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The Trials of Telo Rinpoche

The Trials of Telo Rinpoche - Image Produced by Ritu Sarin,Tenzing Sonam.
49 min. Color. 1999.
Available as: VHS and DVD
Captioned: No
Catalog #: 0101
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Sale Price: $250.00 Buy VHS Buy DVD

This absorbing documentary portrait tells the amazing story of Telo Rinpoche, a.k.a. Eddie Ombadykow, a 21-year-old American from Philadelphia whose favorite band is The Smashing Pumpkins. He is also a Buddhist monk who was brought up in a Tibetan monastery in India from the age of seven and who was recognized by the Dalai Lama as an important reincarnate lama, or spiritual master.

For the past year and a half, he has lived in his ancestral homeland, Kalmykia, a remote Buddhist republic in southern Russia, where he is revered by the people as their spiritual leader and charged with the responsibility of reviving Buddhism after the fall of communism.

This unique and fascinating film explores a young man's efforts to come to terms with his own unusual destiny while struggling to fulfill the expectations thrust upon him by his family and by the people of a distant land who see him as their Messiah. The film's riveting story and powerful themes are certain to captivate students and inspire discussion in courses in cultural anthropology, Asian and Tibetan studies, Buddhist studies, and comparative religion. It was produced for the BBC by Tenzing Sonam and Ritu Sarin.


"A fascinating study of Tibetan Buddhism in the postmodern world. Telo Rinpoche's candid description of his hopes and frustrations provides a powerful and human portrait that will raise important questions for all students of religion." -- Donald Lopez, Prof. of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies, Univ. of Michigan, author of Prisoners of Shangri-La


  • Margaret Mead Film Festival honoree
  • Royal Anthropological Institute Film Festival honoree
  • Tibetan American Foundation Tibetan Film Festival honoree



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