Dudjom Jigdral Yeshe Dorje

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Dudjom Jigdral Yeshe Dorje (Tibetan: བདུད་འཇོམས་འཇིགས་བྲལ་ཡེ་ཤེས་རྡོ་རྗེ།, Wylie: bdud 'joms 'jigs bral ye shes rdo rje, THL Düjom Jikdrel Yéshé Dorjé) (10 June 1904–17 January 1987)[1], was the second Dudjom Rinpoche. He was recognized as a direct rebirth of Dudjom Lingpa (1835–1904) and was also later appointed the first supreme head of the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism by the fourteenth Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration.

Dudjom Rinpoche with Prince Paljor Namgyal and Maharani Kunzang Dechen Tshomo Namgyal.



Dudjom Rinpoche was born in southern Tibet in a region called Pemakö (now Mêdog County), which is known in Tibetan as a beyul (Wylie: sbas yul) or "hidden land".

The second Dudjom Rinpoche was known as Jigdral Yeshe Dorje; Jigdral (Wylie: 'jigs bral) "fearless" was the name given to him by Khakyab Dorje, the fifteenth Karmapa. He was named Jñāna as a child, a Sanskrit term of which "Yeshe" (Wylie: ye shes) is the usual Tibetan translation. His father was Kathok Tulku Norbu Tenzing, who was a famous tulku in the Pema Kö region who had been trained in the Katok Monastery. His mother was Namgyal Drolma, descended from Ratna Lingpa. Dudjom Rinpoche was also a descendant of Nyatri Zangpo and Powo Kanam Depa, king of Powo.

Followers believe that it was written in tantras and old prophesies that during the eon of the Buddha Pranidhanaraja, Dudjom Rinpoche was the yogin Nuden Dorje Chang, who vowed to appear as the thousandth and last Buddha of this Light eon as Sugata Mopa (Od) Thaye. According to the biography of Dudjom Rinpoche on the web site of Wogmin Thubten Shedrup Ling, a Drikung Kagyü monastery, in his previous lives amongst many notable historic figures he was Śāriputra, one of the foremost disciples of Gautama Buddha in India; Saraha, the first and greatest of the eighty-four mahāsiddhas of India; and Humkara, who was also a mahāsiddha.[2]

The Nyingmapa incorporates many diverse lineages and practices, often varying from one geographical locale to another—though they all trace their lineage sources to Padmasambhava—and as a result, they had not historically appointed a head of their lineage. The new position of lineage head of the Nyingmapa was requested by the Central Tibetan Administration for representational purposes in that body, and the Nyingma leaders asked Dudjom Rinpoche to fulfill that role on behalf of the Nyingma school.

Dudjom Rinpoche was known for preserving many of the historic terma teachings and practice lineages that were at risk of being destroyed. He is described by followers as having been an exceptional scholar in various fields, including sūtra, tantra, prose literature, poetry, and history. He wrote a history of the teachings of the Nyingma lineages, encompassing twenty-five volumes, with the intent of creating an authoritative account,[3] as well as other teachings, poetry, and terma teachings. He presented a new framing of the philosophical schools used within Buddhist debates. He also helped transfer many texts out of Tibet, preserving them from destruction after the invasion of Tibet and the Cultural Revolution. He organized the building of monasteries, and teaching and retreat centers, in India, Nepal, Bhutan, and other countries.

The system of teachings of the Nyingmapa is categorized as Dzogchen, or "Great Perfection". The fourteenth Dalai Lama, like some of the previous Dalai Lamas, is also a holder of Dzogchen teachings; both of the Dalai Lama's teachers in the Dzogchen tradition—Dilgo Khyentse and Trulshik Rinpoche—were disciples of the second Dudjom Rinpoche.

In 1988, a year after his death, Dudjom Rinpoche's physical body was moved from France and placed in a stūpa in one of his main monasteries near Boudhanath, Nepal. Pilgrims may view his body through a glass window in the stūpa. In a letter, Dudjom Rinpoche appointed the Dzogchen master Chatral Sangye Dorje (1913–2015) as his Vajra Regent.

Dudjom Rinpoche's familyEdit

Dudjom Rinpoche was a householder, a yogi, a writer, and a master and guru with a family, married twice. His first wife was Sangyum Kusho Tseten Yudron; their eldest daughter, Dechen Yudron, is now in Lhasa, taking care of Dudjom Rinpoche's seat, Lama Ling, in Kongpo.

