History of Bir

The Founding of Bir

Local accounts, collected during the Dharmalaya Institute‘s interviews with local elders, indicate that the first permanent settlements in Bir were established by immigrants from Bengal around 1600 C.E. These families settled in the foothills of what is now Bir proper (Upper Bir). Other groups migrated to the area much more recently, starting in the early 20th century C.E., and settled mostly further down the hill, in the area now known as Chowgan.

The Tibetan Colony

In 1966 the third Neten Chokling (1928-1973), an incarnate lama of the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, brought his family and a small entourage to Bir. With the help of foreign aid Neten Chokling purchased over 200 acres of land and established a Tibetan settlement where 300 Tibetan families were given land to build houses. At this time, Chokling Rinpoche also started building in Bir a new Neten monastery, and disciples who had followed him into India formed its first sangha (practice community). When the third Chokling Rinpoche passed away in 1973, his eldest son, Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche (b 1951), assumed responsibility for completing his father’s vision. The fourth Neten Chokling incarnation was born in 1973 in Bhutan and brought to Bir at a young age where the family of the third Chokling took him under their wings. In 2004 full responsibility for Pema Ewam Chögar Gyurme Ling Monastery in Bir was passed to the fourth Neten Chokling. [Source: Wikipedia]