keeping the sacred sacred


English Texts


Bell, Sir Charles (1987). Portrait of a Dalai Lama. The Life and Times of the Great Thirteenth.
First published in 1946. London: Wisdom Publications.

First published in 1946


Carnahan, Sumner (1996). In the Presence of my Enemies: Memoirs of Tibetan nobleman Tsipon Shuguba.
With Lama Kunga Rinpoche. Santa Fe: Clear Light Publishers, 1996. 237 pp.

Tsipon Shuguba was the finance minister of Tibet in the Dalai Lama's government prior to Chinese rule. His memoirs outline the political infighting among various Tibetan factions in the rocky period leading up to the Chinese invasion. In 1947, when fighting broke out between the forces of Reting Rinpoche and the current Regent Taktra, Shuguba was in charge of a large force sent to bring Reting, by force if necessary, from his monastery to house arrest in Lhasa. Shuguba grimly chronicles being shot at by monks of Sera monastery, supporters of the Reting faction, and details the attack on Reting's monastery stronghold: "We killed 80 monks." In the end, after further bloodshed on both sides, Reting was captured. He died shortly thereafter in Lhasa - poisoned, many suspected. "Lhasa, dispirited, mourned," says Shuguba of a capital and of a country shaken internally by "civil war," even as it was increasingly menaced from without by foreign military might.


Chagdud Tulku (1992). Lord of the Dance. Autobiograpy of a Tibetan Lama.
Varanasi, Kathmandu: Pilgrims Publishing

Contains a brief account of the friendship between Sera Kharto Tulku and the 5th Reting Rinpoche and Guru Rinpoche's prophecies relating their imprisonment to the fall of Tibet (p.12f).


Chapman, Spencer F. (1940). Lhasa the Holy City.
With an Introduction by Sir Charles Bell. London: Chatto & Windus.

As a member of the Gould mission to Lhasa in 1936-37, Chapman gives detailed descriptions of several encounters with the regent: the formal ceremonial call on the regent and prime minister shortly after their arrival, a private visit to the regent's summer palace, a luncheon party at the summer palace where the Regent experiments with the public-address outfit, a private film viewing, and other personal encounters. He describes details of the 5th Reting's personality, his love for pets, interest in technology, broad-mindedness through travel, and the change brought about during the regent's visit to Samye in November 1936.


Dalai Lama (1990, 1998). Freedom in Exile. The autobiography of His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet.
London: Abacus

In response to an increasing interest in his life following the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and then the release of Kundun in 1998, the Dalai Lama offers this story of his life as what he calls 'a simple monk' with the intention of setting the record straight on a number of historical events. He contributes to the historical record on Reting Rinpoche an account of the hair-cutting ceremony, surrounded by rumours of broken celibacy vows, and his take on the murder of the Reting Rinpoche. It is interesting to note that he says he "retains a deep personal respect for Reting Rinpoche as my first tutor and guru" while at the same time referring to the immense tragedy of Reting's murder and the destruction of Reting monastery as "a very silly affair".


Engelhardt, Isrun. (2003). 'The Ernst-Schaefer-Tibet-Expedition (1938-1939): New
Light on the Political History of Tibet in the First Half of the 20th

In: Alex McKay (ed). Tibet and Her Neighbours: A History. London: Edition
Hansjorg Mayer.

In March 1939, during the visit of the 1938/39 Ernst Schaefer-Tibet-Expedition to Lhasa, the regent Reting Rinpoche twice wrote letters to the then German leader, Adolf Hitler. This was perhaps the most famous outcome of the Schaefer expedition, and although it was not the most important result, it has played a major role in the legacy of the expedition and the resulting judgement of contemporary German-Tibetan relations.


Goldstein, Melvyn (1989). A History of Modern Tibet, 1913-1951. The Demise of the Lamaist State.
With the help of Gelek Rinpoche. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press.

An extensive socio-historical portrait of the period in Tibetan history that co-incided with the lifetime of the 5th Reting Rinpoche. The first part is entitled 'The Era of the 13th Dalai Lama and Reting', 1913-1941', while the second part deals with the Taktra-Reting controversy and the events leading up to Reting Rinpoche's death in prison, concluding with the Chinese invasion and the fall of Tibet under the leadership of the young 14th Dalai Lama.

While undoubtedly a work of great scholarship and erudition, Goldstein's book is marred by two major flaws: it is biased towards the Gelugpas, and it fails to take into account the crucial role of the cult around Dorje Shugden as the real bone of contention. The combination of these factors has a considerable impact on the overall credibility of Goldstein's account.

