagon Tashi Chöling, at a very young age, he began his novice monk studies, staying there for 4 years.

Then, according to the Gelugpa monastic tradition, he left Kham to perfect his Buddhist education in the great monastic University of Gaden. He traveled to Lhasa in a caravan of about a hundred people, under the protection of a very famous Lama, who was a friend of his extended family.

A diligent student, at age 24, Geshe-la showed mastery of his various subjects and began teaching the younger students. In 1959, because of the Chinese occupation, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama left Tibet, entering exile in India. Geshe-la and many other Tibetans followed the example of His Holiness and fled to India. Along the way through the Himalayas, there were many harrowing dangers, both from the Chinese army and natural hindrances. At some point, Geshe Khenrab was blinded by fog and fell off a cliff, miraculously escaping uninjured.

In 1968, at the age of 40, Geshe-la completed his cycle of Buddhist philosophical studies. He attained a high level of scholarship, second in his class after the renowned Pabongka Rinpoche (who tragically passed away soon after his Geshe degree in India). The title of Lharampa Geshe, the highest degree in the Tibetan monastic system, was a part of Geshe Khenrab’s many accomplishments.

In 1970, the Indian government offered the monks and Tibetan people living temporarily in Baxa (an old British army internment camp), a section of land in Mundgod, in southern India. The monks cleared the jungle with their bare hands and built the first Gaden Monastic University in exile. Geshe Khenrab became its proctor.

In 1972, because the Canadian Government accepted approximately 400 Tibetan refugees and due to an unusual display of sensitivity on the part of a Canadian Immigration official, the department approached four lamas from the four traditions in Tibetan Buddhism. They asked Geshe Khenrab to be the representative of the Gelugpa order and care for the Tibetans living in Longueuil, Quebec. At first, he refused, having the wish to live simply within a Tibetan Community and do serious meditation in the manner of his teacher, Nyima Gyaltsen Rinpoche. However, since the Immigration official asked several times over a period of several months, Geshe-la thought it was necessary to accept this responsibility.

When Geshe Khenrab arrived in Montreal and settled into a relationship with his Tibetan refugee community, he was the only master qualified to teach the Tibetan form of Mahayana Buddhism in Quebec. Eventually, through a LIP grant, Geshe-la moved into a small apartment in Longueuil.

Progressively, a small group of English and French students coalesced around him. He began giving Dharma teachings and performing various ceremonies on request and as the need arose.

The apartment became Geshe-la’s first Dharma centre. It was named Atisha Dharma Centre. He received the visits of several great lamas (Venerable Pema Gyalsten of Drepung Monastery, Venerable Lati Rinpoche of Gaden Shartse Monastery, Venerable Kalu Rinpoche of the Kyagyu Lineage, Kyabje Song Rinpoche) touring Canada. Many of the teachings, initiations, and retreats were conducted in the house of singer Leonard Cohen which was located on St-Dominique street, in the Plateau area of downtown Montreal.

In 1980, just before the visit of H.H. the Dalai Lama in fall of the same year, the centre moved to a residential area in Longueuil. The Atisha Dharma Centre became known as Tibetan Buddhist Temple – Chang Chub Chöling. The location was much bigger and allowed a much larger group of people to participate in temple activities. H.H. the Dalai Lama visited the temple. Incredibly, Kyabje Ling Rinpoche was also visiting Chang Chub Chöling at that particular time.

In 1982 Geshe-la left for a 6-7 months visit to India and Tibet. Leaving from Kathmandu in Nepal, he travelled to Kham, Tibet where members of his family still lived. Geshe-la was the first monk the Tibetans had seen for years. An overwhelming number of Tibetans from that area came to visit him. After a very successful tour, being able to help many of those whom he met, he returned to Montreal.

At the advice and request of Gaden Tripa, Jamphel Shenpen, who visited the temple several times over the course of a few years, Geshe-la’s students were told that they must find and relocate to a larger space. The center was moved to the present location on De l’Eglise Ave. in Côte St. Paul.

Work began in the fall, with six months spent emptying the new location (an old branch of Banque Nationale) of unwanted objects, cleaning, repairing, painting and building. In January 1986, although the work was not completed, it had all been primed with fresh coats of white paint. The Gyume monks were in Montreal and so they were requested by Geshe-la to consecrate the Temple. The work then continued through the winter into spring.

The Tibetan Buddhist Temple – Chang Chub Chöling was opened in a ceremony with the Gyuto monks in May 1986. The temple became a site of great activity. Classical Buddhist teachings and practices were given freely to any interested persons. Geshe-la began conducting several retreats and teachings in various North American cities.

A long list of great lamas continued to visit the temple to give teachings and initiations. Among these were Ganden Tripa, Venerable Lati Rinpoche, Kyabje Dagom Rinpoche, Zasep Tulku Rinpoche (who visited the temple many times) and others.

After living the exemplary life of a Dharma practitioner within his community of friends and students for more than twenty years, Geshe Khenrab Gagam showed the truth of impermanence on October 4, 1993. Since then, his students never lost the hope that the temple remain a centre radiating Mahayana Buddhism and that Geshe-la’s reincarnation would soon return. Advice had been requested from Lati Rinpoche and Kyabje Dagom Rinpoche on these serious matters.

Through the kindness and care of Dagom Rinpoche, the temple came under the guidance of Geshe Tsultrim, an exceptional Geshe from Gaden Jangtse Monastery.


