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mandala To share and promote interest in Tibetan culture, people and land

Chatral Rinpoche

by Ivy Hsu
January, 1997
Chinese (BIG5) version

The following is a story about Chatral Rinpoche on pilgrimage related in [1]:

Chatral Rinpoche, a lama from eastern Tibet renowned for his freedom from worldly attachments, was once on pilgrimage with several of his disciples. They stopped at the house of a wealthy trader, who offered Chatral Rinpoche a priceless vase from the Ming dynasty. The vase was carefully wrapped and secured in one of the horse's saddlebags. As the continued on, however, much bickering arose among the disciples over who should look after the porcelain vase. Finally Chatral Rinpoche took the vase out of the bag, held it aloft, and said, "I'll show you who will take care of it," whereupon he broke it over his knee. The priceless porcelain shattered into shards on the ground, revealing the fragility and transience of all that we assume to be valuable and enduring. "From this point on," Chatral Rinpoche stated, "our pilgrimage begins."

I also came across a similar name, "Chatrel" Rinpoche, while researching on the subject of the 11th Panchen Lama. Chatrel Rinpoche was the acting abbot of Tashilhunpo Monastery and headed the search committee for the Panchen Lama reincarnate. He has been imprisoned by the Chinese authority for collaborating with the Dalai Lama on the selection of the reincarnate.

With the limited references at hand, I cannot determine if and how these two persons relate to each other. Could they be the same person? Or are they reincarnates of the same lama in different lifetimes? Both are described as a pious and revered lama. If any reader more familiar with contemporary Tibetan Buddhist leaders knows the answer, I would be most grateful if you write to us.


  1. "Tibet - Reflections from the Wheel of Life" by Carroll Dunham and Ian Baker, photographs by Thomas L. Kelly.