H.E. Khamtrul Rinpoche
Khamtrul Rinpoche is a renowned scholar of Tibetan Biddhism. As a master of Sutra, Tantra, astrology and medicine, he is one of the very few remaining teachers of these traditions. His Eminence is also a dzog-chen meditation master providing teachings guidence and iniiations around the world. Rinpoche has long been recognized as the Nyingmapa Ritual Mater at Namgyal Monastery and is One of the main Nyingmapa ritual instructors at the Nechung Monastery. In 1990 he wrote through his clear vision a ritual book to the Protector Nechung.
Born in Kham, Eastern Tibet, he was recognized as the Forth Incarnation of Dorje Namgye: the co-abbot of Garje Khamtrul Midrol Jangchol Monastery in Derge, Eastern Tibet, he eventually assumed full administration for the Monastery.
After escaping from Tibet to India in 1960, Rinpoche oversaw the well being of Tibetan refugees in Assam, India. Several yearts later he joined the Office of Religious Affairs of the Tibetian Goverment in exile and was Eventually appointed General Secretary of the same office.
Khamtrul Rinpoche is one of the few living Rinpoches outside of Tibet that possess the direct and unbroken empowerments, transmissions and teachings of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, At the request of His Holiness the fourteenth Dalai Lama, Rinpoche established Chime Gatsal Ling a small monastery in Dharamsala, India to sustain these teachings for future generations.
H.E. Talklung Tsetrul Rinpoche
His Eminence Talklung Tsetrul Rinpoche was born in 1926 in central Tibet near Yardrog, the famous lake where Guru Rinpoche left his hand print. The 9th Dodrak Rigdzin, Choewang Nyamnyid Dorje, recognized H.E. Tsetrul Rinpoche at the age of 5 to be the reincarnation of Ngok Choeku Dorje - the Vajra Acharya of the prominent Thupten Dorje Drak monastery.
Having been ordained, enthroned as a tulku, and given his dharma seat at the Thupten Dorje Drak monastery, His Eminence began his studies when he was eight years old and became proficient in all of the monastic arts and rituals.
In 1959, as the situation in Tibet worsened, he managed to escape from Tibet into India with a few companions. During his first 2 years in exile, H is Eminence remained in Sikkim and was able to receive empowerments and transmissions from the great 16th Holiness Gyalwa Karmapa. Moreover, ever since his teenage years studying in Tibet, His Eminence has received rare and precious teachings from great Tibetan Buddhist Masters such as Dodrak Rigdzin, the omniscient Longchen Rabjam, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Kyabje Dudjon Rinpoche. H.E. Tsetrul Rinpoche has now received almost every major empowerment, transmission and teaching from Kama, Terma and Dzogchen etc. Today, Tsetrul Rinpoche is the only living lineage holder of the Northern treasure outside of Tibet.
While living in Simla, His Eminence devoted himself to founding a new Dorje Drak monastery. Presently, over 70 monks are working there to preserve, foster and promote the teachings of the Jang Ter lineage. Prominent lamas such as Namkha’i Nyingpo Rinpoche, Kyabje Penor Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche have requested H.E. Tsetrul Rinpoche to give teachings and other dharma empowerments and transmissions. Wherever he goes, His Eminence generously offers instruction to whomever requests his dharma teachings.
His Eminence Nechung Chogtrul Rinpoche came from Mindrolling Monastery to Nechung Monastery in the 1880's, during the time of the Eighth Nechung Oracle, Shakya Yarphel. Rinpoche not only became the oracle’s spiritual guide, but also to Nechung's sangha, to whom he passed extensive transmissions of the meditation practices on the energy channels, wind, and yantras (Tsa-Lung Khrul-Khor) and on the generation and completion stage practices. In 1891, following the prophecies given by Nechung, and as instructed by the Tibetan government, he left for Do-Kham, in eastern Tibet, to collect the Guru Yoga text and the heavily-blessed image of Guru Padmasambhava, a treasure object discovered by the great treasure master Ogyen Lerab Lingpa, from Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche. The image was brought to Lhasa and housed in the Tsuglag Khang amidst a grand ceremony accorded by the Tibetan government. Ogyen Thinley Choephel was then recognized as the incarnation of Langdro Kunchok Jungne, one of the 25 chief disciples of Guru Padmasambhava. Langdro Kunchok Jungne's reincarnation is known as the great treasure master Ratna Lingpa, who is well known in the history of Tibetan Buddhism. Nechung Rinpoche is considered the reincarnation of Ratna Lingpa.
