Kagyu Teachers

AS THE NORTH AMERICAN SEAT of His Holiness, the Seventeenth Karmapa, Ögyen Trinley Dorje Karma Triyana Dharmachakra has been the host to many of the great Kagyu teachers. This partial list includes major lineage figures who have visited Karma Triyana Dharmachakra and some of the many other renowned teachers who, we hope, will in the future turn the wheel of Dharma at the monastery and its affiliate centers in the United States and Canada.

Seventeenth Karmapa, Ögyen Trinley Dorje

17th Karmapa Ögyen Trinley Dorje

HIS HOLINESS, the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje, is the spiritual leader of the Karma Kagyu lineage, one of the major traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Born in Eastern Tibet on June 26th, 1985, he was recognized at the age of seven through a prediction letter, known as the Last Testament. Written by his previous incarnation, it indicated the place and year of his future birth along with the names of his parents and the special signs that would appear. The Karmapa’s early years were divided between the pastoral life of his large nomadic family and Buddhist training at the nearby Karlek Monastery. Then, in the spring of 1992, contrary to his usual behavior, the Karmapa insisted that his parents move their camp early and knowing their son was special, they complied. This allowed the Karmapa to be in the exact place predicted by the Last Testament when the search party came to find him. In June of 1992, he returned to Central Tibet and Tolung Tsurphu Monastery, the main seat of the previous Karmapas.

In that same month, the Dalai Lama confirmed the recognition of the Karmapa stating that he had experienced "a kind of dream of the area where the present incarnation was born." He described precisely the area of the Karmapa’s birth as if he were actually there, saying that there were stones and meadows but no trees, animals or people and that two rivers flowed down on the right and left. "Then someone, some source without form, was telling me, ‘This is the place where the Karmapa is born.’" This close connection between the two spiritual leaders would to continue up to the present day.

In 1992, he suggested to his parents that they move their camp early. This decision to move placed them in the spot where the predictive letter written by the Sixteenth Karmapa had said the Seventeenth Karmapa would be found. Apo Gaga told his parents his monks were coming for him, and packed his things.

The Karmapas were the first lineage of tulkus (reincarnate lamas) in Tibet and the 17th Karmapa was the first one to be officially recognized by both the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government. The enthronement of a tulku marks the public recognition of this special status and begins the official activity of bringing benefit to all living beings. This ceremony was held in September 1992 with 20,000 people coming to celebrate from all over Tibet and the world outside. The next day, the young Karmapa gave his first empowerment, which was of Chenrezig, the embodiment of compassion. Both the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa are considered emanations of this most popular deity in Tibet.

While staying at Tsurphu, the Karmapa completed basic studies of Buddhist texts in addition to becoming very adept at Tibetan language and literature. Even at a young age, his poetry was profound and lyrical. During the other parts of his day, the Karmapa was overseeing the rebuilding of Tsurphu, making official visits, and recognizing other reincarnate lamas, a well-known ability of the Karmapas. Thousands made the pilgrimage to Tsurphu to receive his blessing and he presided over the numerous rituals and meditation retreats that shape the calendar of Tibetan Buddhism.

In Tibetan Buddhism, lineage is extremely important, since the tradition is sustained through teachers passing along their knowledge and wisdom to the next generation of disciples. In late 1999, in order to meet his teachers in India, the Karmapa left Tibet. Once in India, the Karmapa traveled directly to see the Dalai Lama who received him with great warmth. The image of the Karmapa and the story of the escape was on the cover of newspapers and magazines the world over.

The Indian government kindly granted the Karmapa refugee status, and he continues to stay at his temporary residence in Gyuto Monastery, not far from the Dalai Lama’s home in Dharamsala. The Karmapa’s wish to receive further instruction and meet with his former teachers is being fulfilled as he studies Buddhist philosophy and meditation while receiving the transmissions and empowerments from the masters of his lineage. Though young in years when he first arrived in India, the Karmapa has showed a wisdom and maturity well beyond his age. With a special interest in books, he has worked to preserve ancient texts; he has also encouraged the practice of the meditative rituals, which were brought from India to Tibet centuries ago and which form the core practices at all his monasteries inside and outside Tibet.

With the passing years, the Karmapa’s artistic abilities have flourished. In addition to writing poetry, he has become a skilled artist in drawing, painting, and calligraphy. Recently, he composed new meditative rituals for the Kagyu Prayer Festival, a yearly gathering of monks and lay people in Bodh Gaya, India, the place of the Buddha’s enlightenment. The Karmapa has presided over these major ceremonies since 2001. There are thousands who come to the festival and also to visit the Karmapa at Gyuto Monastery where he gives public teachings.

Now at last in 2008, His Holiness the Karmapa is able to travel abroad. During this initial visit, he will spend eighteen days of May and June traveling in the United States. We are overjoyed to receive him at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, where he is returning for the first time as the 17th Karmapa to meet his disciples, bless the monastery, and give an empowerment and teachings. We look forward to numerous such occasions in the future.

The vast scope of activities of His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwa Karmapa, including spiritual travels to offer teachings, consecration ceremonies, and blessings, his teaching schedules, as well as official visits and participation in a variety of conferences, can be viewed in the Karmapa News Archives.

Official website of the Office of Administration of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, http:/www.kagyuoffice.org

Sixteenth Karmapa, Rangung Rigpe Dorje

16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje

THE SIXTEENTH GYALWA KARMAPA, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, was born in Tibet in 1924. He was recognized by the Eleventh Situpa. Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje accomplished extensive retreats in his youth. His Holiness went on pilgrimage to Samye, Lodrak, and then to Bhutan. In 1945, Tai Situpa gave him full ordination vows and further comprehensive Kagyu teachings on the giving of empowerments. He also received from the Nyingma master Urgyen Rinpoche complete transmission of the Nyingma teachings of Terton Chojur Lingpa.

In 1959, during the communist invasion that had begun in 1951, the Karmapa left Tibet with portable spiritual treasures and relics and 150 tulkus, monks and lay people. He settled in Rumtek, Sikkim, India. By 1966, the construction of the new Rumtek monastery was complete, and the relics were installed. This was to be the hub from which Kagyu Dharma would spread throughout the world.

In 1974, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje set out on his first world tour. He took a second tour in 1977. As did the previous Karmapas, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje performed startling miracles. Numerous times he left footprints in rocks. He once tied sword blades in knots. During a visit to the Hopi reservation in northeastern Arizona, he made rain for the drought-stricken area.

The Sixteenth Karmapa died in 1981 in Zion, Illinois, north of Chicago. After his death, his body remained upright in meditation posture for three days, and the area over his heart was warm. During his cremation, his heart fell from the blazing body. The heart is now a venerated relic, stored in a stupa at Rumtek monastery. Bones that remained after the cremation of Rangjung Rigpe Dorje formed Buddhas and many relics. The Sixteenth Karmapa is best known for having brought the Dharma out of Tibet into the Western world.

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The Twelfth Situpa, Pema Dhonyö Nyinche

12th Situpa, Pema Dhonyö Nyinche

THE GREAT LAMA Chokyi Gyaltsen (1377-1448) was the first to bear the title Tai Situ, which means "far-reaching, unshakable, great master, holder of the command."

The current, Twelfth Tai Situpa was born in 1954 to a family of farmers in the Palyul district of the Derge Kingdom. He was traditionally recognized and enthroned at Palpung Monastery at the age of eighteen months.

When he was six years old, political conditions forced him to leave Tibet with only a few attendants. He traveled to Bhutan first and then to Sikkim, where he joined the Sixteenth Karmapa who had also come out of Tibet. After recovering from illness and exhaustion, Tai Situpa went to live at the newly constructed Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, the new seat of the Sixteenth

Karmapa. He received his formal religious training under the guidance of the Sixteenth Karmapa, until 1975, when at the age of twenty-two, he assumed his own traditional responsibilities. He established his first monastic project, called Sherab Ling, at the request of his Tibetan followers who had settled in northern India.

In 1980, Tai Situpa made his first tour to European countries at the request of Buddhist organizations. Since then, he has traveled widely in North America, Europe and Southeast Asia lecturing on Buddhist philosophy and meditation. He founded Maitreya Institute in 1984 in response to Western interest in multicultural activity and spirituality. Tai Situpa visited his homeland, Tibet, in 1984, for the first time since fleeing the communist invasion. During his visit, he ordained more than 2,000 men and women and presented to the Chinese authorities a plan for the rebuilding, preservation, and propagation of the Tibetan Buddhist culture. His Eminence was instrumental in the identification and enthronement of His Holiness Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa, head of the Karma Kagyu Lineage. Currently, His Eminence is involved in the advancement of interfaith and intercultural humanitarian efforts around the world. 

Photo courtesy of Wen-lin Chiu

A more extensive biography of the Twelfth Tai Situpa can be found here.

Khentin Tai Situ Rinpoche is an emanation of the future Buddha, Maitreya

To learn about activities of H.E. Twelfth Tai Situ Rinpoche, please visit the Palpung Web Center at www.palpung.org

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Third Jamgön Kongtrül Rinpoche, Karma Lodrö Chokyi Senge


THE THIRD JAMGON KONGTRUL RINPOCHE was born in 1954 to a prominent Lhasa family. Extraordinary signs accompanied his birth. Even at an early age, his devotion to His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa was unsurpassed. His entire life example manifested the perfection of a great bodhisattva. After the passing of His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa in 1981, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche became one of the foremost holders of the Kagyu Lineage, and wore the mantle of regency with humility and great dignity. Revered by disciples of His Holiness Karmapa throughout the world, he was especially dear to students in the West who had the immeasurable good fortune to see or hear him during his short life. In the absence of His Holiness' physical manifestation, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche virtually adopted Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, and was a frequent visitor and teacher.

In 1984, in order to celebrate the visit of H.E. Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche to Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, the Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche gave a short teaching on the life and activity of Jamgön Kongtrül the Great, concluding that for "those who had the good fortune to experience [His Eminence the III Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche's] presence and teachings during his short visit to the United States, it was abundantly clear that His Eminence is an awakened heartfelt son of His Holiness Karmapa."

Following the passing of His Eminence Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, his life story was published by the Jamgon Kongtrul Labrang at Rumtek as an offering of Dharma for free distribution. The life story was written by the Ven. Bokar Tulku Rinpoche as "A Brief Biography of H.E. the 3rd Jamgon Kontrul Rinpoche." Also included in this memorial to H.E. Jamgon Kongtrul Karma Lodro Chokyi Senge was a translation of the Guru Yoga for the III Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, called "Billowing Clouds of Blessing."


Visit the official web site for the Office of H.E. Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche.

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Teachings by the Jamgon Rinpoche on this site:

Fourth Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche

The Fourth Jamgön Kongtrül Rinpoche

THE FOURTH JAMGON KONGTRUL RINPOCHE was born in the wood pig year in Central Tibet on the 26th of November 1995. His birth was prophesied by The Seventeenth Karmapa, Ögyen Trinley Dorje, who also recognised, confirmed the authenticity of his incarnation, and proclaimed it to the world!

The prophecy, the search, and the recognition of His Eminence the Fourth Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche are told in the book E MA HO! published by the Jamgon Kongtrul Labrang and can be obtained from Pullahari Monastery and viewed on www.jamgonkongtrul.org.

