A BRIEF HISTORY OF DOCTOR & ASTROLOGER AEPA SONAM RINCHEN

Born in the Wooden Tiger year, 1974, in Ae Lha-gyari province of Lhokha district in central Tibet, Aepa Sonam Rinchen is now one of the new generation head scholars in Tibetan medical and astrological sciences.

At the tender age of five he started learning to read and write at home before attending his village’s school when he was ten. Along with the regular education, he also began to learn the basis of Tibetan astrology, medicine and history, together with the practice of Arapatsa, from private tutors like Geshe Jamyang Tobgyal from Dagpo Shedup Gatsel-ling monastery, Rinpungpa Tsering, and the two famous astrologers Ugyen and Tulku Kelsang Choden of Seu-gaden monastery.

In 1989, after completing his class ten, he went to Tsethang and attended Lhokha High School. Continuing the regular study program up to class twelve, he took private courses at Lhokha Men-Tsee Khang where he learned
  Dr. Sonam Rinchen
Dr. Aepa Sonam Rinchen
practical medicine, the elaboration of almanacs, and studied important texts such as the four Medical Tantras, Jung-tsi Men-ngag Dawa-i Oser, Ngapa-thod and Rigden Dzumser. At that time he also received the oral transmissions and explanations of texts on rhetoric (mngon brjod gya mthso chu thig) and poetry (snyan ngag me long) as well as the preliminaries of Vajrayana practice (snying thik sngon ‘gro) from the great master and scholar Jigme Palden of Drachi Dargye Choeling monastery.

In 1992, he headed the student's protest demonstration in the market place of Tsethang, calling for the preservation and the respect of Tibetan culture. Soon after, the Chinese police found out he was one of the leaders and he was forced to escape to India along with five other students.

He reached India through Bhutan in 1994, immediately joining Men-Tsee-Khang in Dharamsala. There, he met his main Kalachakra and astrology teacher, Tsewang Namgyal of Gojo, with whom he deepened his knowledge of astrology, mainly studying the Kalachakra Tantra. Until today, he regularly meets him to enlighten and strengthen his understanding of obscure points in the Tantra.

In 1997 he successfully completed the astrological syllabus, gaining the Tsipa Kachupa degree in first division. After that, following the kind advice of both the late Dr. Tenzin Chodrak and late Dr. Lobsang Wangyal (Senior and Junior personal physicians to H.H. the Dalai Lama) he was readmitted to Men-Tsee-Khang College to study medicine. He completed the training in 2002, gaining the Menpa Kachupa degree in first division.

From then on he practiced and taught medicine and astrology at Men-Tsee-Khang, several of its branches, and at different universities and monasteries all over India, tirelessly working to preserve and spread both Buddhist knowledge and Tibetan culture. He is currently the main astrological lecturer in Men-Tsee-Khang, as well as the medicine teacher in Palpung Sherabling.

He is already the author of several books on Medicine, Astrology and their relationship. The most important are: “‘tsho byed slob dpon rnam gsum gyi mdzad rnam” (Biographies of three personal physicians to H.H. the Dalai Lama), “tse bag keg gsum gyi rdel bor lhan thabs” (Elemental Astrology in Use), “bshad pa sgu rgyud las lus gnad brda dkrol ‘ug chos ser mdog” (Description of Gross and Subtle Anatomies), “bod kyi srol rgyun le tho lta stangs dang ‘drel ba’i bod rtsis rig pa’i rnam bshad kun gsal me long (Guidebook of Tibetan Astrology through the Traditional Almanac) and the two volumes of “gso-rtsis rig-pa’i dpyad-yig mu-tig phreng-mdzes” (Anthology of Essays on Medicine and Astrology)."

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