His Eminence Dagri Rinpoche was born on the 5th day of the 11th Tibetan month in 1956. Dagri Rinpoche’s father was named Ngawang and his mother was named Paldron. At the time of his birth, it is said that there were many miracles and auspicious signs.
In 1957, Dagri Rinpoche was recognised as the incarnation of the 4th Dagri Dorje Chang. Shortly after his recognition, his monastery was destroyed by the Chinese troops. As Dagri Rinpoche was very young at the time, he could not escape out of Tibet. And so, during the next 10 years despite numerous difficulties and hardships, Dagri Rinpoche put much effort into his studies and learned some Tibetan grammar and handwriting. Dagri Rinpoche has said,
I remained at home. From my father and the ‘solpon’ from my past incarnation I learned reading, writing, mathematics and the Tibetan language. Later I went to a regular elementary school and until I was 15 years old I also had to herd sheep and cows.
Most people in the area were illiterate, however upon hearing that Dagri Rinpoche was the reincarnated Dagri Tulku, he became very well known locally. The people had a lot of faith in Dagri Rinpoche, and hence he became their teacher. In the evenings after work, Dagri Rinpoche taught them to read and write. Later Dagri Rinpoche carried out administrative work in the camp, while also learning Chinese and bookkeeping.
In 1978, together with many other tulkus and high lamas who were freed after being imprisoned by the Communist Chinese, Rinpoche travelled to Lhasa. This was after he had been in the camp for five years. In 1979 following international pressure, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s extensive campaign on the Tibetan struggle and after the Tibetan Government in Exile had been to Tibet to observe the situation there, Communist China began to allow some religious freedom. Monasteries started to be restored and Dagri Rinpoche assisted in this process, while working as a teacher and accountant.
Many students from Dagri Rinpoche’s past life then began making requests and wrote many letters urging Rinpoche to leave Tibet for India. They helped to make travel arrangements and obtained travel documents. In the 1980s, following changes in Chinese policy, monks from Sera Monastery also came to Dagri Rinpoche and requested him to travel to India.
Dagri Rinpoche was ordained as a novice monk by the ex-abbot of Sera Jey Monastery named Lhundrup Thabkhe in 1982. Dagri Rinpoche said, “I met the former abbot of Sera Jey in secret. He gave me the first vows.” When he became a fully ordained monk the same year, he received the name of Thubten Lhundrup Tenzin Gyaltsen. He had brief opportunities to study and practise Buddhist philosophy and memorised Buddhist prayers.
On 22 July 1983, Dagri Rinpoche left Tibet after making a pilgrimage to many holy sites such as Gaden, Sera and Drepung monasteries, as well as the Jokhang Temple where he made many offerings and extended prayers. He was received by Gelong Losang Chopel and other monks from Kopan Monastery at the border of Tibet and Nepal. While in Nepal, he stayed at Kopan Monastery and visited many holy sites such as the Boudhanath Stupa, Swayambunath Stupa and many others.
Dagri Rinpoche left for Dharamsala, India on 23 August 1983. He was received by the Tibetan Religious Office, Security Office and the Treasurer of his former life, Jampa Tsondu. Subsequently Dagri Rinpoche met H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama on 27 August 1983 to discuss the situation in Tibet and his life there as well as his future. The Dalai Lama stressed the importance of practicing Buddhist Philosophy.
During his stay in Dharamsala, Dagri Rinpoche together with other newly arrived Tibetans also attended classes to learn English, Tibetan, poetry and so forth. Upon hearing this, the Dalai Lama granted Dagri Rinpoche extensive gifts and presents.
At the same time, Dagri Rinpoche met Lama Thubten Yeshe of Kopan Monastery. Lama Yeshe kindly promised to take care of Dagri Rinpoche’s future studies and other necessities. On 2 January 1984, Dagri Rinpoche travelled to Sera Jey Monastery in India. Upon his arrival, he was well-received by many representatives of the monastery. For the next 11 years, Dagri Rinpoche studied the five major texts of Buddhist philosophy including the collective topics of Prajnaparamita, Madhyamika, Pramanavarttika, Vinaya and Abidharmakosa.
