Nepal Monastery Welcomes 4-Year-Old Buddhist Leader From Seattle

<i> Associated Press</i>

He may be only 4 years old, but his devout followers have waited nearly 10 years for his return.

On Sunday, he arrived--the Buddhist monk believed to be reincarnated in the body of a spirited American boy.

A cluster of overjoyed monks circled around the boy at the Katmandu airport, hoisting him onto their shoulders and presenting him with a beige silk scarf, in keeping with an ancient Tibetan custom.


The boy thanked them for ending a journey that had begun in his birthplace of Seattle and had left him ambling through the two-story airport.

“It’s a long way, and I was tired of walking,” the boy said as he was carried to the car that drove him to the monastery that he will lead--after he spends years studying the Tibetan language and Buddhism.

The boy, His Holiness Nawang Kunga Tegchen Chokyi Nyima, is called Tulku-la, after the Tibetan word, “tulku,” for a reincarnated one. He is recognized by Tibetan Buddhists as the reincarnation of Deshung Rinpoche--a high lama who died in Seattle in 1986.

Of the hundreds of lamas--or teachers--said to be reincarnations in the Tibetan Buddhist faith, only a handful have come from the West.

The boy’s mother, Caroline Lama, and the boy underwent several interviews in Seattle before Tulku-la was brought to Nepal and, at the age of 2, formally enthroned in a ceremony.

Now Lama is preparing to leave her son, who will study under the care of the monastery’s 38 monks.


During Sunday’s brief religious ceremony at the monastery outside Katmandu, Tulku-la lived up to his reputation as a high-energy bundle who prefers playing outdoors to worshiping.

After drinking tea with the monks, the boy walked outside the monastery, jumped into a toy wagon and allowed a devoted teenage student to pull him around the courtyard.