Goldstein's Gelug bias probably stems from the fact that most of his source material is taken from archives and recollections of elite players in the Tibetan government and aristocracy. The real problem, however, is the fact that Goldstein's entirely secular interpretative framework does not permit him to appreciate the fact that Dorje Shugden lies at the heart of the controversy: that it is Dorje Shugden and his worshippers who are responsible not only for what Goldstein calls 'the demise of the Lamaist state' but for the murder of the 5th Reting Rinpoche, the fall of Tibet, and the destruction of the lineage of Je Tsong Kapa.


Gould, Sir Basil J. (2000). "Report on the Discovery, Recognition and Enthronement of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama".
In: Discovery, Recognition and Enthronement of the 14th Dalai Lama. Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, pp. 53-102

The author of this report, which was printed by the Government of India Press, New Delhi, in 1941, was Political Officer in Sikkim (1935-1945) and was a British delegate at the enthronement ceremony of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in 1940 in Lhasa. It contains a brief account of the account of the essential role played by the 5th Reting Rinpoche in the discovery, recognition and enthronement of the 14th Dalai Lama.


Hao, Xiao (1994). Reincarnated Soul Boys: Life Stories of Contemporary Living Buddhas in Tibet.
Beijing: Unity Press. 184 pp. ISBN 7-80061-840-4.

Advertised as "an introduction to the life stories of learned, kind-hearted, devoted Living Buddhas in contemporary Tibet, such as the 17th Karma-pa, rDo-rje-phag-mo, Gong-pa-sa, Po-mim sDe-drug, mTsho-ru-tshe- rnam, the Sixth Rwa-sgreng, Tshe-smon-gling,bsTan-vdzin-khri-las-chos- kyi-rgyal-mtshan, De-mo dBang-phyug-rdo-rje, dKon-mchog-bsta-vdzin, Mu- bya, rDo-brag, mThav-lho, Dung-dkar, and Ngang-ring".


Harris, Clare and Tsering Shakya (2003). Seeing Lhasa. British Depictions of the Tibetan Capital 1936-1947.
Chicago: Serindia Publications

Contains several pictures of the 5th Reting Rinpoche taken by Hugh Richardson and Frederick Spencer Chapman during the time of his regency as well as a watercolor portrait by Kanwal Krishna.


Ji, Xiong (2005). 'Radreng the regent'.
In: Tibet Studies 199001. Posted 2005-07-04. Published by China Tibet Information Centre. Accessed 31st October 2006

This essay on the regency of the 5th Reting Hutuktu begins with an account of the arguments surrounding the appointment of a regent following the death of the Great Thirteenth, Reting Hutuktu's initial refusal and subsequent election by drawing lots, and the Lungshar incident early on in his regency. It goes on to provide an assessment of Reting Hutuktu's 'patriotism' in dealing with the Kuomintang government and British interference in Central Asia.

The second half of the essay describes the events leading up to the resignation of Reting as regent. The author finds no substance to the slanderous rumours spread by Reting's enemies and presents evidence for Taktra's broken agreement to resign as regent after a period of two or three years.

  Lhalu, Tsewang Dorje (1991). 'Extract from "The Sequence of Events Regarding the Problems Between Reting and Takdra, and the Summoning of the Ex-Regent Reting from Reting Monastery"'.
Published in: Goldstein, Melvyn (1991). Essentials of Modern Literary Tibetan. A Reading Course and Reference Grammar. With Gelek Rimpoche and Lobsang Phuntshog. New Delhi: Munishram Manoharlal Publishers, pp. 381-383

McKay, Alex (1991). 'Hitler and the Himalayas'.
In: Tricycle. Issue 39. Spring 2001


Mullin, Glenn H. (1999). 'A Biography of the Seventh Dalai Lama'.
In: The Seventh Dalai Lama. Meditations to Transform the Mind. Translated, edited and introduced by Glenn H. Mullin. Ithaca, New York: Snow Lion Publications, pp. 47-64

This account of the life of the Seventh Dalai Lama is translated from Khetsun Sangpo's six-volume work A Biographical Dictionary of Indian and Tibetan Saints, which he compiled in India during the late 1960s and early 1970s. It contains the story of the teacher-student relationship between Ngawang Chokden, the 1st Reting Rinpoche, and the 7th Dalai Lama.


Gyeten Namgyal. A Tailor's Tale.
As recounted by Gyeten Namgyal to Kim Yeshi. Accessed 10th November 2006.

