His Holiness the Je Khenpo conferred the ceremonial scarf to Trulku Thinley Lhundup appointing him as the new Yonten Lopon of the Zhung Dratshang, the Central Monastic Body in Tashichhodzong, coinciding with Lord Buddha’s Parinirvana yesterday.

Yonten Lopon is one of the five eminent lopons, five masters who are equal in rank to the government ministers, and upholders of the dharma in the Zhung Dratshang and administration.

Yonten Lopon is responsible for activities involving the practice and learning of all categories of Vajrayana rituals, mudras and sadhanas. Spokesperson from the Zhung Dratshang said Yonten Lopon (Guna Acharya in Sanskrit) is the chief master related to learning and practice of all Vajraya symbolic ritual practices, which include Gar Thik Yang Sum, spiritual dances, mandala proportions and the art of chanting.

He added there is also an art of making tormas or ritual cakes, mudras or hand gestures in the ritual ceremonies, the usage of ritual instruments like cymbals, drums, trumpets, and conch shells.

The duties of Yonten Lopon, the spokesperson said, include maintaining the continuity of age-old tantric ritual practices, other important traditional practices and incase of decline to restore or revive these practices and bring positive changes in learning and skills in the tantric rituals.

Yonten Lopon Trulku Thinley Lhundup, 41, began his monastic education at the age of seven in Dechenphodrang Monastic School. He pursued his higher Buddhist philosophical studies at the Sang-nga Choekhor Buddhist Institute in Paro, and later completed at Tango Buddhist University.

Yonten Lopon, who is from Talo, Punakha, received the entire empowerment, oral transmission and oath instructions of the Drukpa Kagyud Tradition from His Holiness the 68th Je Khenpo Jetsun Tenzin Dondrup, His Holiness the 70th Je Khenpo, Trulku Jigme Choeda and Dorji Lopon Kinley.

He then completed three sets of three years solitary retreat at the Chari Dorjiden retreat centre, Phajoding retreat centre and Hongtsho Goenpa.

Lopon Trulku Thinley Lhundup also served as a lecturer at Tango Buddhist University, and principal at the Chari Dorjiden retreat centre. He was serving as the principal of Talo Shedra before his appointment as the Yonten Lopon.

Rinzin Wangchuk