Dru-gu Choegyal Rinpoche

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Dru-gu Choegyal Rinpoche

Early Years in Dru-gu, Tibet

Choegyal Rinpoche was born in 1946 in Wari-Chaksam Kha, in Nangchen, Tibet. While still in his mother's womb Choegyal Rinpoche was recognized by H.H. the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa as Choegyal Yonten Gyamtso, the present and 8th Dru-gu Choegyal incarnation in the Drukpa Kagyu lineage. Choegyal Rinpoche took refuge with the Most Venerable Sonam Tenzin and Kathog Getse and was enthroned at the age of four. He spent his subsequent childhood in the Dru-gu region of Tibet, where, he says, "art, spiritual training and meditation practice were inseparable."

Choegyal Rinpoche began his training at the age of five. He memorized many religious texts and studied the nine yanas. He was trained from 1955 to 1979 by H.H. 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche (an accomplished artist as well as meditation master), and received teachings and personal guidances continuously from H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. He became the lineage holder of a number of unique teachings. Other root teachers were H.H. the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, H.E. Tsentul Logan Sotan Rinpoche, H.E. the 8th Dorzong Rinpoche, H.E. Trulshik Adeu Rinpoche, Tokden Choelek, Tokden Ajam, and Most Venerable Sakya Khenpo Rinchen. Rinpoche also received important teachings from Nubgon Khen Lekshe, Zigar Khen Choedar, Dru-gu Gegan Dechen, Khenpo Gedun of Kathog, Khenpo Tsondue, Khenpo Thubchoe, Sogchen Khenpo Tsega, Nangchen Yangwen Khen Chen, and Khenpo Tipa of Chakzam Gelugpa Monastery.

Life in India

In 1959, Choegyal Rinpoche took asylum in India, joining his root guru, 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche, and a group of highly realized disciples and Tokdens (a special group of tantric yogis). An increasing number of monks and lay followersfrom Eastern Tibet gathered around Khamtrul Rinpoche, forming a refugee community in Kalimpong. Later, the community moved to the Kangra Valley in the high country of Himachal Pradesh, first to Dalhousie, then to their present location at Tashi Jong. Here, under the snow-capped Dauladhar Range of the Himalayas, Khamtrul Rinpoche acquired land for his followers to rebuild their lives and to continue the rich heritage brought with them from Tibet. Choegyal Rinpoche served the Tashi Jong community from 1988 to 1994, first as vice-president, then as president.

Recent Years and Activities

Like most of his previous incarnations, Choegyal Rinpoche is a highly gifted and well known artist. His paintings, which have been exhibited widely are remarkable for its vibrant immediacy of expression. They display a mastery over a wide range of styles, from the ornate precision of the traditional thankas to impressionistic evocations of meditative experiences.

His creative work also includes sculpting and carpet designs. Rinpoche founded Dru-gu Unique Tiger and Snow Leopard Carpets in cooperation with a Tibetan artisan community of carpet weavers near Tara Bhir. His high quality limited edition carpets can now be found in museums and private collections. Please See Art Page for more information.

Since 1994, Rinpoche has directed his efforts towards the restoration of the traditional art and culture as well as the improvement of social welfare and the environmental integrity of the Dru-gu region of Tibet. Rinpoche has travelled extensively throughout the world to teach the Dharma, exhibit his art and promote his projects. Rinpoche generally divides his time between Tashi Jong, the Jangchub Jong Institute of H.E. Dorzong Rinpoche, and the Tara Bhir Dru-gu Retreat Center, Nepal.

Each of these places is special in its own way: Tashi Jong is now the seat of H.H. the 9th Khamtrul Rinpoche, reincarnation of his root guru, towards whom he has an unshakable devotion and gratitude since childhood; Jangchub Jong Institute is the seat of H.E. Dorzong Rinpoche, one of his most highly respected Dharma brothers and his most revered living Drukpa Kagyu teacher; and Tara Bhir is a sacred sanctuary of the goddess Tara. The Tara Bir Dru-gu Retreat Center serves as Rinpoche's refuge, both as a place of retreat and a base from which to coordinate his many projects.

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