History of the Dru-gu Choegyal Lineage

Three names were outstanding in the early propagation of the Drukpa Kagyu teachings: Taksang Repa, the founder of Hemis Monastery in Ladak; Dorzong Rinpoche, who spread the teachings to China as well as in his native Kham province; and Khamtrul Rinpoche of Kham. Khamtrul Rinpoche (1548-1627) was the spiritual head of more than a hundred monasteries and nunneries as well as nearly a hundred retreat centers. His three principle disciples, known as the Three Oceans of Drukpa Kagyu, were Zigar Sonam Gyamtso, Trulshik Trinley Gyamtso, and Dru-gu Choegyal Gyamtso - born in 1578, the first in the lineage of the Choegyal Rinpoches.

Dru-gu Choegyal Kunga Gyamtso, the second Choegyal Rinpoche, was born in 1638. He established both the Dru-gu Monastery in Lhadrak Dah and the Dru-gu Retreat Center (Dru-gu Ritrod) in 1676; this was the same year the famous Mindrol Ling Monastery was founded in central Tibet. He was a meditation master accomplished in Mahamudra, the Six Yogas of Naropa, the Six Ronyom, Tendrel, and the profound Path of Guru Yoga. The second Choegyal Rinpoche earned great acclaim as an artist as well. He trained many disciples in the art of thanka painting (Tibetan religious scrolls). Two of his paintings were saved from destruction during the Cultural Revolution by followers of the present Dru-gu Choegyal Rinpoche.

The third incarnation, Dru-gu Lhundrup Gyamtso, was born in 1698. He was a master in meditation and the six yogas, a teacher of several famous practitioners of his era, and an artist who created many thankas and mandalas. He prepared editions of the Kangyur (the teachings of the Buddha in 108 volumes) and the Tangyur (later commentaries by great masters on the teachings in 225 volumes) in exquisite gold and silver calligraphy. In addition he established an important library for the Dru-gu Monastery.

The fourth incarnation, Padkar Shakya Gyamtso Dru-gu Choegyal, added to the Dru-gu Monastery's storehouse of religious treasures. He brought a much revered Maha Buddha statue from India, expanded the library collection, and extended the Monastery's center for Tantric practice.

The fifth incarnation, Dru-gu Choegyal Tenzin Wangpo,“The fifth incarnation, Dru-gu Choegyal Tenzin Wangpo, was born in Beru. He devoted his entire life to retreat and meditation, showing no interest in worldly matters. He was particularly accomplished in Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara) practices.”

The sixth in the lineage, Choegyal Tenzin Gyamtso, was born in Drakyab Dowa Rowa in 1850. He gained a reputation for studiousness, moral conduct, kindness, and dedication to many Dharma activities. Under his guidance,the Dru-gu monastery flourished as a center for medicine, astrology, painting, craftsmanship, and literary pursuits. Choegyal Tenzin Gyamtso was a great writer and under his care and scholarship the Monastery's Vajrayana practices and retreat centers flourished. Dru-gu Shakya Shri, one of the century's outstanding yogis and teachers, was a principle
disciple of the sixth Dru-gu Choegyal.
The seventh lineage holder, Choegyal Dondrup Pawo, was born in 1886 in Drakyab Tsentri. He dedicated his life primarily to meditation and became a highly realized master of Vajra Kilaya practices. His spiritual consort was Ashi Pema, the daughter of Dru-gu Shakya Shri. Choegyal Dondrup Pawo and Ashi Pema went on many pilgrimages together, traveling to destinations including Lhasa and Nepal. The relics from the cremation of the sixth Choeygal Rinpoche consisted of jewel-like bones in five colors, indicating his high realization.


The present Choegyal Rinpoche, Choegyal Yonten Gyamtso, is the eighth incarnation of this lineage.

Life of the current Dru-gu Choegyal Rinpoche.


Copyright 2007 Dru-gu Choegyal Rinpoche.