Today, His Eminence spends time between Kagyu Tekchen Ling and Pullahari Monastery, the monastic seats in India and Nepal founded by the Third Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche. Jamgon Kongtrul Labrang is prioritising His Eminence’s studies, training, and the receiving transmissions from the Lineage Masters at this time. Though still young in years, His Eminence has started to assume responsibilities of the activities of his predecessors. Annually, he also graces his presence at the Kagyu Monlam in Bodhgaya, India, led by His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwa Karmapa, and leads the Kagyu Monlam in Kathmandu, Nepal.

At Pullahari Monastery, His Eminence grants daily audiences between 10.30am and 11.30am (except on Wednesdays).



By His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwa Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje

Om Swasti! The one whom the Glorious One’s flawless prophecy foretold would accomplish the enlightened activity of all the Victorious Ones, and to whom the great emperors of China paid homage by calling him “Rasuso Huwang, King of the Precious Dharma” is Karmapa, Ogyen Drodul Trinley Dorje. This proclamation is his.

To the people of the world, particularly to those residing in Tibet, Great China, India, Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal, Hongkong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Switzerland, Singapore, Japan, America, and others; to the people of these great lands, to lamas, tulkus, laymen and women of every station, I offer this to you.

In this world, the sole source of happiness and benefit is the precious teachings of the perfect Buddha. That these teachings remain, flourish, and spread depends solely upon those who are capable of upholding them. In the lands of India and Tibet, many great beings holding high the incomparable blazing white parasol of the doctrine have come, and continue to come. The greatest of all of them is the one who, in this age of strife, performs enlightened activity that is truly miraculous – he is like the moon, the lord of the stars, who alone amongst the midst of luminaries is able to emit the cooling light. As the Victorious One, son of Shuddodanah, said in the Samadhi Raja Sutra, “The One who will perfectly benefit sentient beings will be called ‘Lodro Thaye’. This is my prophecy.”

The third incarnation of this great being, whose coming was foretold in the Victorious One’s flawless prophecy, was without rival in the entire Land of Snow. He was lord of the completely perfect teachings; like a wish-fulfilling jewel, he dispelled the inner torments of all beings. He was the crown ornament of the lineage upholding the definitive meaning, the Karma Kamtsang. It is impossible to speak his name lightly or idly. The great sound of his name, “Jamgon Lodro Chokyi Senge,” reduces samsara to shreds. According to his intention he has come again, this great friend of the Teacher’s doctrine and of all beings, even those who do not know him. He was born to the south of the Glorious Karmapa’s seat of Tsurphu, in Chushur district amidst many villages, the circumstances of his birth being in accord with my description in the Letter Describing the Signs earlier, held in faith by gods and men.

Now in this special purpose, I offer, to the son born in the year of the Pig to Yab Gonpo and Yum Yangkyi, this recognition as being the genuine reincarnation of the Third Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Chokyi Senge.

I hereby bestow upon him the name Jamgon Lodro Chokyi Nyima Tenpey Dronme Chok Thamched Le Nampar Gyalwe De. I sing his praises, and empower him to sit on the towering throne of Dharma. All sentient beings should examine the legacy of his predecessors, respect him, serve him, and pay him homage. Even though he has not reached adulthood, all should hold this supreme tulku in only the highest regard.

Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, August 25, 1996



By His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwa Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje

To all those genuine, unbiased, supreme tulkus who are the glorious protectors of the doctrine and beings, and to the sangha of scholars, masters, and monks, I offer the following:

The one whom the Great Fourth prophesied in many sutras and tantras, and whom the Second Victor, the Great Guru, also foretold, was the genuine being Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye. His name was renowned as the sun and moon. The Third in the garland of his incarnations was the great Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Chokyi Senge, whose reincarnation has now indisputably appeared.

Being completely certain as to his authenticity, I have bestowed upon him the name Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Choyki Nyima Tenpey Dronme. And I hereby request all unbiased and supreme tulkus, and the sangha of scholars and masters, to pray that through this supreme tulku’s mastery of the Three Wheels and the three types of scholarship, he may bear the awesome responsibility of disseminating the Great Fourth’s flawless teachings throughout the hundred directions, and in so doing make his predecessors’ legacy his own; that his lotus feet be unshakeably planted here on earth; that he be as indestructible as the vajra; that he and his activity be surrounded by only the most excellently favourable conditions; and that these favourable conditions increase and increase. I request all the aforementioned to give whatever assistance to him that they, in their wisdom, know to be necessary.

This proclamation of the authenticity of the Fourth in the garland of emanations of Jamgon Kongtrul is made by Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje in his Seat of the Pure Land of Tsurphu.

September 2, 1996


For more information please contact:

Tenzin Dorjee
General Secretary to H.E. Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche

Pullahari Monastery
P.O. Box 11015, Kathmandu 

Tel: +977 (1) 4800896
Fax: +977 (1) 4800890

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Twelfth Goshir Gyaltsap Rinpoche

Twelfth Goshir Gyaltsap Rinpoche

THE TWELFTH GOSHIR GYALTSAP RINPOCHE was born in Central Tibet in Nyimo, near Lhasa. From generation to generation his family was well known for giving rise to highly developed yogis who achieved their attainments through the recitation of mantras and through Tantric practices. Gyaltsab Rinpoche was one such offspring who was actually recognized by His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa before he was born.

In 1959, Gyaltsab Rinpoche made the journey to Sikkim with His Holiness. He remained for a while with His Holiness' settlement group in the old Karma Kagyu monastery, which had been built at Rumtek during the time of the Ninth Karmapa. In the early 1960's, Rinpoche received several very important initiations from His Holiness.

After these initiations, his father felt that his child should receive a modern education in English, so he took him to the town of Gangtok to study. However, with his extraordinary vision of what would be truly beneficial, the young Rinpoche chose to study Dharma in His Holiness' monastery instead of remaining at the school. Just after midnight one night he left his residence in Gangtok and walked the ten miles to Rumtek alone. At sunrise he arrived at the new Rumtek monastery. When he first appeared, all the monks who saw him were surprised at his courage, and most respectfully received him in the main temple, where His Holiness welcomed him. Despite the conflict of ideas between his father and the monks about his education, he began to study the Mahayana and Vajrayana teachings of the lineage with three other high Rinpoches.

In Rumtek these four Rinpoches studied basic ritual rites and texts with private tutors. They also studied Mahayana philosophy through investigating numerous commentaries by early well-known Tibetan teachers and scholars, and teachings by masters of Indian Buddhism whose texts had been translated into the language of Tibet many centuries ago.

In previous lifetimes all four of these Rinpoches have been great teachers and lineage holders. In each of their lifetimes, one complete and unique example had been set up, beginning from a childhood learning reading and writing and going through the whole process of study, with a youth spent in discipline leading to a fully ripened human being.

Since the time of Shakyamuni Buddha, we are taught that we each must become a truly complete human being. For us as human beings the truth is that we develop the fruit of both good and evil by virtue of our own view, practice, and habitual reactions. This fruit of our own actions on both the physical and mental levels can be either positive or negative. As long as we are ordinary human beings we must deal with the truth of that experience.

Great teachers like Gyaltsab Rinpoche show a perfect example to human beings and especially to those who can relate to the idea that one is responsible for oneself and for others as well, and that no one else is responsible for how we spend our lives, whether we build for ourselves experiences of happiness or suffering. They show us that the difference between an enlightened and an ordinary human being is not one of wealth, title or position, but only one of seeing the present reality of mind experienced at this moment.

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Teachings by His Eminence Gyaltsab Rinpoche on this site:

Seventh Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche


DZOGCHEN PONLOP RINPOCHE was born at the new Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim on June 24, 1965. His father was Dhamcho Yongdu, the General Secretary of His Holiness Karmapa. At an early age, Rinpoche received refuge vows and novice monk vows from His Holiness Karmapa. He has received most of his Kagyu and Nyingma teachings and empowerments from His Holiness Karmapa, His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and other great teachers.

In 1980, Rinpoche first traveled to North America and Southeast Asia with His Holiness Karmapa, giving dharma teachings and assisting with many ceremonies.

Rinpoche is president of Nitartha International, where he oversees activities in preserving Asian literature and manages Nitartha's educational and preservation programs. Rinpoche is acknowledged as one of the foremost Asian scholars of his generation, and is also familiar with contemporary Western methods of scholarship and education. A graduate of Karma Shri Nalanda Institute, an affiliate of Sampurnanand Sanskrit University in Varanasi (U.P.) India, Rinpoche has also completed courses of studies in English and comparative religions at Columbia University in New York City.

Over the years years, Rinpoche has become increasingly adept at applying personal computer technologies to education and archival preservation. Rinpoche is also accomplished in the visual arts.

In 2003, he founded a new international events center for Nalandabodhi in Seattle, Washington as a place for genuine teachings and transmission of Buddhism to the West.


For a more extensive biography, please visit Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche's website.

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Ninth Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche

Ninth Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche

TRALEG KYABGON RINPOCHE was born in 1955 in Nangchen, Eastern Tibet. At about the age of two, he was recognized by His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa as the ninth incarnation of the Traleg Tulkus, and enthroned as the Supreme Abbott of Thrangu Monastery.

In 1959 Traleg Rinpoche had to flee his native land. Rinpoche escaped with his party to Bhutan and from there to Rumtek, the headquarters of His Holiness the XVI Gyalwa Karmapa in Sikkim. He subsequently underwent the rigorous training prescribed for tulkus born with the responsibilities as major lineage holders. This included many years of instructions in both Drukpa and Karma Kagyu traditions, five years at the Sanskrit University in Varanasi, India, and several years at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, India.

In 1980 Traleg Rinpoche went to Australia where he established the Kagyu E-Vam Buddhist Institute in Melbourne. In 1984 Rinpoche inaugurated the annual Buddhist Summer School, which serves as the forum for many important social and religious issues. Rinpoche is the spiritual director of E-Vam Institute in Melbourne, Australia; Nyima Tashi in Auckland, New Zealand; and other affiliated centers.

In North America, Traleg Rinpoche has established and is the spiritual director of the E-Vam Buddhist Institute in New York.

In addition to a strict traditional Buddhist training, Traleg Rinpoche has received a comprehensive Western education, holding a degree from La Trobe University, and he is currently engaged in academic research for a Doctoral dissertation.

Since 1989, Traleg Rinpoche has taught at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra and visited the North American Affiliates of KTD. On the occasion of Traleg Rinpoche's first visit to KTD, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche dictated an introduction that was presented to the centers on his arrival. Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche's introduction is titled A Brief Explanation.

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Eleventh Trungpa Rinpoche


CHOGYAM TRUNGPA RINPOCHE was the first great lama sent by His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa to the West. Trungpa Rinpoche was fluent in English and authored many Dharma texts that caught the attention and devotion of Western students. Trungpa Rinpoche was instrumental in paving the way for His Holiness Karmapa's first visit to the United States, and himself visited and taught at the Karmapa's seat-to-be at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra in the late 1970's. Trungpa Rinpoche's devoted students provided this brief biography. May it inspire all who see or hear it.

