4th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche
Geleg Gyatso (dge legs rgya mtsho), the 4th incarnation of Sangye Nyenpa Tashi Paljor and founder of the monastery of Benchen stayed, like two of his predecessors, in the great monastery of Surmang. But after a few years had passed he left there and began wandering around the countryside. One day he came to a region called Ga. He found a particularly pleasant spot and made his camp there. As he liked it there very much, he thought that this would possibly be a good place to establish a monastery.
So he waited for any good omen to occur which would confirm his feelings. One day, as he was meditating, he noticed a particularly large crow. The bird had alighted upon a large rock and danced around on top of it, making a lot of noise. Intrigued by this unusual behavior, Sangye Nyenpa went closer to have a look at the bird. As he came near the rock, he saw how the crow dropped something out of its beak and then flew away. Sangye Nyenpa climbed up the rock and found the object that the bird had dropped. It was a small turquoise image of the protector Dorje Bernagchen (rdo rje ber nag can), the main protector of the Karma Kagyu lineage. This image was later enshrined in the main shrine of the monastery.
As he considered this to be a very good omen indeed, he immediately proceeded to find out who the land upon which he intended to construct his monastery belonged to. The owner was a local chieftain named Rardha Pontsong (the Chime Rinpoche living in London is a direct descendant of that family). As Sangye Nyenpa related all that had happened, Rardha Pontsong was immediately very enthusiastic, gave all the land to Sangye Nyenpa and promised to help with the construction however possible.
Construction work began soon thereafter. But strange obstacles occured, storms, gale-force winds, earthquakes etc. The work of men was destroyed by demons in the night. It occured to Sangye Nyenpa, that this might be caused by the protector of the Rardha family, who had not been consulted or asked for permission to build the monastery. Sangye Nyenpa then approached Rardha Pontsong, related all the problems and asked him who the familiy protector was. He learned that it was Shing Kyong Kunga Zhonnu (zhing skyong kun dga' gzhon nu), and right away started a one month retreat, propitiating the protector. When the protector finally appeared to Sangye Nyenpa, he promised to build a special shrine for him, worship him always and make him the special protector of Benchen and his lineage. Since then all the followers of the lamas of Benchen monastery benefit particularly from keeping Shingkyong Kunga Zhonnu as their protector.
Immediately all obstacles stopped and the construction of Benchen monastery was accomplished very swiftly. Since this time Benchen monastery has been the seat of the Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoches and other lamas of the monastery. During the cultural revolution in the 1960s Benchen was completely destroyed. In recent years it was completely re-constructed by the present 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche and the 3rd Tenga Rinpoche of Benchen.