Ladakh Tripon Ngawang Pema Chogyal
Ladakh Tripon Pema Chogyal (ཁྲིད་དཔོན་པདྨ་ཆོས་རྒྱལ། khrid dpon pad ma chos rgyal 1876-1958), He was one of the heart students of Shakya Shri, who travelled on foot from Ladakh to receive teachings from his master. Later in life he became an accomplished master and taught important lamas of the Drukpa Kargyud lineage. Among his students were HH the 11 th Drukchen, Thuksey Rinpoche, Apho Rinpoche, Stagna Rinpoche, Gegen Khyentse, Sengdrak Rinpoche and many more.
Later in life he established many retreat centres on the border of Nepal and had many students, both monastic and lay. He collected and compiled the complete set of the Drukpa Kargyud texts. This is now used in all the Drukpa monasteries. My brother, Sey Rinpoche, is the incarnation of this Great Master (Khandro la Trinlay Chodon Rinpoche).
Tipun is the title of Ngawang Pema Chögyal, who was born in 1877 at Chem-re, Ladakh. At an early age Pema Chögyal was placed in Trakthog Gompa, a Nyingmapa institution, where he completed his early education by the time he was fifteen. This brilliant boy then set forth on a pilgrimage, to travel to various sites throughout Tibet. His journeying eventually brought him to the region of Tsari, where he settled down for a considerable period of time.
It was while he was a serving a Lama in Tsari that Pema Chögyal first began to hear about the venerable Ka’gyu-Nyingma master Shakyasri. Consequently, when the old Lama for whom he was working passed away, he decided that he must go in search of Shakyasri and beg the master to accept him as a disciple. He knew that Shakyasri lived in Kham, towards the east, where the Rimé movement had its centre. So he set forth by foot on a long journey, which was both hazardous and fraught with danger of every kind. Kham at this time was both rugged and filled with marauding bandits. More over, there was a local war going on. Nevertheless, Ngawang Pema Chögyal persisted in his search. Such is the path of yoga. And as it is said, when the disciple is ready then the master will appear. Pema Chögyal eventually found Shakyasri. He also managed to convince Shakyasri to return with him to Tsari.
In Tsari the wisdom-master Shakyasri acquired a great number of disciples. His fame had preceded him. Soon people flocked to him, to receive his blessing or to listen to his public teachings. Those seeking the Path of Liberation also came to him, and in him they found an authentic Master who could teach them the secret way of mystical yoga. There grew up around Shakyasri a number of thriving communities of saints.
So large was the number of disciples, that Shakyasri couldn’t instruct all of them effectively. So he appointed teaching assistants. The foremost of these was Ngawang Pema Chögyal, and it was by virtue of his role as a teaching assistant that he acquired the title “Tipun” (instructor of the teachings), a name by which he would ever after be known.
When Shakya Shri passed away, Tipun became chief of his master’s establishment. This religious establishment was now an extensive organization, and the demands upon Tipun’s time and energy were enormous. Indeed, lesser men would at this point have been resigned to a mere administrative role for the rest of their lives. But Tipun quickly came to see that organizational duties, and giving public talks, were only destroying the whole purpose of Shakyashri’s original aim, which was to revive and promote “actual practice”. In other words, the operation of running the organization was quickly superseding the purpose for which the organization had been founded. So Tipun decided to give the organization up.
Tipun left and went into retreat. He moved to Tsib-ri, in the county of Dingri, and there found an isolated cave in the mountains, which he made his own. He remained there, in that cave hermitage, for the next three years, with neither attendant nor patronage. No one even knew where he had disappeared to. He simply went away, and started to devote himself to genuine meditation practice, living on the most meager supplies.
Some three years later he moved to La-chi, which is another isolated spot. Milarepa had lived and meditated for many years in La-chi. Now, Tipun lived there like a second Milarepa, imbibing the mystical ambrosia of true Yoga.
Gradually word got out as to where Tipun was residing. It was apparent, now, that he was indeed a great saint, and so individual disciples began to appear, begging him to guide them on the spiritual Path. Although pressed by many to teach—that is, to come out and give public teachings and empowerments—Tipun refused to deviate from his set course. If someone wanted to learn from him, they had to live the life of practice with him. He had no interest in becoming a famous Lama, nor was he tempted to give public Dharma-talks to large gatherings. Tipun adamantly remained true to his commitment to the old Ka’gyu-Nyingma tradition of practice.
Tipun resided far out in the wilderness. On the mountain slopes, in the little valleys, all around where he lived, there sprouted up small encampments of genuine yoginis and yogis. Most of these took vows, and became Buddhist monks and nuns. Individuals financed their ability to live in these small hermitages as best they could. It was certainly a hard life.
Over time many high Lamas of Tibet, many renowned great Tulkus, went to Tipun to live the life under his example and guidance. These high Lamas had to live just as the regular disciples did. However, thanks to their presence, Tipun was able to inquire about and gradually gather a vast library of practice texts. Down through the centuries, indeed through the millennia, yogis have recorded their experiences. They have compiled instruction booklets, describing the practical methods of meditation, based on personal experience. The books they wrote were not philosophical dissertations, nor theoretical or theological treatises. The “practice texts” of the yogis and yoginis of the Himalayas were carefully recorded accounts of their experiments and investigations into the nature of the human mind. These text have become a priceless treasure, in which several thousand years of technical yogic knowledge has been gathered. Most of this knowledge deals directly with the nature of the mind, and the path to Enlightenment. Other aspects of knowledge include the methods to awaken the psychic powers inherent in the human being. Some describe “out of the body” experiences to distant world-systems, or particular yogic visions and investigations. Tipun made a concerted effort to have these “practice texts” gathered from all over Tibet and India. This became the central library of the movement.
