The Neten Chokling incarnation line
as told by Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche
Ngedon Drubpey Dorje, the second Chokling of Neten.
The incarnation line of the Chokling tulku at Neten is
as follows. Before his death, Chokgyur Lingpa gave a letter to Karmey
Khenpo Rinchen Dargye and said, “In the future you will become
very depressed. Open this letter then, but not before.” Karmey
Khenpo kept the letter in his reliquary. Later, after Chokgyur Lingpa
had passed away, he became very saddened that Chokling had left no descendants.
Then he opened the letter in which Chokling had written, “I will
return to my old home.” Karmey Khenpo took this letter to Jamyang
Khyentse who said, “I thought it would be like this. This is really
Chokgyur Lingpa’s letter. Now we need a tulku for Neten Monastery.”
The tulku, born in the Kyasu family, was found and given the name Ngedon
Drubpey Dorje. Taken to Neten monastery, from an early age he was very
wonderful, displaying many miracles. He refused to listen to anyone,
so no one could give him orders. Sometimes he hung his clothes on the
rays of the sun. When his tutor taught him reading, he would neither
learn nor study, only play. His tutor often beat him, yet he was never
especially afraid. Even though the tutor locked him in a room, he could
still be seen playing outside.
One day Neten Chokling was playing on the roof of the house and the
disciplinarian scolded him, threatening to spank him. Trying to escape,
he jumped from the roof of the three-story building, but landed safely
on the ground. When the tutor came down to get him, he leapt up on the
roof again. But as he still could not read, the tutor beat him. One
day Wangchok Dorje told
the tutor, “You must not beat him, in our family line it is impossible
not to know how to read. If he cannot learn, it must be his karma.”
When Neten Chokling was older, he learned reading even without being
Ngedon Drubpey Dorje went to Derge and remained for seven years with
Jamyang Khyentse and Jamgon Kongtrul receiving teachings and oral instructions.
The last time Jamgon Kongtrul passed on the transmission of Rinchen
Terdzo, Neten Chokling was the master of ceremonies. He then went
to the seat of Neten in Kham.
Ngedon Drubpey Dorje spent long periods of time in retreat. A tantric
lay practitioner, his main consort was Kunsang Chodron. He had many
other consorts but not a single son. One or two women came, claiming
that he was the father of their children, but the children then died
immediately. When asked about this he replied, “They were not
my sons, so Ekajati must have become displeased.”
Neten Chokling’s conduct was extremely crude, like that of an
Indian mahasiddha. He drank a lot of wine and took lots of snuff. When
people came to see him he would send for women and wine. Having higher
perceptions, he could immediately reveal his visitors’ thoughts
and he would expose any hidden faults right away. When great lamas or
dignitaries came to visit him, the servant boys would be ordered to
come in naked while bringing tea and in addition to fart loudly.
Ngedon Drubpey Dorje perfected all the Maha Ati practices and his body
barely cast a shadow. Khenpo Ngakchung later met him and said, “On
this side of the Ganges, no practitioner has higher realization.”
Dzongsar Khyentse Chokyi Lodro also traveled to Neten and received the
Dzogchen Desum from this Chokling, who was his root teacher. One day
Chokyi Lodro told Chokling, “People say that you can read very
fast. I would like to test that.” Khyentse then brought the Kalachakra
Tantra volume from the Kangyur and asked him to read it. Chokling answered,
“I can’t see anything, I can’t read.” Dzongsar
Khyentse pleaded, “At least read a little bit!” Chokling
then began to spell his way through the text, one letter at a time.
Khyentse demanded, “Please read properly!” Chokling replied,
“If you can’t allow me to just sit peacefully then I guess
I must read, but first I need some snuff.” He took a big wad of
snuff, cleaned his fingers on a cloth and began to read the Kalachakra
text from beginning to end with amazing speed. He declared, “I
can see both sides at once, but my tongue can recite only what is written
on the front!”
Ngedon Drubpey Dorje gave the Rinchen
Terdzo transmission to his disciples three times. He passed on the
Chokling Tersar teachings four
times and Nyingtig Yabshi seven times. He had many amazing disciples
and he also displayed many miracles. One day while he was performing
a tantric dance, lightning struck his head, but, though the stones beneath
his feet shattered, he neither flinched nor interrupted the ritual.
Neten Chokling enjoyed playing dangerous games. In the area of our home
was a big river. One day he wanted to cross the stream in a boat. Once
in the boat, he took the oars and threw them both over-board in midstream.
