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Dorzong Rinpoche

The First Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche, Konchok Gyalpo, was a great meditation master as well as an outstanding scholar in philosophy and the Sutra and Tantra. He was deeply learned in Tibetan sciences and poetry. He traveled widely, having journeyed as far as the Swat Valley in present-day Pakistan, taking in the pilgrimage places of central and North India, Sikkim and Nepal, where many spontaneous miracles marked his passing.

Once, near Patna, he was waylaid by robbers who assumed every pilgrim from Tibet was carrying gold to make offerings. When they tried to decapitate him the sword’s heavy blade bounced off his neck; and when they searched him they discovered he was a mendicant pilgrim with no possessions. When he came back from India, at the request of His Holiness Sakya Dagchen Amen, he wrote down an account of his travels, which was of great interest to later Tibetan scholars.

He was advised by his teacher the First Kyabje Drukpa Yongdzin Rinpoche Lhatsewa Ngawang Zangpo to go into China where he would be of great benefit to many people and would establish long-lasting connections. On his way to China, while passing through Kham in Eastern Tibet, Konchok Gyalpo and his companions were waylaid by nine wayfaring bandits called Rekhe Chisoh. They set about trying to kill him and rob the group, but Konchok Gyalpo displayed some miracles. When they stabbed him with a knife it went through his body, like a rainbow. And when they flung him from a high cliff the fast-flowing river below swept him back onto the cliff’s edge where he sat quietly in meditation. After witnessing this phenomenon twice, the bandits were overwhelmed with devotion for him and requested him to go to Rongmi in Kham with them and settle in the region. He replied that he had to leave for China on his guru’s instructions. As well as making persistent entreaties, the bandit converts threatened to commit suicide if Konchok Gyalpo deserted them. Believing they would carry out their threat, which would be a heavy sin for him, he reluctantly went on to Rongmi. This became an obstacle to his successful path in helping people in China, according to his guru’s instructions.

At a place called Dorje Dzong (meaning “the Vajra Fort”) in the Rongmi district, he established his monastery at the request of local inhabitants. There he spent the rest of his life in meditation, teaching and practicing. His eight chief disciples established eight branch monasteries in his lifetime. The name of the Dorzong Rinpoche’s and the monastery were taken from the name of this region.

Precise details of the birth of the present Dorzong Rinpoche were foretold very clearly by the Seventh Kyabje Drukpa Yongdzin Rinpoche, the root teacher of the Seventh Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche. These details were also given by the Eighth Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche and by a well-known realized master, Kyabje Agon Rinpoche, of the Drikung Lineage, in a remote place in Central Tibet.

At the time of conception of the Eighth Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche, his mother dreamt that she was standing in a spacious valley full of yellow flowers, in the sky to the East there was a long carpet of white clouds bearing many monks. Their red hats were of an unfamiliar design to her. In the center sat a very young, beautiful-looking master on his throne. He wore white cotton robes and a white hat with a high pointed crown. The young lama was looking at her with an expression of delight. Immediately she was suffused with uncontrollable devotion and plucked a large bouquet of yellow flowers and offered them to the young master and the other monks in his presence.

After the night of that dream she felt the new life within her. Almost three years later, when she attended her son's enthronement at Dorzong Monastery, she saw the Drukpa Lineage meditation hat for the first time in her life and recognized it from her dream. When she described the high-crowned white hat worn by the central young lama, the senior lamas at Dorzong Monastery told her that this was Rechungpa’s hat.

The origin of the Dorzong emanations is Vajrapani, Ananda Palgyi Dorje, one of the twenty-five chief disciples of Guru Padmasambhava, and Rechungpa, one of the two main lineage holders of Milarepa’s teachings.

Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche was born in early summer, at sunrise. A fine drizzle fell from a thin cloud and rainbows appeared over the family home. The people of Ngeyul village felt certain that the child was a tulku upon seeing these special signs. That same morning, a lotus design appeared on the water’s surface in four of the seven offering bowls in the family shrine room. The pattern descended and became indelibly embedded in the base of the bell-metal bowls. These treasured family possessions were destroyed at the time of the Cultural Revolution in Tibet. Also on the same morning, a pair of ravens suddenly appeared and perched on the family’s roof. There they stayed until the day the infant was taken to his monastery.

It was later discovered that these were the same ravens that normally lived on the roof of the protector’s Gonkhang at Dorzong Monastery in Gonjo, but had disappeared at the time of Dorzong Rinpoche's birth. This monastery was founded during the reign of the Fourth Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche, when the people of Gonjo had asked that another monastery be established in their area. This new monastery was a two-day horse ride from Ngeyul.

The Eighth Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche was enthroned at the age of three. From five years old he began to study. In reading, writing and memorizing he showed exceptional aptitude.

When he was seven, he visited Khampagar Monastery to meet the Eighth Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche. At this time the Great Practice of Padmasambhava Sadhana was being performed at the Khampagar Monastery. This practice is held every twelve years and takes almost one month to complete. The young Dorzong Rinpoche joined in the practice and completed the ritual entirely from memory. A large assembly witnessed this feat and the feeling was that this young Rinpoche was exceptional.