Tipun’s movement was equal for women and men. A group of some twenty women, in training as yoginis, occupied one hermitage. Eight women, taking the vows of nuns, came together and quickly formed another hermitage. These women built their own huts, using local stone and plaster, and organized their food together, so that they could commit themselves to undistracted Yoga practice for the rest of their lives. Another group of thirteen women formed yet another hermitage on a neighboring mountain.
In all, well over a hundred men and women trained in the life of the spirit under Tipun’s leadership. And Tipun himself remained true to his own practice.
Tipun lived to the grand old age of 81. When he died, there was said to be many signs that a fully accomplished yogi had passed from this world into eternal Nirvana. When an assembly of mourning disciples gathered to pray at his funeral, a miraculous rain of flowers fell out of the clear sky upon them.
11th Drukchen Tendzin Khyenrab Gelek Palzangpo
Drukpa Thuksey Rinpoche
Apho Yeshe Rangdrol Rinpoche
Lama Dawa Gyaltsen
Bardok Chusang Rinpoche
Ladakh Ngawang Pema Chogyal
Ladakh Tripon Pema Chogyal
Ladakh Ngawang Pema Chogyal (1876-1958)
He was one of the heart students of Shakya Shri, who travelled on foot from Ladakh to receive teachings from his master. Later in life he became an accomplished master and taught important lamas of the Drukpa Kargyud lineage. Among his students were HH the 11 th Drukchen, Thuksey Rinpoche, Apho Rinpoche, Stagna Rinpoche, Gegen Khyentse, Sengdrak Rinpoche and many more. Later in life he established many retreat centres on the border of Nepal and had many students, both monastic and lay. He collected and compiled the complete set of the Drukpa texts. This is now used in all the Drukpa monasteries. My brother, Sey Rinpoche, is the incarnation of this Great Master.
Tripon Pema Choegyal was a great tantric practitioner who also came to be recognized as the emanation of Gyalwa Gotsangpa 1189-1258 (alias Gotsang Gonpo Dorje, one of the greatest yogis of Tibet) by the Eleventh Gyalwang Drukpa, the Supreme Head of the Drukpa Lineage.
Tripon Pema Choegyal was born in a small village of Chamtrel, in the western Himalayan region of Ladakh. At the age of 19, around 1894, he traveled on foot from Ladakh all the way to Eastern Tibet to receive extensive teachings from the Mahasiddha of the Drukpa Lineage, Tokden Shakya Shri. He devoted the rest of his life to retreat and teaching. Shakya Shri appointed him the holder of his transmissions, naming him “Tripon” (literally Throne Holder) Pema Choegyal.
Tripon Pema Choegyal later founded retreat centers in Tibet and Ladakh. Some of the well-known retreat centers he founded or took the direction of, in Tibet, were Sangag Choeling Retreat center, Jarkyi Phukdrup, Dechen Choekhor, Upper and Lower Drupdhey Cheys, etc.
Among his close disciples were very eminent Drukpa Masters, such as the Eleventh Gyalwang Drukpa, Yeshe Gyatso (also known as Tenzin Khyenrab), Shri Sendrak Rinpoche, the Tokden Shakya Shri’s Grandsons Kyabje Thuksey Rinpoche and Yeshe Rangdrol, known as Apho Rinpoche, the very father of HE Sey Rinpoche, etc.
Sey Rinpoche, reincarnation of Tripon Pema Choegyal, (the very root Guru of his father) was born in the retreat centre of Taktsey in Sikkim, Northern India, in 1963, where his father, the yogi Apho Rinpoche had settled with his family after a most difficult journey out of Tibet.
On hearing about the birth of this son of Apho Rinpoche, the great Master and Regent of the Drukpa Lineage, Thuksey Rinpoche -also cousin of Apho Rinpoche- journeyed from Darjeeling to Sikkim to see the baby, traveling together with Khenpo Noryang, the Abbot of the Drukpa Lineage monastic eat at Darjeeling. They bestowed the vows of Genyen to the boy, naming him Ngawang Gelek Namgyal. To ward off obstacles to his life, they also bestowed him a Chod (“Cutting Through”) empowerment.
When Sey Rinpoche was aged two, the followers of Shakya Shri’s teachings in the western Indian Himalayas of Ladakh, Zanskar and Lahoul, hearing about the presence of the spiritual and familial descendant of Drubwang Shakya Shri in India, invited Apho Rinpoche to live in their regions and give extensive guidance and teachings. So the family departed from Sikkim to join the Western Himalayas.
Around that time, Lama Takna Rinpoche and other followers of Tripon Pema Choegyal in India requested His Holiness the late Dudjom Rinpoche (then Head of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism) for a divination to determine the whereabouts of their Guru’s reincarnation. His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche replied in a letter saying that the young son of Apho Rinpoche was the reincarnation, and that he would be able to do great service to the cause of the holy Dharma if they performed certain rituals of the Three Roots (Gurus, Yidam, Dakinis). His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche’s divination was confirmed when the child, on seeing a painting of Mount Meru and Four Continents done by his previous incarnation, in the care of an attendant, Choydhen, said that it belonged to him and demanded it be handed back. Choydhen immediately informed all the disciples of Tripon Choegyal of this act.
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