Gyeten Namgyal recounts his life story as tailor for both the 13th and the 14th Dalai Lama, including an eye-witness account of the fighting between Sera and Reting monks and Reting Hutuktu's subsequent arrest, a description of the Reting Hutuktu's vision of the coming Chinese invasion, and a story how Trijang Rinpoche asked him to include a figure of Dorje Shugden in the Kalachakra brocade thanka for the young 14th Dalai Lama.


Richardson, Hugh (2003). 'The Rwa-sgreng conspiracy of 1947'. 
In: McKay, Alex (ed). The History of Tibet. 3-Volume Set. Curzon Press. pp. 538ff


Schäfer, Ernst (1950). Fest der Weissen Schleier. Eine Forscherfahrt durch Tibet nach Lhasa, der heiligen Stadt des Gottkönigtums.
[The Festival of White Veils. A research expedition through Tibet to Lhasa, the holy city of God-Kings] Braunschweig: Vieweg

As leader of the first German expedition to Tibet, Ernst Schäfer describes his impressions of life in Lhasa. The book contains an account of an official ceremonial reception with the regent on the 'Gyalpo Losar', the King's New Year, as well as prophecies concerning Tibet's relationship with he West made to the regent by the Nechung oracle.


Thaye, Yeshe and Pema Lhadren (2000). 'The Life Story of the Lord of Refuge, Chadral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche'.
In: Light Of Lotus. Issue No. 3. June 2000. Dudjom Buddhist Association International Limited, pp. 7-43

Contains a brief account of the teacher-student relationship between Kyabje Chadral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche and the 5th Reting Rinpoche.


Tsering, Diki (2000). Dalai Lama, My Son. A Mother’s Story.
Edited and introduced by Khedroob Thondup. Harmondsworth: Viking Arkana.

This autobiography of the Dalai Lama's mother was compiled by her grandson from the stories she had told to her granddaughter. It contains an account of her first meeting with the regent, when the young Dalai Lama and his party stopped at Reting monastery for three days on their way from Amdo to Lhasa in 1939. Diki Tsering also relates the friendship between the Reting Rinpoche and the Dalai Lama's family, Taktra's broken promise to return the regency, the murder of Reting Rinpoche and Taktra's subsequent attempts to suppress the genuine Dalai Lama, kill or imprison his family and install a puppet Dalai Lama.


Tung, Rosemary Jones (1980). A Portrait of Lost Tibet.
Photographs by Ilya Tolstoy and Brooke Dolan. London: Thames and Hudson



Wangdu, Khemey Sonam (2000). "Discovery of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. An Eyewitness Account."
In: Discovery, Recognition and Enthronement of the 14th Dalai Lama. Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, pp. 1-52

This eyewitness account of the discovery of the 14th Dalai Lama was written by Khemey Sonam Wangdu, a civil servant of the Government of Tibet and assistant to the officer who led the search party to the Amdo region. It contains a clear account of the essential role played by the 5th Reting Rinpoche in the discovery, recognition and enthronement of the 14th Dalai Lama.


Anonymous. 'Did Tibet Become an Independent Country after the Revolution of 1911?' Accessed 10th November 2006.

The author aims to show that the Tibetan nationality living on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau has long become one of the members of the Chinese nation and Tibet has been an inalienable part of China since ancient times.

  Tibetan Texts  

brkal-legs dgon-gyi mkhan-ming bstan-'dzin 'od-zer (2000). skyab-rje bya-dral sangs-rgyas rdo-rje'i rnam-thar dang. bla-ma rgyang-'bod. yul-dus rang-gzhan-la skyo-ba'i nyams-mkur
[Traleck Khenpo Tenzin Oser. Seed of Faith. The life story of His Holiness Chadrel Sangye Dorje Rinpoche]. Gangtok: Sikkim National Press

46pp. With a color portrait of Kyabje Sangye Dorje Rinpoche


sangs-rgyas rdo-rje, bya-bral (1979). dga-'ldan shar-rtse dze-smad sprul-sku blo-bzang dpal-ldan gyi smra-ngan gi sa-bon gzhom-pa'i 'bel-ktam. lung-rigs rdo-rje me-char.
[Chatral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche. The Rain of Adamant Fire. A Holy Discourse based upon scriptures and reason, annihilating the poisonous seeds of the wicked speech of Dzeme Trulku Lobsang Palden]
Gantok: Sherab Gyaltsen, Palace Monastery, and Delhi: Lakshmi Printing Works


