Geshe Thupten Phelgye was born as Dorje Thinley in the Riwoche District of the traditional Tibetan province of Kham. In 1959, three-year-old Dorje and his family fled. He attended school in India at C.S.T. Changlang and S.F.F. School Dehradun.
He became a monk in 1973, at age 17, at Seraje College, Sera Monastic University.
After completing the traditional 18-year course of study for the geshe degree in 1991, he received his doctorate in Buddhist Philosophy from Sera Monastic University in 1991, and went on to study at Gyumed Monastery. Starting in 1993, he spent five years in retreat near Dharamshala in the Dhauladhar mountains.
Over the years, He has been tirelessly giving talks and teachings around the world advocating vegetarianism and Universal Compassion for world peace. His message is simple, all beings deserve equal compassion like ourselves. Universal Compassion Movement is his agenda.
He has taken a leave from his political service in the Parliament and back to Dharma life. He will be serving as a faculty, adviser and a global scholar in the Eastern Washington University, Cheney, Washington
Thupten Phelgye saw the inside of a slaughterhouse as a child, and as a result, he became a strong advocate of vegetarianism. As the first President of the International Gelug Society, he helped pass the resolution for vegetarianism for all residents of Gelug monasteries and nunneries. He helped pass a 2003 bill in the Tibetan Parliament in Exile, where he is a representative of the Gelug tradition, which encouraged Tibetans to become vegetarian, by declaring 2004 the "Tibetan Vegetarian Year." He was re-elected to the Parliament in 2006.
He has also founded a charitable trust, the Universal Compassion Movement (UCM), with the mission of bringing people together to help animals who are slaughtered or suffer cruel and inhumane treatment.
His US speaking engagements have included Amherst College, Gonzaga University, Harvard University, Naropa University, North Idaho College, University of Idaho, University of California at Santa Barbara, University of San Francisco, and Wheaton College. He has given teachings at Sravasti Abbey and other US Buddhist centers.
Thupten Pelgye is active in interfaith dialogue. With respect to the differences between Buddhism and Christianity, a student newspaper described his position as follows: "The main issue ... [is] to focus on the day-to-day practice of 'how to be nice and how to be good,'" and also noted his emphasis on practical, "every-day practice" to serve others.
In 2004, the Dalai Lama requested Thupten Pelgye to serve as "an emissary for peace." He is active in Middle East peace efforts, via the Sulha Peace Project.
In May, 2012, Thupten Pelgye blessed around 100 pets, mostly dogs, at Marymoor Park to promote compassion and peace.
In 2002, the Geshe acted as a senior monk in an Indian Hindi film, directed by Shaji N. Karun, Nishad (English title: Octave).Community of Faith: A Buddhist perspective on mindful eating, guest editorial