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Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche among Recipients of 2023 Honorary Degrees at SOAS University of London


The renowned Bhutanese lama, filmmaker, and author Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche will be among four distinguished individuals to earn an honorary degree from SOAS (the School of Oriental and African Studies) University of London next week. Graduation ceremonies are to take place from 5–7 September, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. UTC lasting approximately 90 minutes, with receptions on campus after each ceremony.

In honoring Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche as a Fellow, SOAS writes:

Internationally acclaimed Buddhist scholar and teacher, Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, has been a prominent advocate for the nonsectarian Rimé tradition. Rinpoche’s dedication to spreading Buddhist teachings and establishing centers for learning and meditation across continents underscores his commitment to global spiritual and humanitarian advancement. His extensive contributions include founding organisations such as Siddhartha’s Intent International, Khyentse Foundation, and 84000, which aims to translate all of the Buddha’s teachings into English. With an academic background that includes studies at SOAS University of London and lectures at esteemed institutions worldwide, Rinpoche’s influence on modern Buddhism is immeasurable.


Others to be honored include:

Javed Akhtar, who will receive a Doctor of Literature (DLit) for his work in Indian cinema and literature as well as his work as an activist and leader. “His dedication to social justice, as reflected in his instrumental role in copyright reform, and his outspoken stance against religious fundamentalism highlight his commitment to a better society.” (SOAS)

Asma Khan, a bestselling cookbook author and owner of a restaurant in London, will be honored with a Doctor of Science (Social Sciences), or DSc (SocSc). Khan holds a PhD in British Constitutional Law from King’s College London and has been named as an Honorary Fellow at Oxford University. She has been featured on the Chef’s Table TV series and in Vogue’s list of the 25 Most Influential Women.

Finally, Prof. Kevin Fenton will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Literature (DLit) degree for his work in public health. Prof. Fenton emerged as a leader during the global COVID-19 pandemic, helping to shape governmental and academic responses to the crisis with an eye to minimizing health inequalities. He was named the second-most influential black person in Britain by Powerlist and served as the president of the UK Faculty of Public Health as an advisor on HIV.

SOAS recognizes each of these individuals as having made outstanding achievements in their fields and in shaping society for the better, exemplifying the values and ideals of the university community.

Recent honorees include four major figures from the African diaspora community in December 2022 and several individuals working in economics, the arts, peace-building, and development in the summer of 2022.

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche was born in Bhutan in 1961, the son of Thinley Norbu Rinpoche (1931–2011). He was a close student of the Nyingma master Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910–91) and has been recognized as the third incarnation of the 19th century Tibetan terton Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820–1892), founder of the Khyentse lineage, and the immediate incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö (1893–1959). 

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche.
Image courtesy of Siddhartha’s Intent India

Khyentse is the founder of the Khyentse Foundation in 2001 with the aim of promoting the Buddha’s teachings through all Buddhist traditions. The foundation has worked to preserve and translate major texts, educate children with Dharma-inspired curricula, develop monastic colleges in Asia, and fund scholarship and awards around the world to expand understanding of Buddhism in colleges and universities.

Khyentse has also founded a number of projects beyond the Dharma, including Lotus Outreach, which focuses on helping the lives of women and girls in developing countries, in particular in Cambodia and India.

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Screenwriter, chef, public health expert, and Buddhist scholar to receive SOAS’s 2023 honorary degrees                                                                    (SOAS)
Honorary fellows and graduates (SOAS)

Related news reports from BDG

Engaged Buddhism: Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche Highlights the Value of Small Sacrifices in Breaking the Cycle of Poverty for Women
Khyentse Foundation Supports Donation of Ancient Gandhari Buddhist Manuscripts to Pakistan
84000 Announces New Translation Milestone, Publishing Their First Text from the Tibetan Tengyur
UPDATE: 84000 Launches Crowdfunding Campaign to “Bring 10,000-pages of the Buddha’s Words to Life”
Khyentse Foundation Honors Erik Pema Kunsang with 2022 Khyentse Fellowship
84000 Announces that 25 Per Cent of the Tibetan Kangyur Is Now Freely Available in English
84000 Announces World’s First Complete English-Language Catalog of the Tengyur
UPDATE: 84000 Launches New App, with Insights from Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

Related features from BDG

Being a Rinpoche: A Conversation with Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche
On Being Brave: Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche on Technology and the Dissemination of the Dharma
A Buddhist Vision for Education Reform: The Blue Lion Preschool, Inspired by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

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Karma Phuntsok
Karma Phuntsok
7 months ago

Tashi Delek