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Drukpa Choegon Rinpoche Tenzin Chokyi Gyatso

His Eminence the Ninth Drukpa Choegon Rinpoche Tenzin Chokyi Gyatso was born at Sonam Ling, the first Tibetan Settlement in Ladakh in 1968 to father Tashi Chotob and mother Drukkyid Wangmo. Throughout the three days after his birth, though the butter of the lamp in Rinpoche's home was exhausted, its wick remained to be lit. This was considered to be an auspicious omen.

Once two attendants of Rinpoche's previous life came from His Eminence the Third Ga Rinpoche's Monastery in Dehradun to Ladakh, looking for their guru's reincarnation. They went to different villages separately but failed to locate Rinpoche's parents, so they left Ladakh. On the same night, the young Rinpoche woke up from his bed suddenly in the middle of his sleep, saying to his mother, "Two monks had come here to take me away." After that, he went back to sleep.

When Rinpoche was young, he used to make all kinds of prediction. For example, one early morning he said to his mother, "Get up from bed, we have to clean the house because father is coming back today." Indeed, his father who went to Delhi arrived home within a short time after Rinpoche said these words.

When Rinpoche was five years' old, Their Eminences Ga Rinpoche and Drukpa Yongdzin Rinpoche together with Rabten Gelong Jamyang from Shey who was the attendant of the previous Drukpa Choegon Rinpoche came to Ladakh. At that moment, the young Rinpoche behaved in such a way as if he recognized Gelong Jamyang as his previous life's attendant, he went to Gelong Jamyang and hugged him. Then, he was found snatching away the belongings of his predecessor, such as rosary, bell, dorje, damaru and other things. In this way, he was unmistakenly recognized as the reincarnation of the Eighth Drukpa Yongdzin Rinpoche. Many auspicious signs happened at the moment when the meeting was taking place. The entire Tibetan Settlement saw rain, snowfall, thunder and lightning happening all at the same time.

His Eminence the Ninth Drukpa Choegon Rinpoche's identity was further confirmed by Their Holiness Dalai Lama and Gyalwang Drukpa. His Holiness Dalai Lama's confirmation was based upon the identical prediction and observance of Nechung Chogyal (State Oracle) and Gadong (second oracle).

At the age of seven, Rinpoche was taken to Hemis Jangchub Choeling Monastery where he was formally enthroned. After that, he was enthroned at Gaden Choekhor, the monastery of Sonam Druk Gye (Rarang Monastery) in Kinnaur. From His Holiness Dalai Lama he received the name Ngawang Tenzin Chokyi Gyatso and the refuge vows. In 1976, he received the name Thutop Dorje Gocha Gyurmey Thrinley Gyatsoi De, as well as the lay Upasaka vows from His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa.

Under the guidance of Venerable Lobsang Gyatso, Venerable Damcho Gyaltsen and other spiritual gurus, Rinpoche studied grammar in general. At the Dialectical School in Dharamsala, he studied the great treatise of Buddhist Philosophy. From Gelong Rigzin Chodar, the attendant of the Eighth Drukpa Choegon Rinpoche, he learnt the chant-texts and other practices of Drukpa Lineage. From His Eminence the late Ga Rinpoche, he received the pith instructions of Mahamudra and Dzogchen. From His Eminence Khyentse Gyatso Rinpoche, he received the Six Doctrines of Naropa based on the Drukpa Lineage as passed down from Drubwang Shakya Shri. From His Holiness Dalai Lama, he received the empowerments of Bodhisattvacharyavattara (the Bodhisattva Way of Life) and Chakrasamvara as well as many other empowerments, oral transmissions and teachings based on the new and old schools of Tibetan Buddhism. From His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa, he received innumerable empowerments, oral transmissions and profound instructions of Drukpa Lineage.

Since 1980, Rinpoche has been looking after and restoring Druk Thubten Dhargey Ling in Nyoma. He has also been giving empowerments, oral transmissions and teachings of the Drukpa Lineage to the monks there. On the occasion of Du Chod, also known as Nyoma Gutor Festival, which falls on the 28th day of the eighth Tibetan month, Rinpoche presided over the gathering and gave profound teachings to the local devotees.

In 1985, at the fervent request of the local people in Nubra, Rinpoche visited Nubra for the first time. Since then, the practice of reciting A Hundred Million Mani Mantra has been held in many villages in Ladakh. During all these spiritual gatherings, Rinpoche always gives teachings related to daily practice of Dharma.

So far, Rinpoche has led the Hundred Million Mani Mantra recitation 8 times in Chemdrey, 3 times in Shey, 5 times in Nubra, 3 times in Gya and Meru, 2 times in Tewa, 2 times in Skyu-Markha and 3 times in Sakti. He also led the Hundred Million Recitation of Buddha's Mantra for 10 times at Muni Temple in Tashi Gatsal, Choglamsar, and 6 times of Hundred Million Recitation of Vajra Guru Mantra at Jokhang (the Ladakh Buddhist Association).

In this way, Rinpoche has been training the minds of many Buddhist devotees in the Himalayas. Rinpoche has also, by means of profound Buddhist teachings and conduct, re-converted a number of followers in Kinnaur back to following Buddhism. These devotees were Buddhist much earlier, but for some reasons, had embraced other spiritual beliefs until they met Rinpoche. Earlier, the tradition of blood and meat offering was very popular in Kinnaur. Rinpoche stopped this cruel tradition through skilful means.

His Eminence Drukpa Choegon Rinpoche Tenzin Chokyi Gyatso has a very friendly and warm nature that touches anyone who comes into contact with him. He started his first teaching abroad in August 2008, where he helped Drukpa Plouray in the organizing of His Holiness Dalai Lama's visit. The European devotees who met him and received teachings from him in Drukpa Plouray and Drukpa Paris had only fond memories of his humility, his honesty and his sincerity.