Life Story of Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche (1904-1987)
Dudjom Buddhist Asso. International
Rinpoche's Intensive Studies
Rinpoche studied with the most outstanding lamas of his time, beginning
his studies with Khenpo Aten in Pemakod. He studied many texts and commentaries,
such as the Dom Sum (Three Precepts), Chod Juk, etc. It was said by
Lama Konrab that at the age of five, he started discovering Ter. When
he was eight years old, he began to study Santideva's "Bodhicaryavatara"
with his teacher Urygen Chogyur Gyatso, a personal disciple of the great
Patrul Rinpoche (A.D.1808-1887).
He studied for sixteen years with Za-Pokhung Tulku Gyurme Ngedon Wangpo
and had great realizations on the teachings of Dzogpachenpo. From Jamyang
Khyentse Chokyi Lodro, he received the tantric teachings (Gyud, Lung,
and Men-Ngag) of the "Sangwa Nyingthig". He further received Dzogchen
teachings from Jedrung Thinley Jampai Jungne (Dudjom Namkhai Dorje)
In his teens, Dudjom Rinpoche attended the great monastic
universities of Central Tibet, such as Mindroling, Dorje Drak and Tarje
Tingpoling, as well as those of East Tibet, like Kathok and Dzogchen.
It was to Mindroling that he returned to perfect his understanding of
the Nyingma tradition. Thus from the Mindroling Vajracarya, Dorzim Namdrol
Gyatso, he learned the rituals, mandalas, songs, dance and music of
Terdak Lingpa, along with many other teachings. There were many other
great teachers from whom Rinpoche had received all the teachings of
the Nyingma School.
From Togden Tenpa, he received both the wang and lung of the "Dzogchen
Nyingtig Yabshi", which was the lineage of the great Khenpo Nyoshul
Lungtok Tenpai Nyima. From Jedrung Rinpoche of Riwoche, he received
the "Kangyur" lung, "Dam Ngag Dzod", the seventeen
"Sangchen Ngepai" tantras, "Nyingthig Yabshi", and
so on, as well as all the teachings of Dzogpachenpo. He received them
completely and was considered his teacher's heart son. From Tulku Kunzang
Thekchog Tenpai Gyaltsan, he also received many deep and important teachings.
From Ngagtsun Gendun Gyatso, Rinpoche received all the teachings of
Pema Lingpa, the "Dzod Dun" (the Seven Treasures of Longchenpa,
1308-1363), among many others.
Furthermore, from the great Khenpo Jamde, Pande Odzer (disciple of Mipham
Rinpoche, 1848 - 1912), Rinpoche received the "Nyingma Kama",
"Kagyed" empowerments, Sangye
Lingpa's "Lama Gongdu"
and "Sangwa Nyingpo" according to the Zur tradition; as well
as the cycle of the "Osel Sangwa Nyingthig". He also received
many tantra commentaries like the great commentaries of Mipham himself,
the "Nyingthig Yabshi", and so on. Rinpoche
considered Khenpo Jamde as his second kindest Lama and took many vows
of Pratimoksha, of Bodhisattva, and of Vajrayana from him. He also received
teachings from the great beings who were disciples of the great Khenpo
Nyoshul Lungtok Tenpai Nyima: Khenpo Ngawang Palzang, Chatral Sangye
Dorje, Lama Urgyen Rigdzin, Kathok Chagtsa Tulku, Pulung Sangye Tulku,
and Gyurme Phendei Ozer, among others. He received teachings from them
and he also gave teachings to them.
Rinpoche's Great Realizations
Taking his practice very seriously, Dudjom Rinpoche went
to a secret place called Kenpa Jong (or Phuntsok Gatsel), and accomplished
the Dorje Phurba of "Dudjom Namchag Pudri". At Buddha Tse
Phuk, Rinpoche did Tse-Drup and his Tse-chang boiled. He further received
the auspicious signs when he was practicing the gongter of Dudul Drollo.
