4th Dodrupchen Rinpoche,
Jigme Thubten Trinley Palzangpo
The enlightened mind, primordially pure,
Is never scorched by the fires of hell,
Nor deprived by the hungry ghost realm,
Nor dulled by the animal realm,
Nor overpowered by hordes of demons.
To the union of Emptiness and Compassion,
– Supplication Prayer to the Successive Emanations of Dodrupchen
H.H. 4th Dodrupchen Rinpoche is the principal lineage holder of the Longchen Nyingtik Cycle of Teachings (The Heart Essence of the Vast Expanse), a treasure teaching revealed by the esteemed treasure revealer, Jigme Lingpa. In his childhood, Dodrupchen Rinpoche manifested various awe-inspiring actions, which brought tears to the students of his predecessor. A spontaneous learner and leader, Dodrupchen Rinpoche accomplished all of his studies in the Sutras, Tantras and the Great Perfection with effortless ease. This was reflected in the words of his root Guru, Yukhok Chatralwa Choying Rangdrol, “Among hundreds of students who practice the Dzogchen, there is no one greater than you, my son.” Dodrupchen Rinpoche has also set foot on multiple lands around the world where he transmitted important teachings of the Nyingma lineage, the root volumes of Longchen Nyingtik, the essential empowerments of Dzogchen and many others. At present, Dodrupchen Rinpoche resides at Chorten Monastery and continues to guide and benefit countless sentient beings. His quiet, gentle and unassuming demeanor, complemented by a tremendous presence, remains an inspiration for all.
In a former time when the Bodhisattva Vajrapani expounded the cycle of Vajrayana teachings at Mount Malaya, there was a king called Za in Zahor, India. As one of Vajrapani’s five disciples, King Za accomplished the unwavering state of the Wisdom Mind and taught his entire retinue to the accomplishment of the Vidyadhara level. Thus was the first identified Dodrupchen emanation.
Among the successive births of Dodrupchen, there was the 28th Tibetan King named Thotori. In the 5th century CE during his reign, the sublime Buddhadharma first appeared in Tibet as in the form of holy objects and scriptures that fell upon the roof of the royal residence, Yumbu Lakhang Palace. Although the meaning of the objects and scriptures were not comprehensible at that time, King Thotori followed the prophetic instructions he received in a dream to preserve and revere them for five generations.
Notable incarnations of Dodrupchen thereafter include Prince Murub Tsenpo (c. 8th century CE), the elder son of the Dharma King Trisong Deutsen, as well as Sangye Lingpa (1340-1396), one of the eleven great Tertons (Treasure Revealers) and a heart son of Guru Padmasambhava.
The Successive Births of the Three Dodrupchens
The 1st Dodrupchen Rinpoche, Jigme Trinle Ozer (1745 – 1821), was the chief disciple of the great treasure revealer Jigme Lingpa who revealed and expounded the cycle of teachings called Longchen Nyingtik (The Heart Essence of the Vast Expanse). As prophesized by Guru Padmasambhava, the 1st Dodrupchen Rinpoche manifested remarkable qualities and guided numerous disciples to accomplishment. He was appointed by Jigme Lingpa as the future lineage holder of the Longchen Nyingtik; the seat of which has been passed down to future emanations today.
The birth of the 2nd Dodrupchen Rinpoche, Jigme Phuntsok Jungne (1824-1863), was predicted directly by his predecessor. He was adept in advanced Vajrayana practice and his clairvoyance and accomplishment was on a par with the great Indian Mahasiddha Saraha.
The 3rd Dodrupchen Rinpoche, Jigme Tenpei Nyima (1865 – 1926), was a steadfast and accomplished scholar-practitioner. A gifted child, he gave teachings on The Way of the Bodhisattva at the age of eight and profoundly inspired the audience, including the acclaimed master Patrul Rinpoche. A prolific author, the 3rd Dodrupchen Rinpoche wrote an important and illuminating commentary on Guhyagarbha (The Essence of Secrets) Tantra. A disciplined monk, he attained the fragrance of virtue through strict observance of his vows. An accomplished practitioner, he beheld and conversed with his yidam deity through one-pointed practice of sadhanas.
The Fourth Dodrupchen Rinpoche: Early Years
During the times of misfortune in Sikkim
Dwells a hidden yogi,
The emanation of Murub Tsenpo and Sangye Lingpa.
Those who have connection to him
Will be liberated from the lower realms.