From that year, Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche began to receive Drukpa Lineage initiations, teachings and higher practices from Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche.

At the age of eight, Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche received teachings of all traditions, especially on Mahamudra and Mahasandhi from Kyabje Ragtul Rinpoche, a Nyingmapa lama who was highly respected by masters of all schools. Also from this age, he started to learn basic Buddhist doctrines and texts on the three types of vows. He studied texts written by Shantideva and other Bodhisattvas and the three main philosophy texts of Madhyamika with Venerable Tulku Tashi Namgyal and Venerable Drayab Khenpo Lodru, one of the most famous Sakya Khenpos of that period in Kham.

When he was nine, he received special Mahamudra and Dzogchen meditation practice and was guided through these experiences by Kyabje Ragtul Rinpoche and was also given the full set of Kagyu tantric treasures teachings (Tib. Kagyu Ngag Dzod), as well as all the Namchoe terma transmissions. Additionally he received three main Nyingma practices of the tutelary deities of Padmasambhava which were discovered in the eleventh century and also the full teaching of Tsele Natsog Rangdol.

At around the same time, he received all the ancient 100,000 tantric teachings of the Nyingma Lineage transmission (Tib. Nyingma Gyu Bum) from Venerable Rongmi Lama Gedun.

At the age of fourteen, he entered Khampagar Monastery’s Institute for Higher Studies and studied under the great Khenpo Pema Tharchin from Kathok Monastery, the ancient Nyingma monastery. Under this eminent Khenpo, he learned the Madhyamika and the two main Abhidharma-kosha texts, as well as Buddhist philosophical texts by Kyabje Mipham Rinpoche. In his examinations he always came first in his class.

Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche also studied the philosophy and the Buddhist Sutra and Tantra teachings with Venerable Khenpo Thupchoe and Venerable Khenpo Tsondue of the Nyingmapa school and with Venerable Sakyapa Khenpo Rinchen.

Until the establishment of Khampagar Monastery in Tashi Jong in 1969, Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche moved between Kalimpong, Dalhousie and Kangra. In this period, he received initiations, Mahamudra teachings and instructions from the Eighth Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche. He also received numerous initiations, teachings and instructions from His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa and Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. In 1969 he became the abbot of the educational institute for monks at Khampagar Monastery in Tashi Jong.

Then in 1971, because of Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche´s arduous schedule and health problems, the people of Tashi Jong requested Dorzong Rinpoche to become Vice President of Khampagar Monastery and of the Tashi Jong Tibetan Community.

When Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche passed away in 1980, Rinpoche was asked to stand as President. Both as regent of the Eighth Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche and President of Khampagar Monastery in India and of the Tashi Jong Tibetan Community, Dorzong Rinpoche worked for twenty-one years with selfless compassion, wisdom and great energy for the betterment of the monastic and lay communities. Along with the consolidation of the Craft Center for Art and Cultural Activities, he introduced a proper health center, kindergarten and an Institute for Higher Studies.

Later in the 1990’s, he received a complete series of initiations of the Drukpa Lineage from the late Kyabje Trulshik Adeu Rinpoche.

In combination with all these activities Dorzong Rinpoche has always practiced meditation and lineage teachings with unbroken diligence and purity, which qualify him as an authentic Drukpa Lineage holder.

By 1984 it became possible for Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche to return to Tibet and visit his monastery. There he was invited to give teachings throughout the region at monasteries of all schools of Tibetan Buddhism and he greatly helped practitioners by giving initiations and teachings, which provided the missing links in their practice. He also traveled to many countries giving lectures and teachings from which started some remarkable communities and spiritual practitioners.

About a decade ago, Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche started the development of Dorzong Monastic Institute, located near Gopalgur village in the valley of Kangra, approximately 20km from Dharamsala. The Dorzong Monastic Institute aims at preserving the Buddhadharma in general and the teachings and the unique tradition of the Drukpa Lineage in particular, for the benefit of all beings. The project is due to be completed in 2009. When ready, it will help interested individuals from the neighboring Himalayas such as Zanskar, Lahaul (Garsha), Spiti and Kinnaur as well as Tibetans residing in India, to study and practice Buddhadharma, the spiritual tradition of their ancestors. Dorzong Monastic Institute will also offer seminars and lectures on Buddhist studies, and establish a publishing arm to publish rare Buddhist texts and commentaries and set up a translation department. There will also be classes that teach ethics, art and the Tibetan language. Traditional Buddhist festivals, rituals and ceremonies will also be organized. In the field of humanitarian activities, a medical center will be set up to help the poor and needy.

The Eighth Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche is one of the most learned and highly recognized spiritual masters among the Tibetan Buddhist teachers living today. His activities and wishes are only for the benefit of all sentient beings, and for the flourishing of the Drukpa Lineage.

For more information about Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche, his schedule and activities, please visit his official website: