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Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche & Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche
The Rinpoches were born and raised in the Dhoshul region of Kham in eastern Tibet near the sacred mountain Jowo Zegyal. Their family was steeped in Vajrayana Buddhism for generations, and among their ancestors were many great scholars and practitioners. Their father's family inherited the responsibility of administering the local monastery, Gochen Monastery, and their grandfather was chant master in charge of ritual ceremonies. The Khenpo Rinpoches have said that as children, should they awaken at anytime during the night, they could always hear their devoted father reciting his prayers or chanting his mantras.
Ven. Khenchen Palden Rinpoche, the eldest of the two, is among the last generation of Tibetans fully educated in the monastic system of old Tibet. When he speaks of his life in Tibet, he refers to it as "ancient times." It is astonishing that these two men raised in a system of ancient esoteric principles based on love, compassion and wisdom now find themselves in contemporary United States of America. The brothers now make their home in New York.
Venerable Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche
Venerable Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche was born in 1938 in the Doshul region of Kham, eastern Tibet. Around age four, before joining Gochen monastery, he began to read, write, and learn chants and ritual ceremonies from his grandfather Lama Tharchok and his father Lama Chimed Namgyal. At the age of fourteen, he entered the prestigious Riwoche monastic university where he excelled in Tibetan medicine and literature, Sanskrit, and the Buddhist philosophy of all nine yanas.
Ven. Khenchen Palden Rinpoche (1942-2010) began his intensive monastic training at the age of six at Gochen Monastery. So strong was his desire to study and learn that he would sneak outdoors after curfew and into the shrubberies to read his books under the moonlight. At age 12, he entered Riwoche Monastery, one of the oldest and largest monastic institutes in eastern Tibet and famous for its philosophers and logicians. There he was trained to become the next Abbot of Gochen. He completed his studies just as the Chinese invasion reached the area.
After losing his homeland, in 1959, he and his family fled to India, enduring much hardship. He began teaching in Tibetan refugee camps in Assam and Darjeeling.
In 1965, under the leadership of H. H. the Dalai Lama, the heads of the fours schools of Tibetan Buddhism and secular leaders organized the historical conference that created the system of education to rekindle Tibetan culture and Buddhist philosophy for Tibetan refugees in India. Among the great scholars who were invited, Khenchen Rinpoche was requested by H. H. Dudjom Rinpoche to represent the Nyingma school. Soon afterwards, Khenchen Rinpoche became a founding member of the Institute of Tibetan Higher Studies at Sarnath, India, where he served as the head of the Nyingma department from 1967-1984. In the early years, he managed to teach about fourteen classes everyday.
Khenchen Rinpoche made his first trip to America in 1980, and in 1984 he moved to New York to work closely with H. H. Dudjom Rinpoche, the head of the Nyimgmapa lineage at that time. In 1988, he and his brother, Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche, founded the Padmasambhava Buddhist Center, which now has centers in India, the United States, Puerto Rico, and Russia. The Khenpo Rinpoches founded Padma Samye Ling monastery in New York, Padma Samye Chökhor Ling monastery and Orgyen Samye Chökhor Ling nunnery in Sarnath, erected the Miracle Stupa in Shravasti, India, and rebuilt Gochen monastery in Tibet. Khenchen Rinpoche has authored over twenty books in Tibetan and English.
Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche worked tirelessly his entire life to pass on the authentic, ancient teachings of Buddhism, and has inspired thousands of Dharma practitioners all over the world, leaving a great monument of peace, love, and wisdom. Truly, he was a warrior who conquered all negativities and fully accomplished the wishes of Buddha Shakyamuni and Guru Padmasambhava. We will honor and revere him and his legacy forever.
To read a more extensive biography of Khenchen Rinpoche, His teachers and the lineages that he held, please click here.
Venerable Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche
Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche was born in the Dhoshul region of Kham in eastern Tibet on June 10, 1950. On that summer day in the family tent, Rinpoche’s birth caused his mother no pain. The next day, his mother, Pema Lhadze, moved the bed where she had given birth. Beneath it she found growing a beautiful and fragrant flower which she plucked and offered to Chenrezig on the family altar. Soon after his birth three head lamas from Jadchag monastery came to his home and recognized him as the reincarnation of Khenpo Sherab Khyentse. Khenpo Sherab Khyentse, who had been the former head abbot lama at Gochen Monastery, was a renowned scholar and practitioner who lived much of his life in retreat.
Rinpoche’s first dharma teacher was his father, Lama Chimed Namgyal Rinpoche. Beginning his schooling at the age of five, he entered Gochen Monastery. His studies were interrupted by the Chinese invasion and his family's escape to India. In India his father and brother continued his education until he entered the Nyingmapa Monastic School of Northern India, where he studied until 1967.
He then entered the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, which was then a part of Sanskrit University in Varanasi, where he received his B.A. degree in 1975. He also attended Nyingmapa University in West Bengal, where he received another B.A. and an M.A. in 1977.
In 1978 Rinpoche was enthroned as the abbot of the Wish-fulfilling Nyingmapa Institute in Boudanath, Nepal by H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche, and later became the abbot of the Department of Dharma Studies, where he taught poetry, grammar, philosophy and psychology. In 1981, H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche appointed Rinpoche as the abbot of the Dorje Nyingpo Center in Paris, France. In 1982 he was asked to work with H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche at the Yeshe Nyingpo Center in New York. During the 1980s, until H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche’s mahaparinirvana in 1987, Rinpoche continued working closely with him, often traveling as his translator and attendant.
In 1988, Rinpoche and his brother founded the Padmasambhava Buddhist Center. Since that time he has served as a spiritual director at the various Padmasambhava centers throughout the world. He maintains an active traveling and teaching schedule with his brother, Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche.
Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche has authored two books of poetry on the life of Guru Rinpoche, including Praise to the Lotus Born: A Verse Garland of Waves of Devotion, and a unique two-volume cultural and religious history of Tibet entitled The Six Sublime Pillars of the Nyingma School, which details the historical bases of the dharma in Tibet from the sixth through ninth centuries. At present, this is one of the only books written that conveys the dharma activities of this historical period in such depth.
Khenpo Rinpoche has also co-authored a number of books in English on dharma subjects with his brother Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche which are listed below and all of which are available online at Chiso.