When in Paro Tak-Tshang (the Tiger's Nest), Dudjom Rinpoche rediscovered
the "Pudri Rekpung", the "Tsokye Thugthig" and the
"Khandro Thugthig", for which he wrote down the main parts.
In short, in all these important holy places where he practiced, Rinpoche
always experienced the signs of accomplishment.
Dudjom Rinpoche was world famous as a very prolific author
and a scholar. His writings are celebrated for the encyclopaedic knowledge
they display of all the traditional branches of Buddhist learning, including
poetics, history, medicine, astrology and philosophy. A writer of inspirational
poetry of compelling beauty, he had a special genius for expressing
the meaning and realization of Dzogchen with a crystal-like lucidity.
His "Collected Works" (Sungbum), numbering twenty-five volumes,
did not include his complete output. Among the most widely read of his
works are the "Fundamentals of the Buddhist Teachings" and
"History of the Nyingma School", which he composed soon after
his arrival in India. These works have now been translated into English
by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein and published by Wisdom Publications,
while his Chinese spiritual representative Lama Sonam Chokyi Gyaltsan
(Guru Lau Yui-che), with the help of Ming-chu Tulku, had also translated
it into Chinese and published by the Secret Vehicle Publications in
Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Another important and major part of his work was the revision, correction
and editing of many ancient and modern texts, including the fifty-eight
volumes of the whole of the Canonical Teachings of the Nyingma School
("Nyingma Kama"), a venture which he began at the age of 74,
just as Jamgon Kongtrul had collected the Terma teachings. His own private
library contains the largest collection of precious manuscripts and
books outside of Tibet.
Rinpoche's Spreading of the Dharma
Unique in having received the transmission of all the
existing teachings of the immensely rich Nyingma tradition, Dudjom Rinpoche
was famous in particular as a great Terton (treasure revealer), whose
Termas are now widely taught and practiced, and as the leading exponent
of Dzogchen. Indeed, he was regarded as the living embodiment of Guru
Rinpoche and His representative in this time. A master of masters, he
was acknowledged by the leading Tibetan Lamas as possessing the greatest
power and blessing in communicating the nature of mind, and it was to
him that they sent their students when prepared for this "Mind-direct"
transmission. Dudjom Rinpoche was the teacher of many of the most prominent
lamas active today.
his teachers had prophesized, Rinpoche gave the "Rinchen
of Precious Termas") ten times, Pema Lingpa's "Pedling
Cho Kor" three times, the "Kangyur" and "Nyingma
Gyudbum", the Drupwang of "Kagyed",
"Jatson Podruk", the complete empowerment and transmission
of the "Nyingma Kama", as well as teachings according to his
own Terma ("Dudjom Tersar") tradition, and innumerable other
Dudjom Rinpoche's main area of activity was in Central Tibet, where
he maintained the Mindroling tradition, and especially at Pema Choling
and his other seats in the Kongpo and Powo regions of southern Tibet.
In Pemakod, Rinpoche established many new monasteries and two colleges
for both Gelong (ordained monks) and Ngagpa (yogis). In the Kongpo region,
he reconstructed the Thadul Buchu Lhakhang, and close to it he built
anew the monastery of Zangdok Palri. He also erected anew the tantric
centre of Lama Ling. Dudjom Rinpoche became renowned throughout Tibet
for the brilliance of his spiritual achievements, for his compassionate
Bodhisattva activities, as well as for his unsurpassed scholarship.
Upon leaving Tibet, Dudjom Rinpoche settled in Kalimpong in India in
1958, and then in Kathmandu, Nepal in 1975. When the Tibetan culture
was at a difficult time, Rinpoche played a key role in its renaissance
among the refugee community, both through his teachings and his writings.
He established a number of vital communities of practitioners in India
and Nepal. At Tsopema (Rewalsar), he established a retreat centre; at
Darjeeling, Rinpoche established Tsechu Gompa; in Orissa, he founded
Dudul Rabten Ling; and in Kalimpong, Rinpoche founded Zangdok Palri
Monastery. Near the Great Stupa at Boudhanath, Nepal, Rinpoche erected
the Dudjom Gompa. He also actively encouraged the study of the Nyingma
tradition at the Tibetan Institute for Higher Studies in Sarnath.
