The Biographies
The Choegon Rinpoches Biographies

Brief Introduction of the Drukpa Choegon Lineage:

The Lineage of Drukpa Choegon came into existence in the early 16th century when the 1st Drukpa Choegon Rinpoche, Druk Shabdrung Choekyi Gonpo became the successor of Ngawang Choekyi Gyalpo, and then root guru to Drukchen Pema Karpo and Lhatsewa Ngawang Zangpo.

The Drukpa Choegon Rinpoches, is one of the, three most important lamas and lineage holder of Drukpa Kargyu Lineage. He is an emanation of Vajrapani, and Rinpoche previous lifetimes can be traced back to ancient India where he was the Lord Shakyamuni Buddha´s disciple and personal attendant, Ananda.

The nearer sources of emanation or the line of incarnations of the Drukpa Choegon Rinpoches are King Indra Bhuti (the King of Oddiyana, who adopted Guru Rinpoche when he was a child), Mahasiddha Tilopa, King Tri Ralpachen (one of the three great Dharma Kings of Tibet), Lochen Verotsana (the great Tibetan translator in 8th century), Rechung Dorje Drakpa (Milarepa's heart son), Palchen Galo (widely known as Ga Lotsawa, the great Tibetan mahasiddha and translator who visited India and brought back many precious teachings to Tibet), Phuljung Samgyal Khache (the great accomplished master of Mahakala practice) and Sangdak Namkha Palzang (also an incomparable accomplished Mahakala master of his time).

The Drukpa Choegon Lineage is renowned as the incomparable accomplished master in the practice of Mahakala, Chakrasamvara and Vajrapani. The Drukpa Choegons is being revered as the most powerful Mahakala practitioner of Drukpa Kagyu.

Drukpa Choegon Rinpoche Previous Incarnations:

The 1st Drukpa Choegon Rinpoche (1507)

Dorje Zinpa Choekyi Gonpo, or widely known as Druk Shabdrung Choekyi Gonpo is an emanation of Vajrapani. He was born in the early 16th century, and later became the successor of Ngawang Choekyi Gyalpo, the 23rd Golden Rosary Master of Drukpa Kagyu.

He was an accomplished practitioner and master of Chakrasamvara, Vajrayogini, Vajrapani, Green Tara, and in particular an unparalleled accomplished master of the practice of the Four Armed Mahakala, a key practice of Drukpa Kargyu tradition.

This inconceivable great master attained full realization through his devotion to his guru and the practice of the Buddhadharma. Because of his unparalleled spiritual attainment, he is called the Dorje Zinpa of Tsari, means the Lord of all Vajra Holders in the sacred holy land of Tsari.

He was one of the few masters, after Guru Padmasambhava, who tamed and bound the powerful Dharma Protector, Geynyen Jagpa Melen under his Vajra-samaya. Since then, Jagpa Melen became the main Dharma Protector of Dechen Choekorling.

His disciples included Lhatsewa Ngawang Zangpo (1st Yongdzin Rinpoche) and Drukchen Pema Karpo who saw him as inseparable from Padmasambhava.

* Shabdrung (also Zhabdrung; Tib: "before the feet of"), was a title used when referring to or addressing great lamas in Tibet, particularly those who held a hereditary lineage.


The 2nd Drukpa Choegon Rinpoche

Thubchen Dudjom Dorje, a great Mahasiddha, was a disciple of Pema Karpo and Yongzin Lhatsewa Ngawang Zangpo. The 2nd Drukpa Choegon spent most of His life practicing in secluded and haunted places where he accomplished perfect realization. This emanation renounced all worldly activities and spent his entire life as a hidden Yogi.


The 3rd Drukpa Choegon Rinpoche

Jetsun Chokyi Wangchuk, an accomplished master. This 3rd incarnation was recognized by the 2nd Yongzin Kunga Lhundrup, the teacher to 5th Dalai Lama.

He received teachings directly from various deities, and later spent many years practicing in the sacred retreat place of Tsari Chigchar (the Drukpa Kargyu retreat center in a remote part of Tibet where every Choegon spent many years of retreat there) until Vajrayogini appeared and instructed him to go out into the world in order to benefit others.

His main disciple was the 3rd Khamtrul Kunga Tenzin, and was root guru to 3rd Drukpa Yongzin Geleg Sherpa. The 3rd Drukpa Choegon instructed Khamtrul Rinpoche to go to Eastern Tibet in order to propagate the lineage and benefit countless beings. With the blessings of the 3rd Choegon and Guru Rinpoche, the 3rd Khamtrul started His monastery Khampagar in Eastern Tibet which later growth into more than 200 branch monasteries, and became the main successor of the Dechen Choekhor Lineage in Eastern Tibet.

The 3rd Drukpa Choegon completed the building of Dechen Choekhor Monastery in His lifetime.


The 4th Drukpa Choegon Rinpoche

Thubchen Jamgon Gyepa, a disciple of 3rd Yongzin Geleg Sherpa. This fourth incarnation said to be blessed by Manjushri, and was an extraordinary child. He recalled his past lives and was able to read the lives of others.

