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Anniversary of the Parinirvāṇa of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

Seto Gompa, Seto Gompa Marg 1
Kathmandu, Nepal

February 4 All day

The 24th day of the 12th month of the Tibetan lunar calendar marks the anniversary of the parinirvana of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche.

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche established Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery, Nagi Nunnery, and Pema Ösel Ling at Asura Cave. He was the father of H.E. Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche, Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, and Mingyur Rinpoche, as well as being the grandfather of Kyabgon Phakchok Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche. Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche is considered to be one of the greatest Dzogchen masters of our time.

The following is adapted from Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche’s recorded oral teachings and a brief biography written by H.E. Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche:

Realizer of the natural state, the culmination of awareness, Kyabje Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche was born in the iron monkey year of 1920 to his father, Chime Dorje, and mother, Karsa Yuri, in Central Tibet near Tsogyal Lhatso (life-lake of Yeshe Tsogyal). In a letter written by the 15th Karmapa, H.H. Khakyab Dorje, he was given the name Karma Urgyen Tsewang Chogdrub Palbar. The letter added: “The body is a genuine Tulku.” At this time, the Karmapa gave the young boy a gift of a red brocade embroidered with golden thread.

For five years, the young Tulku remained in Central Tibet, later traveling to Kham. From a young age, he was inclined towards the Mahayana, courageous and open-minded, and was diligently patient in both dharmic and mundane endeavours. Until he was nine, Tulku Urgyen stayed with his mother, learning to read and write from a kind old Sertsa lama. He then went to live with his father at Dechen Ling Hermitage where he remained until he was twenty-two.  There he learned everything from his father, who acted as his attendant.  In later years, Rinpoche attributed any knowledge he had to the kindness of his father.

While at Dechen Ling Hermitage, Tulku Urgyen completed the Tukdrub Barché Kunsel preliminary practices and month long retreats on the Secret Essence Kilaya, and performed the dispelling rituals for his father’s long life. At fifteen, he wished to meet Shakya Shri’s son, Sey Phakchok Rinpoche, but his father refused his request to go. The 16th Karmapa H.H. Rangjung Rigpe Dorje had confirmed Tulku Urgyen to be the reincarnation of Chöwang Tulku, and requested he be enthroned. From then on, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche was put in Samten Gyatso’s care. Rinpoche did not regard Samten Gyatso as merely an educational teacher, but as the Lord of Families, his root teacher, and attended to him with utmost respect. From his grandmother, Könchok Paldrön, and his uncle Sang-Ngag Rinpoche, he learned the ritual tradition of the Chokling Tersar, including torma making, melodies, and so on.

At nineteen, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche was told by his father and Samten Gyatso to go and attend Tsikey Chokling for the next seven months. Then, according to Chokling Rinpoche’s command, he went to Zurmang Namgyal Tse Monastery. There, from Samten Gyatso, he received the entire collection of Chokling Tersar empowerments, Tersé Tsewang Norbu’s lineage of Dzogchen Desum empowerments and transmissions, the Barom cycle of empowerments, Tersar empowerments and transmissions from his father, the reading transmission of the Kangyur, the Seven Treasuries, Milarepa’s One Thousand Songs, the Chö empowerment, the Namcho cycle, and the various empowerments of Karma Chagme. From Kyungtrul Karma Gyatso Rinpoche he received the transmission of the Nyingma Gyubhum, Dzogchen Gongpa Zangthal, Chowang Gyatsa, Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo, and Treasury of Pith Instructions. From Karse Kongtrul Rinpoche he received the Rinchen Terdzo Chenmo. From his uncle, Sang-Ngag Rinpoche, he received Karme Khenchen’s special lineage of the Dzogchen Desum and the transmission of Kongtrul’s Gyachen Kadzo. From Gechag Lama Wangdrag Dorje and Lama Nyima he received the Ratna Ling empowerments and transmissions. From Kyabje Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodro he requested teachings on the history of dharma in Tibet and India, and with him clarified any doubts he had on practice. With Uncle Tersé Tulku, Shechen Kongtrul Rinpoche, and Polu Khen Rinpoche Dorje, he clarified any doubts he had regarding Dzogchen practice. The 16th Karmapa H.H. Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Kyabje Dudjom Jigdrel Yeshe Dorje and Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche requested and bestowed empowerments and transmissions mutually.

