Tibetan Lama Dagri Rinpoche Suspended from Teaching after Molestation Allegations
Three women have come forward this month with allegations of molestation by Dagri Rinpoche, 65, a well-known teacher in the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism and the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT).
Dagri Rinpoche was briefly detained by police on 3 May after a woman filed a complaint with the Kangra police in northern India, stating that Dagri had molested her during an Air India flight. The monk was later released on bail.
On 7 May, a former Gelug nun, Jakaira Perez Valdivia, released a video on YouTube accusing Dagri of molesting her at his residence at Namgyal Monastery in McLeod Ganj, India, in 2008. Later, a third woman offered an account on Facebook, stating that Dagri Rinpoche had grabbed her breast when she was a student in India between 2005 and 2009.
In her video, which contains links to her statutory declaraion made to the Indian police and to the third woman’s Facebook statement, Valdivia suggests that there are yet other women who were molested by Dagri Rinpoche, saying: “Now is the time to talk. Now it has come out to the public. . . . Speak up. Do something. Go make a video, make a statement, go to your Dharma center. Write a letter to Lama Zopa. Start a blog. Write a letter to His Holiness the Dalai Lama's office.” (YouTube)
After abuse allegations against Sogyal Rinpoche were made by eight former senior students in 2017, the Dalai Lama recounted a 1993 meeting of Western Buddhist teachers, at which he encouraged Buddhist students to publicize any misconduct by teachers:
“Many years ago in Dharamsala at a Western [Buddhist] Teachers Conference, some Western Buddhist teachers mentioned some Zen masters and Tibetan Buddhist masters had created a very bad impression among people. Then I told them then: these people do not follow Buddha’s advice, Buddha’s teaching. We cannot do. So, the only thing is to make it public, through newspapers, through the radio. Make it public!”*
Valdivia says in her video that she has sent copies of her account to both the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and to the offices of FPMT. The Dalai Lama’s office, she recounts, set up a meeting between her and Dagri Rinpoche in which she says Dagri apologized to her, after which she decided not to go to the police at the time.
Dagri Rinpoche claimed innocence in a response to the first two allegations this month. He asserted that the incident on the airplane was a “misunderstanding,” while saying of the incident with Valdivia: “Many years ago [in 2008] a nun experiencing some physical and mental problems approached me to receive a blessing as a cure for her problems. In response, I performed Jabtru, a water purification ritual, and Kakgo, a ritual to remove obstacles. About three years later, she made a statement [to the offices of the Dalai Lama and FPMT] accusing me of inappropriately touching her during these rituals. Following this, the two of us along with six persons as witnesses met together and clarified the truth.” (Tibet Sun)
FPMT issued a statement on 14 May, stating:
FPMT International Office understands that best practice is to suspend a teacher from teaching while an investigation is ongoing, in order to protect students, and the teacher. The investigation into what happened on the flight is currently being conducted by the Indian police.
We have therefore temporarily suspended Dagri Rinpoche from the FPMT Tibetan Teachers List with immediate effect, pending the conclusion of the police investigation. This means that Dagri Rinpoche may not teach, or be invited to teach, in any FPMT center during this suspension. FPMT teacher suspension does not indicate an assumption of guilt. (FPMT)
Dagri is described on the FPMT website as the reincarnation of Pari (Dagri) Dorje Chang. He was born in Tibet in 1958 and escaped to India in 1982, after which he embarked on studies of Tibetan philosophy culminating in the Geshe Lharampa degree—often described as a PhD in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. Along with his teaching travels for FPMT, he acts as an advisor for Sravasti Abbey in Washington State, in the US.
* Dalai Lama Turns Spotlight on Fallibility of Buddhist Teachers in Public Address (Buddhistdoor Global)
Dagri Rinpoche is indeed a serial molester (YouTube)
Dalai Lama Speaks Out About Sogyal Rinpoche (YouTube)
Dagri Rinpoche speaks out, claims innocence (Tibet Sun)
Update Regarding Dagri Rinpoche (Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition)
Related news from Buddhistdoor Global
Police Launch Investigation into “Possible Criminal Activity” at Shambhala Mountain Center
Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche Steps Down from Shambhala Leadership Amid Probe into Conduct
Former Shambhala Teacher Arrested in Colorado; Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche Implicated in Sexual Misconduct
Noah Levine Removed from Against the Stream Board and Teaching Roles after Sexual Misconduct Probe
South Korean Jingak Order Implicated in Sexual Misconduct Allegations
Related features from Buddhistdoor Global
Healing a Heart and a Community: Andrea Winn and Project Sunshine
Lama Rod Owens: Challenging Identity through Vulnerability
An Olive Branch: Reaching Out to Those Affected by Abuse in Buddhist Sanghas