Dru-gu Choegyal Lineage

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History of the Dru-gu Choegyal Lineage

Three names were outstanding in the early propagation of the Drukpa Kagyu teaching: Taksang Repa, the founder of Hemis Monastery in Ladak; Dorzong Rinpoche, who spread the teachings to China as well as his native Kham province; and Khamtrul Rinpoche of Kham.

Khamtrul Rinpoche (1548-1627) was the spiritual head of more than a hundred monasteries and nunneries as well as nearly a hundred retreat centers. His three principle disciples were Zigar Sonam Gyamtso, Trulshik Trinley Gyamtso, and Dru-gu Choegyal Gyamtso - born in 1578, the first in the lineage of the Choegyal Rinpoches.

Dru-gu Choegyal Kunga Gyamtso, the second Choegyal Rinpoche, was born in 1638. He established both, the Dru-gu Monastery in Lhadrak Dah and the Dru-gu Retreat Center (Dru-gu Ritrod) in 1676 (the same year that the famous Mindrol Ling Monastery was founded in central Tibet). He was a meditation master accomplished in the Mahamudra, the Six Yogas of Naropa, the Six Ronyom, Tendrel, and the profound Path of Guru Yoga. The second Choegyal earned great acclaim as an artist as well. He trained many disciples in the art of thanka painting (Tibetan religious scrolls). Two of his paintings were saved from destruction during the Cultural Revolution by followers of the present Dru-gu Choegyal Rinpoche.

The third incarnation, Dru-gu Lhundrup Gyamtso, was born in 1698. He was a master in meditation and the six yogas, was a teacher of several famous practitioners of his era, and was an artist who created many thankas and mandalas. He prepared editions of the Kangyur (the teachings of the Buddha in 108 volumes) and the Tangyur (later commentaries by great masters on the teachings, in 225 volumes) in exquisite gold and silver calligraphy. In addition to this, he established an important library for the Dru-gu Monastery.

The fourth incarnation, Padkar Shakya Gyamtso Dru-gu Choegyal, added to the Dru-gu Monastery's storehouse of religious treasures. He brought a much revered Maha Buddha statue from India, expanded the library collection, and extended the Monastery's center for Tantric practice.

The fifth incarnation, Dru-gu Choegyal Tenzin Wangpo, born in Beru, devoted his entire lifetime to retreat and meditation, showing no interest in worldly matters. He was particularly accomplished in the Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara) practices.

The sixth in the lineage, Choegyal Tenzin Gyamtso, was born in Drakyab Dowa Rowa in 1850. He gained a reputation for studiousness, moral conduct, kindness, and dedication in many Dharma activities. Under his guidance, Dru-gu Monastery flourished as a center for medicine, astrology, painting, craftsmanship, and literary pursuits. He himself was a great writer and under his care and scholarship the Monastery's Vajrayana practices and retreat centers flourished. Dru-gu Shakya Shri, one of the century's outstanding yogis and teachers, was a principle disciple of the sixth Dru-gu Choegyal.

The seventh lineage holder, Choegyal Dondrup Pawo, was born in 1886, in Drakyab Tsentri. He dedicated his life primarily to meditation and was a highly realized master of Vajra Kilaya practices. He took the Ashi Pema as his spiritual consort, the daughter of Dru-gu Shakya Shri. Together wih Ashi Pema they went on many pilgrimages, including Lhasa and Nepal. At the time of his cremation, relics consisting of jewel-like bones in five colors indicated Rinpoche's high realization.

The present Choegyal Rinpoche, Choegyal Yonten Gyamtso, is the eighth incarnation in this lineage. He was born in 1946.

Life of the current Dru-gu Choegyal Rinpoche.

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