Not only did Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche receive all of these teachings, he practiced them, first completing a three year retreat at Lachab Monastery. At the Tsurphu Hermitage of both the Karmapa and Sharmapa (called Pema Khyung Dzong), he completed another three year retreat. And thirdly, in Sikkim, he did a sealed three year retreat. In Tibet, India, Nepal, Bhutan, and in foreign nations, the number of months Rinpoche spent in retreat are too many to count.

Perfecting the three ways of benefiting oneself, studying, contemplation, and meditation, for the benefit of others, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche propagated the empowerments, transmissions, and teachings. He offered the Dzogchen Desum empowerments and transmissions to the 16th Karmapa H.H. Rangjung Rigpe Dorje at Tsurphu, to Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche in Lhasa, to Bairo Khyentse Tulku in Bhutan, to Dephuk Rinpoche and Tenga Rinpoche at Nagi Gompa, and to Tarthang Tulku and Adeu Rinpoche at Ka-Nying Shedrup Ling Monastery. According to Chokgyur Lingpa himself, after three generations, the seal of secrecy attached to the Dzogchen Desum would be naturally lifted. The three generations are counted as: (1st) Tsewang Norbu, (2nd) Samten Gyatso, and (3rd) Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (3rd). Because of this, Rinpoche bestowed the Dzogchen Desum nine times in total.

At Nagi Nunnery, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche gave the Rinchen Terdzo to Kyabje Sharmapa Rinpoche and Kyabgon Phakchok Rinpoche. In Kathmandu, he gave the Chö empowerment to Trarig Rinpoche and Sachu Rinpoche, as well as to Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Rabjam Rinpoche, Nyenpa Rinpoche and other high lamas at Nagi Gompa. At Zurphu, he gave the empowerments and transmissions for the Tukdrub Barché Kunsel to Lama Tashi Dorje of Nubri and to his followers. Likewise, at Nagi Gompa, and near the stupas of Nepal, he gave empowerments from the Nyingtik and Konchok Chidu cycles, as well as individual empowerments of the Old and New Schools. Rinpoche bestowed countless empowerments in other nations.

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche’s writings include his Ultimate Guru Sadhana of Simplicity, a concise version of the Tukdrub preliminary practices, an arranged liturgy for the meditation session, and several books of his translated oral teachings. In English language, Rinpoche’s published works include Repeating the Words of the Buddha, As It Is 1, As It Is 2, Rainbow Painting, Vajra Speech, and Blazing Splendor: The Memoirs of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche.

As for Rinpoche’s activities in establishing and caring for the sangha, in Kham, he restored Lachab Monastery and Fortress Peak. Once, while in retreat at Yerpa Drak, the Moon Cave, Rinpoche had a prophetic dream in which a dakini told him the time for Tibet’s demise was imminent. He later asked H.H. Karmapa for a divination, and was told to leave for Sikkim in the winter of 1957. In accordance with the wishes of H.H. Karmapa, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche built Nunnery, containing one thousand hand-made Guru statues, and three main shrine statues, and mandala. The main shrine statues were excellently crafted by Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche himself. Rinpoche established Pema Osel Ling at Asura Cave, the practice site of Guru Padmasaṃbhava. He also initiated the traditional three year retreat, including the three roots practices from the Chokling Tersar, the threefold practice of the Guru, Great Perfection, and Great Compassionate One (La Dzog Tuk Sum), the preliminary practices for the three inner yogas, and their recitation and accomplishment phases. Thus, Rinpoche established a means of ensuring the continuity of the essential teachings of Secret Mantra.

In accordance with the wish of 16th Karmapa H.H. Rangjung Rigpe Dorje to establish a monastery at each of the three famous stupas of Nepal, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche set aside any financial and physical weariness and established his main monastery, Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling, on land near to the great wish-fulfilling Jarung Kashor Stupa in Boudhanath, Kathmandu. The king of Nepal, Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev, officiated the monastery’s opening ceremonies. H.H. Karmapa consecrated the monastery with auspicious strewn flowers, bestowed the empowerments, transmissions, and oral instructions of the Kagyu Nagdzo Chenmo, gave ordination vows, and performed the Liberation-Upon-Seeing Hat Ceremony, Drenshu Nangwa. H.H. Karmapa stayed at the monastery for two months. Not only did H.H. Karmapa establish the new sangha at Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling, he also taught on the three grounds of the Vinaya, and performed the daily morning and afternoon pujas, the six monthly pujas, and the yearly drubchens. Additionally, he established the primary and secondary schools, and the ritual and scholastic systems of education, all of which are still thriving and developing to this day. Rinpoche also established dharma centers in foreign nations, benefiting the teachings and beings like a skilled physician.