Tibetan Buddhist Temple (

A Spiritual Friend Geshe Khenrab Topgyal Gajam, Gary Young

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13 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Very Good
    I wish to add that the origiinal source information is from a book called
    A Spiritual Friend Geshe Khenrab Topgyal Gajam by Gary Young
    This book is located on the web and i will send a copy
    Gary Young

  2. I bow down to a great and selfless lama who though reluctant, started a dharma centre far from a place he knew and loved. An alien in an alien land caring for Tibetans and Canadians alike, he grew the dharma centre known as Atisha Dharma Cemtre into Tibetan Buddhist Temple – Chang Chub Chöling.

    Thank you for sharing this inspiring article on another great lama. The lamas that came out of Tibet had so much compassion that they would move obstacles, big and small to bring dharma and peace of mind to all.


  3. I’ve met people who have met this Geshe Khenrab and they were very moved by his spirituality. His presence and prayers moved people to tears. He was a very devoted student of his teacher and his protector Dorje Shugden. He was a pure monk and practiced Dorje Shugden till the end.

  4. Thank you for sharing this inspiring article of H.E. Geshe Khenrab Gajam. It shows really his attainments through his ability to spread the Dharma, even to a land far away and the success of his activities as his centre grew to what it is today. I am touched by his compassion that despite his wish to remain in India to do serious meditation, he went for the sake of the Tibetan refugees who went there and the people of Canada. I find that many attained Gurus really prefer to focus on their meditations as they know the futility of Samsara and yet out of compassion for the people, they give up their wishes to go into the world of ignorance and egos to spread the Dharma. May Geshe Khenrab Gajam’s students’ wishes be fulfilled and may his reincarnation be found soon.

  5. Inspiring article about a real master. You dont have masters of that calibre from that generation anymore so thanks for refreshing this and pulling it back up to the front pages. Though when you say “In 1972…due to an unusual display of sensitivity on the part of a Canadian Immigration official, the department approached four lamas from the four traditions in Tibetan Buddhism.” it is unusual but not entirely unexpected coming from the Canadian government. Too bad the sensitivity wasnt appreciated by the Dalai Lama-supporting Tibetans who moved there and continue to create trouble for everyone.

  6. A great Dorje Shugden master makes good of his life and makes full use of this life to benefit others.Rejoice.

  7. This is good for us to read more about great lama’s inspiring story.
    May H.E Geshe Khenrab Gajam’s reincarnation would soon return and continue to benefit sentient beings by turning the dharma wheel.

  8. Very heartwarming to read of the life story of a erudite lama who dedicate his life i service of others and preserving Buddha Dharma. May the incarnation of Geshe Khenrab Gagam return soon to continue his great work and turn the wheel of Dharma once again.

  9. The Shugden groups can dare defy the Dalai Lama because they do not have a country. The Tibetans are scattered all over the world and they have their various power basis from their various countries. I have spoken to Ms. Dhardon Sharling about this. If all the Tibetans were back in Tibet, they would have no chance to defy the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama’s government would crush them into silence. How dare they defy the Dalai Lama. Democracy is not for the backwards and illiterate Tibetans. They need a strong, smart and able ruler like the Dalai Lama and his ministers to tell them what is good or bad for them. The Dorje Shugden practice should be banned completely from the Tibetans and Tibetan nation because it is a harmful practice. And no religious freedom should be allowed to let this Dorje Shugden religion arise. In history, many other harmful religions were suppressed for the good of mankind. Shugden should be suppressed and all people who practice him should be forced to give up the practice.

  10. Everyone should be seen with and take a picture with the Dalai Lama and post it. It will boost ‘business’. It’s made me look really valid and more people trust what I am saying simply because I had my picture taken with the Dalai Lama. I’ve roped in Carole MccQuirre and gang to do the same things. You see because I am from East Germany and we don’t believe in any sort of religious freedom. Whatever the regime in the past told you to do, you do it without question. The Shugden groups should not be allowed to practice their religion because the Dalai lama says so. We shouldn’t question the Dalai Lama or defy him. After all he is not human but a god. So if Dalai Lama says don’t practice Dorje Shugden, just follow along without question because why should there be religious freedom. The populace are too stupid to see what religion is good and what is harmful.

  11. I agree with you Paljor. The Tibetans do not need democracy, but a strong firm hand to tell them what to do. They are not like us educated English people who can handle and know what to do with democracy. The fact that Tibetans have no real elected leaders and the leader is really the Dalai Lama for the last 60 years is good news. Tibetans cannot elect their own leaders. When the Dalai Lama dies, we wait for him to reincarnate back and take over again because he is the only leader that can handle Tibetans.

  12. What a beautiful account of H.E. Geshe Khenrab Gajam Rinpoche. It is a great inspiration to read the life of such a holy monk who selflessly shared the Dharma to many and took over the unending worries and hardship of building a Dharma Center in Canada, far away from his home Tibet.
    Thank you for sharing the life of this holy being with us.

  13. Nechung is ZUMA 👎 before I m think he is one of d best when I m watch dis video By Geshe Dorjee la but now I m think is not d truth n he is lie to Tibet people we r not back to Tibet yt Chithue Tenpa Yarphel la tq for talk about truth of Nechung . I m watch to this video many time la n after I hear you talk I m not belief to Nechung

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.…Instead of turning away people who practise Dorje Shugden, we should be kind to them. Give them logic and wisdom without fear, then in time they give up the ‘wrong’ practice. Actually Shugden practitioners are not doing anything wrong. But hypothetically, if they are, wouldn’t it be more Buddhistic to be accepting? So those who have views against Dorje Shugden should contemplate this. Those practicing Dorje Shugden should forbear with extreme patience, fortitude and keep your commitments. The time will come as predicted that Dorje Shugden’s practice and it’s terrific quick benefits will be embraced by the world and it will be a practice of many beings.

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