His Holiness was the eleventh throne holder of Palyul Monastery with its more than four hundred branch monasteries and Head of Palyul Nam Chö Lineage, Nyingma tradition. From 1993 to August 2001 he was titular head of the Nyingma order of Himalayan Buddhism and he was succeded by His Holiness Mindroling Trichen Rinpoche. His three main students (heart sons) are Karma Kuchen Rinpoche, Khentul Gyanthang Rinpoche and Mugsang Tulku Rinpoche. Other prominent students included Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Chonjur Tulku Rinpoche, and Ogyen Tulku Rinpoche and many others.
|His Holiness the Third Drupwang Pema Norbu (Penor) Rinpoche |
He was born to Sonam Gyurme and Dzemkyi in the Powo region of Kham, East Tibet in 1932, the year of the Water Monkey. It is said that even though it was in the depths of winter the village was unseasonably in bloom.
His birth had been prophesied in some Sutras and by Guru Rinpoche himself in Ratna Lingpa's Treasure. The fifth Dzogchen Rinpoche, had made a detailed prophecy about his birth. Penor Rinpoche was recognized as a young child as the emanation of Vimalamitra and the reincarnation of the second Drubwang Pema Norbu Rinpoche. When he was four Penor Rinpoche took refuge with Khenpo Ngaga at the Palyul monastery. Khenpo Ngaga named him Dhongag Shedrup Tenzin, performed the traditional hair cutting ceremony, granted him the long life empowerment of Amitayus and composed the long-life prayer which is still regularly recited by his thousands of followers:
OM SWA TI
DOD NEI SID SHI KUN KYAB DORJE SEM
Originally, the all-pervasive Vajra mind, encompassing samsara and nirvana.
LHA SEI DAM DZIN YESHE ROL PAI TSAL
Son of the gods, Samaya upholder, the display of primordial wisdom's play,
DRUB PAI WANG CHUG PEDMA NORBU TSEN
Known as Pedma Norbu, the powerful holder of Accomplishments;
KATRIN LA MED GON KYOD SHAB TEN SOL
Please remain firm, Protector of unequaled kindness!
GYAL WAI RING LUG SANG CHEN NGA GYUR WAI
In the long tradition of Enlightened Ones, the great secret school of Nyingmapa,
DO NGAG SHED DRUB GYA TSO-I KHORLO GYUR
You are the chakravartin ruler of the ocean of Sutras and Tantras, both academic and applicable.
PAG NOR YAN LAG DUN GYI SUNG TSOG CHEI
Assembler of the seven-branch wealth of the Aryas,
MI JIG SENGE TRI LA SHAB TEN SOL
Please remain firm, like a fearless snow lion throne.
PHO MED TAG TEN CHI MED TSEI TA YEI
Immortal life, unchanging and firm,
MI SHIG SOL SHIG DRAL WA YEI SANGYE
Indestructible, free from calamity is the original Buddha.
KUN ZANG CHO KU-I NGO WO TSO SHEI SOL
Please remain as the nature of the dharmakaya Primordial Buddha.
DAG GYI MO GU PHUN SUM TSOG PA DANG
Through my fully-endowed fervent devotion and
TSA SUM DEN DANG KON CHOG DEN PAI TU
The Truth of the Three Jewels and the three Roots,
JI TAR MON PA YID SHIN DRUB PA YI
May all aspirations be wish-fulfillingly accomplished,
TASHI PAL GYI SA SUM NANG WAR SHOG
And may the glory of good fortune prevail throughout the Three Realms!
This was written by Khenpo Ngaga Rinpoche.
May virtue prevail!
During the many years he spent at Palyul, he studied and received teachings from numerous masters and scholars, including Karma Kuchen, the tenth throneholder, who carefully prepared him as his successor. Rinpoche was enthroned by his master Thubten Chökyi Dawa (1894-1959) the second Choktrul Rinpoche, and Karma Thekchok Nyingpo (1908-1958) the fourth Karma Kuchen Rinpoche.
When he was 24, in 1956, Penor Rinpoche set out for central Tibet, with a large entourage. En route they visited many great power places, monasteries, temples and sanctuaries of Tibetan Buddhism, including Samye, Dorje Drak, Mindroling, Drepung, Ganden, and Sera monasteries, making offerings everywhere he went. He also visited HH the Fourteenth Dalai Lama at his winter palace, the Potala in Lhasa. From the Dalai Lama he received a Long Life empowerment. The Lhasa Mönlam Chenmo was in progress, and he offered tea and distributed money to all the monks. When he returned to Palyul, however, there were ominous portents of negative events to come and advised by oracles he left Kham for India. Rinpoche was kept from harm by his protector deities despite great misfortunes (and soldiers), which pursued his party’s flight. Only 30 of his 300 companions survived the journey. His first refuge was Pemako, in the North Eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, but during 1961 Penor Rinpoche, moved South to Mysore with followers who by now numbered around 600.