Dagri Rinpoche spent the next four years in the Lharampa class. As part of his examinations he engaged in debates at Gaden, Sera and Drepung monasteries. In January 1999, he received the Geshe Lharampa degree, which is the highest qualification bestowed in Tibetan Buddhism.
Subsequently at Gyume Tantric College, Dagri Rinpoche studied Tantra extensively and graduated at the top of his class. Since the end of 2001, Dagri Rinpoche, at the request of many students, started teaching in India, Europe and Singapore.
Dagri Rinpoche has become one of the extraordinarily few reincarnated Lamas who preserve the pure lineage of the Buddhadharma by upholding the initiations, transmissions and blessings of both Sutra and Tantra from all four traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. A great yogi, he has performed extensive retreats of all the major initiations and lineages which he upholds and propagates.
He has rescued many people from dangers to their lives, chronic illnesses, pacified natural disasters and of course, enlightened many disciples throughout the world, through his extensive teachings, initiations, prayers and blessings.
Regarded as an emanation of Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom, Dagri Rinpoche is well known to be a profoundly compassionate, gentle and skilful Teacher to thousands of disciples around the world, many of whom are established masters in their own right including serving and former abbots of the three principal monasteries, Gaden, Sera and Drepung.
Dagri Rinpoche is recognised as the 5th of his lineage, and his previous life’s disciples include erudite masters such as His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, Venerable Ribur Rinpoche, Lama Thubten Yeshe and H.E. Geshe Lama Konchog.
With a long and illustrious lineage of reincarnations, Dagri Rinpoche is the reincarnation of Lama Serlingpa, the holder of the supreme lineage teachings on Bodhicitta (compassion), which forms the essence of Mahayana Buddhism. Lama Serlingpa was one of the special Gurus to the jewel in the crown of the Pandits of Nalanda University, India, namely Lama Atisha, the author and source of the first text of the ‘Lam Rim’, the Graduated Path to Enlightenment, as well as the ‘Lojong’ mind training teachings of Buddha.
Dagri Rinpoche is also the reincarnation of one of the 16 Arhats, namely Arya Neyten Serki Bewu, the great Arya Being who made a pledge during Buddha’s lifetime to grant protection and conducive conditions to all Dharma practitioners, in order that they attain Enlightenment.
Dagri Rinpoche is also the reincarnation of Dagri Losang Chojor Gyatso, a lineage Lama within the merit field of many Highest Yoga Tantric practices, who was particularly renowned for conferring commentaries and guiding practices related to Yamantaka. He was regarded as a living Yamantaka, the wrathful manifestation of the enlightened Manjushri.
Another incarnation of Dagri Rinpoche is Dagri Losang Thupten Namgyal, who was the guru of His Holiness Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo, who in turn was the lineage Guru to many past and present great yogis and masters.
Dagri Rinpoche is also the incarnation of Dagri Lobsang Lungrig Gyatso Wangyal, a lineage Guru to most of the past and present great Buddhist scholars, lineage holders, geshes, teachers, yogis and abbots of today.
The first incarnation of Dagri Rinpoche received his monastic education at Sera Jey Monastery and went on to become one of the debate partners, tsenshab, to His Holiness the 8th Dalai Lama. He spent many years at the Potala Palace and served as a great master of Tibetan Buddhism.
The second, third and fourth successive incarnations of Dagri Rinpoche all underwent complete monastic education at the great Sera Mey Monastery. After completing their studies, they all engaged in giving extensive empowerments, oral transmissions and textual teachings at the three great seats of the Gelug School – Gaden, Sera and Drepung monasteries – as well as both Gyutö and Gyume Tantric Colleges.
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