As the current swept the boat downstream, all his attendants were frightened
and closed their eyes while Chokling simply roared with laughter. Many
people lived along the river and they all cried out, “Our lama
is being carried away by the river!” They ran along the banks,
but the river was wide and there was nothing they could do. Finally
the boat approached some rapids. Just before entering them, Chokling
touched a big rock with his hand and said to Genyen Borang, a naga living
in the river, “That’s enough now!” The boat immediately
began moving upstream, his hand leaving a deep imprint on the rock.
Though no one can reach it, the mark can be seen through binoculars.
Neten Chokling built a small house above Neten monastery where he spent
most of his time sitting calmly with wide open eyes. Sometimes he would
suddenly start laughing. Asked why, he would reply, that at such and
such a place, so and so was doing something funny.
At the age of 46, he went to Riwoche Monastery. Before leaving Neten,
Chokling told everyone, “I will not come back. If you want to
see me, you will have to come to me.” He sent for his consort
and girlfriends, gave them advice and presented them with gifts. “In
this life we will not meet again,” he said, “but at the
moment you die, I will come to welcome you.”
Dressing up in his finest clothes, he asked the richest of his monks
to accompany him and they rode off on horseback wearing splendid robes.
At Riwoche monastery, he began the drubchen of the Sabdun Phurba in
the Taklung Kagyu wing of the monastery. From time to time during the
drubchen, he fell ill. A doctor gave him medicine, but he did not eat
it. Sometimes when he did take the medicine, he emitted it again through
the tips of his fingers. At the conclusion of the drubchen he said,
“We return to Neten Monastery tomorrow.” Having gone only
a short way, they set up camp and, not the least depressed, Chokling
said, “Tonight we shall pitch our tents below and not above the
road. We shall sleep with our heads facing down and not up valley, because
tonight I’m going to die. My body won’t remain in the meditation
posture. Bind a rope tightly around its neck, put it in a sack and take
it directly to Neten Monastery. My tulku will be immediately reborn
All of the accompanying monks were young, no older than twenty-five,
some thought, “Maybe he will indeed pass away, he has great foreknowledge.”
Others thought, “Perhaps he is not dying, but simply fooling us.
Today he rode on horseback and sang many songs.” That night, however,
he died. The oldest monks said, “He might have really passed away.
We should check by holding a hair under his nose.” They did, and
the hair did not move. This happened on the third day of the fifth month.
All the young monks cried because he had died. Some said, “Don’t
cry, our lama is not like other lamas. We should do as he said.”
Tying a rope around his neck, they put him in a sack and returned the
body to Neten.
Many miraculous signs occurred that night. The people at Riwoche said,
“Last night there were many signs. Chokling must have passed away.
We should go and see.” They went, but before dawn Chokling’s
monks had already left. The body was cremated at Neten, many relic pills
were found in the ashes. The heart did not burn but stayed red and intact.
These relics were placed in a stupa. When the Chinese destroyed the
stupa, one monk took the heart. A few years ago the monk gave it to
me, but I later lost it.
This was the life story of Neten Chokling, Ngedon Drubpey Dorje, who
also composed many written works and instructions.
[Pema Gyurme, the third Chokling of Neten with his
oldest son, Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche]
Pema Gyurme, the third Chokling of Neten.
As soon as Ngedon Drubpey Dorje had passed away, Neten
monastery sent some monks to Derge to seek the reincarnation. When they
questioned Dzongsar Khyentse, he replied, “There probably is an
incarnation. I had a vision and the tulku is in Derge.” The monks
wanted to take him right away but Dzongsar Khyentse said, “He
is at Mesho, near the seat of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, in a place called
Bujo. The family name is Tsamchok, and the mother is called Pesang Drolma.
The child is not yet born, but still in the womb.”
The monks waited for four months before the third incarnation of Neten
Chokling was born. Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche named him Pema Gyurme.
They later discovered how Dzongsar Khyentse had learned of the reincarnation.
Around the fifteenth of the fifth month he fell into a light sleep and
Ngedon Drubpey Dorje appeared before him, saying “I have passed
away. My tulku is born in the Tsamchok family.” Dzongsar Khyentse
wrote this down in his diary. He later cut it out and gave it to one
of our servants. We still have it in Bir.
Pema Gyurmey’s family was quite poor. At five years old, he was
taken to Neten Monastery, where he studied extensively. When he was
seventeen, together with many monks, he went to see Dzongsar Khyentse
and received many teachings, including the bodhisattva vows. He received
many empowerments and transmissions from Palpung Situ, Padma Wangchuk
Gyalpo, before returning to his residence at Neten.
