Sidkyong Tulku

10th Chogyal of Skkim

Sidkyong Tulku was first known as Chotal Namgyal, the second son of Chogyal Thutob Namgyal by his first wife Maharani Pending. The 15th Karmapa Kha-khyab Dorje (1871-1922) recognised Chotal Namgyal as a reincarnate of his uncle Sidkyong Namgyal, the 8th Chogyal of Sikkim and thus a reincarnation of Tulku Karma Rinchen Nyedon Tenzin of the monastery of Kham Dege Palphung, a relative of Situ Panchen. The 15th Karmapa gave him the name Sidkyong Tulku. He became the abbot of Phodong monastery, North Sikkim.

He first received a traditional monastic education, became a scholar of Buddhist literature and he went on pilgrimage to the important Buddhist sites of India, Burma and Ceylon.
1893-99. Received private English tutoring in Darjeeling by Raja Tendook, Sarat Chandra Das and the Rector of St. Paul’s school.
1899. Recognised by the British Government as the heir to the throne of Sikkim, passing over his elder brother Tsotra Namgyal who was of pro-Tibetan, and thus anti-British disposition.
1903. Attended the Delhi Durbar of January 1903 in place of Chogyal Thutob Namgyal and involved in the negotiations at Khambajong between the Governments of India and Tibet in the lead up to the 1903-4 Younghusband mission.
1905. Visited the sacred sites of Buddhism in India with the Panchen Lama.
1906-8. Travelled to the UK to further his education at the University of Oxford.
1908. Education concluded with a six months world tour of North America, Japan, Korea, Manchuria, China and Singapore.
1908, Nov. Meeting with the 13th Dalai Lama at Peking. As Vice-President of the Buddhist Shrine Restoration Society, Sidkyong Tulku took a deep interest in the restoration of Bodhgaya, a concern he shared with the 13th Dalai Lama during this visit.
1909, Feb. Returned to Sikkim and appointed Vice-President of the State Council and placed in-charge of the departments of education and forests, in addition to being given control over the monasteries. Already as Crown Prince, he sets out to implement revolutionary reforms, some of which proved unpopular with the indigenous elite and the lamas. Among these were the mandatory education of kazis’ sons (landlords), the education of women, the abolition of salutation by prostration before the kazis and ordinary lamas, and the abolition of polyandry among the Bhutias and the Lepchas. He opposed missionary activities in Sikkim and attempted to protect villagers from indebtedness by limiting the settlement of Indian merchants in the interior of the kingdom and the amount of interest they could charge.

Two important transactions of 1913 were no doubt due to Sidkyong Tulku. One was abolition of imprisonment as a penalty for non-payment of debts and the other was the record in the Council Proceeding of the ban on settlement of plainsmen. Worked for the unity of all Buddhists (Northern and Southern) and attempted to reform Buddhism and implement new disciplinary rules in Sikkim’s monasteries. Invited learned lamas from Tibet and Rev. Kali Kumar, an Indian Theravadin monk, to help him with this task.
1914, Feb. Sidkyong Tulku succeeded his father Thutob Namgyal. 1914, April 29. Installed as Maharaja Sidkyong Namgyal.

His spirit of independence and assertive nature stained relations with the Political Officer, Sir Charles Bell.

1914, Dec. 5. Died unmarried.
Written by Anna Balikci, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Sikkim, with additions by Emma Martin.
  • Gender
  • Relationship
  • Nationality
  • Born
  • Place of birth
    Asia: Southern Asia: India: Sikkim
  • Died
  • Place of death
    Asia: Southern Asia: India: Sikkim: Gangtok
  • Cause of death
    Unknown or unrecorded
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