Brief profiles on some of the togdens who first came to India from Tibet.

Togden Choelek

Togden Choelek

Senior togden who arrived in India from Tibet in 1958

Togden Choelek was the main meditation teacher in Tashi Jong until he passed away during the late seventies. Affectionately also called Togden Rinpoche, he escaped Tibet with the 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche and passed away in Bhutan at the age of 87. A memorial stupa was built for him at Satsam Chorten in Bhutan, near the place where he passed away.

Profile photo: Lynn Weinberger

Togden Ajam 1913-1999

Senior togden who arrived in India from Tibet in 1958

Togden Ajam (a contraction of “Abo Jamyang”) who held the position of the senior togden was held for many years until he passed into Parinirvana on January 27, 1999. He remained in “thukdam” some days.

In his cremation ashes many “ringsel” (precious relics) were found as well as a perfectly preserved tongue, eyes and  heart. Togden Ajam’s main yidam practice was Vajrasattva which would have assumed that the relics would have been white. And yet, the relics were witnessed to be of five colors — further indicating he was a highly realized master.

Togden Atin

Senior togden who arrived in India from Tibet in 1958

Togden Atin (a contraction of “Abo Thinley”) was the main meditation teacher at Tashi Jong over 25 years up his passing into Parinirvana on Dakini Day on July 1, 2005 at the age of 84. Togden Atin’s teacher was Largen Soten (“Largen” affectionately means “old teacher”, and “Soten” is a contraction of “Sonam Tenzin”). Largen instructed Togden Atin in his special practice of Yamantaka. Togden Atin founded the Yamantaka Retreat Center located above Tashi Jong. Atin had a natural deep love of teaching, and had many disciples who came from all over the world to request his teachings. As with Ajam, Atin’s Parinirvana was accompanied by many auspicious signs.

His “kudung” (sacred body) was traditionally preserved before being enshrined in a Yamantaka Mandala designed by Drugu Choegyal Rinpoche.

Right: Yamantaka mandala with Togden Atin’s body relic at Tashi Jong (photo: C. De Re 2010)

Togden Semdor 1928-2012

Senior togden who arrived in India from Tibet in the late 50s

Togden Semdor (a contraction of “Semnyid Dorje”) came to India with Togden Osal a little after the 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche left Tibet. In January 2012 Togden Semdor passed into Parinairvana and was found by a young retreatant yogi when he was in “thukdam” — a state of meditative absorption in which he remained for some days. When his holy body was cremated, many relics were founds including those in the shape of conch shells.  Years before he passed, he requested Ani Jinpa to continue raising sponsorship funds to support the next generation of togdens.

Right: Relics found in Togden Semdor’s cremation ashes.

Profile photo: Caterina De Re

Togden Achos

Senior togden who arrived in India from Tibet in the late 50s

Togden Achos entered the Khampagar retreat center in Eastern Tibet at age 16 and stayed there with his uncle, who was one of the togdens that accompanied the 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche to India. Achos escaped Tibet later and joined Khamtrul Rinpoche in Kalimpong, India. He has been the tutor and attendant to the 9th Khamtrul Rinpoche since he was a boy. Togden Achos does not live at the retreat center but at Khamtrul Rinpoche’s house.

View a video with Togden Achos here.

Profile photo: Matthieu Ricard