His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, Jikdral Yeshe Dorje, was one of the most outstanding yogins, scholars and meditation masters of recent times, who inspired not only awe in those who met him, but also devotion and deep affection. After the flight of the Tibetans into exile, it was Dudjom Rinpoche who was the first master to be accorded the title of Supreme Head of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, the ‘oldest’ school introduced into Tibet in the 8th century by Guru Padmasambhava.
Upon leaving Tibet, Dudjom Rinpoche settled in Kalimpong in India in 1958, and then in Kathmandu, Nepal in 1975.
Dudjom Rinpoche was born in 1904, into a noble family in the south-eastern Tibetan province of Pemakö, which is one of the four ‘hidden lands’ of Padmasambhava. He was recognized as the incarnation of Dudjom Lingpa (1835-1904), a famous tertön or discoverer of concealed ‘treasures’ (terma), particularly those related to the practice of Vajrakilaya. Dudjom Lingpa had intended to visit southern Tibet to reveal the sacred land of Pemakö, but as he was unable to do so, he predicted that his successor would be born there and would reveal it himself.
Dudjom Rinpoche studied with some of the most outstanding masters of the time. He began his studies with Khenpo Aten in Pemakö, before attending some of the great monastic universities of Central Tibet—such as Mindroling, Dorje Drak and Tarjé Tingpoling—and East Tibet—such as Kathok and Dzogchen. But it was to Mindroling that he returned to perfect his understanding of the Nyingma tradition. Foremost among his many teachers were Phungong Tulku Gyurme Ngedön Wangpo, Jedrung Trinlé Jampa Jungné, Khenchen Jampal Dewe Nyima and Minling Dordzin Namdrol Gyatso.
Rinpoche’s Spreading of the Dharma
Dudjom Rinpoche became renowned throughout Tibet for the depth of his realization and spiritual accomplishment, as well as for his unsurpassed scholarship. In Tibet, he established his seat at Pema Chöling and his other seats in the Kongpo. In Pema Köd, he established many new monasteries for both Gelong (ordained monks) and Ngagpa (Yogis). In Kompo region he reconstructed the Thadul Buchu Lhakhang and close to it he built the monastery of Zangdokpalri. He erected anew the tantric center Tso Pema Orgyen Heruka Nyingmapa Gompa in Tso Pema (Rewalsar), A retreat center in Darjeeling, Tsechü Gompa -Dudul Rabten Ling in Orissa and founded the Zangdok-Palri Monastery in Kalimpong and later in Nepal, established Dudjom Monastery.
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.
His scholarly works:
He was no less famous as an author and a meticulous scholar. His writings are celebrated for the encyclopaedic knowledge they display of all the traditional branches of Buddhist learning, including poetics, history, medicine, astrology and philosophy. A writer of inspirational poetry of compelling beauty, he had a special genius for expressing the meaning and realization of Dzogchen with a crystal-like lucidity.
Amongst the most widely read of his works are the 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 is a masterpiece which presents, for the first time, a great deal of new material on the development of Buddhism in Tibet, and will remain the authoritative work on the subject.
At the invitation of His Holiness 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 74. His own private library contained the largest collection of precious manuscripts and books outside Tibet.
Dudjom Rinpoche was undoubtedly a fully realized master, yet, every day he would rise hours before dawn in order to practise; in the mornings he would pray for all those who had taken refuge in him, and in the evenings for those who had died. Continually he prayed that all those who saw him, heard him, came in contact with him or even thought of him would be freed from suffering. He always made a point of being accessible to people from all walks of life, and anyone who had the good fortune to meet him could not fail to be touched by his warmth, simplicity and vivacious sense of humour, as much as they were awed by his presence, deep wisdom and vast learning.
Rinpoche’s Children and Lineage Holders
Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche, manifested as a householder with family and married twice. His first wife was called Sangyum Kusho Tseten Yudron and they had altogether six children, including two daughters and four sons; Kyabje Dungsay Thinley Norbu, Dola Tulku Jigmed Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, Pende Norbu Rinpoche, Dorje Palzang , Dechen Yudron and Pema Yudron.
Kyabje Dudjom Rinohce’s second wife was Sangyum Kusho Rikzin Wangme, and they had three children, Shenphen Dawa Norbu Rinpoche, Chimey Wangmo and Tsering Penzom.
Rinpoche’s Parinirvana: As Buddha Shakyamuni, even though perfectly enlightened, performed the illusory activity of dying for the benefit of worldly beings, likewise Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche entered into Mahaparinirvana on January 17, 1987.
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