3rd Jamgon Kongtrul

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The 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul, Karma Lodro Chokyi Senge

In accordance with a vajra prophesy, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche was born on the first of October, 1954, the male horse year of the sixteenth cycle, in Lhasa, from where the Dalai Lama guided the spiritual and temporal life of Tibet. His father was Tsering Tobgyal of Sadutshang, a prominent family, and his mother was Pema Yudron, the daughter of Sawang Ngawang Jigme Ngabo, a cabinet minister in the Tibetan government.[1]

When he was one year and five months old, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche was formally recognized and offered robes and his title. At the age of six, he was enthroned by His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa at the old monastery in Rumtek, Sikkim. From then onwards, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche as a heart son was inseparable from His Holiness, who supervised his education right from the very beginning, starting with reading, writing, and memorizing texts. At the age of thirteen, he received from His Holiness the XVIth Karmapa, getsul ordination along with Shamar Rinpoche and Tai Situ Rinpoche on the fifteenth day of Saga Dawa (the fourth Tibetan month) of the male fire horse year at Rumtek's Karma Shedrub Chokhor Ling (Dharma Chakra Center). At that time he received the name, Jamgon Kongtrul, Karma Lodro Chokyi Senge, Tenpay Gocha Ngedon Gyurme Trinle Kunkhyab Palzangpo.

At the age of twenty, on the fifteenth day of the first month (the month of miracles) in the female water ox year, he received full gelong ordination at the Dharma Chakra Centre from His Holiness the XVIth Gyalwang Karmapa, who acted as the khenpo (abbot) for the occasion. Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche took gelong vows along with Chamgon Situ Rinpoche and Khyabje Gyaltsab Rinpoche. He gave the ordinations of getsul and gelong to about three thousand monks in India, Nepal, and Tibet, both the worlds of East and West, and so became a great holder of the Vinaya.

From His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche received the bodhisattva vows, which are the foundation of the Mahayana path, from both traditions of Nagarjuna and Asanga.

In 1976 and 1980, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche accompanied the Gyalwang Karmapa on a tour of numerous places in America, Europe, and Southeast Asia. After His Holiness' parinirvana, Jamgon Rinpoche continued to travel to Europe and Asia, and established branches of the Rigpe Dorje Foundation in many countries and the Paramita Charitable Trust in India, to further his activities of social development for the benefit of others.

In 1983, in order to counteract obstacles to the swift return of His Holiness the Karmapa, Jamgon Rinpoche built a Sidok Stupa with the proper measurements, mantras, dharanis, and consecration. In 1984, following the wishes of His Holiness, he started the construction of a new building for Karma Shri Nalanda Institute and it was inaugurated in June of 1987.

In 1976 and 1980, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche accompanied the Gyalwang Karmapa on a tour of numerous places in America, Europe, and Southeast Asia. After His Holiness' parinirvana, Jamgon Rinpoche continued to travel to Europe and Asia, and established branches of the Rigpe Dorje Foundation in many countries and the Paramita Charitable Trust in India, to further his activities of social development for the benefit of others. Through empowerments, explanations, and advice, he generously gave teachings for three different types of students in accordance with their needs, and so became like the medicine that restores the teachings and healed sentient beings.

In 1983, in order to counteract obstacles to the swift return of His Holiness the Karmapa, Jamgon Rinpoche built a Sidok Stupa with the proper measurements, mantras, dharanis, and consecration. For the same reasoon, he initiated the practice of 100 million recitations of the Vajrasattva mantra every year on the occasion of Saga Dawa (the fourth Tibetan month). In 1984, following the wishes of His Holiness, he started the construction of a new building for Karma Shri Nalanda Institute and it was inaugurated in June of 1987. Not only did Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche provide for all the furnishings of the entire building, including the statues and so forth for the shrine hall, but he also found the means to support about 150 students, comprised of many tulkus, lamas, and monks.

Jamgon Rinpoche visited Tibet in 1984, and at Palpung Monastery, he gave empowerments and teachings to a vast gathering of monks and lay people, and ordained about 500 monks giving them getsul and gelong vows. He then visited Lhasa and Tsurphu Monastery (the seat of His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa) where he gave empowerments and teachings to monks and lay people, and the ordinations of getsul and gelong to about one hundred. Furthermore, he was able to obtain permission for the reconstruction of Tsurphu, towards which he donated all the offerings that were made to him during his journey.

In 1988, Rinpoche constructed a new monastery at Lava near Kalimpong, West Bengal, and presently about 108 monks reside there, ten of whom are involved in a three-year retreat following the tradition of the golden Dharma in the Shangpa Kagyu. Likewise, in 1988 he started the construction of Pullahari Retreat Center in Nepal, where there are now about fifteen monks practicing.

In February of 1992, he gave the Kagyu Ngakdzö empowerments to the monks, nuns, and lay people of Rumtek, and to numerous sangha members from the East and West. He also inaugurated the new building of Karma Jamyang Khang, a primary school for monks, for which he had arranged funding and participated in the design and construction. As his last activity, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche offered mantras and dharanis to fill the new statue of the Buddha in the main shrine hall of Rumtek monastery.

At the age of thirty-nine (by the Tibetan calender), Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche suddenly passed away, due to the obstacles for Buddhism and people in general, and in particular for the Kagyu tradition. Considering his age, learning, qualities, aspirations, and activities, his passing has been an unbearably sorrowful event for his disciples and all who knew him. Yet, as ordinary people with limited understanding and realization of how things truly are, we are unable to know the profound methods for benefitting sentient beings in the right time and place. We should, therefore, always look at his life with pure vision, great faith, and devotion, and try to attain in our lifetime the supreme achievement of Mahamudra through receiving in our mindstream the blessing of his body, speech, and mind.



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