Trungpa Rinpoche was born in 1940 in the province of Kham in Eastern Tibet. He was recognized as the eleventh incarnate teacher in the teaching lineage known as the Trungpa Tulkus. Trungpa Rinpoche was enthroned as Supreme Abbot of Surmang Monasteries and Governor of Surmang District.

When he was eight years old, Rinpoche received ordination as a novice monk. In 1958, when he was 18 years old, he completed his studies, receiving the degrees of Kyorpon (doctor of divinity) and Khenpo (master of studies). As a Kagyu tulku, training was in meditation and philosophy, and the practice of traditional monastic disciplines, as well as the arts of calligraphy, thanka painting, and monastic dance. Trungpa Rinpoche received full monastic ordination. His primary teachers during his eighteen years of training in Tibet were Jamgon Kongtrul of Sechen and Khenpo Kangoshar, teachers from the Nyingma and Kagyu lineages.

Due to the Communist invasion of Tibet, Rinpoche fled to India in 1959. In 1959 the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, appointed Rinpoche to serve as spiritual advisor at the Young Lamas Home School in Dalhousie, India.

In 1964 Rinpoche received a Spaulding Scholarship at Oxford University, where he studied comparative religion, philosophy, and fine arts. He took great interest in Japanese flower arranging, and received a degree from the Sogetsu School. In 1967, he founded Samye Ling Meditation Center in Dumfriesshire, Scotland. In 1969, Trungpa Rinpoche went to Bhutan to do a solitary retreat. This retreat was a turning point in his life, because soon after the retreat, he put aside his monastic robes, became a lay person, married a young Englishwoman, and moved to North America.

Trungpa Rinpoche taught in North America and Europe 17 years, and was one of the first lamas to become fluent in the English language. He taught and travelled extensively, had many students, and established many meditation and study centers. In 1973, Vajradhatu was formed as the central administrative body of Rinpoche's centers. Rinpoche founded in 1974 the Naropa Institute, the only accredited Buddhist-inspired university in North America. Later he formed the Nalanda Translation Committee to translate texts and liturgies.

In 1976, he established the Shambhala Training program, which provides instruction in meditation practice within a secular setting. The Shambhala Teachings are a complete path to Enlightenment, and stress mind-training, community involvement and the creation of an enlightened society. In 1976, Trungpa Rinpoche appointed his American disciple, Osel Tendzin (Thomas F. Rich), as his Vajra Regent (Dharma heir). Osel Tendzin assisted Rinpoche in the administration of Vajradhatu and Shambhala Training, and taught from 1976 until his death in 1990. In 1978, Rinpoche empowered his son Osel Rangdrol Mukpo as his successor in the Shambhala lineage and gave him the title of Sawang (earth lord).

Trungpa Rinpoche was a great meditation master, scholar, and artist. He wrote many books and articles, and his art work included poetry, calligraphy, painting, play writing, flower arranging, and environmental installations. He had particularly profound insights into the relationship between the contemplative discipline and the artistic process.

Trungpa Rinpoche died in 1987, at the age of forty-seven. He is survived by his wife Diana, and five sons. His eldest son, Osel Rangdrol Mukpo, succeeds him as president of Vajradhatu. Trungpa Rinpoche was able to present the Dharma to his Western students in the English language. He joined together the Eastern and Western minds, and fearlessly proclaimed the Dharma in the Occidental world.

 For more information, visit:

Shambhala International
Naropa Institute

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Ninth Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche


THE SEVENTH KARMAPA founded the Thrangu Monastery some 500 years ago and appointed one of his most gifted disciples to be its abbot. This was the First Thrangu Rinpoche. More recent incarnations have spent much of their lives in retreat.

The Ninth Thrangu Rinpoche was born in 1933 in Kham, Tibet. At the age of five, he was recognized by His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa and the Eleventh Palpung Situ Rinpoche. During childhood Thrangu Rinpoche studied reading, writing, grammar, poetry, astrology, and other subjects at Thrangu Monastery.

When Thrangu Rinpoche was twenty-three, along with Sumang Gawang and Chogyam Trungpa, he received the Gelong ordination (monk's vows). For the next several years, he received many initiations, engaged in religious practice and retreats, and was introduced to the Absolute Nature by Lama Khenpo Gausha Wangpo.

Rinpoche is the highest scholar of the Kagyu school and has been responsible for the education of the highest tulkus of the Kagyu order including H.E. Tai Situ Rinpoche, H.E. Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, and H.E. Gyaltsab Rinpoche. He is a full holder and teacher of the Kagyu Vajrayana lineages and holds a direct transmission of the special shentong philosophical tradition.

He is now the khenpo (abbot) of Rumtek Monastery and Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies, in Rumtek. He founded his own shedra (school), Thrangu Tashi Choling, in Nepal. He has also travelled extensively throughout Europe and the United States.

In Sarnath, India, Thrangu Rinpoche completed a large, beautiful monastery overlooking the Deer Park where the Buddha gave his first teaching on the Four Noble Truths. This monastery is named Vajra Vidya after the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa, and it is now the seat for the annual Kagyu conference led by His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwa Karmapa

In Crestone, CO, Thrangu Rinpoche founded the Vajra Vidya Retreat Center.

Click here for a more extensive biography of Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche.

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Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche


TENGA RINPOCHE was recognized as one of the tulkus of the great Benchen Monastery in eastern Tibet.

Since the history of his lineage is closely interwoven with the incarnations of Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche, it is helpful first to look at the history of that lineage. After living in the area of Dege for three lifetimes, the fourth tulku of Sangye Nyenpa, Gelek Jantsho, traveled to nearby Ga, a countryside he liked very much and considered suitable for building a monastery, provided that the right auspicious omens occurred. One day as Gelek Jantsho was standing near a huge boulder, a large black raven descended from the sky, alighted there and gave a cry. Gelek Jantsho went closer to look at the raven and saw it drop from its beak a small turquoise image of the protector Dorje Bernachen and then it danced around on top of the rock. He realized that the raven itself must be an emanation of the protector. As this was an especially good omen, he decided on that spot as the site for his monastery and kept the small image of Mahakala for his shrine. Gelek Jantsho then went to the local chief, Rarda Pontshong, and told him this story, requesting that land be made available for the construction of the monastery. Deeply impressed, Rarda Pontshong offered the very land on which stood his family home, a large black tent, and said he would help with the project in any way he could.

During the building of the monastery, tremendous gales, hail storms, and strange manifestations upset the progress. Gelek Jantsho realized that they were probably caused by the displeasure of the Rarda family protector. He told Rarda Pontshong of the problems and having learned that the protector was Shing Kyong, Gelek Jantsho resolved that he would dedicate himself to meditation on this protector and that Shing Kyong would always be the protector of his teachings. He built a shrine for Shing Kyong, who is still the special protector of all those associated with Benchen monastery, and the building was completed without further obstacles.

The story of the Tenga incarnations starts in the time of the eighth Sangye Nyenpa, Tenzin Drupchok, one of whose students was a highly accomplished lama named Gonkhen Samten. The title Gonkhen means "expert on the protectors" and was given to him for his proficiency in Shing Kyong meditation. Lama Samten spent most of his life in retreat, meditating on his yidam, Karma Pakshi, and Shing Kyong. Many people came to see him for his blessing, which cured all kinds of medical and other problems. Several years after Lama Samten died, Tenzin Drupchok travelled to Lhasa and on the way met a local chief named Drungpa Pontshong, who requested initiations. While Tenzin Drupchok was staying with the local chief, he met in this family a small boy, who asked if he wouldn't give back his thigh bone trumpet. Tenzin Drupchok immediately recalled that just before dying, Lama Samten had given him his thigh bone trumpet and asked him to look after it for a while. At last he had met the reincarnation of Lama Samten.

A couple of years later, returning from Lhasa to Benchen Monastery, Tenzin Drupchok stopped by the little boy's house and the family gave him the boy to take along. Soon after his arrival at the monastery, he began to study the theory and practice of the Karma Kagyu tradition, at which he excelled, memorizing in one year all the rituals and songs of Benchen. As a young man, he was given ordination by Tenzin Drupchok and the name Karma Tenzin Chogyal. Then when he was about eighteen, Tenzin Drupchok told him about Lama Samten, who had been such a distinguished lama that Tenzin Drupchok had high hopes for the future. To realize this promise, he suggested that Tenzin Chogyal go on retreat under the guidance of the great Jamgon Kongtrul.

Tenzin Chogyal followed this advice and traveled to Pepung Monastery to meet Kongtrul Rinpoche. With his instruction, the young monk completed a very successful three-year retreat and became Kongtrul Rinpoche's attendant for another three years. Kongtrul Rinpoche was very impressed with him, and when he had to go to Lhasa, he left Tenzin Chogyal in charge of his retreat center. After a few years, Kongtrul Rinpoche returned and told Tenzin Chogyal that since he was now equal to himself in realization, it was time to return home to Benchen. One of the parting gifts Kongtrul Rinpoche gave him was a painting of six-armed Mahakala, which is still with the present Tenga Rinpoche.

By the time Tenzin Chogyal came home to Benchen, Tenzin Drupchok had died and so he had to take over the direction of the monastery and the education of the new Sangye Nyenpa, Gelek Drupe Nyima (who died about twenty years ago). In addition to this work, one of Tenzin Chogyal's greatest accomplishments was the construction of four retreat centers at Benchen: for Jinasagara (a high tantra form of Chenrezig), for Kunrik (a form of Vairocana and this retreat also included White Tara and Shing Kyong), for the six doctrines of Naropa, and for the six doctrines of Niguma.

When Tenzin Chogyal was an old man, he told his monks that since he was getting old and things were becoming difficult for him, he would leave Benchen and go to live in "some pleasant garden." They all sympathized with him and thought that this was a very good idea. He told Sangye Nyenpa the same and gave him some of his possessions, including the painting of six-armed Mahakala, to look after while he was away. A few days later, he died.

Some years later, Situ Pema Wongchuk visited Benchen and Sangye Nyenpa asked him how he might find the incarnation of his lama, Tenzin Chogyal. Situ Rinpoche predicted the name of the father and mother of the child, the year of his birth (1932), and said that Sangye Nyenpa would not have to look far, but would find the child within the vicinity of Benchen. After a search, they found the child (the present Tenga Rinpoche), who was seven years old. He then began his studies at Benchen and received refuge and the name Karma Tenzin Thinle Namgyal from Situ Rinpoche. At sixteen, he was instated as a tulku and in the next years took the opportunity to learn medicine from an uncle, who was both a lama and a doctor. At nineteen, he received ordination from Situ Rinpoche and when his studies were completed, he entered a three-year retreat. During this time, he became particularly adept at White Tara meditation (his yidam) and tummo. It is said that in the retreat, his water bowls were the only ones which did not freeze over in the winter.

In 1959, as a result of the Chinese invasion, Tenga Rinpoche left Benchen for Lhasa and then northern India. Following his arrival in India, he went to Rumtek, the seat of His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa, where Rinpoche served as dorje loppon (vajra master) for more than nine years. In 1974, he traveled with the Karmapa to the West. Since then, he has traveled extensively in the West, giving teachings on Buddhism. Every two years, he teaches a three-week seminar in Germany, where many of his students reside.