He was an extremely learned Lama and spent his entire life at Dechen Choekhor Monastery, dedicating much of His life in preserving the teachings of the Drukpa Kargyu Lineage. He had many wonderful disciples, including the renowned 4th Drukpa Yongzin Jampal Pawo, an emanation of Chakrasamvara, renowned for his vital instructions on Tsalung practice, one of the Six Yogas of Naropa. He was also root guru to Drukchen Kunzig Choekyi Nangwa.


The 5th Drukpa Choegon Rinpoche

Thubchen Jampal Dorje, a great Mahasiddha. When He was a child, a statue of Guru Rinpoche raised its hand and touched his head three times, after this miraculous experience, the 5th Choegon was able to understood the subtlest points of the Dharma.

As a highly accomplished Yogi, he founded a number of branch monasteries throughout Tibet and the Himalayan region. He trained many lamas, worked selflessly for the lineage and benefited countless beings. His main disciple, the 5th Khamtrul Rinpoche, Drubgyu Nyima, a renowned terton, was later enthroned as his regent.


The 6th Drukpa Choegon Rinpoche

Chokzig Chokyi Shenyen spent over 12 years in retreat in Tsari Chigchar, and dedicated most of His life to preservation of rare sacred teachings and Dharma texts. He would travel for days by foot to Eastern Tibet in order to transmit the teachings; in this way He visited over hundred monasteries in Eastern Tibet.

This incarnation founded several nunneries and supported the female monastic tradition.

His disciples include the 6th Drukpa Yongzin Sheja Kunchen and 1st Drubwang Tsoknyi Rinpoche.

The 7th Drukpa Choegon Rinpoche

Dorje Zinpa Shedrup Chokyi Nyingye was a disciple of Ngedon Choekyi Gyatso. Mahakala appeared to him in visions and with further study his knowledge of the Mahakala tantra became extremely profound. He was able to clarify the most subtle and profound teachings on Mahakala. The Mahakala practice is one of the major practices in Drukpa Kargyu.

This incarnation spent most of his life in Eastern Tibet, selflessly and tirelessly working for the lineage; has made enormous contribution to the Buddhadharma and left a monumental imprint in the heart of the people of Tibet.

He had many superior students. Among them were 6th Khamtrul Tenpe Nyima, the 6th Adeu Rinpoche and Choje Sonam Tenzin. In His later life, the King of Nangchen of Kham invited him to Nangchen - a vast area of Eastern Tibet, and in there He spread the teachings, further propagating the Drukpa Kargyu Lineage and benefiting many beings.

The 8th Drukpa Choegon Rinpoche

Thutop Chokyi Gyamtso received the complete transmissions of the lineage from the 6th Khamtrul Rinpoche, Tenpe Nyima, and then went into retreat in Tsari Chigchar. He was well known for his devotion to his root guru and it is said that he followed every instruction of his guru perfectly. He diligently collected and preserved teachings of the Drukpa Kargyu Lineage, and transmitted these sacred teachings and transmissions to the most remote regions of Tibet and the Himalayan.

In the late 1950s, Rinpoche arrived at Kinnaur in Northern India, where he had many devoted disciples incuding the yogic parents of the current Choegon Rinpoche;  and later enter into parinirvana in year 1964 in his eighties. Among his disciples were the 11th Gyalwang Drukchen, the 7th and 8th Khamtrul Rinpoches, the 8th Trulshik Adeu Rinpoche, Drubwang Shakya Shri, Pema Choegyal, Sengdak Rinpoche, H.H. Je Khenpo Kunleg of Bhutan, Apo Rinpoche, the 2nd Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Thuksey Rinpoche and almost every Drukpa master that existed around that period of time. It is due to his great kindness and exertion that the Drukpa Kargyu Lineage flourishes today in Tibet, Nepal and India.

Today's Drukpa Kargyu Lineage Holders are mainly holding the lineage of the 8th Drukpa Choegon Rinpoche. Thus, he not only maintained the pure unbroken enlightened essence of the Drukpa Kargyu Lineage, but truly the living embodiment of Vajradhara.

Note to Reader:

Some readers might be confused by the term "Kagyu" vs "Kargyu" use in this website. Below are the short explanations on the actual denotation of these 2 terms. However, nowadays Drukpa 'Kargyu' and Drukpa 'Kagyu' are used interchangeably in the English media.

Kagyu - can be translated as "The Lineage of the Oral Instructions." The first syllable "Ka" refers to the scriptures of the Buddha and the oral instructions of the guru. "Ka" has the sense both of the enlightened meaning conveyed through the instructions of the realised master, as well as the power and the blessing such words of insight carries; and "Gyu" simply means lineage or tradition.

Kargyu - The Kar (white) Gyu (lineage) of Marpa, Milarepa, and their followers; many of which dressed in white robes. Kewang Sangye Dorje, one of the foremost disciples of Pema Karpo, suggested this name for our Drukpa Kargyu Lineage.

Acknowledgement: The above Choegon Rinpoche Incarnations statue images are provided courtesy of Nangchen Garh, Qinghai - Tsechu Monastery of Trulshik Adeu Rinpoche

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