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In Tibetan Buddhism the Tai Situpa is one of the lineages of tulkus, reincarnated lamas, in the Kagyu school. According to tradition, the Tai Situpa is an emanation of the bodhisattva Maitreya, who will become the next Buddha, and who has been incarnated as numerous Indian and Tibetan yogins since the time of the historical Buddha. The title Tai Situpa, or more completely Khentin Tai Situpa means "far-reaching, unshakable, great master, holder of the command". The holder of this title is also called Situ Rinpoche and Tai Situ.

Traditionally, the Tai Situpa was considered to one of the highest ranking lamas of the Karma Kagyu sect. He is one of the main regents of the Karmapa.

The current and 12th Tai Situpa, Péma Tönyö Nyinjé, was born in a farming family in 1954 in the Palyul district of Dérgé, in the East of Tibet. At the age of five he left Tibet for Bhutan, where King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk had been a disciple of the 11th Tai Situpa. Later he was cared for at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, India where he received religious instruction from the 16th Karmapa. The 16th Karmapa had himself been raised under the guidance of the 11th Tai Situpa. Indeed this alternation between teacher and pupil for the Karmapas, Tai Situpas and other lineage holders from the 1st Karmapa and on has served as a mechanism for continuity within the Kagyu tradition. As Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche wrote in his book Born in Tibet: “Tai Situ Rinpoche, who was second in importance in the Karma Kagyu school, had died some years before and no reincarnation had been found. The Karmapa could now tell them where the incarnation had taken place. Everyone rejoiced and started immediately to make the preparations."

At the age of twenty-two, Situ Rinpoche founded his own new monastic seat, Sherab Ling in Himachal Pradesh, in Northern India. He traveled widely making his first visit to the West in 1981 to Samye Ling Monastery in Scotland.

The 12th Tai Situpa was instrumental in recognizing Urgyen Trinley Dorje, one of the two candidates claimed to be the 17th Karmapa.

Previous incarnations

Chokyi Gyaltsen was the first incarnation to bear the title Tai Situ, conferred upon him in 1407 by the Yongle Emperor of China in the Ming Dynasty. He was a close disciple of the 5th Karmapa who appointed him as abbot of Karma Goen, the Karmapa's principal monastery at the time.

The complete list

  1. Chokyi Gyaltsen (1377-1448)
  2. Tashi Namgyal (1450-1497)
  3. Tashi Paljor (1498-1541)
  4. Chokyi Gocha (1542-1585)
  5. Chokyi Gyaltsen Palzang (1586-1657)
  6. Mipham Chogyal Rabten (1658-1682)
  7. Nawe Nyima (1683-1698)
  8. Chokyi Jungne (1700-1774)
  9. Pema Nyingche Wangpo (1774-1853)
  10. Pema Kunzang Chogyal (1854-1885)
  11. Pema Wangchuk Gyalpo (1886-1952)
  12. Péma Tönyö Nyinjé (1954-)

Internal links

External links

  • Information about previous and current Tai Situpas on Sherab Ling website
  • Short biography of all 12 Tai Situpas by Ken Holmes.
  • [1] news and images of the 12 Tai Situpas by Karma Kagyu Cyber World.