In 1986, Tenga Rinpoche established the new Benchen Monastery in Kathmandu, at the foothills of Swayambhu. At present, this monastery is the center for traditional ritual practice of the Karma Kamtsang lineage. The monks, under the guidance of both Tenga Rinpoche and Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche, are trained in meditation and Dharma studies in general, and particularly the traditional tantric rituals such as sand mandalas and lama dances. Twice a year, they perform the Mahakala and Padmasambhava lama dances.

Fulfilling the wishes of Tenga Rinpoche and Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche, a health clinic was started in 1994. This clinic provides free medical care not only for the monastery, but also for local people who cannot afford such care.

A retreat center has been built in the area of Parping, twenty kilometers from Kathmandu, as part of Benchen Monastery. This will provide the traditional three-year retreat for the monks, as well as accommodations for shorter and longer retreats for lay people.

Seventh Yongey Mingyur Dorje Rinpoche

Seventh Yongey Mingyur Dorje Rinpoche

YONGEY MINGYUR RINPOCHE is a highly venerated teacher and master of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. He was born in Nepal in 1975, and was recognized as a tulku by both His Holiness the Sixteenthth Karmapa and His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. 

When Rinpoche was nine, he moved to the hermitage of Nagi Gompa in Nepal to study mahamudra teachings, as well as instructions on the trekcho and togyal aspects of dzogchen with his father, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, one of the greatest dzogchen meditation masters of our time. When Mingyur Rinpoche was eleven, he was invited by His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche to study at Sherab Ling in northern India. There he learned the practical applications of the daily rituals of Karma Kamtsang and the tantras according to the tradition of Marpa. Rinpoche also completed all required studies at the monastic college or shedra.

At the age of thirteen, Rinpoche entered a traditional three-year retreat. At age of seventeen, he was asked by His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche to become the retreat master and at the age of twenty, Tai Situ Rinpoche asked Mingyur Rinpoche to become assistant Khenpo of Sherab Ling where a new monastic college was established under Mingyur Rinpoche's guidance.

One of his current projects is the building of Tergar Institute in Bodhgaya, India, which will server large numbers of people attending Buddhist events at this sacred pilgrimage site, serve as an annual site for month-long Karma Kagyu scholastic debates, and serve as an international study institute for monastic and lay sangha. The institute will also have a medical clinic for local people.

Mingyur Rinpoche teaches actively in the West and is known for his remarkable ability to convey the Buddhist teachings in a clear and skillful manner. 

Visit the website for http://www.tergar.org.

For more on Rinpoche's biography please visit http://tergar.org/about/bio.shtml

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Biography of the First Mingyur Rinpoche

Fourth Karma Khenchen Rinpoche

Fourth Karma Khenchen Rinpoche

THE FOURTH KARMA KHENCHEN RINPOCHE, Karma Shenpen Chokyi Dawa, an emanation of Shantarakshita, was born in 1976. His father is the scholar and siddha, the Seventh Nendo Karma Chakme Rinpoche. His mother is Pema Lhamo.

The Sixteenth Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, unerringly recognized him as the emanation of Karma Khenchen Rinpoche when he was very young. The Karmapa cut his hair (gave him refuge) and he was enthroned at the great seat of Rumtek Monastery. As in his previous emanations, he learned reading and writing and heard teachings on the dharma, both sutra and tantra.

In 1987 he went for the first time to his previous seat, the second great seat of the Karmapa, Ogmin Karma Gon, in the province of Kham. In 1992 he returned there, visited many monasteries, and gave the empowerment and transmissions of the Kagyu Ngag Dzod Chenmo to many people. He also gave extensive teachings, restored several monasteries that had been destroyed, and built three new meditation retreat centers. All of his activities were for the propagation of the Buddha's teachings and to the great benefit of all beings.

In February 1999, he visited the West to teach at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra and its centers, disseminating the dharma of sutra and tantra.

Second Kalu Rinpoche


KALU RINPOCHE was born in 1905 in eastern Tibet. During his early years, he was tutored by his father at home and received a thorough grounding in the meditative and ritual traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.

When Kalu Rinpoche was fifteen years old, he was sent to begin his higher studies at the great monastery of Palpung, the foremost center of the Karma Kagyu school. He remained there for more than a decade, during which time he mastered the vast body of teaching that forms the philosophical basis of Buddhist practice and completed two three-year retreats. Rinpoche's gurus included the foremost disciples of the supreme master of the Eclectic Movement, Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye. Among them were the Fifteenth Gyalwa Karmapa Khakhyab Dorje; Eleventh Tai Situ Pema Wangchuk Gyalpo, the abbot and foremost teacher of Palpung monastery; Zhechen Gyaltsab Byurme Namgyla, the great Nyingma master who was regarded as Mipham Rinpoche's unequaled disciple; and the meditation master Drupon Norbu Donrdrup, whose teaching had a profound impact on Rinpoche's life. At the same time, his Dharma brethren included the foremost masters of his generation: Kongtrul Khyentse Ozer, Zhechen Kongrtrul Rinpoche, Jamyang Khyentse Choki Lodro, Dingo Khyentse Rinpoche, and many others.

At age twenty-six, Rinpoche left Palpung to pursue the life of a solitary yogi in the woods of the Khampa countryside. For nearly fifteen years, he strove to perfect his realization of all aspects to the teachings and he became renowned in the villages and among the nomads as a true representative of the Bodhisattva's path. Rinpoche's simple and direct style of teaching is in many ways the product of the need to bring the living experience of the Buddha's teaching to those who had not benefited from the sophisticated educational system of the monastic system.

It was thus with an established mastery of meditative practice that Kalu Rinpoche returned to Palpung to receive final teachings from Drupon Norbu Dondrup, who entrusted him with the rare transmission of the teaching of the Shangpa Kagyu.

During the 1940's, Rinpoche visited central Tibet with the party of Situ Rinpoche, and there he taught extensively. His disciples included the Reting Rinpoche, regent of all Tibet during the infancy of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.

Returning to Kham, Rinpoche became the abbot of the meditation center associated with Palpung and the meditation teacher of His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa. He remained in that position until the situation in Tibet forced him into exile in India.

Kalu Rinpoche has taught extensively in America and Europe, and during his three visits to the West he had founded teaching centers in over a dozen countries. In France, he has established the first retreat center ever to teach the traditional three-year retreats of the Shangpa and Karma Kagyu lineages to Western students.

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Third Kalu Rinpoche

Third Kalu Rinpoche

DURING THE MONTHLY fulfillment offerings to Six-Armed Mahakala on September 17, 1990, the flower of his perfect form first blossomed in Darjeeling, India. He was born without any harm to his mother. Among other numerous significant, wonderful and wholly positive signs arising with his birth, his monastery at Sonada was covered with a canopy of rainbow clouds. Even then, some faithful patrons of his previous incarnation felt unusually joyful, both physically and mentally, upon simply seeing the child's face. From that moment, persons near and far spread the news: "The Supreme reincarnation of our spiritual master has been born!"

The child naturally comported himself in a manner surpassing the behavior of other children. His greatest joy was found in playing the various ritual musical instruments, such as ra-gung (long horns) and gya-ling (short horns). As the child grew, his character revealed peacefulness, discipline and complete fearlessness; and it was evident to all that he had previously cultivated the spiritual path.

When in July of 1992, the new incarnation was invited to visit the Buddhist meditation centers founded in France by his previous incarnation, the disciples and many other persons who met him were amazed and moved to faith by his presence. In December of 1992, he made his first pilgrimage to the supreme sacred place, the Vajra Seat (Bodh Gaya in north-central India).

Although still very young, he attended daily the great gathering to recite The Aspirations of the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra; played, at the head of the assembly, the ritual hand drum and bell proficiently; prostrated and made offerings to the representations of the Buddha's body, speech and mind; and gave gifts to the beggars there without having been taught to do so. His natural pleasure in doing these acts astonished everyone and led them to feel faith in him.

On February 25, 1993, Kalu Rinpoche was enthroned at a profound and complete ceremony of investiture.

In June 1995, Kalu Rinpoche Yangsi made his first visit to North America, accompanied by Bokar Rinpoche. During their stay at Kagyu Thubten Chöling Monastery, Kalu Rinpoche Yangsi participated in conferring the empowerments bestowed by Bokar Rinpoche, as well as the daily chanting assemblies. When Kalu Rinpoche Yangsi and Bokar Rinpoche visited the stupa site, they gave a spontaneous performance of Tibetan sacred dance (Tib. cham), said to have the power to pacify discordant forces.

In 2008, Kalu Rinpoche completed the traditional three-year three-month retreat.

Excerpted from an account written by Bokar Rinpoche.

For more information click here.

Bokar Rinpoche

Bokar Rinpoche

BOKAR RINPOCHE was born to a nomadic family in Western Tibet. He was recognized at age four by His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa as the reincarnation of the previous Bokar Rinpoche. Bokar Rinpoche left Tibet at age twenty and at that time met the great meditation master Kalu Rinpoche. Beginning in 1967, under the guidance and direction of Kalu Rinpoche, Bokar Rinpoche stayed in retreat for three years, practicing the Six Yogas of Niguma. After that, he did another three-year retreat for the Six Yogas of Naropa. Bokar Rinpoche became the retreat master of the retreat center at Sonada, and later His Holiness appointed him master of the new retreat facility at Rumtek as well. Due to his remarkable qualities and deep realization, Bokar Rinpoche was considered the spiritual heir of Kalu Rinpoche, and holder of the Shangpa Kagyu Lineage.

In June of 1996, Bokar Rinpoche offered a retreat in the United States on the complete meditative stages in the great Mahamudra tradition of the Karma Kagyu lineage. In response to his experiences with Western students, Bokar Rinpoche formulated this retreat and an accompanying program of meditation practice to meet the needs of sincere lay practitioners of Buddhism. It allowed lay Westerners to remain involved with family and community while nourishing dharma practice by committing an hour a day or more to formal practice. Rinpoche said, "Our approach with the seminar, at the very beginning , was to emphasize not rejecting work, family and so forth-but to integrate a daily practice into one's lifestyle." Through this program, hundreds of students worldwide have received dharma instruction in English, French, Tibetan and Chinese in annual seminars in India, France and North America.

Bokar Rinpoche founded a retreat center in Mirik, India, and then, at the urging of the local community, a monastery. Both continue to thrive: the monastery is currently undergoing significant expansion and a second three-year retreat facility is just being completed. Well-known for his emphasis on the importance of long retreats, Bokar Rinpoche was also known for holding the Kalachakra lineage, which he had received from Kalu Rinpoche along with the entire Shangpa Kagyu transmission.

Bokar Rinpoche passed away on the morning of August 17, 2004. During the funeral ceremonies present were: His Eminence Gyaltsap Rinpoche and monks from his monastery, monks from His Holiness Karmapa's seat at Rumtek, His Eminence Jamgon Kontrul Rinpoche, and Yangsi Kalu Rinpoche, as well as Drupon Rinpoche, who accompanied Karmapa out of Tibet, and many other lamas. Numerous students from all over the world made the journey. Rinpoche's kind presence will be deeply missed by both his Asian and Western disciples.

Much of the information was kindly provided by Kagyu Changchub Chuling.

Bokar Rinpoche has written A Brief Biography of H.E. Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche that is also included in this section of the Web site.

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Mindrolling Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche

Mindrolling Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche

HER EMINENCE Mindrolling Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche is the daughter of His Holiness Mindrolling Trichen. Born into the Mindrolling lineage, which throughout its history has had many accomplished female masters, Rinpoche was recognized at the age of two by His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa as the re-incarnation of the Great Dakini of Tsurphu, Khandro Ugyen Tsomo, who was one of the most renowned female masters of her time. Thus, the present Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche came to hold the lineages of both Nyingma and Kagyu schools.

Her Eminence Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche received teachings and transmissions from some of the most accomplished masters of the 20th century, His Holiness Mindrolling Trichen, His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, His Eminence Trulzhig Rinpoche, His Eminence Tenga Rinpoche, His Eminence Tsetrul Rinpoche and His Eminence Tulku Ugyen Rinpoche.

Rinpoche has been teaching internationally for sixteen years in both Europe and North America, offering teachings from both the Kagyu and Nyingma schools.

Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche established and heads the Samten Tse Retreat Centre in Mussoorie, India which provides a place of study and retreat for monastics and Western lay practitioners, with students from East and West living together in spiritual community. Currently 52 nuns and 30 western students are in residence at Samten Tse.

The North American seat of Mindrolling International, is Lotus Garden Retreat Center in rural Virginia, USA, which provides retreat practice, the study of crucial Buddhist texts, and hosts visiting teachers from all lineages.

Rinpoche’s book, entitled This Precious Life: Tibetan Buddhist Teachings on the Path to Enlightenment, was published by Shambhala Publications in 2003.

Third Bardor Tulku Rinpoche


Letter to His Holiness the Galwang Karmapa

English  |  Tibetan

Letter to Venerable Dilyak Drupon Rinpoche

THE PRESENT, THIRD BARDOR TULKU RINPOCHE was born in 1950 in Kham, East Tibet. He was recognized by His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa at a very early age. Even after his recognition he maintained a nomadic life style with his family and Dharma tutor who were all constantly on the move with the yaks and dris that they grazed.

Rinpoche was quite young when the family left East Tibet on a journey that took them first to Lhasa and then on to Tsurphu. From there, they travelled to Drikung where they were to remain for several years at the home of his grandparents. With the Chinese Communist occupation of Tibet, the political and social conditions worsened.

Rinpoche's family, then a party of thirteen, set out towards India along with many other Tibetans who were also fleeing the fighting that was spreading toward them from Lhasa. They traveled through Kong Po and crossed the Himalayan mountain range, braved 17,000 foot passes, and then descended into the hot jungles of Assam, India. It was there, while in Pemakor near Assam, when Rinpoche was nine years old, that one after another of his family members died as they failed to adjust to the tropical heat.

When his father, the very last member of his family, died, Rinpoche set out with a twelve year old friend and a group of other Tibetans who had also fled their homeland. At the township known as Bomdila, where the borders of Tibet, Bhutan and Assam, India meet, a bombing raid dispersed the group. Rinpoche and his young friend fled the attack and walked continuously for a day and a half. The two friends traveled westward along the border of Bhutan and India, through Gohat and Siriguri to Darjeeling. Upon arrival in Darjeeling, His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa was notified that Rinpoche had safely made his way out of Tibet. Filled with joy at the good news, His Holiness arranged for Rinpoche to be brought to Sikkim, and for Rinpoche's friend to be taken care of. It was at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, under the tutelage of His Holiness Karmapa, that Rinpoche's formal training as a tulku began.

After completing many years of study and practice, Bardor Tulku Rinpoche accompanied the Sixteenth Karmapa on his world tours in 1974 and 1976. It was in 1977 though, that His Holiness asked Rinpoche to remain in New York at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra. During his first two years at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, Rinpoche worked side-by-side with the staff to renovate and winterize the house and prepare for the last visit to the West of His Holiness as the Sixteenth Karmapa. In 1980, during that last visit, His Holiness directed that His monastery and Seat in North America be established at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, and performed the formal investiture. In 1981, His Holiness instructed H.E. Gyaltsab Rinpoche to make arrangements to conduct the groundbreaking ceremony. After the groundbreaking ceremony in May of 1982, Bardor Rinpoche directed the construction plans and activities, and labored each day to build the monastery.

Bardor Rinpoche at work in Woodstock, New York on the construction of the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra monastery in 1982.

In 1983 and 1984 Rinpoche visited Taiwan and Hong Kong where he taught the Dharma and was enthusiastically received by hundreds of students and practitioners there. During the years 1985 through 1987 Rinpoche spent many months in Nepal supervising the construction of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra's statues and ornaments: the Buddha rupa, the deer and Dharmachakra, the Gengura spire for the top of the monastery, and the Sixteen Arhats for the library shrine. He returned in 1988 with Tinley Chojor, who has since masterfully rendered traditional decorative painting of the monastery. In 1989, Rinpoche was joined by his wife, Sonam Chotso and daughter, Karma Sonam Wangmo. The following January, on the concluding evening of a seminar on the Twenty-one Taras and just shortly after having given the Green Tara Empowerment, Rinpoche took his wife to a local hospital where his second daughter, Karma Chimey Chodron, was born. Within two years, his third daughter, Rigdzin Chodron was born.

In 2000, for the benefit of Dharma students and with the blessing of His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwa Karmapa and His Eminence the Twelfth Tai Situ Rinpoche, Bardor Tulku Rinpoche established the Raktrul Foundation in Redhook, NY, with Kunzang Palchen Ling as the dharma center under its auspices.

Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) was the teacher of Nupchen Sangye Yeshe, an early incarnation of Bardor Rinpoche.

The First Bardor Rinpoche, Jikme Chokyi Senge, was born in 1836 and passed away in 1918. He was the reincarnation of Nupchen Sangye Yeshe, one of the twenty-five great disciples of Guru Padmasambhava. He was a terton (finder of hidden treasures), and became the First Bardor Rinpoche when Guru Rinpoche gave him the name "Barway Dorje" (Blazing Vajra). He established Raktrul Monastery in Kham, East Tibet, toward the end of his life.

The spiritual biography of the First Barway Dorje has been translated into English by Yeshe Gyamtso and published by KTD Publications under the title the Precious Essence.

The Second Bardor Tulku was born in Kham, East Tibet, with the family name of Yi Mar Pon Tshang. He spent his early years at Situ Rinpoche's Palpung Monastery. Later, he served for many years as the Appointment Secretary to His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa at Tsurphu Monastery.

Because the monks at Ratrulgon Monastery sought Bardor Rinpoche's help so insistently, His Holiness Karmapa gave him permission to return there for one year. Once there, though, his duties were of such proportions that his stay subsequently lasted several years. Truly regretting this delay, Bardor Rinpoche prostrated along the entire journey back to Tsurphu Monastery. Following that, Rinpoche remained in the service of His Holiness for some time, only to be again summoned by the monks of his Monastery. This time, while he was at Ratrulgon Monastery, the King of Nanchen petitioned him to perform many rites and rituals. Consequently, with this second journey and all that it entailed, Bardor Tulku Rinpoche was not to see His Holiness again, until his next incarnation.


Also included in this section of the Web site is an explanation titled "The Meaning of the Name of Bardor Tulku Rinpoche."

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Dr. Akong Tulku Rinpoche

Dr. Akong Tulku Rinpoche

BORN IN 1939 near Riwoche in Kham, Eastern Tibet, Akong Tulku was discovered at a very young age as reincarnation of the previous (First) Akong, Abbot of Dolma Lhakang monastery near Chakdado, in the Chamdo area of Kham. Around the age of four, the child was taken to Dolma Lhakang to receive the spiritual and formal education necessary for him to be able resume his work as Abbot later on. Dolma Lhakang was a monastery with some 100 monks and many associated small retreats and nunneries. Besides his religious studies, the young Akong also trained in traditional Tibetan medicine.

As a teenager, Akong Tulku travelled from community to community, performing religious ceremonies and treating the sick. He then went to the great monastic university of Secchen, where he received transmission of the quintessential Kagyu mahamudra lineage from Secchen Kongtrul Rinpoche. His spiritual training as a holder of the Kagyu lineage was further completed under the guidance of His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa, who also certified him as a teacher of Tibetan medicine. Rinpoche also holds many lineages of the Nyingmapa tradition.

The 1959 takeover of Tibet caused Akong Tulku Rinpoche to flee to India, in an arduous, nine month journey as one of

the leaders of a 300-strong party, of which only some 13 persons made it to safety in India. After spending some time in refugee camps, Rinpoche along with some other lamas was asked to look after the Young Lamas Home School in Dalhousie, northwest India.

Through the kind help of Mrs Freda Bedi, later to become Sister Palmo, Akong Tulku and Trungpa Tulku, Abbot of Surmang, sailed to England in 1963, to learn English in Oxford. Only the latter had a bursary and Akong Rinpoche worked for some years as a simple hospital orderly, supporting himself, Trungpa Rinpoche and Tulku Chime of Benchen Monastery in the small apartment they shared.

The next 25 years (1963-1988) were spent introducing the West to Tibetan religion and some aspects of its culture. This served a double purpose: it began to make available to the world at large a wealth of material from one of Asia's finest and most extraordinary civilizations. It also ensured its survival and perpetuation as a living tradition. This work was centered around the development of the Kagyu Samye Ling Tibetan Centre in Scotland (the first Tibetan Buddhist Centre in the West) developed jointly by Dr. Akong Tulku Rinpoche and Chogyam Trungpa.

Under the Gyalwa Karmapa's guidance, Dr Akong Tulku established a traditional 3-year meditation retreat at Samye Ling and launched the construction of the Samye Project; the building of a major traditional Tibetan Buddhist temple and an accompanying College, Library and Museum. On another front, the interest, which many therapists and physicians showed in Dr Akong Tulku's medicinal and therapeutic Buddhist skills, led to the development of a unique therapy system, now thriving as the Tara Rokpa Therapy.

Dr Akong Tulku's main activity in the 1990s concerned the expansion of his humanitarian activities, principally in Tibet and Nepal, but also in Europe, where he created several soup kitchens to feed the homeless in major cities. With tremendous vigor and diligence, he has brought well over 100 projects into existence: a school, clinic, medical college, self-help program or a scheme to save the Tibetan environment. These are mainly located in isolated rural areas of the Eastern part of the Tibetan plateau.

In Nepal, working mainly through Rokpa International's Vice President Lea Wyler, Rinpoche has established an important project which feeds the hungry through the winter months. This has expanded to incorporate children's home, clinic, women’s self-help workshops and so forth.

In 1994, Akong Tulku Rinpoche was one of the main people to discover the reincarnation of the Sixteenthth Gyalwa Karmapa and he played a very important role in first finding him, then taking him to the Karmapa’s seat at Tolung Tsurphu monastery and later arranging the visit of the two Regents, the Twelfth Tai Situpa and the Ninth Goshir Gyaltsabpa, who performed the naming ceremony and later enthroned him formally as the Seventeenth Gyalwa Karmapa, Ogyen Drodul Tinley Dorje.

The increasing burden of his work in Tibet led Dr. Akong Tulku Rinpoche to request his brother, Lama Yeshe Losal, to take over the running of Kagyu Samye Ling in Scotland. Lama Yeshe became the new Abbot and has since proved very successful, particularly in founding a strong monastic community there.

