KSR: Yes. Before Trungpa Rinpoche left for India, he was staying at Tsawa Gang3. One day he sent two monks named Tsado and Sönam Tseten to Surmang with a message for his family. The message was that they should move to Kyere. So they moved. There were five family members: his mother Tungtso Drölma, his sister Kalsang Drölma (who is my mother), his brother Damchö Tenphel Rinpoche, and his younger sister Tri-me Palmo. There was also a nun named Ani Palmo who came with them and lived with them at Kyere. She was related to both Trungpa's father and mother.
Trungpa Rinpoche's youngest sister Tri-me Palmo
and her son with Bob and Lindy King
This photo was taken in July 2005 during Bob and Lindy's visit to Kham.
Lindy writes: It was very late as you can see, in open country with only one house nearby, most likely theirs. They were tending their yak herd when we drove up in the late twilight.
WF: Was the family safe in Kyere?
KSR: Yes, it wasn't dangerous because all of the Lha-thok people had such great faith in Trungpa Rinpoche. Because of that they protected Trungpa Rinpoche's mother and family very well.
WF: Were all the buildings at Kyere Gompa destroyed during the Cultural Revolution?
KSR: Yes, everything was destroyed. The Chinese destroyed everything.
WF: But your family was safe?
KSR: Yes, there wasn't any danger. Damchö Rinpoche was marked as a ngapda by the Chinese. A ngapda is a title and it means that you're a criminal. So, Damchö Rinpoche was marked as a ngapda because he was a lama, but the rest of the family was not.
WF: Was Damchö Rinpoche harmed in any way?
KSR: No, he was never harmed because of Tülku Drubgyü, who was Trungpa Rinpoche's regent or representative at Kyere Monastary. It was the previous Trungpa, the 10th Trungpa who placed him as his Regent.
WF: How did he keep Damchö Rinpoche safe?
KSR: Tülku Drubgyü took on the blame himself and spent 22 years in prison. So then there was no blame against Damchö Rinpoche.
WF: Did Rinpoche's mother have to hide her identity?
KSR: No. Everyone knew that she was Trungpa Rinpoche's mother. The Chinese knew. The people in the community said that even though the Chinese knew that she was Trungpa Rinpoche's mother, she hadn't committed any crime, so she was not to blame. She was innocent.
WF: I would like to know a bit more about Trungpa Rinpoche's mother, your grandmother. I understand that she was a practitioner and that she was a student of Khenpo Gangshar. I'm interested in knowing about her practice and what she was like.
KSR: Yes, yes.
WF: Did she have a chance to spend a lot of her later years in meditation or retreat?
KSR: It seems that she did practice but there were no retreats during that period of time. Reciting anything was against the Chinese law.
WF: So you had to do sadhana practice in private, quietly?
KSR: They could only practice in secret, without anyone seeing anything. The whole monastery was destroyed and all the ruins were given away. All of the things in the monastery, ritual objects, statues, and so on were distributed by the Chinese to the Lha-thok familiesmaybe given to the poor families.
WF: In your own life at that time, did you have to hide the fact that you were a Rinpoche?
KSR: I didn't have the title of a Rinpoche. I was just a child.