Their eldest son, Thinley Norbu, was himself considered a great master and esteemed Nyingma scholar like his father. Their second son, Dola Tulku Jigmed Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche of the mainly Sakya lineage, was the father of Dudjom Yangsi Rinpoche. Their daughter Pema Yudron lives near Dola Rinpoche in Qinghai. Their third son, Pende Norbu, who is living in Nepal and his wife Sangyum Kusho Pasang Wangmo. She is daughter to T.N Sherpa. He was a student to Dudjom Rinpoche and together they build the monastery in Kalimpong called the Zang Dho Phri. Pende Norbu Rinpoche has a daughter khandro Sonam chuyki is a clairvoyant and 3 sons Tuklu Jigmy, Tulku Gyume and Tuklu Pema. they live in Kathmandu.

The fourth son, Dorje Palzang, went to school in Beijing in the late 1950s, but was killed during the Cultural Revolution. Another daughter, Dekyong Yeshe Wangmo, was recognized as an incarnate ḍākinī and was believed to be an emanation of Yeshe Tsogyal, but died when she was a young woman. It was said that since birth she had no shadow, which meant she had fully attained the rainbow body (Wylie: 'ja' lus) while in the flesh, and that she displayed many miraculous signs and all who saw her felt great devotion.[4] Dudjom Rinpoche wrote the now famous "Aspiration Prayer to Journey to the Realm of the Copper Colored Mountain" after her death;[5] it is said the inspiration for this prayer was her parting gift for sentient beings.

Dudjom Rinpoche's second wife is Sangyum Kusho Rikzin Wangmo, and they had three children, including one son and two daughters. Their elder daughter is Chimey Wangmo, and their younger is Tsering Penzom. Their son, Dungsay Shenphen Dawa Norbu Rinpoche (gdung sras gzhan phan zla ba nor bu, b. 1950), is spreading his father's teachings in both Europe and the United States.

Dudjom Rinpoche's two grandsons via his son Thinley Norbu are also renowned lamas. His wife, Jamyang Chödön, comes from an impressive blood lineage of Künkhen Pema Karpo from the Drukpa Lineage in Bhutan. One is Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, who is the rebirth of Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö; he is a great master and has a huge following, and oversees many monasteries and educational and retreat centers in Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, India, and worldwide. In accordance with the wishes of his teachers, he has travelled and taught throughout the world, establishing centres in Australia, Europe, North America, and Asia. His organisation Siddhartha's Intent organises his teachings, while the Khyentse Foundation is dedicated to providing for the needs of his responsibilities. He is also (under the name Khyentse Norbu) an acclaimed film director and writer.

The other grandson is Garab Dorje Rinpoche, who is a yogi practitioner and has a growing following in Bhutan and East Asia. Apart from his root gurus—Dudjom Rinpoche and Thinley Norbu—he studied under many renowned and accomplished masters, and pursued higher studies at Penor Rinpoche's Institute and at the Mindrolling Monastery in India. He is responsible for the welfare of several hundred monks at Rangjung Wösel Chöling, nuns at Thegchog Kunzang Chödön, and an old folks' home and four retreat centers in eastern Bhutan. He has also established Buddhist study centers globally. At present, there are twenty-five Tröma Chöd Groups, ranging from five hundred to over a thousand members, throughout Bhutan; there are also Tröma Chöd Groups in Taiwan, China, Malaysia, Singapore and Germany. Garab Dorje is one of the very important lineage holders of the Dudjom New Treasure (Wylie: gter gsar) lineage.

Dudjom Rinpoche's grandson, the fifth Kathok Situ (son of Shenphen Dawa Norbu), is based in Nepal and Bhutan. He is the "heart son" of Chatral, under whose guidance he is actively involved in Buddhism in the East.