– Prophecy of the birth of the 4th Dodrupchen Rinpoche from the Terma revealed by Orgyen Laytro Lingpa
The birth of the 4th Dodrupchen Rinpoche, Jigme Thubten Trinley Palzangpo, was stated in the above prophecy from a treasure text revealed by Orgyen Laytro Lingpa (1585 – 1656) and was also predicted by the 3rd Dodrupchen Rinpoche. Heralded by various signs during his mother’s pregnancy, the 4th Dodrupchen Rinpoche was born at daybreak on a special day in the year of 1927. In his wisdom vision, the 5th Dzogchen Rinpoche proclaimed detailed information of the birth of the 4th Dodrupchen Rinpoche and bestowed upon him the name Jigme Thubten Trinley Palzangpo.
The 4th Dodrupchen Rinpoche manifested various awe-inspiring actions in his childhood. At the age of four, he was enthroned at Sangchen Ngodrup Palbar Ling, the Dodrupchen Monastery in Tibet. During the enthronement ceremony, he recited The Seven-line Prayer to Guru Padmasambhava, which brought the students of his predecessor to tears. At one time, during his visit to the temple of Dharma protectors near the Dodrupchen Monastery, he recited a prayer to Ekajati, Protectress of the Secret Mantra, even though he had not learned how to read. Similar stories of his miraculous capabilities and extraordinary faculties as a child have been widely circulated among his tutors and former students.
At the age of five, the 4th Dodrupchen Rinpoche learned to read and write, and thereafter began hearing and contemplating the Sutras and Tantras. From Khenpo Kunpal, Dodrupchen Rinpoche received the transmission, empowerments and teachings of the entire cycle of Longchen Nyingtik. The experience was recounted with joy by Khenpo Kunpal as a father-to-son transmission. During his teenage years, Dodrupchen Rinpoche completed three sets of the preliminary practices of Longchen Nyingtik and other supplementary practices.
Dodrupchen Rinpoche received teachings from many other highly-accomplished teachers of his time. At the age of fourteen, Dodrupchen Rinpoche drank the alcohol given by Apang Terton who thereby transmitted his realization of the essence of the Dzogpachenpo (Great Perfection) to Dodrupchen Rinpoche.
Between ages twenty and twenty-five, Rinpoche received secret teachings of the Great Perfection called Trekchö and Thögal as well as its complete pith instructions from his root guru, Yukhok Chatralwa Choying Rangdrol. “Among hundreds of students who practice the Dzogchen, there is no one greater than you, my son,” praised his root guru. Excelling at his study and practice, Dodrupchen Rinpoche pleased his glorious guru and became a powerful upholder of the ocean-like teachings of the Nyingma Lineage.
The Fourth Dodrupchen: Illustrious Deeds
For the benefit of the monastic community, Dodrupchen Rinpoche ordered the construction of a new temple in extension to Dodrupchen Monastery and oversaw the restoration of the monastery’s retreat center. He further acquired the essential texts for the study and practice of the sangha, such as The Nyingma Kama, Rinchen Terdzod’s Treasury of Previous Termas, The United Intent of the Gurus, the earlier and later Nyingtik volumes, the nine volumes of Jigme Lingpa, the collected works of Rongzom Pandita, Dzogchen Patrul Rinpoche, Gyalse Shenphen Thaye, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and others. For numerous times in various occasions, Dodrupchen Rinpoche bestowed transmissions and empowerments of these texts.
At the age of thirty-one, due to the changes of political circumstances in Tibet, Dodrupchen Rinpoche journeyed to the hidden land of Sikkim where he resided as a hidden yogi since then. Trulshik Rinpoche, the guru of the Sikkimese King, offered the current Chorten Monastery and a residence to Dodrupchen Rinpoche and Rinpoche accepted.
Under the auspice of Dodrupchen Rinpoche, Chorten Monastery has developed into a base for nearly a thousand sangha over the years. Among his great disciples, H.E. Lopon Kunzang Thegchok Yeshe Dorje Rinpoche has been appointed as the principal lineage holder. Following Dodrupchen Rinpoche’s sublime greatness, excellent disciples emerged in succession like a golden mountain range.
Dodrupchen Rinpoche further set foot on multiple lands around the world where he transmitted important teachings of the Nyingma lineage, the root volumes of Longchen Nyingtik, the essential empowerments of Dzogchen, among many others. At present, Dodrupchen Rinpoche resides at Chorten Monastery and continues to guide and benefit countless sentient beings. His quiet, gentle and unassuming demeanor, complemented by a tremendous presence, remains an inspiration for all.