A Brief Biography of Phakchok Rinpoche
Among the Four Greater Kagyu schools and Eight Lesser Kagyu schools, the eminent Dharma Lord Taklungpa Tashi Pal, who was renowned throughout the three levels of existence, established in this world the Taklung Kagyu tradition.
Centuries earlier, Padmasambhava had proclaimed in a terma prediction: “When Dharmatala nurtures the Buddha's teachings, the monk known as Taklungpa will appear.” In accordance with this prophesy, Taklungpa Tashi Pal founded two principal monasteries and, of these two, here is the account of the vajra-holder Phakchok of Taklung Martang, the Riwoche Monastery in Dokham.
Phakchok Rinpoche's emanation-basis comprises the Lord of Secrets Dharmevajra; Buddha Shakyamuni’s foremost disciple, the arhant Ananda; Padmasambhava’s direct disciple, Lhalung Palgyi Dorje; (Rechung) Dorje Drakpa, the lord of siddhas, and many others.
The first Phakchok incarnation was the 13th throne-holder at glorious Riwoche Monastery. Born in 1688 into the Taklung Gazi family, he was eventually ordained by Taksham Nuden Dorje, studied with numerous learned and accomplished masters and became, himself, a great pandita and siddha. After being enthroned at Yang-Gon, Phakchok Rinpoche the First’s activities expanded tremendously, both in secular and spiritual ways, and Kalsang Gyatso, the 7th Dalai Lama bestowed special honors on him. Moreover, the Emperor Yutrig conferred the Golden Credential upon him, and he was offered the Nomihan rank with the associated seal, palanquin, and parasol. After accomplishing immense benefit for the teachings and beings through his mastery in miraculous powers and clairvoyance, he passed into parinirvana. Each subsequent incarnation continued to display special qualities and immensely benefit beings.
The 6th Phakchok incarnation, Ngawang Jigmey Drakpa Tubten Namgyal, was the 22nd throne-holder of Riwoche. Born into the Sedor Bongkar family, he was later enthroned at Yang-Gon Monastery. With guidance from Jedrung Trinley Jampey Jungney, and from many other spiritual masters, he completed the general studies of the graded path of Sutra and Tantra. In particular, he received the scriptures and teachings for the ripening empowerments and liberating instructions of the incomparable Taklung tradition. He spent long periods of time in retreat and became a crest-ornament among all learned and accomplished masters. He also erected innumerable sacred representations of Body, Speech and Mind. In 1952, he invited Tenzin Drakpa of Katok, also known as Pema Rangdrol, a master possessing the threefold qualities of being learned, upright and noble, to establish a new Shedra for the Taklung and Drukpa Kagyu traditions. Due to the unspeakable destructiveness of invading armies, he passed away in Chamdo in 1979.
In May 1981, the 7th reincarnation of Phakchok Rinpoche was born amid wondrous signs. The illustrious 7th Phakchok incarnation is the first-born grandson of Kyabje Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. His father, Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche, is the 4th reincarnation of Terchen Chokgyur Lingpa, and his mother, Dechen Paldron, hails from the Gatsal Tashi Delek family of Gyangtse, a family-line descending from renowned Zurchung Sherab Drakpa. Among the six original clans of Tibet, Phakchok Rinpoche’s paternal ancestors are the Nangchen Tsangsar of the Khepaga line who were the chief holders of the Barom Kagyu lineage.
As a toddler, Phakchok Rinpoche was recognized by the Kagyu regents as being 7th in the line of the Riwoche Phakchok incarnations. Receiving ordination from the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, he was formally named Tenzin Jigmey Drakpa. Due to his outstanding brightness and inherent qualities from former training, as a young child Phakchok Rinpoche readily comprehended both reading and writing and gained an effortless understanding of the topics of knowledge by simply hearing what was said.
Phakchok Rinpoche has received literally thousands of ripening empowerments and liberating instructions from such great masters of the Sarma and Nyingma schools as Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Kyabje Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, Kyabje Chogye Trichen Rinpoche, Kyabje Tsetrul Rinpoche, Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche, Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche, Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche and others. From Kyabje Taklung Shabdrung Rinpoche, he received the complete empowerments and reading transmissions of the Taklung Kagyu, and the complete empowerments and reading transmissions for the collected works and terma teachings of Jedrung Rinpoche.
Presently, Phakchok Rinpoche has a growing number of disciples residing both in Nepal and elsewhere throughout the world. Much of the year, Rinpoche travels almost continuously to bring the heart of the Buddhist teachings, reading transmissions and empowerments to his many followers in Europe, North America, Mexico and Southeast Asia. For more information about his life, former incarnations, present projects and so forth, please visit his websites.
This was an edited version of Rinpoche’s biography composed by The Riwoche Society. This was translated by Erik Pema Kunsang, at Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery, February, 2000 and edited by S. Lhamo. For the full text of the “History of the Phakchok Incarnations,” please visit: