Elder dharma king H.E. Chogye Trichen Rinpoche was the eldest and most senior lama within the Sakya lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. He was the incarnation of the previous Chogye Trichen and was the Tsharpa Dharma King. He not only was a great lama who perfectly observed the three types of precepts, he also was a famous tantric master, an outstanding scholar, and an eloquent poet. The elder dharma king was called “Master of the masters” because most of the lineage holders in Tibetan Buddhism were his disciples. H.H. the Dalai Lama took the elder dharma king as his root master beginning in 1971. H.H. Sakya Trizin, H.H. Dharma King Dudjom of the Nyingma sect, and H.H. Shamarpa of the Kagyu sect were also his disciples. The king of Nepal, King Birendra, conferred upon the rinpoche the auspicious, honorific title “Gorkha Dakshin Babu” (Great Master of West Nepal). The king of Nepal had never previously extended such praise to any other Buddhist master.
The elder dharma king was born in the year 1920 near Gyashar Kushang. He took birth in the Che clan. That clan descended from the Abhasvara Heaven to this world. Many auspicious signs appeared at the birth of the rinpoche. At the age of twelve, the rinpoche was formally enthroned as the 26th dharma-throne holder of the Phenpo Nalendra Monastery. Between the time he succeeded to that position and the time he became thirty-nine years old, the rinpoche received the supreme and precious “Path and Result (Lamdre)” initiation and mantras as well as countless initiations, dharma transmissions, mantras, and rituals from all of the lineages of the four major sects. During that time period he also completed meditation retreats in which he meditated upon yidams who are part of the main practice of tantra. He became a master of both exoteric and esoteric dharma teachings.
Because the rinpoche went on many long-term retreats, people often said that he was a yogi who practiced secretly. When he was not in retreats, the rinpoche used most of his time engaging in round-the-clock deep meditation, practicing tantric rituals, and practicing tantric supplications. As a result, he attained supernatural powers and great wisdom. The rinpoche was thought of as a modern-day incarnation of the greatly accomplished Indian Buddhist of former times, Mahasiddha Virupa. Every day of the rinpoche’s life was spent continuing this laudable self-cultivation. He truly deserves to be called a model for all practitioners around the world.
The rinpoche made no distinctions between regions and countries in his undertaking to propagate the dharma. He traveled around the world spreading the dharma. Out of compassion, the rinpoche conferred the honored dharma of the Buddhas, such as initiations, oral transmissions, sutra explanations, and mantras, upon all those Buddhist disciples with the karmic affinity to receive them, whether they be lay or monastic. Even dharma kings and rinpoches received such dharma from him. All of those fortunate enough to have personally met the rinpoche praised his bodhicitta and attested to the selfless spirit this elder dharma king displayed by ceaselessly transmitting Buddha-dharma.
January 20, 2007 was the day when the great karmic undertaking of the elder dharma king to spread the dharma and benefit living beings in the earthly realm would come to an end. However, it was also the day when great karmic conditions matured relating to the final moments of his life. The elder dharma king read the book A Treasury of True Buddha-Dharma about H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. He immediately applied his accumulated realization powers to investigate and was extremely moved by what he discovered. He at once ordered Shabdrung Rinpoche to write a congratulatory letter. In that letter he praised the book A Treasury of True Buddha-Dharma about H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu, saying that the book is the guidepost leading to true Buddha-dharma and the gateway of the dharma leading to benefiting and providing happiness to living beings. After that congratulatory letter was written, the rinpoche passed on to a Buddha-land right then and there. That was the final holy act of this elder dharma king of supreme enlightenment.
Ven. Shabdrung Rinpoche has now succeeded to the position held by H.E. Chogye Trichen Rinpoche.