Telo Rinpoche, a.k.a. Eddie Ombadykow, is a 21-year-old American whose favourite band is The Smashing Pumpkins. He is also a Buddhist monk who was brought up in a Tibetan monastery in India and recognized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as a high reincarnate lama. Now, he finds himself in his ancestral homeland, Kalmykia, a remote Buddhist republic in southern Russia, where he is revered by the people as their spiritual leader and charged with the responsibility of reviving Buddhism. The Trials of Telo Rinpoche is the poignant story of his efforts to come to terms with his own unusual destiny while struggling to fulfil the expectations thrust upon him by his family and by the people of Kalmykia who see him as their Messiah.