Rinchen Dolma Taring was born in 1910 to one of the most powerful elite families that were closely involved in the government of Tibet in Lhasa. Her family was known as Tsarong and enjoyed very high positions both socially and politically. Her father Tsarong Shappe Wangchuk Gyelpo was a direct descendant of Yuthok Yonten Gonpo, who was the earliest and most famous Tibetan physician during the time of King Trisong Detsen, from A.D. 755-797. Her mother came from another important family called Yuthok, “being descended from the 10th Dalai Lama, Tsultrim Gyatso, whose family took its name from living near a bridge in Lhasa that has a roof of turquoise tiles” The Tsarong family lived for hundreds of years in Lhasa and each generation served the government of Tibet. As an aristocratic family which had political power, the family owned their own estates and servants and was highly respected in Lhasa. When she was two years old, her father Tsarong was murdered and his son, Samdrup Tsering, was killed afterwards on his way to the office by some people from Kongpo (in southern Tibet). Several years later, when she was about ten, her mother died of a heart attack. The family was able to maintain their estates and social status primarily because the Dalai Lama believed that killing Tsarong was a mistake made by others.
Richen Dolma initially studied in Lhasa for five years and later educated in India. Mr. David MacDonald, the British Trade Agent at Yatung and Gyantse encouraged and helped her to start studying at Queen’s Hill School, an American Methodist boarding school in Darjeeling in 1922. In the school, she was known as Mary Tsarong. She and Taring Jigme (her second husband) were the very first Tibetans who were sent abroad to study English. She spent three years in Darjeeling before returning to Tibet at the age of fifteen. Her education, language skills, and travel experiences to India made it possible for her to travel extensively and to accomplish different tasks later on in her life. She was exposed to different cultures, ideologies and political systems. Furthermore, Rinchen Dolma had opportunities to meet and talk with people such as the 13th and the 14th Dalai Lamas, the Regents of Tibet, Chairman Mao and the kings and queens of Sikkim and Bhutan and many other important religious and political figures.
Rinchen Dolma returned to Tibet from India after hearing the rumor about the new Tsarong being expelled from the commander-in-chief position. Tsarong indeed lost the government position and focused on trade afterwards. Rinchen Dolma became an important assistant to him because of her education and English language skill. Tsarong proposed to Rinchen Dolma and suggested that she should stay at Tsarong House and help him with the trade. The latter accepted the suggestion and bore a daughter with him. Later, when their daughter was still small, Tsarong arranged a new marriage for Rinchen Dolma. He thought that he was too old and that Rinchen Dolma should marry another man. He believed that Taring Jikme was a good choice. Taring was the prince of Sikkim who had lived in Tibet as a Tibetan for a long period of time. Moreover, Taring Jikme and Rinchen Dolma had similar educational experiences, and they both spoke English. Thus, the second marriage of Rinchen Dolma took place. With Taring she lived a happy life and they had two daughters together. Taring Jikme was an official of the government of Tibet as well. He was the major interpreter of the Dalai Lama during his escape to India in 1959.
Rinchen Dolma’s life became complicated when the Chinese came to Lhasa in 1951. An Army school was established in 1952 and Rinchen Dolma was assigned to teach Tibetan language to the Chinese. Later, she and some other women, mostly the wives of noble men, were recruited to the organizations such as the Lhasa Patriotic Women’s Association (the P.W.A.) that the Chinese created. Tsering Dolma, the Dalai Lama’s sister was selected as the Chairman of the P.W.A. and Rinchen Dolma the Vice-Chairman and General Secretary. In 1955, Rinchen Dolma accompanied Tsering Dolma Taklha and visited Beijing. In 1956, a delegation of representatives of Tibetan women led b Rinchen Dolma left for China to attend a meeting of the All-China Women‟s Federation. Her two younger daughters had an opportunity to study at the Peking National Minorities School as some other children of the Tibetan officials did.
Rinchen Dolma left for India in 1959, following the flight of the 14th Dalai Lama to India. She took charge of the children’s home at Mussoorie as a founder General Secretary in 1962 and served till 1975. On March 12, 1984, 700 Tibetan women led by Mrs. Rinchen Dolma Taring and Dolma Gyari of TYC held a rally in Delhi in protest against the Chinese occupation of Tibet. At the age of 90, she passes away in Raipur, near Dehradun, India on 29th July 2000.