HH Penor Rinpoche began to build the new mother Palyul monastery of Thegchog Namdrol Shedrub Dargyeling in 1963, the year of the Water Hare, in Bylakuppe, South India. This is near the Drekar Pungwa Stupa where it is believed Buddha first taught the Kalachakra Tantra. In terms of scale, his was a truly ambitious vision for the new monastery, especially as officially his small group had only 300 rupees at their disposal. But his lofty ambition for the centre was matched by selfless devotion to personally carrying out the most demanding and menial work himself, despite debilitating hardship and desperate conditions. Now it is home also to the Ngagyar Nyingma Institute, where hundreds of lamas study and graduate from a ten-year shedra program that includes a three-year retreat. Three senior khenpos, Khenchen Pema Sherab Rinpoche, Khenchen Namdrol Rinpoche, and Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso Rinpoche oversee the education of the thousands of monks and nuns enrolled in study at the shedra (Buddhist college).
In 1983 he made his first trip to Tibet after his exile. On his return he printed and distributed hundreds of copies of the complete Tertön Migyur Dorje's Namchö and the terma revelations of Ratna Lingpa, which he had received from HH Choktrul Rinpoche during his four years of retreat with him toward the end of his life. He has visited Tibet four times. He re-built the Main Palyul Monastery and gave financial support to many other branch monasteries in Tibet. He has given teachings and empowerments to thousands of monk in Tibet. On one such occasion, in Gonjo region, he gave long life empowerment to thousands of people, without once having to refill the ritual vase. The water just kept on pouring out of it in a never-ending stream.
From 1985 onwards Rinpoche began to turn more of his attention towards the needs of Westerners. At the request of Gyaltrul Rinpoche, he gave the empowerments of the Namchö revelations at Yeshe Nyingpo's retreat center, Tashi Chöling for the first time in the West. At that time he also recognised an American, Jetsunma Akhon Lhamo to be the reincarnation of 17th Century Tibetan saint, Genyenma Ahkön Lhamo. In 1988 he gave the Nyingma Kama empowerments in the US and at the request of Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo, he gave the Rinchen Terdzö empowerments at Kunzang Palyul Chöling in Maryland, also for the first time in the West. In 1995, His Holiness visited the United States again. He founded the Palyul Retreat Center in 1996 in the small rural community of McDonough, NY, and has taught the traditional retreat course Liberation is in the Palm of Your Hand each year since. It is within the Palyul organisation itself so that Western practitioners would not have to travel so far to receive the pure unmixed teachings of the lineage. In 1997 he recognized his student, an american actor, Steven Seagal, as a reincarnation (tulku) of the gTerton (treasure revealer) Chungdrag Dorje. Both of these well publicised recognitions of Westerners have been both potentially inspiring to western practitioners and the focus of much tittle-tattle in the media.
His Holiness continued to work ceaselessly to ensure the facilities and authentic teachings were available where needed to support the practice of Buddhism. In addition to temples and centers this included building a hospital serving both the monastic community but also the local population.
He travelled widely, granting major empowerments and transmissions all around the world including India, Nepal, Tibet, other parts of Asia and the West. They included the empowerments of the Rinchen Terdzö, the Kalachakra Tantra, the Guhyagarbha Tantra, the Namchö revelations, the complete cycle of Ratna Lingpa's revelations, the Nyingma Kama and others. In 2003 he returned to the hidden kingdom of Pemako where he gave much needed support to a school for local children within the Ngak’phang tradition and the Mön area, to consecrate temples and give teachings. As president of the Ngagyur Nyingma Monlam Chenmo (the prayer festival for world peace), which was founded by Kyabje Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche in 1987, he shoulderrd great responsibility to make this annual ceremony a stable and meaningful one with the support of Palyul Sanghas around the world.
He founded dharma centers in India, the US, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Phillipines, Singapore, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.
He was the Supreme Head of the Nyingma Lineage and the 11th throneholder of the Palyul Tradition.
He was admitted into the Columbia Asia Hospital in Yeshwantpur, Bangalore on 24th March 2009 following chronic illness. At noon, on 27th March 2009, in the intensive care unit of the hospital he received offerings from high lamas of the Nyingma Lineage and other dignitaries who received blessings from him. As his condition deteriorated that day, he was taken back to the monastery at 3.30 pm arriving at 6.40pm. The khenpos, tulkus and faculty members went to see him and prayed with him. After the prayer, without any sign of pain, he smiled and at 8.20pm, he passed away into parinirvana for the benefit of beings. His Holiness Drubwang Pema Norbu Rinpoche was reported to have entered his “final meditation” at 8:20 pm on Friday, 27 March, 2009, at the Palyul Namdröling Monastery in Bylakuppe, South India.