This chapter gives an introduction to life of Gendun Chopel. He was one of the most important Tibetan intellectuals of the twentieth century. He was regarded, at least locally, as the incarnation of Rdo brag sprul sku and was known by that name. His birth name, however, was Rig'dzin rnam rgyal. At the age of seventeen, in 1920, he moved to one of the two major Dge lugs monasteries in the region, Bla brang bkra shis ‘khyil, with 2,500 monks, where he completed his studies of logic and epistemology, and began the study of the structures of the Buddhist path. Born at the beginning of twentieth century and dying in the middle, he lived a life bracketed by two of the defining moments in modern Tibetan history, the entry of British troops into Lhasa in 1904 and the entry of Chinese troops into Lhasa in 1951. He thus witnessed decades of profound upheaval in Tibetan society, an upheaval only exceeded by that which followed shortly after his death.
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