Pema Gyurme wanted a monastic college established at Neten, so he erected
a new building for it. He invited Kyungtrul Karjam to Neten Monastery
to give the Rinchen Terdzo transmission.
After completing the houses for the college, he invited Tsultrim Nyima,
the highest khenpo from Katok, and studied studied the 13 great root
texts of philosophy, many sciences and other topics with him.
At the age of 29 he thought, “This is not enough, I must go to
see Dzongsar Khyentse.” He left in secret with only one or two
servants. On the way a mule preceding him on the narrow path suddenly
slipped over the edge of a very steep precipice. He pulled it back up
with one hand. Many people saw this. At first he thought, “I must
be very strong,” but he later realized it must have been the activity
of the protectors. He did the solkha for Ekajati every day of the journey
to help him arrive safely in Derge. “If you are going to Derge,
I will help you!” Ekajati said to him.
Arriving in Derge, he went to meet Dzongsar Khyentse. The night before,
Khyentse Rinpoche dreamed of Ekajati coming and saying, “I now
put Chokling Tulku in your care.” He told Chokling, “Ekajati
really looks after you.” When Chokling went to Neten Monastery
as a small boy his mother did not go, but he always had a kind of mother
unseen by others. Later on in his life, he realized that it must have
From Khyentse Rinpoche he received the Rinchen
Terdzo, Dam-Ngakdzo and many other teachings of all the different
schools. One day when Khyentse Rinpoche was ordaining many people, he
told Chokling, “You should become a monk, but you will not remain
one in the future. No Chokling Tulku has ever been a monk. In the future
I will not be able to give ordination.” So Chokling took both
novice vows and full ordination.
Chokling Pema Gyurme studied many root texts with many Khenpos and debated
frequently. He studied linguistics and medicine as well. One day, while
studying dialectics, he couldn’t understand anything. He prayed
to Sakya Pandita, then closed the book and fell asleep. He dreamed of
a monk with a long crooked nose, wearing a pandita’s hat over
his shoulder. The monk sat down beside Chokling and asked, “Are
you studying dialectics?” “Yes,” he answered, “But
I understand nothing.” “There is nothing that cannot be
understood,” the monk said. He opened the book at exactly the
place which Chokling did not understand. The monk explained it once
and Chokling understood immediately. “Who are you?” he asked.
“I am called Kunga Gyaltsen,” replied the monk. Chokling
immediately woke up thinking, “What an extraordinary dream.”
Opening the book, he found that it was just as in the dream.
Chokling Rinpoche enjoyed great spectacles. One night he dreamed of
Ekajati who said, “You like great spectacles, I will show you
something: not only this world but the entire three thousand-fold universe.”
Taking a knife she cut her chest open. Inside was vast space with many
universes and world systems amassed like cloud banks, clearly and distinctly.
He saw Ekajati in another dream, standing with legs apart, on her head
she had a tripod and skull cup with a torma, inside of which Guru Dewa
Chenpo sat amidst scintillating rainbow light. As he looked, Guru Rinpoche
dissolved into the torma and the torma dissolved into the rakta in the
skull cup which then began to boil over. Ekajati immediately took down
the skull cup, handed it to Chokling and said, “Drink this!”
He drank it and then awoke, so drunk he could not stand.
One day Dzongsar Khyentse told him of a special stone of Ekajati which
could be discovered at a certain place. Finding it, Chokling gave it
to Dzongsar Khyentse.
Chokling Pema Gyurme once went to a charnel ground with Gona Tulku to
find some skulls. They searched many corpses and Chokling took one skull.
He hid it under his bed where it made noises and bounced around all
night long. A few days later Dzongsar Khyentse asked him if he hadn’t
found a new skull. Realizing that Dzongsar Khyentse possessed higher
perceptions, he answered yes. Khyentse then said, “I need that
After staying at Dzongsar for quite some time, he returned to his own
residence. He further developed the existing retreat center. At the
monastic study center, Tsultrim Nyima was the first khenpo. After his
death the next khenpo was Kuma Rinchen, then Khenpo Palden. The fourth,
Khenpo Yeshe Rigdzin, was jailed by the Chinese together with Khenpo
Chokling also established many shrines with representations of the Buddha’s
body, speech and mind. These
included a one-story tall statue of Guru Rinpoche made of gold and copper
and also life-size images of the twenty-five
Neten Chokling Pema Gyurme later became a tantric lay practitioner and
married a daughter of the Langtsang family.