After his demise, the Great Thirteenth Dalai Lama recognized Thupten Kunchok Pal Zangpo as the next reincarnation of Nechung Rinpoche. This incarnate Nechung Rinpoche became a great realized master. He also studied Tibetan literature and astro-science from a learned astrologer of Mindrolling Monastery. From 1956 to 1959, he taught Tibetan language at China's Minority School in Beijing. Following the Chinese occupation, he returned to Tibet, and was imprisoned for a few months. He ultimately escaped from Tibet and reached India in 1962. Nechung Rinpoche was able to bring to India the Se-Bag Mug-Chung (Precious Mask), one of the holiest and priceless belongings of the great Dharma protector, Nechung. He became a professor at the Ladakh Buddhist Institute (Buddha Vihar) in Delhi. During his stay at the monastery he passed numerous lineages of initiations, oral transmissions and commentaries on the practices unique to the traditions of the Nechung monastery. On August 31, 1982, Nechung Rinpoche passed away, he remained in a state of absorbed meditation for a few days.
The 14th Dalai Lama and the Nechung Oracle mutually recognized the reincarnation of the present Nechung Rinpoche in 1993. He was born in Lhasa on May 20, 1985. He went to school in Tibet for some years, and in September 1993, some monks and members of the Nechung Monastery went to Tibet and literally smuggled him to India. After reaching Dharamsala, he began his studies in earnest at the Nechung Monastery. On March 15, 1995 he was officially enthroned. He has successfully completed the memorization of the traditional ritual texts unique to Nechung, and also received extensive initiations from the most Ven. Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche. He is currently studying Buddhist Philosophy and other subjects at the monastery.
Drubwang Konchok Norbu Rinpoche
Drubwang Konchok Norbu Rinpoche was born in Drikung,Tibet in 1921. He entered Drikung Nyima Changra Buddhist Institute at a very young age, and studied Buddhist philosophy. After his graduation, Drubwang Konchok Norbu Rinpoche became the disciple of one of the foremost contemporary retreat masters of the Drikung Kagyu Lineage, Drubwang Pachung Rinpoche (1901-1988). Under the guidance of Drubwang Pachung Rinpoche, Drubwang Konchok Norbu went on retreat for many years.
It was during a 10 year retreat that Drubwang Konchok Norbu Rinpoche gained the supreme experiential understanding of Mahamudra. Many a time he saw His Holiness the Dalai Lama in his vision. Some time ago, Drubwang Rinpoche forewarned that he would leave this world for the benefit of all sentient beings.
At the request of H.H. Dalai Lama, Drubwang Rinpoche agreed to stay on for a few more years, and in September 1999, His Holiness wrote a long life prayer for Rinpoche at the request of the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche, the Supreme Co-Head of the Drikung Kagyu Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Drubwang Konchok Norbu Rinpoche does not give tantric empowerments or lofty teachings on Mahamudra, or on Mahasandhi. Through his deep compasion he encourages and inspires people to do the simplest of all dharma practices: Extend kindness, and recite Om Ma Ni Pad Me Hung, and Om Vajra Guru Padma Siddhi Hung
Sadly, Rinpoche passed away in 2008.
H.E. Garchen Rinpoche
His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche's line of succession traces all the way back to the famous Gar Tong Tsen, King Songtsen Gampo's minister in the 7th century. Gar Dampa Chodingpa, Gar Tenpai Gyaltsen and Gar Chokyi Nyima are some of the famous Gar lamas whose names we read today in the lineage supplications.
Gar Konchok Ngedon Tenpai Nyma Chokyi Senge Pal Sangpo, the current Gar Rinpoche, is the eighth in the Gar Lineage of reincarnate lamas. He was born in Nangchen, Kham in 1936. Garchen recieved his training, empowerments and transmissions from Tulku Chime Dorje and Lho Thubten Nyingpo. At the age of 13, Garchen Rinpoche went on a three year Ngongdro retreat.
During the Culrural Revolution, Garchen Rinpoche was in prison with all the other lama inmates in Chinghai. This, Rinpoche says, was the greatest blessing of his life! For twenty long years Garchen Rinpoche recieved teachings from the famous Dzogchen master, Khenpo Munsel and practiced Dzogchen in secret.
Today, Rinpoche travels whenever he can and works very, very hard to improve education and the living standard of the people of Tibet who look up to him for inspiration and guidance.
