Khenpo Thupten Gongphel became a monk of the Sakya Order in 1984, when he joined the Sakya Centre in Dehradun and took his novice vows. He completed the Sakya curriculum of Tibetan grammer, and Buddhist rituals and scriptures. He took his full monk’s vows in 1990. In 1997, he joined the Sakya Institute, Puruwala and, in 2004, he obtained his Kachupa degree (equivalent to a BA in Buddhist Philosophy), and his Loppon degree (equivalent to an MA) in 2006. He spent the next two years teaching Buddhist Philosophy at the Sakya Institute.
In 2008, Lama Thupten Gongphel joined the International Buddhist Academy as a member of the Monastic Leadership Program. There, he learned English and Mandarin, while teaching Buddhist Philosophy in English to foreign students during the summer courses held at the Academy. He served as monastic disciplinarian during his last two years there. He is qualified to act as translator and interpreter in Tibetan, English, Mandarin, and Hindi. Lama Thupten Gongphel is known as a genuine monk of the Sakya Order of Tibetan Buddhism and a person of excellent moral character and standing.
In January 2016, Lama Thupten Gongphel arrived in Minnesota and serves as the Resident Lama of the Center. Lama Thupten Gongphel was given “Khenpo” title by His Holiness the Sakya Trizin on May 15 at the Minneapolis Convention Center in front of about 1300 participants.