Enlightened Vagabond/Infant Patrul

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On the day Patrul was born, his mother reported that the family’s tent dwelling became lled with white light.

The newborn infant began to speak at once. At first, he said just a few short syllables—a, o, om. By the next night, he was heard murmuring, “Om mani padme hum,”[1] the six-syllable mantra of Avalokiteshvara, who embodies the compassionate aspect of enlightenment. Every day, the mantra became more and more distinct, until after five days, his mantra recitation was perfectly clear. The six syllables of the mani mantra were visible on his wrist; on his tongue was a red syllable dhi, the seed syllable of Manjushri, the wisdom aspect of enlightenment.

His mother noticed all these signs but kept them to herself, not even telling her husband. She did not want people teasing and saying sarcastic things like “Oh, the son of a well-born mother always turns out to be a tulku!” If her son were indeed a high incarnation, she did not want any obstacles to arise for him through his having been recognized prematurely. However, soon, the infant’s exceptional qualities became evident to all. He was recognized as a tulku by Dola Jigme Kalzang, a great master of the Longchen Nyingthig teachings, the “Heart Essence of the Great Expanse.” Dola Jigme reported his discovery to his teacher Jigme Trinley Özer, the 1st Dodrupchen.

Confirming the choice, he said, “You were right to recognize this child as the tulku of the Palge Lama. He will be known as Orgyen Jigme Chökyi Wangpo (Fearless Lord of Dharma from Orgyen).[2] Through my prayers, I will entrust to him the entire Longchen Nyingthig lineage.” Not long afterwards, a group of important monks and lamas arrived at the home of Patrul’s parents to pay their respects to the newly recognized tulku, headed by the umdze, a senior monk. Just as they came in, Patrul’s mother was taking the infant to her breast. Patrul, however, did not nurse, but turned away from his mother. Looking directly at the senior monk, the child said, “Uncle,[3] are you all right? You’ve gotten old!”


  1. See Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, The Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones: The Practice of View, Meditation, and Action (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1993, 2012).
  2. “Orgyen” refers to the Kingdom of Oddiyana, the native land of Padmasambhava, who was born from a lotus on Lake Danakhosha, now tentatively identified as Lake Saiful Muluk in the Kaghan Valley of Pakistan.
  3. In Kham and Amdo, Aku (Uncle) is an affectionate and respectful way to address monks and elder males.