Khenchen Tsewang Rigdzin was born in the Tibetan autumn of the water sheep year in the 15th year of the sixty-year cycle, 1883; to the Wushul clan on the Amdo border of Kham in the Village of Mewa. From a young age without prejudice in his mind devotion, renunciation, loving-kindness, compassion and all other virtues thoughts blossomed. While still a youth, from the great master 5th Dzogchen Rinpoche he received the read transmission for the glorious supplication of the Bodhisattva Kshitigarbha.
At the age of 10 in 1892, he entered the glourious Ngagyur Nyingma’s monastery of Tashi Chödar Ling, where he exerted great effort in studying ritual during the feast gatherings. Then later on he went to Do Rinpoche’s Tri Dargye Jamchen Chökor Ling, all the while receiving whatever appropriate teaching from which authentic masters he was karmicly destined too, like Khartrul Tenpe Nyima, Meshug Kalzang and Geshe Phende. When he was 15, at the feet of the great spiritual guides Minyak Kunzang Sonam Thubten Chokyi Drakpa and the community of monks, he took the formal ceremony for become a renunciate by means of the precepts for a novice-monk, and was then given his dharma name. After that, he went to the Dzogchen Orgyen Samten Chöling Monastery, where once having arrived, he began studying the essence of ocean like vast system of the sutras and tantras.
When he was about 25, he received the perfect and complete lineage of precepts for a fully ordained Bhikshu, and from then on, he strictly abided by the precepts and carefully avoided violations as if protecting his own eyes. Once he began studying the "The Thirty Verses" a Tibetan grammar commentary and the rest of the authoritative text by the master, Manjushri in person, the omniscient Jamgön Mipham, the birth of impartial wisdom and true experience and realization began to take root. Around the age of 30, after having taken the Glorious Khenpo Zhenga as the ornamental jewel on the crown of his head, he began studying the common vehicles and the stages of Mind Training. Once he had perfected these fields of knowledge, he progressed to the topics of Madhyamakakarika and the “Collections of Reasoning” by Nagarjuna, and the rest of his works. He studied the Madhyamakavatara; the “Four Hundred Verse of the Middle Way”; the “Ornament of the Middle Way”; the “Engaging in Bodhisattva Conduct”; the higher-Mahayana and lower-Hinayana Abhidharmas and the “Five Treatises of Maitreya”. He studied the sutras and root sutra; all the thirteen major philosophical texts and their auxiliary teachings, for all of the great Indian commentaries he received detailed instructions.
From the most profound and secret of dharmas, the Wishfulfilling Jewel of the Lama Yangtig, he received the explanational transmission, along with infinite instruction of the sutras and tantras, from his master. From the 5th Dzogchen Rinpoche Thupten Chokyi Dorje he obtained the empowerment for the root tantra of the Anuyoga, the “Scripture of the Great Assemblage”, as well as all the maturing instructions for the Wishing vase, the Nyingtig Yabzhi from Drimè Özer’s Vima Nyingtig. At that moment of the initiation when empowerment is granted, as if the master and student were inseparable, their minds’ mingled as one, he experienced in that moment, true wisdom beyond the concept of Guru and disciple. Thus, he studied extensively by relying on the multitudes of wise and accomplished lords from all the schools of Sakya, Geluk, Kagyu and Nyingma, obtaining pith instructions, ripening empowerments and authoritative transmissions from such master as, Chadrel Kunga Palden, Khenpo Pema Thegchog Loden and Khenpo Jigmè Lodro.
During the long periods of cultivation and investigation of the dharmas he had obtained, and initiations he had received, he demonstrated many times and in many ways, his above normal character and superlative wisdom. Khedrub Tsewang Rigdzin cultivated ascetic practices, in mountains retreat and living conditions that for most ordinary people would have proven fetal. His ascetic practices should be regarded as a true illustration and model among all yogins, as to how devotion, diligences and determination in the Buddhist practices of austerities can culminate in the attainment of Buddhahood within a single life time.
His every meal, he ate just a little roasted barley flour with water. Such thin soups made it possible for a small bag of roasted barley flour to last for even a whole year. He lived such a life that he often had no oil for lamps, whereby he could only study if sitting under the moonlight exposed to the elements. During the nights when there was no moonlight, he would use the incredibly dim ambers from his cooking stove, as light enough to read. For the great adept, sleeping at night had almost been completely substituted by meditation. On one occasion the master himself Guru Rinpoche appeared in a vision, after that he encountered great discrimination, able to memorize and recite sutras as long as 24,000 words. Even the master Vimalamitra appeared in person to instruct him.
During this level of austerities, he would often not eat for days and experience long exposure to ice and snow, ultimately suffered permanent damage to his feet, requiring the aid of two walking sticks just to get around. Later on he was carried by his student at all times. But because of his noble conduct, we was respected by all, villagers and ordained alike, as a peerless adept of practice and learning.
At the age of 41 he returned to his homeland, where by in the iron rabbit year of the 15th yearly-cycle (1951), Alak Dzong-ngon Rinpoche of Ba in Amdo, invited the lord Tsewang Rigdzin to the Bashing Sengtri Gonpa to join the succession of abbots, by acting as the head Khenpo. From that time, he acted as the abbot until 1958, during which, Bashing Sengtri Temple was the sit from which he propagating the dharma and benefiting beings. Later he abandoned his body 1959 by fly through the sky, thus dissolving this life’s physical form through his practice of Phowa and attainment of the rainbow body.
This is not a translation but an interpretation of the three Tibetan biographies; shorten for the sake of just telling his life story. Some parts more or less are direct translations of pieces from these three bios. Jalupa Tsewang Rigdzin’s death is a story onto itself, thus if you wish to know the details along with some of the miracles he perform during his life, there is a link below to a rough translation of the investigation done by the Serta Khenpo. Also he publish a book combining Khenpo Tsewang’s and Khenpo Achu’s stories as well as a DVD of his investigation on Mewa Khenpo’s flight.[BL]
- Khenpo Shenga
- Khenpo Ngawang Palzang
- Khenpo Kunpal
- Khenpo Yonga
- Chadrel Kunga Palden
- Khenpo Pema Thegchog Loden
- Khenpo Jigme Lodro
- Minyak Kunzang Sonam
- Dzogchen Khenchen Chime Yeshe
Alternate Names & Spellings
- Jalu Khenpo Tsewang Rigdzin
- Mewa Khenpo Tsewang Rigdzin
- Tsewang Rigdzin (tshe dbang rig 'dzin)
- Washul Khenpo Tsewang Rigdzin of Mewa
- Khenchen Tsewang Rigdzin (mkhan chen tshe dbang rig 'dzin)
- Thupten Jampal Gyamtso (thub bstan 'jam dpal rgya mtsho)
- Tibetan Biography rme ba'i mkhan chen tshe dbang rig 'dzin gyi rnam par thar pa bzhugs
Small account of his rainbow body