Venerable Sampho Jigme Wangchen Rimpoche passed away peacefully at his home on Sunday, February 6, 2022 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
My father was born in Lhasa, Tibet into the Yabshe Samdrup Phodrang family, a direct descendent of the 7th Dalai Lama, Kalsang Gyatso (1708-1757) and Dromton Gyalway Jungnay (1004-1064), founder of the Kadampa Buddhist tradition. His mother was a daughter of the Kunsang Tse family. He was recognized as the reincarnation of Drubwang Tokden Shakya Shri (1853-1919), the great Chagchen & Dzogchen master of Tibetan Buddhism from Chamdo, Kham by the 7th Kharag Yongdzin Rimpoche Ngag gi Wangpo (1895-1962). He studied Tibetan at Tarkhang School in Lhasa, Tibet where he is known to have excelled in his studies among all the students. He married my mother, Dechen Yangkyi Sekshing in 1951, in Lhasa Tibet.
In 1959 he escaped Tibet via Nathu la, the border between Sikkim and Tibet, with his family and close relatives. In 1960, he began his service in the newly re-established Tibetan Government-in-Exile after receiving a letter from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. The following are the various departments where he served:
Secretary, Council of Tibetan Education, Dharamsala.
Co-Editor of the H. H. the Dalai Lama’s Institute of Tibetan Culture, Dharamsala.
Co-Editor & compiler, biography of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Dharamsala.
Headmaster, Tibetan Refugee School, Simla.
Assistant Director, Tibet House, New Delhi.
Editor, Tibetan Freedom Press, Darjeeling.
Editor, Bod kyi gyal rab, a book on Tibetan history translated by P. T.Takla from the Chinese Tang dynasty annals.
Editor, two volumes of Tsepon W. D. Shakabpa’s book, Political History of Tibet.
Head Teacher, Enchey School, Gangtok, Sikkim
Tibetan language teacher, Girls High School, Gangtok, Sikkim.
Below are some of the non-governmental positions he held:
Private Tutor, Tibetan language for the Chogyal of Sikkim, Palden Thondup Namgyal’s youngest son, Prince Palden Namgyal.
Private Tutor, Tibetan language for two Indian officials from the Political Office, Gangtok, Sikkim.
Director, Teacher Training department, Tibetan language, Tashi Namgyal Academy, Gangtok, Sikkim.
Tibetan language private tutor, Longchen Nyingthig Buddhist Dharma Center, New York.
In addition to this, he worked in several voluntary positions including, editing Buddhist dharma texts and biographies, and as a consultant in Tibetan language and music, to name but a few. If it was work related to the Buddha dharma, he always did it on a voluntary basis.
On 28th September 2019, he was awarded a lifetime achievement award for his musical abilities and contribution to the preservation and dissemination of the Nangma and Toeshhay genre. This took place during the first ever international conference of Tibetan Performing Arts during the celebration of the 60 years anniversary of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Art in Dharamshala. This award was offered by the Tibetan Institute of Performing Art and the Tibetan Policy Institute of Central Tibetan Administration. The award was conferred and handed down by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama at the opening function.
My late father, during his lifetime was not only able to benefit the Buddha dharma but humanity as well. His extraordinary legacy is to continue to be remembered as the most humble, decent and gentle soul I have ever known. A great human being and a wonderful father. A great loss for all of us.
He is survived by his wife, my mother and me.
Tseten Sampho, daughter.