H.E. Ajia Rinpoche
His Eminence Ajia Rinpoche is one of the most important religious leaders to leave Tibet since His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He is the Abbot of Kumbum Monastery in Amdo, one of the six great centers of Buddhism in Tibet. Born to Mongolian nomads in Eastern Tibet, he was recognized at a very young age as the reincarnation of the father of Je Tsong-kha-pa. Having been recognized as the 21st original abbot of Kumbum Monastery, he began what was to be a lifetime of Buddhist studies. He has recieved many initiations and empowerments in Sutric and Tantric traditions from great masters including HH the Dalai Lama and the late Panchen Lama.
When he was eight years old the Chinese invaded Tibet. Despite the hardships he suffered under Chinese rule, he still managed to continue his studies and practice in secrecy. As abbot of the Kumbum Monastery, he worked dilligently to establish a new order of Buddhist monks and to improve education and healthcare throughout Tibet. In addition to being an important religious leader, he held several political positions at both the central and provincial level. However, in 1998 due to mounting political and religious pressures, Ajia Rinpoche fled Tibet.
Rinpoche excels in Tibetan Buddhist arts and crafts. He has dedicated himself to teaching traditional Tibetan arts such as mandala design, thangka painting, butter sculpture and embroidery. Recently, he presented an extraordinary Kalachakra mandala for world peace to HH the Dalai Lamaand the Smitsonian Institute. Aspiring to preserve Tibetan Buddhist art, culture and philosophy, His Eminence dreams of establishing a Buddhist center in the West that will embody Tibetan, Chinese, Mongolian and English speaking people. The center he envisions would be called The Buddhist Center for All Prevailing Wisdom.
H.E. Togden Rinpoche
His Eminence Togden Rinpoche is the highest Drikung Kagyu Lama in Ladakh. When he was one and a half years old he was recognized by the head of the Drikung Kagyu Lineage in Tibet as the reincarnation of Togden Rinpoche and later enthroned as the Ladakh Choje. Chojes or Dharma Lords essentially act as ambassadors of the Drikung Kagyu Lineage to holy Drikung Kagyu areas such as Mt. Kailash, Tsari, Lapachi and Ladakh. In addition to being the Choje of Ladakh, His Eminence is also believed to be the emanation of the great Indian Mahasiddha, Hungchen Kara.
Togden Rinpoche started his education at a very early age. Accompanied by his tutor he travelled to the Drikung Monastery in Tibet in 1951 and studied there until 1960.
His Eminence Choje Togden Rinpoche is a renowned Buddhist ccholar with profound experiential understanding of the Dharma, he holds the transmission of a vast array of teachings including Gongchik, Yamantaka, Phowa, and Dharmapalas of the Drikung Kagyu Lineage. The former head of the Nyngmapa Lineage, Kyabje Dujom Rinpoche, initiated His Eminence as his successor for imparting the empowerments of Rinchin Terzo, the Nyngmapa Terma Treasury. Shortly after his initiation, he revealed mind treasures from several sacred hidden places.
Currently His Eminence serves the Jammu and Kashmir State Government as the Minister of the State for Ladakh Affairs and Planning. As an engaged Buddhist practitioner, Choje Togden Rinpoche has made major contributions to the develpoment og Ladakh and is known for his special powers to heal and dispel obstacles.
Geshe Thubten Dawa
Geshe Thubten Dawa was born in 1931 in the Kongpo region of Central Tibet. He began his religious education at the age of sixteen when he entered the Jangtse college of Ganden Monastic University. In 1978 he completed the rigorous geshe training from Ganden Jangtse Monastery and was awarded the Geshe Lharampa degree, the highest of the geshe degrees. In 1980 he was assigned to teach dialectical debate, philosophy and Buddhist practice at Namgyal Monastery in Dharamsala, India, where he taught until he was appointed to a position at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives teaching Buddhism to Western students.
Currently he is the abbot at Namgyal Monastery in Dharamsala. Over the years he has also taught at various universities and Buddhist centers in Korea, Australia and the Unites States and other countries.
Geshe Lobsang Khenrap
Geshe Lobsang Khenrap affectionately known as Gen Khenrap, was born in the Tsang region of Tibet in 1939. At the age of eight he joined the local Gelug Monastery, Gadong Monastery and studied there for eight years. When he was sixteen, he joined the Drepung Monastery's Loseling College where he excelled in Buddhist dialectics and logic. With the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959, he fled and later continued his studies of Buddhist philosophy at the re-established Drepung Monastery in South India.
In 1992, Gen Khenrap competed against twenty of the best Geshes from all the monasteries in the most rigorous debating test, the Lharampa. He emerged as the overall winner and was pronounced the top scholar in the first division.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama specially appointed Geshe Khenrap to be one of the principal teachers at Nechung Monastery in Dharamsala, India.