Pema Norbu Rinpoche, the eleventh throne holder of the Palyul Lineage of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, was born in 1932 under auspicious signs in the Kham region of eastern Tibet. At the age of four Rinpoche took refuge at the Palyul monastery and begin his Buddhist studies. Rinpoche studied with many lamas, benefiting most deeply from his great master, the Second Chögtrul Rinpoche. It was Chögtrul Rinpoche and the fourth Karma Kuchen Rinpoche who enthroned His Holiness. In 1963, following a difficult and dangerous journey from Tibet, with only 300 rupees and a handful of monks, Pema Norbu Rinpoche began building the Namdroling Monastery on land that had been donated by the Indian government. In time, the Namdroling monastery would grow to become the largest Nyingmapa teaching center in the world with close to 5000 monks and nuns. Rinpoche worked tirelessly to spread and strengthen Buddhist practices throughout the world. Eventually His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as requested by the entire Nyingmapa Community, appointed him as the Supreme Head of the Nyingma School in 1993, following in the footsteps of HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and HH Dudjom Rinpoche. In 1997 he founded the Palyul Retreat Center in the small rural community of McDonough, NY. His Holiness taught the traditional retreat course Liberation is in the Palm of Your Hand from the first retreat in 1998 until 2008.
His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche attained Paranirvana at 8:20 PM on March 27, 2009.
“I don’t have any quality or power but still I will do my aspiration prayers for all of you that you could carry through your practices and not have any obstacles and be successful with your practices.” - Kyabje Drubwang Pema Norbu Rinpoche
With the passing of our beloved Holiness Penor Rinpoche in the Spring of 2009, His Holiness Karma Kuchen Rinpoche has assumed his responsibilities as the 12th Lineage Holder of the Palyul tradition. He was recognized as the 5th Karma Kuchen Rinpoche by both the late Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche and Holiness Penor Rinpoche, who cared for him as one of his three Heart Sons since the age of 4. After his accomplished training at Namdroling under the direct guidance of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, he was formally enthroned as the 12th Throneholder of the Palyul Lineage in 2000. He assumed the major responsibility of the Palyul Mother Monastery in Tibet where he rebuilt many temples, prayer wheels, and sacred objects of veneration, as well as spread the Dharma in the Land of the Snows. Of the many remarkable qualities he possesses, the most striking quality is his strict and pure observance of all the vows of a monk. He is thus the embodiment of pure conduct in these degenerate times. In the fall of 2009, Palyul students were fortunate that His Holiness Karma Kuchen Rinpoche embarked on a 14 city tour of the US, Canada, and Mexico to visit the dharma centers and to get to know his students. We pray for his long life and wish that he will return soon to be with his devoted students here in the U.S.
Our Spiritual Director Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso Rinpoche was born in 1954 in a village near Lhakhang Dzong in the southern region of Tibet bordering Bhutan called Lhodrak. In 1969 he entered the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan studies at Sarnath, near Varanasi. There he followed a nine-year curriculum in Buddhist studies and general education under his principal teacher, Khenpo Palden Sherab, and other masters. His class work included Sanskrit, English and intensive studies in the textual traditions of Indian and Tibetan Buddhism. He graduated with the degree of Acharya in 1978, ranking first overall among the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism represented at Sarnath. His Holiness the Dalai Lama honored his achievement with the award of a silver medal. After graduation he was invited to teach at Palyul Namdroling Monastery at the Tibetan settlement in Bylakuppe, near Mysore in South India. For several years he was engaged in training the young monks and teaching in the monastic college, the Ngagyur Nyingma Institute (Shedra). In 1983 he was enthroned as a khenpo by His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche. In the Nyingmapa tradition, a khenpo is a professor of Buddhist studies.
Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso has received all of the major lineage empowerments and transmissions of the Nyingmapa school, including the Dudjom Tersar from Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche; the Longchen Nyingthig Yabshi, and Nyingma Kama from Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche; and the Rinchen Terdzod and Nam Chos from Pema Norbu Rinpoche. He has done intensive dzogchen practice under the guidance of Penor Rinpoche and other eminent masters including Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche and Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche. Pema Norbu Rinpoche has authorized him to represent the monastery and to teach, to confer empowerments and to give personal instruction in Buddhist practice.
The Fourth Gyangkhang Rinpoche was born in India, and recognized as the authentic incarnation of the Third Gyangkhang Rinpoche by H.H. Penor Rinpoche, H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche and H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
At the age of four, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche invited him to stay in Namdroling Monastery and thereafter looked after him as his own child. When he was 15, he received the esoteric teachings of Tantra thus laying the foundation for the higher practices. He entered Ngagyur Nyingma Institute (Shedra), a branch of Namdroling Monastery and an advanced college of Tibetan Buddhism where he studied general Buddhist Philosophy as well as the distinct Nyingma Teachings.
He received the empowerments, oral transmissions and pith instructions on the whole Kama and Terma teachings (the distinct Nyingma Teachings of the Transmitted Precepts and the Rediscovered Treasure Teachings) from His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Dodrubchen Rinpoche, Jadrel Rinpoche, Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche, and Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche. He specially received the distinct teachings of Palyul Tradition including the Namchö Teachings from His Holiness Penor Rinpoche.