Dudjom Rinpoche was born on July 22, 1904 according to the Western (Gregorian) calendar—the year 2444 after Buddha's passing into parinirvana, the year 2440 after the birth of Padmasambhava, and the year 2031 counted from the inception of the Tibetan monarchy. According to the astrological sixty-year cycle it was year of the Wood Dragon, sixth month, tenth day. The month and day also correspond to the birth date of Padmasambhava. Rinpoche was born into a noble family in the south-eastern Tibetan province of Pema Ko, which is one of the beyul ("hidden lands") of Padmasambhava. He was recognized as the incarnation of Traktung Dudjom Lingpa (1835–1904), a famous tertön or discoverer of concealed "treasures" (terma), particularly those related to the practice of Vajrakīla (rdo rje phur pa). Dudjom Lingpa had intended to visit southern Tibet to reveal the sacred land of Pema Kö, but as he was unable to do so, he predicted that his successor would be born there and reveal it himself.

Dharma activityEdit

In his youth, Dudjom Rinpoche studied with some of the most outstanding masters of the time.[6] He began his studies with Khenpo Aten in Pema Kö, before attending some of the great monastic universities of Central Tibet, such as Mindrolling, Dorje Drak and Tarjé Tingpoling, and of East Tibet, such as Kathok and Dzogchen. Mindrolling was the monastery to which Dudjom Rinpoche returned to perfect his understanding of the Nyingma tradition. Foremost among his many teachers were Phungong Tulku Gyurmé Ngedön Wangpo, Jedrung Trinlé Jampa Jungne, Gyurme Phendei Özer, and Minling Dordzin Namdrol Gyatso.

Dudjom Rinpoche's main area of activity was in Central Tibet, where he maintained the Mindrolling tradition, and especially at Pema Chöling and his other seats in the Kongpo and Puwo regions of southern Tibet. He was renowned in Tibet for the depth of his realization and spiritual accomplishment, as well as for his unsurpassed scholarship.

Unique in having received the transmission of all the existing teachings of the Nyingma tradition, Dudjom Rinpoche was especially renowned as a great tertön, whose termas are now widely taught and practiced, and as a leading exponent of Dzogchen. Above all else he was regarded as the living embodiment and regent of Padmasambhava and his representative for this time. Known as the "master of masters", he was acknowledged by the leading Tibetan teachers of his time as possessing the greatest power and blessing in communicating the nature of mind which is necessary for enlightenment as realized in Dzogchen. It was to him that the great masters sent their students when prepared for this "mind-direct" or mind-to-mind transmission. Dudjom Rinpoche was the root teacher of many of today's most prominent masters.

Amongst the most widely read of his works are The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, Its Fundamentals and History; which he composed soon after his arrival in India as an exile and which is now available in English translation. This monumental history of the Nyingma School also presents a great deal of new material on the development of Buddhism in Tibet. At the invitation of the Dalai Lama, Dudjom Rinpoche also wrote a history of Tibet. Another major part of his work was the revision, correction, and editing of many ancient and modern texts, including the whole of the Canonical Teachings (kama) of the Nyingma School, a venture he began at the age of seventy-four. His own private library contained the largest collection of precious manuscripts and books outside Tibet.

After leaving Tibet, Rinpoche settled first in Kalimpong, in India. He gave extensive teachings in Kalimpong and Darjeeling. These were very popular and he became famous throughout the Tibetan community. However, during a train ride back to Kalimpong coming from Dharamsala in the 1960s, the head lama of Kathok Monastery, Kathok Öntrul Rinpoche, well known for the ability to do mirror divination, said that he saw a Padmasambhava statue wrapped in barbed wire. Dudjom Rinpoche was with him on-board and actually it was Rinpoche himself that asked for that divination. The train had a stopover in Siliguri. In that city, there were some people with sectarian sentiments, political motivation and completely jealous of Dudjom Rinpoche's flourishing activities. Those ones told the Indian intelligence that Rinpoche was collaborating with the Chinese Communist party and was receiving a salary from them. When the train stopped, the police put him under house arrest.[7]

As the news of this spread, his disciple were shocked and saddened. They'd also heard that authorities were going to transport His Holiness by train from Siliguri to Panchimari, the site of a prison for Tibetans detained for political reasons. Many students from Sikkim, Darjeeling, Bhutan, and Kalimpong planned to prevent the train from leaving by lying on the railroad tracks. But by then His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his officials, the king of Sikkim, and the king, queen, and ministers of Bhutan, and important figures from India and Nepal, as well as thousands of students, had already written letters to Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of India. After a few days His Holiness was released from house arrest in Siliguri and returned to his home in Kalimpong.[7]

He played a key role in the renaissance of Tibetan culture amongst the refugee community, both through his teaching and his writing. He established a number of vital communities of practitioners in India and Nepal, such as Zangdok Palri in Kalimpong, Dudal Rapten Ling in Orissa, and the monasteries at Tsopema and Boudhanath. He actively encouraged the study of the Nyingma Tradition at the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, and continued to give teachings according to his own terma tradition, as well as giving many other important empowerments and transmissions, including the Nyingma Kama, the Nyingma Tantras and the Treasury of Precious Termas (Rinchen Terdzo).

