Dzogchen Rinpoche Thupten Chokyi Dorje

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Name of teacher (name in wylie)


Clarifying Great Treasure Revealer Chogyur Lingpa's prophecy, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo wrote:

  • Vimalamitra's emanation named Dharma Banza
  • Will come to southern Kham in the monkey year.
  • If victorious over the demons of obstruction
  • Excellent work of the essential Dharma will be done.

Just as these and other prophecies indicated, Tupten Choki Dorje was born in 1872 in Chamdo. He was subsequently recognised as the Fifth Dzogchen Rinpoche and welcomed to Dzogchen Monastery. His tutors Patrul Rinpoche and Great Khenpo Pema Banza gave him teachings and personal instructions on the sutras and tantras, and most especially all the Heart Essence cycles of the Great Perfection. In addition, from Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Kontul Yonten Gyatso he received the maturing empowerments of the Great Treasury of Precious Treasures.

Practising what he had learnt, he became a greatly accomplished master. This he demonstrated by leaving his footprint in rock, and his ritual offerings produced nectar as they melted into light. When giving empowerments, the master’s anointing vase never ran dry, and he would balance it, as if on a shelf, in mid air. He was also known to hang the shawl of his robes on the sun's rays. His clairvoyant vision was unobscured and this enabled him to discover over one hundred of the main Nyingma tulkus of the time. He would state the incarnate lama’s place of birth, parents’ names and other details, and not one of his predictions was ever wrong. Among the tulkus that he recognised, those still living today include Penor Rinpoche and Dodrup Rinpoche.

As a result of Tupten Choki Dorje's teachings, practice and activities, Dzogchen Monastery was greatly expanded. He constructed the Gonkhang Wangdruk Rolwe Temple and the main five-storied temple, filling them with statues, paintings and scriptures. He also initiated the offering ceremonies of the Eighty Revealed Treasures and the Great Kila ceremony and dance.

Due to his requests Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche and Great Khenpo Shenpen Nangwa composed many commentaries on the sutras and tantras and he commissioned the carving of ten-thousand wooden printing blocks to make these texts available. During this time over two thousand monks came to live in the Rudam valley and the number of branch monasteries increased to over two hundred.

Amongst the many students who received Tupten Choki Dorje's teachings, the principal ones included Dzongsar Khyentse Choki Lodro, the Sixth Rabjam Nungzit Drupe Dorje, the Fourth Dodrup Trinle Palsang, Gatok Seder, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Yakze Jarluba Sonam Namgyal. Thus having completed his excellent work he finally passed into peace in 1934 at the age of sixty-one in the Rudam valley.


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See Writings of Ming med rdo rje

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