Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso Rinpoche

Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso RinpocheKhenchen Tse­wang Gyat­so Rin­poche was born in 1954 in a vil­lage near Lhakhang Dzong in the south­ern region of Tibet bor­der­ing Bhutan called Lho­drak. From his birth, his par­ents had a strong feel­ing that they should place him in the near­by monastery of Nub Namkha’i Nying­po. The head lama, Namkha’i Nying­po Rin­poche, was the tulku of one of the twen­ty-five dis­ci­ples of Guru Pad­masamb­ha­va. Along the deep Himalayan val­ley were many caves and holy places asso­ci­at­ed with Guru Pad­masamb­ha­va and sev­er­al of the great ter­tons who, in lat­er gen­er­a­tions, redis­cov­ered his teach­ings. Among them were Guru Chowang, Ter­ton Rat­na Ling­pa and Ter­ton Pad­ma Ling­pa.

The vil­lage was on the main trade route from Lhasa to Bhutan and the peo­ple were rel­a­tive­ly pros­per­ous. By the late 1950′s the com­mu­nist oppres­sion had inten­si­fied and the social struc­ture was turned upside down. In 1962 Khen­po and his fam­i­ly fled through the moun­tains and made their way through Bhutan to India.

After arriv­ing in India, he and his sis­ters were sent to a gov­ern­ment board­ing school for Tibetans in Dar­jeel­ing, West Ben­gal. There he began his for­mal edu­ca­tion. The cur­ricu­lum includ­ed the usu­al pri­ma­ry school sub­jects as well as Eng­lish, Hin­di and basic dhar­ma teach­ings. At the age of ten he took the robes of a monk and received the vows of a novice (ge-tsul). He con­tin­ued his edu­ca­tion up to the eighth grade. Year after year, he was always at the head of his class.

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 Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso Rinpocheachieve­ment 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, theN­gagyur 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.

Khen Rin­poche has trav­eled and taught exten­sive­ly in Amer­i­ca, in Tai­wan, and among the over­seas Chi­nese com­mu­ni­ties in Sin­ga­pore, Hong Kong, and the Philip­pines. His open, direct and thor­ough style of teach­ing has been very well received. He recent­ly gave the empow­er­ment of the Gyud Sang­wai Nying­po (Guhya­garb­ha Tantra) fol­lowed by exten­sive teach­ings on Mipham Rinpoche’s com­men­tary, Odsal Nying­po. This was the first time that this fun­da­men­tal Nying­ma tantra was explained in such great detail in the USA.

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