Drugu Choegyal Rinpoche

His Eminence the Eighth Drugu Choegyal Rinpoche was born in 1946 in Wari-Chaksam Kha, in Nangchen, Tibet. While still in his mother's womb Choegyal Rinpoche was recognized by the late Sixteenth Karmapa as Choegyal Yonten Gyatso, the present and Eighth Drugu Choegyal incarnation in the Drukpa Lineage. Choegyal Rinpoche took refuge with the Most Venerable Sonam Tenzin and Kathog Getse and was enthroned at the age of four. He spent the subsequent years of his childhood in the Drugu region of Tibet, where, he says, "art, spiritual training and meditation practice were inseparable."

Drugu Choegyal Rinpoche began his training at the age of five. He memorized many religious texts and studied the nine yanas. He was trained from 1955 to1979 by the late Kyabje Eighth Khamtrul Rinpoche (an accomplished artist as well as meditation master) and received teachings and continual personal guidance from Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. He became the lineage holder of a number of unique teachings. His other teachers were the late Sixteenth Karmapa, Kyabje Tsentul Logan Sotan Rinpoche, the Eighth Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche, the late Kyabje Trulshik Adeu Rinpoche, Togden Choelek, Togden Anjam and the Most Venerable Sakya Khenpo Rinchen. Rinpoche also received important teachings from Nubgon Khen Lekshe, Zigar Khen Choedar, Drugu Gegan Dechen, Khenpo Gedun of Kathog, Khenpo Tsondue, Khenpo Thubchoe, Sogchen Khenpo Tsega, Nangchen Yangwen Khen Chen, and Khenpo Tipa of Chakzam Gelugpa Monastery.

In 1959, when the political upheaval took place in Tibet, Drugu Choegyal Rinpoche moved to India, joining his root guru, the Eighth Khamtrul Rinpoche and a group of highly realized disciples and Tokdens (a special group of tantric yogis). An increasing number of monks and lay followers from Eastern Tibet gathered around Khamtrul Rinpoche, forming a refugee community in Kalimpong. Later, the community moved to the Kangra Valley in the high country of Himachal Pradesh, first to Dalhousie, then to their present location at Tashi Jong. Here, under the snow-capped Dhauladhar Range of the Himalayas, Khamtrul Rinpoche acquired land for his followers to rebuild their lives and to continue the rich heritage they brought from Tibet. Drugu Choegyal Rinpoche served the Tashi Jong community from 1988 to 1994, first as vice-president, then as president.

Like most of his previous incarnations, Drugu Choegyal Rinpoche is a highly gifted and well known artist. His paintings, which have been widely exhibited, are remarkable for their vibrant immediacy of expression. They display a mastery over a broad range of styles, from the ornate precision of the traditional thankas to impressionistic evocations of meditative experiences.

His creative work also includes sculpture and carpet designs. Rinpoche founded Drugu Unique Tiger and Snow Leopard Carpets in cooperation with a Tibetan artisan community of carpet weavers near Tara Bir. His high quality limited edition carpets can now be found in museums and private collections. Please See Art Page for more information.

Since 1994 Rinpoche has been directing his efforts towards the restoration of the traditional art and culture as well as the improvement of social welfare and environmental integrity of the Drugu region of Tibet. Rinpoche has travelled extensively throughout the world to teach the Dharma, exhibit his art and promote his projects. Rinpoche divides his time between Tashi Jong, the Jangchub Jong Buddhist Institute (near Dharamsala) of Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche, and the Tara Bir Drugu Retreat Center in Nepal.

Each of these places is special in its own way: Tashi Jong is now the seat of the Ninth Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche Shedrub Nyima, the reincarnation of his root guru, towards whom he has unshakable devotion and gratitude; Jangchub Jong Buddhist Institute is the seat of Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche, one of his most highly respected Dharma brothers and his most revered living Drukpa Lineage teacher; and Tara Bir Drugu Retreat Center is a sacred sanctuary of the goddess Tara. Tara Bir serves as Rinpoche's refuge, both as a place of retreat and a base for the coordination of his many projects.

For more information about His Eminence the Eighth Drugu Choegyal Rinpoche, please visit his official website: www.choegyalrinpoche.org