When Dudjom Rinpoche was eight years old, he began to study Shantideva's Bodhicharyavatara with his teacher Orgyen Chogyur Gyatso, a personal disciple of the great Patrul Rinpoche. When they had completed the first chapter, his teacher presented him with a conch shell and asked him to blow it towards each of the four directions. The sound it made to the East and to the North was quite short, in the South it was long, and in the West longer still. This was considered to be an indication of where his work in later times would be most effective. Kham, in the east of Tibet, had been the birthplace of Dudjom Lingpa, who had already been very active in that region. In the South, throughout the Himalayan regions of Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal and Ladakh, Dudjom Rinpoche had many thousands of disciples; when, on one occasion, he gave teachings in Kathmandu intended only for a few lamas, between twenty-five and thirty thousand disciples came from all over India and the Himalayas.

In the final decade of his life, in spite of ill-health and advancing years, he devoted much of his time to teaching in the West, where he successfully established the Nyingma tradition in response to the growing interest amongst Westerners. He founded many major centres including Dorje Nyingpo and Orgyen Samye Chöling in France, and Yeshe Nyingpo, Urgyen Chö Dzong and others in the United States. During this period, he tirelessly gave teachings and empowerments, and under his guidance a number of Western students began to undertake long retreats. Dudjom Rinpoche also traveled in Asia, and in Hong Kong he had a large following, with a thriving center which he visited on three occasions.

In the 1970s, Dudjom Rinpoche conducted a few teachings in the United States and London and then some retreats at Urgyen Samye Chöling in France. Eventually, "the wanderer, Dudjom", as he sometimes used to sign himself, settled with his family in the Dordogne area of France, and there in August 1984 he gave his last large public teaching. He died on January 17, 1987.[8][unreliable source?]

Dudjom lineageEdit

The Dudjom terton lineage started in 1835 with Dudjom Lingpa.[9][10] Dudjom Lingpa[11] is considered a mind manifestation of Padmasambhava. Dudjom Lingpa was also considered a voice manifestation of Yeshe Tsogyal. Finally Dudjom Lingpa was considered the body manifestation of his own previous reincarnation, Drogben Lotsawa, who was one of the twenty-five main disciples of Padmasambhava].

Other reincarnations of Dudjom Lingpa, besides the most recent Dudjom Rinpoche, have been claimed. One story of his reincarnation describes a new birth occurring before Dudjom Lingpa died. In that story, he sent his main disciples to Pema Ko saying: "Go to the secret land of Pema Ko. Whoever has faith in me, go in that direction! Before you young ones arrive, I will already be there."[12] It took a few years for the disciples to stumble upon the exact location but the very young Dudjom Rinpoche reportedly aged about three called the surprised incognito strangers by their individual names, spoke in their Golok dialect which no one else did in that area and invited them to his surprised parents' house. It is said he could remember his previous lives clearly.