In his later years, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche spent his time at Nagi Nunnery resting one-pointedly in the natural simplicity of dharmata. In the wood pig year of 1996, Rinpoche’s wisdom mind entered into the expanse of basic space, the earth shook, the sky was completely clear, and the ground was free of dust. As Rinpoche’s remains were brought from Nagi Nunnery to Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery, thousands of monastics and lay people gathered, many were weeping, and held flowers and offering scarves in their hands. The sight of such mourning and faith was beyond words. Kyabje Chatrel Rinpoche officiated the funerary and cremation rites, accompanied by a gathering of a thousand devoted tulkus, khenpos, and lopons. Thousands more arrived, including monastic and government officials, domestic and foreign. Following the cremation, Rinpoche’s intact skull, tongue, and eyes were recovered, along with body relics of various colors. These are still available today as supports of veneration for faithful disciplines.

Tulku Urgyen Yangsi Rinpoche

A short biography of Tulku Urgyen Yangsi Rinpoche Ngawang Urgyen Tenzin Jikdral Dorje:

On August 22nd of the iron snake year, 2001, Yangsi Rinpoche was born to his father, Neten Chokling Rigdzin Gyurme Dorje, and his mother Gyari Choyang. His father gave him the name Urgyen Jigme Rabsel Dawa. Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche Ngawang Chökyi Lodrö recognized him as Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche’s reincarnation and gave him the name Ngawang Urgyen Tenzin Jikdral Dorje and composed Tulku Urgyen Yangsi Rinpoche’s long-life supplication. ‘Ngawang’ means sovereign of Manjushri’s wisdom speech, ‘Urgyen Tenzin’ means one who upholds the teachings of Uddiyana’s Guru Rinpoche (Padmasaṃbhava), ‘Jikdral’ means fearlessness, and ‘Dorje’ means the lighting-bolt power of enlightenment.

In 2008, on the 22nd day of the 9th Tibetan month, during auspicious Lhabab Düchen, together with the heart sons of the previous Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, and at Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche’s request, Yangsi Rinpoche was enthroned following three days of ceremony. Under the care of H.E. Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche at Nagi Nunnery and Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling monastery, Yangsi Rinpoche received education from his tutors Tulku Pasang Tsering and Khenpo Pema Namgyal.

From Kyabje Talung Tsetrul Rinpoche, Yangsi Rinpoche received the Rinchen Terdzo empowerments. From Kyabje Domang Yangtang Rinpoche, he received the complete Namcho empowerments, the complete Ratna Lingpa empowerments, the Kabgye empowerments, the Nyingtik Yabshi empowerments, the Domang Zabter Gesar empowerment, long-life empowerment, and the Dudjom Troma empowerment and instructions. From Kyabje Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche, he received the root Nyingtik empowerments, Patrul Rinpoche’s collected works, and the empowerments for Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s mind treasures. From Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche, he received the Jatshon root empowerments, the complete Tukdrub Barché Kunsel empowerments and profound pith instructions. From Kyabje Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche, he received the Hevajra empowerment, the Tsokle Rinchen Trengwa empowerment, the Green Tara empowerments, as well as their profound pith instructions. From Kyabje Nubpa Rinpoche, he received instructions on the Drikung Gongchig, the Ganges Mahamudra, the Drikung Ngaden, and Butrul Rinpoche’s collected works. From Khenchen Chotrak Tenphel, he received instructions on the Profound Inner Meaning by 16th Karmapa H.H. Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, the second chapter of the Hevajra Tantra, the Uttaratantra, and instructions on the Three Lesser Texts of the Kagyu. From Tulku Rigdzin Pema Rinpoche, he received the Nyingtik Yabshi, Patrul Rinpoche’s collected works, Karma Chagme’s Richö, the Domsum Pagnye (commentary on the Three Vows), the Sangdag Zhalung, and Gongyen transmission. From Dagpo Tulku Rinpoche, he received the Dorje Ludzo (Treasury of Vajra Songs) transmission. From Khenpo Wangchuk Tsegyal, he received Rangdzom Mahapandita’s collected works and Vimilamitra’s commentary on the Munjushri Namasamgiti. Yangsi Rinpoche is currently continuing his studies of the vast scholastic tradition of sutra, mantra, and sciences.

The monks will mark the parinirvāṇa anniversary of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche by performing Guru Yoga Practice at Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery.

We prostrate and make offerings in endless gratitude to Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and make aspirations for his teachings and lineage to remain steadfast and unbroken for the benefit of all sentient beings.