The Dalai Lama and the Aro tradition

The Dalai Lama and Ngakpa Chogyam

HH the Dalai Lama with Ngakpa Chögyam, 1981

In web forums, detractors have said that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has “proscribed” the Aro gTér, or has made other negative comments about the Aro tradition or its Lamas.

This is untrue, as far as I can determine. It is based on a rather wild misinterpretation of an email sent from the Dalai Lama’s Office years ago. The email was about a lama of a different lineage.

If the Dalai Lama has any opinion about the Aro tradition, his own staff does not know about it. I wrote to the Office of the His Holiness to ask them:


On the e-Sangha web forum, there is an assertion that His Holiness the Dalai Lama "has proscribed" the Aro gTer. The Aro gTer is a Nyingma lineage. (The URL for the assertion is below.)

I would like to know whether this is true?

Does His Holiness have any official opinion concerning the Aro gTer, or its lineage holder, Ngakpa Chögyam? (Ngakpa Chögyam wrote an authorized biography of His Holiness, published in 1990.)

It appears that the assertion that His Holiness has proscribed the Aro gTer is based on an interpretation of an email apparently sent by Tenzin Wangden from your address a few years ago. (The full email is below.) It concerns Traktung Rinpoche (Stuart Kirkpatrick) "and his associates". Would the writer have intended to include the Aro gTer lineage within these associates?

Thank you very much indeed for your help!

David Chapman


At , Karma Gedun asserts that the Aro gTer is "proscribed by HH the Dalai Lama". (You may need to be logged into the e-Sangha forum in order to see this page.)

The Aro gTer web site is .

Ngakpa Chögyam's biography of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is at

The email that is said to have been sent by Tenzin Wangden concerning Traktung Rinpoche / Stuart Kirkpatrick (who is not the same person as Ngakpa Chögyam) reads:

I am to inform you that regarding this person claiming to be what he is baseless, I have already sent a letter to a person who had ealier inquired about this. I still wish to stress my earlier comment that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has never ratified this person as a reincarnation of any late Lama or Rinpoche. I caution you to abstain from having any links or relation with this person and his associates.

Thank you for inquiring and for the informations you have provided.

with best wishes,
Tenzin Wangden

I received this reply from the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama:

I appreciate that you have written to express your concerns. The letter that is quoted in your email only refers to Traktung Rinpoche / Stuart Kirkpatrick not the Aro gTer lineage. Also, I have looked at the Aro gTer's website and I am not familiar with their teaching style or lineage. It would be best if you could send your enquiries to those of the Nyimgma Lineage to determine the authenticity of their teachings.

All the best,

Rinchen Dhondrub

We should not over-interpret this email: it only expresses what he knows and does not know.

I can find no evidence for His Holiness the Dalai Lama having expressed any opinion about the Aro tradition, positive or negative. Nor has he expressed any opinion about Ngakpa Chögyam since the time he authorized the biography.