The written history of Chhairo records that Lama Chhiwang Thilen founded the gompa in the 16th century. The first incarnation was born in the Sherchan family in Tukuche, but no further details are known.
The second reincarnation was born into the Gauchan family and Tukuche people recall that five or six days after he was born, light rays that touched him turned into a rainbow, identifying him as a reincarnation.
In 1942, three years after the death of the second incarnation, Rajendra Bhattachan was born in Tukuche, the youngest son to his parents. By the age of three he had already exhibited signs of remembering a previous life and he was asked to identify his past belongings; his pen, his drinking cup, his horse, which he successfully did.
For two years his parents did not want to send the young boy to Chhairo, almost two hours walk to the north. However, under the insistence of the monks and nuns who stayed at Chhairo his parents relented. Aged five he began his dharma studies under an elderly monk, completing them when he was ten.
It should then have been time for Rajendra to go into retreat for two or three years, staying in a cave in the hills above the Kali Gandaki. Following this he should have gone for further studies under a senior rinpoche. However a number of events conspired to end his life as a monk.
His mother missed him, her youngest son, and the family was uncomfortable with the care being given by the monks and nuns. So instead of going to meditate, he remained at home in Tukuche, but continued to pray each morning and recite his mantras. One day, however, he found himself unable to remember the liturgies and rituals. The family came to the conclusion that eating ordinary household food which was ‘unclean’ must have caused him to lose the connection with his past life.
After a year at home, he joined the local primary school in Tukuche. Later Rajendra married a local girl from Larjung and ran a hotel in Beni for many years. It was during this period that Rajendra asked Shashi Dhoj to come back from Japan to take responsibility for managing Chhairo.
These days, Rajendra and his family run a Thakali restaurant in Thamel. Come visit if you are in town.
Search for “Mustang Thakali Kitchen” on Google Maps; on Thamel Marg, upstairs off the main road in front of Backyard.