His Holiness the 70th Je khenpo Trulku Jigme Choeda is the longest and incumbent Jekhenpo of Bhutan. His Holiness is renowned for taking major initiatives to benefit sentient beings and uphold Buddha Dharma aside regular duty of overseeing welfare of the Central Monastic Body.
Born to Yab Rinzin Dorji and Yum Kuenzang Choden in Lhuntsi in 1955, His Holiness Trulku Jigme Choeda was recognized as the reincarnation of Geshe Pema Tshering, the learned sage of Tharpaling in Bumthang.
His Holiness Trulku Jigme Choeda joined the Druk Sanga Choling Monastery in Darjeeling, India, at the age of eight.
His Holiness received an ordination of monk with commitment from Drukpa Thuksey Rinpochey and studied under Khenpo Sonam Dargye and Khenpo Noryang. Later, His Holiness Jigme Choeda studied under Dudjom Rimpoche in India.
At the age of 15, His Holiness retuned to Bhutan at the age of 15 to study at the Tango Drupdey in Thimphu under His Holiness the 68th Je Khenpo Ngawang Tenzin Dhondup.
Trulku received the complete initiations and teachings of the Drukpa Kagyu tradition and Dzogchen (highest realization). He mastered the Mahamudra practices (chag-chen), the meditations of Naro Choedrug (the six circles of Ro-Nyom Kordrug).
The Trulku also studied Rigney (study of language and literature) and Zhungchen (study of the 13 different philosophical texts) under His Holiness Geshey Geduen Rinchen.
His Holiness completed Losum Choesum, a meditation retreat of 3 years, 3 months and 3 days, three times.
Major positions held
His Holiness was appointed as the head at the Tango Monastery and taught language and Buddhist Philosophy. He was appointed as the Drapai Lopen of the Central Monk Body in 1986 only to be resigned in 1990 but in 1995, His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck appointed him as the Dorji Lopen.
Ascension to the Throne of the 70th Je Khenpo
In 1996, the His Holiness Trulku Jigme Choeda was appointed as the 70th Jekhenpo, the Chief Abbot of the Central Monastic Body of Bhutan, at the age of 40. His Holiness made history as the youngest to ascend to the throne of Je Khenpo.
As the Je Khenpo, His Holiness travelled wide and far and spreading the teachings of Buddha and blessing the land.
10 Major Initiatives
1. Banned the offering to clergy during cremation
Funeral in Bhutan in a Buddhist way is expensive especially the cremation ceremony. An offering in cash and kind to the monks are required. His Holiness the Je Khenpo banned the tradition of offering cash and other offerings to the clergy during cremation ceremonies in 2000.
2. Banned the sale of meat on auspicious days
His Holiness the Je Khenpo, Trulku Jigme Choeda banned the sale of meat on auspicious months and days in 2002. Auspicious months are the 1st and 4th of Bhutanese Calendar.
Likewise, auspicious days are on the 8th, 10th, 15th, 30th of every months in Bhutanese Calendar.
3. Religious ceremonies without meat
Bhutanese used to rear pigs for meat to offer during annual rituals and other religious ceremonies to clergy and guests. At least, a pig used to be slaughtered. His Holiness issued a decree forbidding serving of meat during religious ceremonies in 2008.
4. World Peace Prayer
His Holiness the Je Khenpo began institutionalization of Annual Moenlam Chenmo, the World Peace Prayer, in all 20 districts in early 2000s. The prayer is to uphold teachings of Buddha and bring peace in the whole world.
His Holiness donated seed money to conduct the prayer to all the districts and by 2019, the donation amounted to Nu. 50M.
Prior to initiation of Moenlam Chenmo by His Holiness, the prayer was conducted only twice in Bhutan; once in 1937 and in 1994.
5. Establishment of Choethuen Tshogpa
Under the patronage of His Holiness the Jekhenpo, Choethuen Tshogpa, a non-government organization was formed in all districts (20) to safeguard and promote Buddhist tradition in the country.
Not only His Holiness initiated this, but also donated fund for the organization. So far, the donation amounted to Nu. 5M spread in Choetuen Tshogpa across the country.
6. Mani Dungdrup and Siddhi Dungdrup
Mani Dungdrup and Siddhi Dungdrup are Buddhist prayer recitation event conducted across the country for the wellbeing of all sentient beings in the world. His Holiness the Jekhenpo has, so far, donated Nu. 60M for conduction of this event.
7. Donation to Health Sector
1. In 2013, His Holiness Trulku Jigme Choeda donated Nu. 10M to Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Refereral Hospital in Thimphu to procure echo-graphic machine.
2. His Holiness donated Nu. 3M to buy dialysis machine for kidney patients.
3. A donation of Nu. 0.5m was granted by His Holiness for patient’s welfare fund at the Mongar Regional Referral Hospital.
4. His Holiness donated 6 King Long ambulances in 2014 and another 7 in 2018 worth Nu. 15M to the Ministry of Health to be used in hospitals across the country.
5. His Holiness the Je Khenpo donated a Mahindra Bolero to Lhaksam, a civil society organization working for people living with HIV and their families.
6. In 2017, His Holiness donated Nu.10M to Ministry of Health. The money was deposited in the Bhutan Health Trust Fund’s account and will be used to buy essential medicines.
7. In the same year, His Holiness donated 60 gold needles to be used in Traditional Medicine Units across the kingdom.
8. Saving animals
His Holiness the Je Khenpo is the patron to the Jangsa Animal Saving Trust, a non-government organization that strives to rescue injured animals and saving animals from being slaughtered.
Not only His Holiness promotes vegetarianism but also donates money to saving lives of animals from slaughterhouses.
9. Established Namdroling Goenzin Monastery
His Holiness the Jekhenpo established Namdroling Goenzin Monastery in Lhuntsi. In 2019, the monastery had 150 monks with 12 teachers.
10. Oral Transmission of Kanjur in Thimphu
On request of the Central Monastic Body and lamas, trulkus and khenpos from Nyingma sect, His Holiness the Je Khenpo Trulku Jigme Choeda gave oral Kanjur transmission at Kuensel Phodrang in Thimphu in 2017. Kanjur contains 84,000 teachings of Buddha.
Around 30,000 devotees including monks, nuns and laymen received the oral transmission. The oral transmission took 3 months.
The Order of the Druk Gyalpo
His Majesty the King conferred Ngadha Palgi Khorlo, the Highest Civilian Decoration in the country, the Order of The Druk Gyalpo, to His Holiness the Je Khenpo, Trulku Jigme Choeda on behalf of the people of Bhutan, in recognition of his lifetime of service to the nation during the 111th National Day in Samtse in 2018.