Archive: Tibetan Lama Turned Rapper?

Scantily-clad girls, tons of champagne, and a bit of provocative dancing… Not exactly what you’d expect from a video featuring a religious leader. Look at Gomo Tulku now, and you’d think he was brought up surrounded by hip hop, but this artist actually spent most of his life in a monastery. In fact, Gomo Tulku had his name down as a lama (Tibetan spiritual leader) since age 6.

Sixteen years ago, the Dalai Lama told young Tenzin Dhonga that he was the reincarnation of his grandfather, the high Tibetan Buddhist lama Goma Rimpoche, and from that point on, Dhonga was to become a lama himself. He moved from his home in Bountiful, Utah to study in a monastery in India.

Over the course of 12 years, he officially became a monk – therefore becoming “Gomo Tulku,” earned the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree (called a face degree there), and moved to Italy with some followers.

Up until then, Gomo Tulku was on the path to becoming a Tibetan spiritual leader. Somewhere down that path, Gomo Tulku reached a fork in the road, and he chose a most unexpected track. Now, Gomo Tulku is a rapper.

In an interview with NPR, he said, “Well, you know, I just been in the monastery for like 12 years, and once I finished that, I decided to pursue my dream, which was making music. And, yeah, 2009 I left the monastery and since then I’ve been into work and music.”

As a result of some vows he made to a spiritual leader, Tulku will always be a lama, but he says he is no longer a monk. Music is his passion and business now.

“I mean, at first, of course, [my supporters] were suspicious and a lot of them had doubts and been, you know, telling me, oh, you shouldn’t be doing this, you should be doing that,” Tulku said. “But now that they’ve seen what kind of, I guess, person I am and what my real thing is, I mean, yeah. They’ve been supportive and accepting the fact that I’ve chose this new life and world.

Surprise, right? Gomo Tulku’s single, “Photograph” came out this month. The music video (above) was completed in the last week and released on YouTube today. Maybe an album is in the near future?

Click here to hear Gomo Tulku’s full interview with NPR.

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