In other parts of the world, Dudjom Rinpoche had also made tremendous
progress in various Dharma activities. He founded many Dharma centres
in the West, including Dorje Nyingpo and Orgyen Samye Choling in France,
and Yeshe Nyingpo and Orgyen Cho Dzong in the United States. Over the
last one-and-a-half-decades of his life, Dudjom Rinpoche devoted much
of his time ot teaching in the West where he has successfully established
the Nyingma tradition. In his first world-wide tour in 1972, Dudjom
Rinpoche visited the centre of his Chinese spiritual representative
Lama Sonam Chokyi Gyaltsan in Hong Kong, and also visited London at
the invitation of Ven. Sogyal Rinpoche.
Rinpoche's Family Life
Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche manifested as a householder with
family, married twice. His first wife was called Sangyum Kusho Tseten
Yudron, and they had altogether six children, including two daughters
and four sons.
Their eldest daughter, Dechen Yudron, is now in Lhasa, Tibet and is
taking care of Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche's seat Lama Ling in Kongpo. Their
eldest son Kyabje Dungsay Thinley Norbu Rinpohce, who is himself a great
Nyingma scholar and master like his father, is also the father of Dzongsar
Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche III. He is the emanation of Kunkhyen Longchen
Rabjam, as well as the rebirth of Terton Drimed Odser, the eldest son
of Dudjom Lingpa. In his youth, Thinley Norbu Rinpoche studied for nine
years at Mindroling monastery and received many teachings from many
great saints throughout Tibet, besides his own father. He is now in
his sixties and is residing in New York.
Their second son is Dola Tulku Jigmed Chokyi Nyima Rinpohce of mainly
the Sakya lineage, and he is now the father of Kyabje Dudjom Yangsi
Rinpoche. Their second daughter, Pema Yudron, lives near Dola Rinpoche
in Qinghai. Their third son, Pende Norbu, who is also a tulku, is now
living in Nepal. Their fourth son, Dorje Palzang, went to school in
Beijing in the late fifties but was unfortunately killed during the
Kyabje Dudjom Rinohce's second wife is called Sangyum Kusho Rikzin Wangme,
and they had three children, including one son and two daughters. Their
eldest daughter is Chimey Wangmo, and their younger daughter is Tsering
Penzom. Their son is Shenphen Dawa Norbu Rinpohce who is spreading his
father's teachings in both Europe and the United States.
Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, who led a life encompassing
the activities of one hundred tertons (treasure revealers), has said
that Mopa Od Thaye (Dudjom Rinpoche's future incarnation as the last
Buddha of this Light Aeon) will have the activity of one thousand Buddhas.
That this great being will perform the activity of all his previous
lives and have many disciples is all due to his own power of Bodhicitta
and prayers. As Buddha Shakyamuni, even though enlightened, performed
the illusory activity of dying for the benefit of worldly beings, likewise
Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche entered into Mahaparinirvana on January 17, 1987.
[This article was written with the acknowledgement
of the following persons and articles:
Nyoshul Khenpo Jamyang Dorje's "History of the Dzogchen Secret
Quintessence, Life Stories of the Vidyadharas of the Lineage",
in Terry Clifford (ed.) (1988) The Lamp of Liberation, pp.1-5.
Gyurme Dorje's "His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche (1904-1987)"
in The Middle Way, Vol. 62, No. 1 (May 1987), pp.25-28. "His Holiness
Dudjom Rinpoche 1904-1987", in Vajradhatu Sun, Vol.8, No. 3 (Feb./
Mar., 1987), pp.1-3.
"The Passing of His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche", in Snow Lion,
Spring, 1987, p.3.
Interviews with Bhakha Tulku Rinpoche in Pharping (Yang Leshod), Nepal
on 18th September, 1997.]
to Yeshe Thaye for this version of "The Life Story of Kyabje Dudjom
Copyright (C) 1999 Dudjom Buddhist Asso. International Limited, All