Download Kyabje Sangye Dorje Rinpoche's Rain of Adamant Fire as PDF file (8.85MB)


ko-zhul grags-pa 'byung-gnas dang. rgyal-ba blo-bzang mkhas-grub (2006). gangs-can mkhas-grub rim-byon ming-mdzod.
[Jungnay, Kozhul Dragpa, and Gyalwa Lozang Khaydrub (2006). A Dictionary Of Learned And / Or Accomplished Beings Who Appeared In The Snowy Land.]
Swayambunath, Nepal: Padma Karpo Translation Committee

This is a dictionary of the names of various learned and / or accomplished beings who appeared at one time or another in Tibet during the last 2000 years or so of Tibetan history. It was compiled after the Communist Chinese invasion of Tibet and published in book form in Tibet in 1992. The entire text was then input by Tibetans in Tibet and passed onto the Padma Karpo Translation Committee for electronic publication in dictionary form. It contains informative entries on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th Reting Rinpoche.

Download Tibetan text of short biographies of the Reting Rinpoches

Download English translation of short biographies of the Reting Rinpoches


phun-tshe (1992). rwa-stag gi don-rkyen dang de'i ngo-bo'i skor gleng-ba.
[Phuntse. Explanation of the Reting-Taktra Incident and its Nature]
bod-ljongs mi-dmangs dpe-skrun-khang (Tibetan People's Publishing House). ISBN7-223-00441-X. 144pp.

Details descriptions of the sharp conflict within the Local Government of Tibet after the death of the 13th Dalai Lama Thub-bstan -rgya-mtsho on October 30, 1933; Rwa-sgreng Thub-bstan-vjam-dpal-ye-shes' reign, Lung-shar Incident, sTag-brag clique's usurping the government power, the murder of Rwe-sgreng, and the firm struggles against separatism by Tibetan monks and laymen.

Chapter 1: 'The struggle that arose among the Tibetan power elite after the passing away of HH Dalai Lama Thubden Gyatso'. Chapter 2: 'The enthronement of Reting Thubden Tampel Yeshe on the Golden Throne of the regent and the punishment allotted to Lungshar Dorje Tsegyal etc'. Chapter 3:




khri-chen blo-bzang ye-shes bstan-pa rab rgyas kyi 'khrungs-rab dang rnam-thar.
[Hagiography and Narrative of Former Lives of the Trichen Lobsang Yeshe Tenpa Rabgye]

This hagiography and narrative of former lives of the 2nd Reting Rinpoche is available from the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center ( as PDF file on CD-ROM under reference number 002748. No further bibliographical information available.


Anonymous. 'tham-deb bkod-par'.
[Book of Seals]
In: bod-kyi gal-che'i lo-rgyus yig-cha bdams bsgrigs. Lhasa: bod-ljongs bod-yig dpe-rnying dpe-skrun-khang, 1991 (Gangs-can Rig-mdzod 6), pp. 33-83.

This catalogue of seals used by the Dalai Lamas and other important Rinpoches contains illustrations and brief explanations of ten seals used by Reting Rinpoches (pp. 67-68 and 79-82).


Anonymous. (1814?). 'bod dang / bar khams / rgya sog bcas kyi bla-sprul-rnams-kyi skye phreng deb gzhung'.
[Book of the Lines of Incarnation of Lamas and Tulkus of Tibet, Kham and India]
In: bod-kyi gal-che'i lo-rgyus yig-cha bdams bsgrigs. Lhasa: bod-ljongs bod-yig dpe-rnying dpe-skrun-khang, 1991 (Gangs-can Rig-mdzod 6), pp. 281-369.

This list of over one-hundred and thirty reincarnations was evidently ordered to be compiled in a Wood Dog year (1814, with little doubt) for the Tibet-resident Amban Hu-zhang (perhaps this is the Amban Hu'u-zhang who was in Tibet from 1823-1827, although note that there was no Wood Dog year during his tenure). It was compiled on the basis of previous such lists. Evidently someone updated the list 6 years after it was first made (in 1820?), and added intralinear numerals to indicate the then-current age of the incumbent Rinpoches. (From the introductory notes by David Martin to the Wylie version of the text, which he input and adapted for the Digital Himalayan Library - xxx). The list contains brief biographical information about the first and the second Reting Rinpoche (p.299; no. 20 in David Martin's list).


rwa-sgreng dza-sag 'jams-dpal rgyal-mtshan. rwa-sgreng sku-phreng lnga-pa thub-bstan 'jam-dpal ye-shes bstan-pa'i rgyal-msthan gang gi mdzad-rnam mdo-tsam rdjod-pa
[Brief Remarks on the Deeds of the 5th Reting Thubden Jampal Yeshe Tenpai Gyaltsen]



© 2006
Last updated November 2006