During his life Chokling Pema Gyurme gave many empowerments and transmissions,
chiefly of the Tersar, which he passed on four times. On the first occasion,
he gave the transmission to 40 great lamas, tulkus and many other people
at Neten Monastery. During the empowerment of Sampa Lhundrub, all were
at the point of fainting. Afterwards everyone asked, “What happened,
what happened?” His disciples had all had different visions and
wept out of devotion. Among those promising to practice the Kunsang
Tuktig were many who later could pass freely through solid rock.
The second time he gave the Tersar was at Nyishen Monastery where he
had many disciples. During the Sampa Lhundrub empowerment the wisdom
deities entered into many people enabling them to speak Sanskrit. While
preparing the empowerment of Tseringma, he heard a noise from the skull
cup and when he looked up the nectar was boiling. Within the vapor,
he saw the five Tseringma sisters who played their hand drums before
dissolving into the nectar.
Chokling performed many drubchens in Kham. Once, during a medicine drubchen,
the dry medicine placed in a skull-cup later turned into nectar. When
his patrons died and he performed the phowa transference from a distance
of one day’s walk, the corpse’s head would jerk and from
the top some hairs would fly off. Similar in character to the previous
Neten Chokling, he drank a lot and took snuff. He was rumoured to have
many girlfriends. He was also fond of guns and was a very good shot.
Once, on his way to Lhasa, Dzongsar Khyentse visited Neten Monastery.
For the sake of the doctrine and beings, Khyentse ordered Chokling to
build a new temple at a place called Kawading where a temple built at
the time of King Songtsen Gampo
lay in ruins. With many people working under him Chokling set to work.
Dzongsar Khyentse informed Chokling of some obstacles and asked him
to perform the dokpa ceremony of Terchen Chokgyur Lingpa’s Yamantaka
to remove them. He did the retreat at the Tsegyal cave. First he placed
the dokpa torma in a huge iron bowl. After performing the Yamantaka
recitation for seven days, he took the dokpa out and placed it upon
a big rock. When people looked the next morning, both the dokpa and
the bowl had completely disappeared. A few days later, he did the recitation
for three days, putting the dokpa on a stone plate. It disappeared again.
He waited three days more and resumed the practice, this time placing
the dokpa in a tiny plate and reciting for only one day. At dusk, he
enjoined Yamantaka intensely and the earth trembled. His cave was very
deep and from deep inside a long low sound like a bellowing buffalo
accompanied the removal of the torma. The fiery torma flew into the
southern sky and disappeared together with the sound. His attendants
all fled outside in fear. Inside, Chokling continued exhorting and beating
the drum. In his vision the cave became crowded with dogs running back
and forth. A huge ferocious dog with striped markings ran up to Chokling
and dropped a still-palpitating heart into his lap. The next morning
people saw a lot of blood on the stone where the torma had been placed.
For the construction of the Kawading temple Chokling had to go to Nangchen.
One night, asleep in his tent, he dreamed one of his girlfriends said,
“These times are not good. Dzongsar Khyentse has gone to India
and you should go as well.” Awakening, he immediately ordered,
“Saddle up right away!” and went to Neten Monastery where
he told some of his special patrons and friends that they should leave
for India. They prepared for seven days and then set out for Lhasa.
People thought he had gone crazy, “He has just started to build
a monastery, spending all the wealth of the previous incarnations, and
now he is leaving!” Sometimes he said he would not return. Anyway,
he went straight to Lhasa, taking only the complete edition of the New
Treasures with him. He visited the sacred places of Lhasa, such
as Samye. Having been to Lhasa before, he did not stay long but went
directly to Sikkim and met Dzongsar Khyentse to whom he offered the
statue Tsedrub Dorje Trengwa as well as long life ceremonies. “Had
Dzongsar Khyentse remained in retreat for three months, he would have
lived for 113 years,” Chokling said. Unfortunately, this did not
happen. Dzongsar Khyentse later returned the statue to Chokling and
said, “It did not help for this life.” Chokling then went
on pilgrimage in India and Nepal before returning to Sikkim. As a priest
of the royal household, he performed many supporting ceremonies.
Dzongsar Khyentse then passed away, and to fulfill his guru’s
wishes Chokling Pema Gyurme made another pilgrimage. In Nepal, many
practitioners of the Chokling Tersar
invited him to Nubri. On
the way he gave the Chokling Tersar to more than 200 monks and nuns
at Thar Drupche. At Ru Monastery in Nubri he gave the Chokling Tersar
transmission to more than 500 people. He also performed the drubchen
of Tukdrub Barchey
Kunsel and gave the explanations of the Lamrim
Yeshe Nyingpo. People were astonished at his learning and his teachings
were too profound for most of them to understand.