Biographical information and the photo of Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche kindly provided by Kagyu Samye Ling. 

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Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche


Early Years

KHENPO KARTHAR RINPOCHE was born in Rabshi, east Tibet, in the province of Kham. He was born in the second Tibetan month of 1924, the fourth child to a modest but self-sufficient nomad family. His parents practiced Buddhism diligently, and his father taught Rinpoche the Tibetan alphabet and various scriptures. Thus, he learned to read and write, and began to memorize texts.

When he was twelve, Rinpoche entered Thrangu Monastery, where he found that his training in written Tibetan and the scriptures prepared him well for the rituals and prayers that were now a part of his daily monastic life. For six years, he studied and practiced in the monastery. At eighteen, he and a few other monks were sent on a pilgrimage to Tsurphu Monastery, the seat of His Holiness Karmapa, to meet him for the first time.

Under ordinary circumstances, the monks could have received their gelong ordination (senior monk's vows) from the Karmapa, but at that time His Holiness was not yet twenty years old, too young according to ordination tradition to give the vows. When Rinpoche was twenty, he traveled to Palpung Monastery, the seat of the Tai Situ incarnations, where he received his gelong vows from the Eleventh Situ Rinpoche. Consequently, Rinpoche's root guru for the vows is the previous Situ Rinpoche, and he considers his root guru for the teachings and philosophy of Tibetan Buddhism to be Khenpo Lodro Rabsel.


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After his gelong ordination, Rinpoche returned to Thrangu Monastery for the rainy season retreat, a yearly tradition that began when Shakyamuni Buddha secluded himself during the rainy season in order to avoid accidentally killing the many insects and larvae that are most prolific during this wet period. After the three-month retreat, Rinpoche undertook a one-year solitary retreat. Soon after, he entered the traditional three-year, three-month, and three-day retreat along with nine other retreatants, a retreat master, and a retreat attendant who provided food, supplies, and other necessities. These eleven were the only people Rinpoche saw during his three years of seclusion and intensive meditation at Thrangu Monastery.

Contemporary, three-year retreatants pose at the Thrangu retreat center with Thrangu Rinpoche (center, back row)

When the retreat ended, Rinpoche's heartfelt wish was to remain in retreat for the rest of his life. However, on the advice of his teachers, he entered a one-year retreat in his uncle's cabin.

At the end of the year, Rinpoche was advised by Traleg Rinpoche, the abbot of Thrangu Monastery, to study more advanced teachings on Buddhist philosophy, psychology, logic, and metaphysics since he felt Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche had gained insight through his years in retreat. Rinpoche entered a new school at Thrangu Monastery which emphasized these subjects and was founded to educate Thrangu Rinpoche, who was then in his teens, and other monks.

Five years later, when Rinpoche was thirty years old, his advanced training was completed. For the next several years he and Thrangu Rinpoche traveled together and gained teaching experience while pursuing their private studies and sharing long discussions on the dharma.


Flight from Tibet

Between 1950 and 1958, the presence of the Communist Chinese in Tibet brought political, economic, and religious changes to the Tibetan people, along with vast suffering and rampant destruction of their way of life. In 1958, Rinpoche left the monastery with Thrangu Rinpoche, Traleg Rinpoche, Zuru Tulku, and other monks. Though many sacred objects and volumes of dharma texts were destroyed, Rinpoche was able to save some.

With small provisions of food and clothing, and a few horses, Rinpoche and his party began their long trek westward, and were soon joined by a caravan of nomads with their flock of sheep. After fifteen days of travel, the Rinpoches stopped to rest, only to find themselves surrounded by Communist Chinese soldiers. Since night was falling, the Tibetan refugees were able to escape via a nearby swamp, and readied three horses to carry Thrangu Rinpoche, Traleg Rinpoche, and Zuru Tulku. Zuru Tulku, who was the eldest, could not have survived on horseback, so Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche's younger brother carried him.

Everyone headed in separate directions across the swamp, which was very flat but punctuated with small gorges and areas where one could easily and quickly hide. On the second day, Rinpoche found a few of the monks and was relieved to know they were alive and unhurt. Gradually, the remaining monks were found and on the seventh day of their escape from the soldiers, they were joined by the Rinpoches. The party survived those seven days without food since the mule carrying the provisions had disappeared. They ate snow to prevent dehydration, and were forced to return to the place where the soldiers had surrounded them to look for food. The Communist Chinese were gone, and almost nothing was left but a few utensils and a little flour.

Carrying the meager ration of flour, the lamas continued their journey. Their vision was blurring and they were so weak they had to avoid even the smallest incline by walking around it. After another week of travel, the Rinpoches found a horse carrying tsampa, a staple of roasted barley flour. They mixed this with water and although the mixture was very thin, a ten-course dinner could not have been more appreciated. A few days later, the lamas met some nomads who gave them more provisions.

Two and a half months later and without further incidents, the lamas reached the area of Tsurphu Monastery, not far from Lhasa in central Tibet. The Rinpoches spent a month at Tsurphu, which was still operating normally. But His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa, with his profound understanding and vision, was completely aware of the impending danger. He told the group they must leave Tsurphu and continue toward Sikkim and India. On March 7, 1959, His Holiness gave the lamas five yaks and supplies and three days later, they left Tsurphu. In fifteen days, they reached the border between Tibet and Bhutan.

Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche left Tsurphu through this valley in Tibet

The Bhutanese would not grant immediate passage through their country, so the lamas were forced to spend one month at the blockaded border, when more than a thousand Tibetans died of starvation. Finally, His Holiness the Dalai Lama secured the permission of the Indian government for the refugees to enter India. They were given rations, and the Bhutanese opened two roads through Bhutan. The Rinpoches traveled through to Buxador, a town at the border of India and Bhutan. Former prison quarters served as their housing, and food was provided by the Indian government.



Eventually, more than 1,500 monks gathered at Buxador with a common vision of maintaining and preserving the dharma, organizing a Tibetan community, and teaching. Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche remained there for eight years. During his stay, Tibetan settlements were established in several areas of India, and many monks resettled in the new communities. Rationing was slowly discontinued. In 1967, Rinpoche was sent to Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, the seat-in-exile of His Holiness the Karmapa, where Rinpoche taught the monks and performed various rites for local Buddhist families.

Less than two years later, Rinpoche was sent to Tashi Choling Monastery in central Bhutan. Originally a royal palace of a previous king of Bhutan, the building was offered to His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa for use as a monastery by the Royal Queen Grandmother. Rinpoche stayed at Tashi Choling for six months, giving teachings as visiting khenpo, and teaching the nuns. From Tashi Choling, Rinpoche went to Tilokpur, a nunnery in Himachal Pradesh, founded by His Holiness the Karmapa. Rinpoche stayed at Tilokpur for a year and then traveled to Tashi Jong, the site of Khamtrul Rinpoche's monastery in Himachal Pradesh.

While at Tashi Jong, Rinpoche and eight hundred others received the Dam-ngag-dzod empowerment, transmission, and teachings from Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. The Dam-ngag-dzod is one of the five collections of Vajrayana teachings by the first Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche. After four months at Tashi Jong, Rinpoche returned to Rumtek where he remained until 1975, when he was sent to another monastery named Tashi Choling at Therabtse in Tashigang, East Bhutan. It was in 1975 that Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche officially received the title of "choje lama" (superior dharma master) from His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa.

Rinpoche stayed at Tashi Choling only one year before he was called back to Rumtek by His Holiness and asked to serve as the abbot of a new Karma Kagyu monastery that had yet to be built in the United States. The following spring, Rinpoche was on an airplane bound for New York City to begin a different life as a teacher of the dharma in a culture and environment far removed from his home in Kham.

Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche's biography continues in Part II with his life in America, his work as a teacher and author, and his return to Tibet.


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Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche


KHENPO TSULTRIM GYAMTSO RINPOCHE was born in eastern Tibet in 1934. In his youth, he studied under the guidance of Lama Zopa Tharchin, a yogi from Dilyak monastery in eastern Tibet. Until he completed his training, Khenpo Tsultrim stayed with Lama Zopa, living in a cave. He then went to Dilyak monastery to study Mahayana texts with Teya Drupon.

For five years, Rinpoche roamed the charnel grounds and caves of central Tibet to practice Chod. Eventually, he arrived at Tsurphu where he met Dilyak Drupon Rinpoche, whom His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa had appointed as the retreat master of Tsurphu. Rinpoche received pointing out instructions from the Sixteenth Karmapa and stayed in the caves around Tsurphu for a year or so, continuing his Chod practice and receiving teachings from Dilyak Drupon, which included the Zabmo Nang Gi Don, The Profound Inner Meaning, and the Hevajra Tantra.

While staying in retreat in Nyemo, south of Lhasa, a group of nuns asked for Rinpoche's help in dealing with the troublesome situation of the Chinese presence in Tibet. Subsequently, Rinpoche led the nuns from Tibet, and many of them still study with him today.

In India, Rinpoche spent nine years at the settlement of Buxador, where he received his degree and title of khenpo from His Holiness the Karmapa. Rinpoche later received the geshe lharampa degree from His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. In addition to having mastered the teachings of the Gelug and Kagyu lineages, Rinpoche also received extensive teachings from the former Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche of the Sakya tradition.

Rinpoche received the complete Rinchen Terdzo initiations from H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche in Bhutan, along with transmission of the Dzogchen text, Lam Rim Yeshe Nyingpo (The Gradual Path of the Heart of Wisdom), from Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche when it was given to the King of Bhutan. Khenpo Tsultrim also built a nunnery, retreat center, and a temple to Tara in Bhutan.

At the request of the Karmapa, Rinpoche went to Europe and began his work of training translators in both oral and written Tibetan. To this end, he set up the Thegchen Shedra in 1978, where over the years he has trained many Western translators who travel with lamas translating Tibetan into the various European languages. His students have also published numerous written translations.

In 1985, Rinpoche established the Marpa Institute for Translators in Nepal, and he currently teaches a three-month, winter course at Pullahari monastery, the seat of H.E. Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche. He has built retreat facilities near Milarepa's cave in Yolmo, where his students also practice. Together with Thrangu Rinpoche, Khenpo Tsultrim has been responsible for training the new generation of Kagyu Khenpos who graduated in 1991 from the Nalanda Institute in Sikkim.

Khenpo Tsultrim, well-known in many Dharma centers in the U.S., Far East, and Europe, is famous for his skill in debate, his spontaneous songs, and his ability to present the complex ideas of Buddhism's subtle philosophy in clear, accessible, and lively way. Rinpoche travels yearly on teaching tours to the United States and Europe.

Click here for more information about Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche's biography and activities.

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Khenpo Ugyen Tenzin


KHENPO UGYEN TENZIN was born on the 15th of March in 1955, the Year of Wood Sheep, in the Chumey Zungney village in the Bumthang valley of central Bhutan. As his mother had passed away during his very early childhood, he was raised by his father and maternal aunt. His father sent him to a new primary school that had just opened near their village so he could receive modern education.