In 1994, under the Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya, Gyangkhang Rinpoche received the vows of full ordination from His Holiness Penor Rinpoche. In 1995, he completed the nine years course in the institute and considering his high level of knowledge, Penor Rinpoche bestowed him the title of a “Tulku Khenpo” and recognized him worthy of a dharma teacher who can guide others towards the path of enlightenment.
At the age of nine, Dragmar Tulku Rinpoche went to Namdroling Monastery where he relied upon His Holiness Penor Rinpoche as his teacher. His Holiness looked after him with great care and affection and, at the age of ten, formally enthroned him with great grandeur. Under His Holiness Penor Rinpoche’s guidance, he received the basic education. At fourteen he received the novice vow from His Holiness and the name Thupten Dongag Mawei Senge. He then enrolled in the Ngyagyur Nyingma Institute, the prestigious religious college of Namdroling monastery. For nine years he studied under many excellent teachers. He studied the sutra and tantra teachings as well as common traditional studies like Tibetan Language, poetry, political history and religious history of Tibet. Thus he filled his mind with treasures of the scriptural knowledge and also the Buddhist practice. Especially he has studied the writings of Longchenpa, Rongzom, and Mipham in great detail, thus becoming an Illuminator of the Nyingma Doctrine and earning appreciation from many eminent scholars of the institute.
At twenty-four he received full ordination from His Holiness Penor Rinpoche. His Holiness always showered him with love and affection and considered him as a heart son. Keeping in view of his vast and profound scriptural knowledge, he was appointed as a kyorpon (revision teacher) at the Ngagyur Nyingma Institute, and subsequently became a lopon (acharya). He has also received many teachings such as the full Ngondro, Tsa Lung and Dzogchen according to the Nam Chö cycle, Rinchen Terzod, Nyingthig Yabshi, Kama, Gongdu, Nam Cho, Ratna Lingpa’s treasure teachings, Kalachakra, Mayajbal, Dupa Do, and so on. He has received teachings from His Holiness Drodrupchen Rinpoche and His Holiness Taklug Tsetrul Rinpoche as well as many other great masters of the Nyingma lineage.
He has traveled abroad with His Holiness Penor Rinpoche and was praised for his clear and detailed instructions of Tsalung and other esoteric practices to Dharma students. He has taught at Ngyagyur Nyingma Institute and has taken responsibility to renovate and improve the condition of Dragmar Wangchen Monastery in Tibet.
His Eminence Tulku Ogyen Gyurmed Wanggyal Rinpoche was born in India, the reincarnation of Vajra Holder Trahkya Palden Yeshe Zangpo. H.H. Pema Norbu Rinpoche named him Ogyen Gyurmed, when he was 10 days old. H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche also named him Ogyen Gyurmed Wanggyal. (which means Odriyana, the place of Guru Padmasambava, unchangeable, powerful victory). In 1978, on the 10th day of the Monkey month, at the holy Jarung Khashor stupa in Nepal, he was formally recognized by His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche.
In 1981 he was enthroned by H.H. Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche and H.H.Pema Norbu Rinpoche. Before the age of thirteen he had mastered the skills of leading sacred rituals, making mandalas, presenting ritual dances, phowa (transference of consciousness) and other essential parts of the Palyul tradition of spiritual practice. Along with these, he learned Tibetan traditional Medicine and Astrology from his uncle, the seventh generation physician Lama Pema Sherab. From the age of thirteen, he studied the teachings of the Sutras and Tantras, and other fields of Buddhist science at Ngagyur Nyingma Institute for nine years. He received the Empowerments, oral transmissions, instruction and teachings from H.H. Dilgo Khentse Rinpoche and from His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche. For the future, he prays that by the grace of H.H. Pema Norbu Rinpoche, he may forever be protected by the kindness of his root lama and the lineage Lamas and also, that he may engage in glorious deeds that please and delight the Buddhas, just like his former incarnation Trahkya Palden.
Khenpo Tenzin Norgay, was born in the Tashigang District of Bhutan in 1965. After completing Jigme Sherubling High School in 1986, he joined Ngagyur Nyingma Institute, the prestigious Buddhist studies and research center, at Namdroling Monastery in Mysore. At the Institute he studied under Khenchen Pema Sherab, Khenpo Namdrol Tsering and Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso and other visiting professors, including Khenchen Jigme Phuntsok and Khenpo Pema Tsewang from Tibet. He completed the Shedra program at the Institute in 1995 and joined the Institute staff, teaching there for three years. He was formally enthroned as Khenpo by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche in 1998 and was assigned by His Holiness to teach at the Buddhist college at Palyul monastery in Tibet. He has received all the major empowerments of the Rinchen Terzod, Nam Cho, Nyingthik Yabshi and Nyingma Kama from His Holiness Penor Rinpoche as well as the Mipham Kabum from His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Because of his knowledge and experience, and fluent command of the English language, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche has assigned him to teach students in the United States in conjunction with the ongoing teaching programs offered by Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso Rinpoche.