Dudjom YangsisEdit

Yangsi (Wylie: yang srid) or Tulku is the honorific title of a young reincarnation of a high lama. There are reportedly three known current Dudjom Yangsis. One of the three to be recognized as the incarnation of Dudjom Rinpoche was his own grandson, Sangye Pema Zhepa, born in Tibet.[13] He was first recognized in 1993 by Tare Khandro (Tare Lhamo). Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche confirmed the recognition,[14] as did Chatral Rinpoche who was named by Dudjom Rinpoche as his successor in a letter to take over all his spiritual matters and sit in the middle of his mandala after his death. Chatral Rinpoche was the main teacher of Dudjom Rinpoche's grandson and reincarnation as he promised to the previous Dudjom Rinpoche, who wrote a long life prayer for him. Chatral Rinpoche was considered by Nyingmapas to be their highest master after Dudjom Rinpoche died.[15] Nyingma luminary Thinley Norbu Rinpoche, the eldest son of the Dudjom Rinpoche, has also recognized only Sangye Pema Zhepa. Other senior lamas endorsing this recognition include the fourteenth Dalai Lama, Minling Trichen Rinpoche, Penor Rinpoche, Sakya Trizin Rinpoche, Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche and Kathok Situ Rinpoche. He has expressed his ecological concerns[16] and has composed a prayer for this cause.[17] The next Yangsi Rinpoche, Tenzin Yeshe Dorje Rinpoche, who was born in Bhutan, was recognized by the fourteenth Dalai Lama and Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche.[18] Finally, Sungtrul Rinpoche, also known as Tulku Orgyen, was born on November 6, 1988. He was born in the shrine room of his grandfather the late Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche's remote retreat land in Oregon, USA. He was recognized by Mogtsa Rinpoche. His father is Jigme Tromge Rinpoche and his mother is Rigzin Wangmo Tromge.[19]

Dudjom TersarEdit

Dudjom Tersar is the collective name for the large collection of terma teachings revealed by Dudjom Lingpa and Dudjom Rinpoche. As a class of texts, Tersar (gter gsar) means "new or recently revealed treasure teachings". Dudjom Rinpoche was a major terton (Wylie: gter ston) or treasure revealer of hidden teachings. Dudjom Rinpoche is considered one of the Hundred Great Tertons in the Nyingma lineage.

Most terma are small in scale; major cycles are rare. Those containing many major cycles, such as Dudjom Tersar, are even rarer historically. The Dudjom Tersar is possibly the most comprehensive suite of terma to be revealed in the twentieth century. Since terma traditionally are considered to be discovered during the time they are most needed, the most recently discovered terma may be the most pertinent to current needs. Recent terma are, then, considered to "still have the warm fresh breath of the dakinis".

A set of preliminary practices known as Dudjom Tersar ngöndro has to be undertaken by beginners prior to higher initiations. Dudjom Tersar contains different cycles: some are comprehensive, from beginning instruction through the highest Dzogchen teachings, and there are also smaller cycles, and individual practices, for specific purposes.

There are four major cycles in the Dudjom Tersar of Dudjom Lingpa, the first three being Mind Treasures (Wylie: dgongs gter) and the last one an Earth Treasure (Wylie: sa gter):

  • (a) The "Dagnang Yeshe Drawa" cycle (The Wisdom Nets of Pure Visions), such as the Troma teachings;
  • (b) The "Maha-Ati Yoga Zabcho Gongpa Rangdrol" cycle (The Profound Teachings on Naturally Self-liberating Enlightened Visions), such as the teachings of Chenrezig;
  • (c) The "Chonyid Namkhai Longdzo" cycle (the Vast Space Treasure from the Wisdom Sky of the Ultimate Nature), with teachings of Thekchod and Thodgal; and
  • (d) The "Khandro Nyingthig" (Heart Essence of the Dakini) cycle.

There are four major cycles in the Dudjom Tersar of Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche, Jigdral Yeshe Dorje, which are all Mind Treasures (Wylie:dgongs gter):

  • (a) The "Tsokyi Thugthig" cycle, for the practices on the outer, inner, secret and innermost secret sadhanas of the Lama;
  • (b) The "Pudri Rekpung" cycle, for the practices of the Yidam;
  • (c) The "Khandro Thugthig" cycle, for the practices on the outer, inner, secret and innermost secret sadhanas of the Khandro; and
  • (d) The "Dorje Drolod" cycle.[20]

More on Dudjom Rinpoche's Life & WorksEdit


  • Light of Fearless Indestructable Wisdom: The Life and legacy of H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche by Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche, Snow Lion Publications, ISBN 978-1-55939-304-1
  • The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism: Its Fundamentals and History, Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-199-8
  • Wisdom Nectar: Dudjom Rinpoche's Heart Advice (Tsadra Foundation), Snow Lion Publications, ISBN 1-55939-224-X
  • Counsels from My Heart, Shambhala Publications, ISBN 1-57062-922-6
  • A Torch Lighting the Way to Freedom: Complete Instructions on the Preliminary Practices, Shambhala Publications, ISBN 9781590309094


External linksEdit