In 1971, when Khenpo Ugyen Tenzin was seventeen, he entered Nimalung Nyingma Monastery, which is situated closed to his home village. He received the refuge vow from His Eminence Bero Tulku Rinpoche, the father of Druk Thamche Khenpo. On July 10, 1974, during the time of summer retreat, Ugyen Tenzin received the pratimoksha novice vow from the celebrated Dzogchen Khenpo Dazer. He also received empowerments, transmissions, and teachings from many great lamas of the Nyingma lineage, such as His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Talung Tsetrul Rinpoche, Pema Norbu Rinpoche, and the most celebrated Khenpo Kunga. This completed his training in the Nyingma teachings and practices.

On February 10th 1981, Khenpo Ugyen Tenzin was enrolled as a member of the first class of Karma Shri Nalanda Institute at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, India,


Teaching schedule

with Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and Sangay Nyenpa Rinpoche. Five months later, during the summer retreat, he received the vows of bhikshu—the fully ordained monk—from His Eminence Jomgön Kongtrül Rinpoche. In the Karma Shri Nalanda Institute, the vows of ordination are always conferred during the time of summer retreat.

Khenpo Ugyen Tenzin completed his studies and received an Acharya degree (Master of Buddhist studies) from Karma Nalanda Institute and Sampurnanand Sanskrit University jointly in March 1991. On the 23rd of March of the same year, he was appointed as junior khenpo (professor) by His Eminence Jomgön Kongtrül Rinpoche and His Eminence Goshir Gyaltsap Rinpoche. Less than a month later, he was sent to Nimalung Monastery in Bhutan as a khenpo, where he taught Buddhist philosophy for six years.

In 1997, Khenpo Ugyen Tenzin returned to Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, and was appointed the senior khenpo at Nalanda Institute by His Eminence Gyaltsap Rinpoche.  He had also visited Karma Kagyu dharma centers in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand and conferred teachings to many devotees.

He resigned as khenpo from Karma Shri Nalanda Institute in 2002, and returned to Bhutan. There he was asked to teach as senior khenpo at the Nimalung Monastery. However, he chose to go into retreat at Tang Kunzang Drag Monastery, the birthplace and main seat of the great treasure-revealer, Terton Pema Lingpa. He remained in retreat until October 24, 2004.  As His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa asked Khenpo Ugyen Tenzin to help Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, he left his retreat to go to KTD Monastery, where he arrived on May 27, 2005.

On August 9th 2005, the auspicious day of Chokhor Duchen, when the Buddha first taught the Four Noble Truths (according to the General Tibetan Calendar), Khenpo Ugyen presented The Four Noble Truths as his first teaching at KTD.

Since that time he has continued to teach at KTD as well as at many of the KTCs and KKSGs from such texts as Jamgon Kongrul Lodro Taye’s Treasury of Knowledge, Jamgon Mipham’s Gateway to Knowledge, Acharya Shura’s Wish-Fulfilling Vine, Totsun Trupje’s Praises to the Especially Exalted, Nagarjuna’s Letter to a Friend, Shantideva’s Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva, Ngulchu Thokme Zangpo’s Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas, Gampopa’s Ornament of Liberation, Lord Rangjung Dorje’s Aspiration of the Definitive Meaning, Mahamudra, Jiktral Yeshe Dorje’s Instructions on the Interval States, and King Songtsen Gampo’s Mani Kabum, among others.

 Teaching Schedule

Khenpo Tashi Gyaltsen


KHENPO TASHI GYALTSEN was born in 1970 into a farming family in Nangchen in Kham, Tibet. At age thirteen he decided to become a monk and received his novice monastic vows from Drubchen Karma Norbu Rinpoche at Raktrul Monastery, the monastery of Bardor Tulku Rinpoche. At fourteen, over the course of one year, he received the complete empowerments and reading transmissions of the Rinchen Terdzo (Treasury of Precious Terma) from Gyalmo Tulku Rinpoche of Gonzhab Monastery and Chime Tulku of Benchen Monastery. Following this he spent one year in Mahakala retreat in the Protector Shrine Room at Raktrul.

Subsequently, he travelled to Chamdo to study the manuals on Dzogchen and Mahamudra practice and receive instructions from the renowned Kagyu master Khenpo Karma Tseten Rinpoche. Khenpo Tashi also received instruction on Madhyamaka and other philosophical schools. At Willow Mountain Retreat he spent a year and a half studying the traditions of sutra and mantra in addition to the classic Buddhist sciences.

At nineteen, he embarked on seven years of study at Arig Shedra in Amdo with Khenchen Arig Padma Tsewang, focusing on the sutrayana and mantrayana treatises of the Nyingma school as well as those of the Kagyu and Sakya schools. He received profoundcommentary on Dzogchen from Khenchen Munsel and then, for three and a half years, studied under Khenchen Jigme Phuntsok at Larung Gar, his dharma encampment located in Serthar in lower Kham. At the age of 27, Khenpo Tashi went to Drepung Monastery in Lhasa where he studied for two years in the Gelugpa tradition.

In 1999 Khenpo Tashi left Tibet and at the invitation of His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche, became a professor at the monastic college of Palpung Sherab Ling in Himachal Pradesh, India. He now serves as the dean of khenpos at Sherab Ling.

In late 2002, as a guest of the United States-based Raktrul Foundation, he began a four-month tour of North America to teach at Raktrul's dharma center in Red Hook, New York; at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra; and at several Karma Thegsum Choling centers in the U.S. 


Lama Namse Rinpoche


LAMA NAMSE RINPOCHE was born in Tsurphu, Tibet in 1930 and became a monk at the age of fifteen. From ages 16 to 21, he did intensive studies of the basic fundamentals of Tibetan religious language, etymology, grammar, and poetry. He underwent the serious studies of the Tripitaka, Vinaya, Sutra and Abhidharma, and also the Prajna Paramita, Utara Shastra, Sutra Lankara, the five states of Madhyamika and many other versions and commentaries as well as schools of Buddhist thought and teachings.

From ages 21 to 24, Lama Namse did a three-year, three-month, three-day retreat with intensive practice of the core of the Kagyu teachings such as the Six Yogas of Naropa, the meaning of Mahamudra, and other related practices. From ages 24 to 26, he studied Buddhism further, especially the Five Treasuries of Jamgon Kongtrul the Great. From ages 27 to 30, Lama Namse went on an intensive pilgrimage to many sacred places and private retreats. When he was thirty years old, Lama Namse left Tibet as a refugee. He travelled to India, and from ages 32 to 35, did another three-year retreat. At this time he also became a retreat master for many new retreatants. At age thirty-seven, he travelled to Sikkim to Rumtek Dharmachakra Centre and received the collections of the empowerments of the Kag Ngagzod, Damgang Ngagzod practices.

Since 1974, Lama Namse has served as a teacher of the Kagyu lineage all over Europe, particularly in France, and helped many students understand the nature of the path. Lama Namse Rinpoche is His Holiness Karmapa's official representative in Canada and head of Karma Sonam Dargye Ling, the Canadian centre for His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. The centre is located in Toronto.

Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche

Lama Yeshe Losal RinpocheBORN IN 1943 in Kham, East Tibet, Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche spent his formative years in education at Dolma Lhakang Monastery where his brother Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche was Abbot. After escaping from Tibet in 1959, Lama Yeshe continued his education at the Young Lamas Home School in Dalhousie, India before leaving in 1967 to serve as Private Secretary to His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim. 

In 1969 Lama Yeshe joined Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in Scotland where they had founded Kagyu Samye Ling. Five years later he accompanied His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa on a tour of the United States. At that point he and Tenzin Chonyi were asked to establish and run Karma Triyana Dharmachakra (KTD) in Woodstock, New York, which is His Holiness Karmapa's main seat in America.

In 1980 Lama Yeshe took full ordination as a Gelong monk from His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa on the auspicious date of the anniversary of Lord Buddha's Nirvana and Parinirvana.

Following his ordination Lama Yeshe entered a long-term solitary retreat, under the guidance of the Abbot of KTD, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche. In 1985, at the request of his brother Dr. Akong Tulku Rinpoche, Lama Yeshe returned to Scotland to continue his retreat at Samye Ling Purelands Retreat Centre and in 1988 he became Retreat Master with responsibility for the western practitioners who were in the cloistered four-year retreat. 

Despite his heartfelt wish to remain in retreat for twenty years, towards the end of 1991 Lama Yeshe was obliged to return to the world to take responsibility for the running of Samye Ling and also to direct The Holy Island Project. In 1995 the title of "Abbot" was conferred upon Lama Yeshe and his first action as Abbot was to establish the Samye Sangha Foundation to help the monks and nuns become self-supporting.

In November 1998 Lama Yeshe Losal received the "Sasana Kirthi Sri" award at the International Sarvodaya Bhikku Congress in Sri Lanka. This makes him the first Tibetan Lama to make such a connection with the Theravadin community, an important step in inter-faith relations.

Since he was a young boy Lama Yeshe Losal has received teachings from many of the highest Kagyu Lamas including extensive teachings and initiations from his root guru His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, and also teachings from the 12th Tai Situpa, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, Gyaltsap Rinpoche, and Kalu Rinpoche. More recently, he received teachings from Tulku Urgyen who supervised his 49 day Bardo retreat of solitude and darkness in Nepal (in 1992). In 1997 Lama Yeshe was able to complete a second 49 day Bardo retreat on Holy Island in the specially build retreat-master's cabin there.

In August 2003, on the occasion of his 60th birthday celebration, Lama Yeshe was awarded the title "Rinpoche" in honor of his commitment to establishing a strong ordained Sangha in the West, and as recognition of his achievements as Abbot, not to mention his inspiration and example to many thousands of friends and students around the world.

His participation in inter-faith dialogue at home and abroad continues. On Holy Island in August 2003 he hosted a visit by the heads of the main faith traditions of Scotland and has forged lasting friendships with several of his fellow heads-of-faith. In February 2002, for example, he attended the European Parliament in Brussels as the guest of the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Rokpa Trust has many parts including Samye Ling, The Holy Island Project and numerous charitable projects both at home and overseas. Lama Yeshe Losal is the Trust's indefatigable Chairman whose energy and inspiration fuel its far-reaching activities, which benefit so many people in so many ways.

Biographical information and the photo of Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche kindly provided by Kagyu Samye Ling. 

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Lama Ganga

Lama Ganga

LAMA GANGA was born on July 13, 1931 at Ga Yul in Kham (eastern Tibet). He entered Thrangu Monastery at the age of thirteen. He studied extensively the fundamentals of the Tibetan dharma and memorized the scriptural foundation of Tibetan liturgy and rituals. He received monk's ordination as well as the Bodhisattva Vow and tantric precepts at age eighteen from His Holiness Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, the Sixteenth Karmapa. For ten years, he meditated in retreat on the Six Yogas of Naropa. Later, in India, he attended the Seminary for the Four Sects of Tibetan Buddhism, and he enhanced his practice still further at Thimpu in Bhutan and at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim.

In 1976, Lama Ganga came to the United States with Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, and eventually he was appointed to be Karma Triyana Dharmachakra's representative in California. In the early 1980's, Lama Ganga traveled to Kagyu Samye Ling in Scotland to instruct students in a three-year retreat there, and subsequently he divided his efforts between California and Scotland, with an additional trip to Tibet in 1986 and 1987 with Thrangu Rinpoche.