Returning to India, Chokling met H.H. Karmapa at House Khas in Delhi.
Karmapa told him to start a center in India and gave him a lot of advice.
He then proceeded to Tsopema and founded Padma Ewam Chogar, where he
also performed a drubchen. He traveled to many different places, performing
drubchens with large groups of people.
During his youth, Chokling had many dreams in which a man dressed in
leaves stretched out long arms. He once asked the man his name and the
man replied that he was Shenpa, one of the protectors of Phurpa. “In
the future I will give you a place in India,” Shenpa said. Later
on, with the help of foreign aid, he bought land in Bir. He did social
work in order to help poor Tibetans. More than 1,000 people, mostly
from Derge and Nangchen, live in Bir where he built houses for nearly
300 families. He also began the construction of a second Neten monastery
in India called Tenchok Gyurme Ling.
with H.H. Karmapa, Khamtrul Rinpoche, Penor Rinpoche, Dzongnor Rinpoche,
Katok Ongtrul and other lamas and Khampa chiefs, Chokling began the
Tibetan Welfare Association to help poor refugees. He had direct contacts
with the Indian Government as well as with foreign aid associations.
Some high officials at the Central Tibetan Co-operation Society were
unhappy about that, so he was in slight discord with that group.
Chokling Peme Gyurme revealed many terma teachings and, from an early
age, had many visions of the Copper-Colored Mountain. Notes on these
visions were lost in Tibet. From
Yegyal Namkhadzo he discovered the Khandro Gongdu Nyingpo. Likewise,
in Bodhgaya he had a vision of Senge Dongma and received an extraordinary
terma. At Tso-pema he had many visions of Guru Rinpoche and received
teachings on how to supplicate the protectors of Tso-pema.
He once traveled to Varanasi with Khamtrul Rinpoche and they stayed
in a bungalow. In the afternoon everybody had a nap because of the intense
heat. Feeling that he should go out, Chokling got up. Not knowing how
he had arrived there, he found himself in a forest conversing with a
dignified atsara wearing a tiger skin skirt. The atsara was Guru Rinpoche.
Giving some advice, his last words were “See you again soon!”
Chokling turned to go back, taking two or three steps. Then, with still
more questions, he looked around but the man was gone. He suddenly felt
as if he had woken up and found himself in the deer park in Varanasi.
He had no shoes on, having gone straight from his bed. He had trouble
Chokling performed many drubchens in Bir. At the age of 47 he had an
accident on the road from Delhi and died instantly from a skull fracture.
Later he revived, took a long breath and then passed away. It was on
the 19th day of the twelfth month. Unknown to anyone, he had left a
letter of advice. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Khamtrul Rinpoche, Dzongsar
Khyentse Chokyi Lodro’s reincarnation, Dzongnor Rinpoche and others
were invited to come and perform the cremation ceremonies. A golden
stupa, studded with jewels and decorated with many precious metals was
made in his memory. It contains his relics and was placed in the temple
The fourth Neten Chokling.
His reincarnation, the fourth Neten Chokling, was recognized
by both H.H. Karmapa and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Born on the tenth
day of the eight month to a poor family in Bhutan, Karmapa named him
Gyurme Dorje. At the age of seven, he was taken to his monastery in
Bir and enthroned by Khyentse Rinpoche in Clement Town at the monastery
Ngedon Gatsal Ling. Before arriving in his home monastery he was enthroned
in Rumtek by H.H. Karmapa. He has received the transmissions of the
Kangyur, Nyingma Gyubum, Nyingma
Kama, Rinchen Terdzo, and Chokling
Tersar as well as many other teachings from Khyentse Rinpoche. People
say many things about him, such as that he has left foot prints in rock,
but I haven’t seen them.
The 4th Neten Chokling Rinpoche was recognised
and enthroned by both the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa and Kyabjé Dilgo
Khyentse Rinpoche from whom he received many teachings and transmissions.
Renowned as an accomplished practioner, he is the spiritual head of
the Pema Ewam Chogar Gyurme Ling Monastery in Bir, India.
--extracted from "The Life of Chokgyur Lingpa"
as told by Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche:
Translated by Tulku Jigmey Khyentse and Erik Pema Kunsang, 1983