Muktinath Lama Wangyal

Hira Bahadur Thakuri
Head of the Gye Lhaki Dung
Abbot of Chumig Gyatsa

Muktinath Lama Wangyal at Muktinath-Chumig Gyatsa
© MFI ImageBank

Chumig Gyatsa
The local name for Muktinath is Chumig Gyatsa (Hundred Waters). The tradional caretakers of Muktinath-Chumig Gyatsa are the Tibetan Buddhist Chumig Gyatsa (or 'Muktinath') nuns with the head of the Gye Lhaki Dung as their abbot. The Gye Lhaki Dung is popularly known as the 'Lama Domar family', an unbroken lineage of Tibetan Buddhist Nyingma lamas from Muktinath Valley, who have Chumig Gyatsa as their religious seat for centuries. The current abbot of Chumig Gyatsa is Lama Wangyal born in the Tibetan Buddhist Year of the Monkey (1956 AD) in Muktinath. At the time of his birth, the abbot of Chumig Gyatsa was his grandfather, Muktinath Lama Jampal Rabgyé Rinpoche, the author of the Buddhist pilgrimage guide to Chumig Gyatsa The Clear Mirror.
Pictured: Wangyal Lama in Muktinath, February 2000.

Studies and Retreat
At the age of eight, Wangyal Lama started religious studies with his grandfather as his guru. When he was 13 his grandfather Jampal Rabgyé Rinpoche declared that Wangyal Lama would be his successor as head of the Gye Lhaki Dung and abbot of Chumig Gyatsa. Thereafter Wangyal Lama went into retreat under the direct guidance of his grandfather. This was a retreat of 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days.
In the Year of the Horse (1978) Jampal Rabgyé Rinpoche died at 71 years and Wangyal Lama became abbot of Chumig Gyatsa, or as the Nepali people say, 'Muktinath Lama'. *

Family Support

Muktinath Lama Wangyal wearing Head of Padmansambhava
© MFI ImageBank

Like all lamas of Chumig Gyatsa were, Wangyal Lama is a Ngagpa, a Buddhist tantric practisioner having a householders live. Being married, having children and being the head of the Gye Lhaki Dung he had to support his family. He did this by trading carpets. However, in 1995 he decided he would focus fully on the Dharma. Wangyal Lama's family established the Dragon Guest House at Boudhanath in Kathmandu Valley, which is managed by his wife Chimi-la Dolkar, who is his sponsor. Wangyal Lama does not take any money for himself from anyone. He insists on being supported solely by his family. Local donations to him are spent entirely on Muktinath-Chumig Gyatsa and local charity. Since the founding of Muktinath Foundation International, international donations are channelled through the MFI.
Pictured: Wangyal Lama with the Padmasambhava head, Muktinath, February 2000.

Lama of late King Birendra of Nepal

Muktinath Lama Wangyal meets King of Nepal
© MFI ImageBank

Muktinath-Chumig Gyatsa is a great example of how Hindus and Buddhists share sacred places in Nepal, and how they live together and inspire each other. Wangyal Lama himself is a great example for both Hindus and Buddhists. He keeps a strict diet, refraining from eating any meat, fish, and eggs or drinking any alcohol. This diet is quite common amongst Hindus but more rare amongst Tibetan Buddhists (See also Shabkar.Org).
Pictured: Wangyal Lama meets His Majesty King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev (1945-2001).
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Puja at Chumig Gyatsa for Nepal Royal Family
© MFI ImageBank

In 1995 the (Hindu) King of Nepal, His Majesty King Birendra, requested Wangyal Lama to perform a puja in Muktinath-Chumig Gyatsa for his wife Her Majesty Queen Aishwarya, his daughter Her Royal Highness Princess Sruti and himself.
Wangyal Lama has received three awards from H.M. King Birendra for his good work in the religious service.
Pictured: Wangyal Lama with H.M. King Birendra, H.M. Queen Aishwarya- at the right - and H.R.H. Princess Sruti (not pictured) at Muktinath, 1995.

Other Works

Muktinath Lama Wangyal appointed as chairman of MMDC
© MFI ImageBank

In 1998 Wangyal Lama was appointed by H.M. Government to the post of Chairman of the Monastery Management and Development Committee (MMDC) in Katmandu. He relinquished this post with the change of government in 1999.
Pictured: People paying respect to Wangyal Lama by giving him the traditional white shawl because of his appointment as chairman of the MMDC, 1998.

Logo of the ANHBA

In 1982 Wangyal Lama joined the All Nepal Himalayan Buddhist Association (ANHBA). Seven years later he became a founding member of the Buddha Academy (see also the letter of the King of Mustang).  Currently, Muktinath Lama Wangyal is vice chairman of the ANHBA; general Secretary of the Mustang Committee Welfare Association (MCWA); chairman of the School Management Committee of the Buddha Academy in Boudhanath and President of the Shree Mukti Kshetra Development and Conservation Committee of Muktinath (SMKDCCM).
Image: logo of the All Nepal Himalayan Buddhist Association
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Muktinath Foundation International

Wangyal Lama, his son  Sangye Rinpoche, and André Kalden - December 2004
© MFI ImageBank


On December 8th, 1999, H. E. Chogye Trichen Rinpoche, teacher of H. H. Dalai Lama, gave his blessing to Wangyal Lama and his good friend André Kalden from Holland for the founding of the MFI and the members of the board were chosen according to His Eminence advise.
Wangyal Lama permitted the MFI to use his seal for the logo of the Muktinath Foundation International.


Teachings & initiations
Many high Tibetan Buddhist lamas gave Wangyal Lama initiations and bestowed upon him their teachings. However in favor of his own daily practice, Wangyal Lama chooses not to give public teachings and intiations (outside the group of Muktinath nuns and the people of Muktinath Valley). Meanwhile, people who have had the privilege to direct experience the effect of his strong practise considers him a precious gem of the Dharma. (See also Shabkar.Org)
Pictured: Wangyal Lama, his son Sangye Pawo, who will be the next Muktinath lama, and André Kalden.


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