Rigdzin Tsewang Norbu

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The Great Rigdzin of Kathok Tsewang Norbu

རིག་འཛིན་ཚེ་དབང་ནོར་བུ།
rig 'dzin tshe dbang nor bu

Short biography

  • 1698-1755 - Rigdzin Tsewang Norbu, of Katok [RY]
  • Kathog Rigdzin Tsewang Norbu: (1698-1755). [mss] [RY]

Rigdzin Tsewang Norbu(1698-1755) -The Heart-disciple of Takrepa Kalsang Urgyen Tenzin and The great Terton Pema Dechen Lingpa, who recognized him as an incarnation of the Drodul Pema Mani. His hair was offered to Kathok Gyalse Sonam Detsen and he was enthroned at Khunkhyen Pema Lodro's monastery. He benefited greatly all the beings of Do-Kham and at the age of 25 he traveled all around practicing as an ascetic. He arrived in central Tibet through Phuwa Draged Dzong . Dochen Gurikpa Gyalse Sengye bestowed upon him the empowerments for the essence of all the 18 tantras of the Nyingma, Gutrul Sangwa Nyingpo. And at the same time he was given the empowerments for the protector of the tantra, Lekden Nakpo, for which Rigdzin Tsewang Norbu had said; "there were lots of different noises ontop of the house during the empowerments and the presence of Protector Lekden Nakpo himself was there from Riwo Malaya", which was the sign of having a very good lineage and connection between them.

When returning from a pilgrimage to Nepal, he was offered the transmissions of the entire works of Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen and Jetsun Taranatha by the Mahasiddha Künsang Wangpo. It was this master who, in the course of transmitting the Jonang teachings to Tsewang Norbu, recognised him as an incarnation of Mati Panchen Lodro Gyaltsen (1294-1376), one of the closest students of Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen, which might in part explain Tsewang Norbu’s affinity for the Jonang teachings in general and for the Shentong view in particular. Tsewang Norbu also received the transmission of the Shangpa Kagyu teachings from Künsang Wangpo. He was very close friends with the 8th Tai Situpa Chokyi Jungne (1700-1774) and transmitted many teaching to him at the sacred Svayambunath stupa when the two met again in Nepal in March 1748.

He also was offered the teachings of Mahamudra called Karpo Druk (The Six White Ones) which is a very specific practice of the Madun Kagyu tradition. Tsewang Norbu also revealed many treasures from Dhokham, Kongpo and Sapphulung. He composed many texts such as Dak Nang Lama Ku Sum, Yi Shin Norbu Ta Bhue Sam Lhun Men Ngagchu Sum, Sang Lam Tsedrup, lamsab Lamai Nyaljor, Choe Yul Gay Dui, and many many more. He became very close with His Holiness the Gyalwang Dalai Lama, Kalsang Gyatso. He helped Palpung Situ to recognized the 13th Karmapa, Dudul Dorje according to the prophecies of the dakinis. And later he also offered many teachings to His Holiness the Karmapa. In his later years he spent his time benefiting the beings of Upper Ngari, Upper and middle Tibet, Upper and Lower Lowo, Nepal, Kyirong and much places. He renovated the Boudhanath stupa very brilliantly and successfully in his life time. He also began the renovation of the Svayambunath stupa, but passed away before its completion at Ngodrub Phuk near Jamtin monastery in the Kyirong area. The renovation works and consecration was completed by his students, the 7th Gyalwang Drukpa Trinley Shingta and the 7th Pawo Rinpoche, Tsuglag Gawa'i Wangpo.

Much like the famous Kyirong Phagpa Wati, a famous sandalwood image of Arya Avalokiteshvara, that was saved from destruction in the 1960's by some courageous people of the neighboring Nubri region in Nepal, and which now resides with H.H. the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, it is said that the reliquary stupa, containing the precious remains of Kathog Rigdzin Tsewang Norbu, was also brought across the border around the same time, and now resides at an undisclosed location in a small temple in the Tsum valley of northern Nepal.

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