The day of Lama Ganga's passing was also the anniversary of the Buddha's turning of the wheel of dharma. Lama Ganga's body remained in samadhi for five days following his death.

Tenzin Chonyi, President of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, communicated the following message to those who had known Lama Ganga:

"All students who received teachings or blessings from Lama Ganga should not feel sad, but rather should increase their practice and unite with Lama Ganga in the state of dharmakaya to receive his blessings for further progress toward enlightenment for the benefit of all beings." 

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Lama Tashi Dondup


LAMA TASHI DONDUP was born in Tibet in 1952. From 1970 to 1988 he stayed at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, India, seat of His Holiness Karmapa, and received teachings on the major texts from Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, Thrangu Rinpoche, Sal-je Rinpoche, and Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche. He also studied ritual music and procedures, such as the making of tormas, the construction of mandalas, and the building of stupas. He completed a three-year retreat at Rumtek and then entered a one-year Kalachakra retreat under Bokar Rinpoche's guidance in Mirik, in the Darjeeling district of India. In 1988 Lama Tashi went to Kamalashila Institute for Buddhist Studies in Germany, where he served as resident lama for ten years.

Lama Tashi moved to Toronto, Canada in 1998, and in 2002, he founded Karma Tekchen Zabsal Ling, a center located there.

Lama Dudjom Dorjee


LAMA DUDJOM DORJEE was chosen by His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa to guide the Karma Thegsum Choling students in northern California. He began his teaching in the United States in 1982 and is now the resident Lama at the Karma Thegsum Choling Dallas.

Lama Dorjee is noted for his humor and is able to synthesize his familiarity with Western culture and Buddhist philosophy to offer students unique insights into meditation practice. Lama Dorjee has trained for fifteen years in Buddhist philosophy, history, and four languages: Sanskrit, Hindi, Tibetan and English. He completed his course of study and received the third and highest degree of Acharya from Sanskrit University, Varansi, India. He accomplished the three-year, three-month retreat in India under the guidance of Kalu Rinpoche and other Kagyu lamas.




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Dr. Drubgyud Tendhar

Dr. Drubgyud TendharDR. KARMA DRUBGYUD TENDHAR, whose family came from Tibet, was born in 1972 in Sikkim, India, near Rumtek Monastery. Although he began his schooling in his village, in 1982 he went to study at Rumtek Monastery. A few months after he arrived he became a monk under Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and continued his monastic studies, specializing in the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

In 1984 he was one of four monks chosen to study Tibetan astrology and during this time received teachings, initiations, and transmissions from many great teachers. He completed his monastery courses in 1987 and went to Dharmasala, India, to study Tibetan medicine and continue his studies in Tibetan astrology.

Traditionally in the large monasteries one or two monks must study astrology and medicine, and Dr. Drubgyud was selected to attend Meen tse Kang, the Tibetan Medical and Astro Institute of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. In 1991 Dr. Drubgyud completed his medical studies and graduated with honors as a doctor of Tibetan medicine.

The following year he completed two six-month internships: one at the Medical Institute in Sikkim and the other at the Main Medical Institute in Dharmasala. While at the Main Medical Institute he worked with Dr. Lobsang Wangyal, personal physician to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In 1993 Dr. Drubgyud completed his medical training and became a doctor at the Tibetan Medical and Astro Institute's branch clinic in Ladakh.

In 1993 Dr. Trogawa Rinpoche asked Dr. Drubgyud to assist him in founding the Chakpori Medical Institute in Darjeeling. Dr. Drubgyud was subsequently appointed lecturer and taught the entire curriculum of Tibetan medicine at the Institute for four years while working at its medical clinic and pharmacy.

In 1997 he was asked to upgrade the Tsurphu Astrology System, a project sponsored by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, and Dr. Drubgyud worked with Dragthon Jompa Gyaltsen in Dharamsala to upgrade this special astrology calculation system. When the project was completed, Ponlop Rinpoche invited Dr. Drubgyud to the United States to develop computer software for Tibetan astrology. His visit provided him the opportunity to take English and computer science classes at the University of Colorado.

He has since practiced medicine at Karma Thekchen Choling, His Holiness Karmapa's center in Vancouver, Canada. In 1999 he visited Karma Triyana Dharmachakra where he taught seminars on Tibetan medicine and treated patients. Dr. Drubgyud is currently the resident lama at Kamalashila Institute in Germany.

Lama Karma Samten


Lama Karma Samten was born in 1947 in West Tibet, at Gertse. His parents were originally from East Tibet, but whilst on pilgrimage to Mt. Kailash they decided to settle there. When Lama Samten was five, he went to live with one of his uncles at a Sakya monastery. It was here where he first took refuge, and spent five years with his uncle who was his first teacher. Lama Samten was ten when the Communist army invaded Tibet. He managed to escape with his family, the journey being very long and arduous; many people died on the way.

Lama Samten and his family arrived in Nepal along with thousands of other refugees escaping from Tibet. Lama Samten’s family were among the many refugees that became very sick as a result of the journey and living in a different climate. Most of them died, and out of Lama Samten’s thirteen family members, only three survived the flight from Tibet. By the age of thirteen Lama Samten’s father had died, so he had now lost his entire family.

At the age of twenty-one Lama Samten took ordination from Khyabje Kalu Rinpoche and entered the traditional three year retreat, which he completed twice in succession. Following this, he spent a further three years in solitary retreat. Lama Samten had hoped to spend the rest of his life in retreat, but at the request of His Holiness The Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa he went to New Zealand with Lama Shedrup to be a resident teacher at Karma Choeling Buddhist Monastery north of Auckland. For more than twenty years, Lama Samten has taught Tibetan Buddhist principles and practice in plain English to a growing number of students in Australasia. In 2002 he published a book, Living with Death and Dying, and visited the United States for the first time.

Umdze Lodro Samphel


UMDZE LODRO SAMPHEL is the senior umdze, or chant master, at Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre in Sikkim, India, the international seat of His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa. During a course of study that spanned twenty years, he mastered the multifaceted role an umdze plays in the ritual life at Rumtek. He is responsible for overseeing every aspect of Tibetan Buddhist rites at the monastery, and consequently his training included extensive text memorization, the study of musical instruments and chanting, the construction of tormas (ritual offerings) and colored-sand mandalas, and sacred monastic dance.

Born in 1959 in Sikkim to parents who were originally from Tsurphu in Tibet, Umdze Lodro entered Rumtek Monastery and became a monk when he was seven. His monastic training began with study of the ritual texts, which continued for nine years. In the Tsurphu tradition in which he was schooled, there are thirty different sets, or classes, of texts that must be memorized. One by one, he demonstrated his mastery of the texts to his teacher, earning a seal for each to signify his successful recitation from memory. At sixteen, to celebrate completing this part of his education, Umdze Lodro hosted a party for his teachers and fellow monks in keeping with tradition at the monastery.

For the next two years, he studied to be a choyog, or shrine master, with Lama Solpon Jinpa. Umdze Lodro learned to make the different tormas for each of the pujas (ritual practices) and mastered the intricate details of tending the shrine during the services, including the placement and removal of specific tormas and other sacred objects at prescribed times. He concluded this phase of study by presenting the various tormas he made to the Sixteenth Karmapa, who conferred his seal thus indicating they were properly constructed.

Umdze Lodro began to study chanting with Umdze Thubten Zangpo in 1978 and spent a year as an assistant of chant, followed by eight years as a junior chant master when he studied the chant melodies and learned to play all the ritual instruments, including the rolmo (cymbals), drums, gyaling (shawm), and flute. He also learned to construct all the sand mandalas: the symbolic, celestial palaces of the wrathful and peaceful deities like Kalachakra, Vajrayogini, and Chakrasamvara. This was followed by a period studying sacred dance.

In 1986, at age twenty-seven, Umdze Lodro completed his studies and became an umdze. He is one of three umdzes at Rumtek, and has three assistant umdzes who study with him. He is also responsible for the training of seventeen monks at the monastery.

With His Eminence Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, Umdze Lodro visited North America in 1991, where they performed the Kalachakra empowerment in Toronto, and the Shi Tro empowerment at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery (KTD) in Woodstock, New York. In 1998 at the request of Bardor Tulku Rinpoche, Umdze Lodro returned to KTD to record authentic Kagyu chanting and pujas, and to teach on the ritual aspects of tantric practice. Karma Kagyu Institute (KKI) has already released two of the recorded chants: the Green Tara Chants, and Medicine Buddha Chants.

Ani Pema Chödrön

Ani Pema Chödrön

 AS A FULLY ORDAINED BHIKSHUNI, or Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron is one of a very small number of Western women, one of an even smaller number of women involved in the Tibetan tradition, and certainly the first American practitioner of the Vajrayana tradition to undergo the preparation and ceremony of full ordination.

Ani Pema Chodron was born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in 1936, in New York City. She attended Miss Porter’s School in Connecticut and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. She taught as an elementary school teacher for many years in both New Mexico and California. Pema has two children and three grandchildren.

While in her mid-thirties, Ani Pema traveled to the French Alps and encountered Lama Chime Rinpoche, with whom she studied for several years. She became a novice nun in 1974 while studying with Lama Chime in London. His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa came to Scotland at that time, and Ani Pema received her ordination from him. 

Pema first met her root guru, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, in 1972. Lama Chime encouraged her to work with Rinpoche, and it was with him that she ultimately made her most profound connection, studying with him from 1974 until his death in 1987. At the request of the Sixteenth Karmapa, she received the full bikshuni ordination in the Chinese lineage of Buddhism in 1981 in Hong Kong. 

Ani Pema served as the director of Karma Dzong in Boulder, Colorado until moving in 1984 to rural Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to be the director of Gampo Abbey. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche gave her explicit instructions on establishing this monastery for western monks and nuns. 

Ani Pema teaches in the United States and Canada. She plans for a simplified travel schedule with an opportunity for an increased amount of time in solitary retreat under the guidance of Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche. She is also interested in helping establish Tibetan Buddhist monasticism in the West, as well in continuing her work with western Buddhists of all traditions, sharing ideas and teachings.

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Lama Karma Chopal

Lama-Karma-ChopalLAMA KARMA CHOPAL was born in East Tibet in 1965, and became a monk at the age of eleven. At fifteen he became a student of Sonam Nyima, the most advanced master of iconographic art in the Karma Kagyu Lineage. He studied Buddhist thangka painting, mandala design, and other art forms for ten years.

In 1989, Lama Chopal went to India to complete his monastic training at the major Kagyu monasteries. He studied at Rumtek, the monastery of the Karmapa, and completed his three-year retreat at Sherabling under Mingyur Rinpoche. Thereafter he spent three additional years at Sherabling studying Tibetan monastic arts of torma making, ritual music, and chanting. Lama Chopal studied Buddhist philosophy at Dzongsar College in India for six years.

Following studies in advanced meditation with Bokar Rinpoche, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, and other Kagyu lamas in India and Nepal, Lama Chopal came to the U.S. in 2001. He completed two stupas over the course of six years for Kagyu Thubten Choling in New York state, and Samchenling in Virginia.

In 2007, his root teacher, Tai Situ Rinpoche, requested that Lama establish a Dharma Center in Charlottesville, VA.