KDM Society

Kachen Dugyal Memorial Society is named after the great Buddhist scholar Kachen Dugyal of Spiti Valley.

He was born in a small village called Sumling in Spiti in 1901. His childhood name was Tenpa Yarphel. His parents sent him to Key Monastery for his primary education, where he was ordained to monkhood. He left for Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Tibet to pursue higher studies in Buddhist scholastics. He received his Kachen degree (equivalent to “Doctorate in Buddhist Philosophy and Reasoning” in other academic institutions) after fourteen years’ persistence hard work and tireless quest for excellence. He was also honoured by His Holiness the 9th Panchen Lama of Tibet for his meritorious excellence in Buddhism and since then he was known as Kachen Dugyal. After staying in Tibet for many years, he returned to Spiti  and stayed in Key Monastery.

During his life time he went to every nook and corner of Spiti, Lahoul, and Kinnaur regions to preach and spread the message of love and compassion which are the essence of Buddhist philosophy. After years of dedication and teachings he decided to settle permanently in Key Village. He lived in a room made of mud for the last 20 years of his life, practising Buddhist Dharma and meditating. His zeal for the betterment of people of this remote Himalayan region continued even when he was 78 years old. Finally, at the age of 98, he left the mortal body on 25th November, 1999. He remained in “Samadhi” for seven days till 2nd day of December 1999, meditating in sitting position even after the death.

After the unfortunate demise of this great teacher, a hermit dweller and our root guru, all the people of Spiti and Kinnaur region unanimously decided to establish a home for senior citizen, physically challenged and needy people – which was also a life long wish of this great soul, whom we now fondly remember as Kachen-la. Thus, this association has been formed to fulfil his wish and to commemorate his contribution to our society. We believe this could be the best and apt tribute to Kachen-la who devoutedly spent all his life working  for the uplifting of destitutes and enlightening their ignorant conscience with his spiritual charisma. 

For the humble start of the project, we built the memorial choeten (stupa) and a small museum dedicated to Kachen-la. On august 3rd, 2000, H.H. the Dalai Lama, personally visited this site and bestowed his blessings. He also encouraged us regarding our other future endeavours with great enthusiasm.

1. To establish a home for old-aged, physically challenged (handicapped/disabled is not politically correct term to use.) and needy people of the Himalayan region.
2. To provide food, shelter, and clothing together with spiritual guidance to them so that they can live a meaningful life, at least at the end of their lives.
3. To preserve local culture and language.
4. To protect environment.
5. To promote educational activities in this region.

According to its aim and objectives the association has established a home for old-aged in 3rd August, 2002 and we started this home with 10 elderly people. The number has by now increased to 60 people (including 6 physically challenged) with six permanent staff members till this date.
We have also started a girl’s hostel for poor and needy students of this region with free boarding a lodging arrangements.