A biography of HH Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche
Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang, Könchog Tenzin Kunsang Thrinlé Lhundrup, was born in 1946 into the aristocratic family of Tsarong in Lhasa. His Holiness was formally recognized and enthroned in 1950 as the head of Drikung Kagyü. At the age of eleven, His Holiness gave his first public teaching and transmission during the 1956 Monkey Year Teachings. Subsequently he began his philosophical studies at the Nyima Changra monastic college of Drikung even as Tibet was on the eve of its darkest period in history. Although most of the heads of the other Tibetan Buddhist lineages fled Tibet when the Chinese Communist government invaded Lhasa in 1959, His Holiness (and His Holiness Drikung Kyabgön Chungtsang Rinpoché - the other head of Drikung Kagyü) remained despite numerous efforts to have him go into exile. When the so-called Cultural Revolution started in the mid 1960s, life became especially difficult for His Holiness. In 1969 His Holiness was sent to a commune in the countryside to engage in hard labor. Despite the intense suffering he was subjected to during this period, His Holiness maintained great equanimity through it all and always exuded a serenity that provided comfort and hope to those around him. After finally coming into exile in 1975, His Holiness moved to the United States to be reunited with his family. While maintaining his vows and never forgetting his identity and responsibility as the Drikung Kyabgön, His Holiness led a quiet, if unusual, life in the United States. While in the US, His Holiness learned English and worked at McDonalds and other restaurants. Due to the many appeals of Drikung Kagyü followers, His Holiness returned to India in 1978 to reassume his responsibilities as head of Drikung Kagyü lineage. In accordance with the Drikung Kagyü emphasis on actual direct experience of the reality of the Dharma, His Holiness entered a traditional three-year retreat at Lamayuru Monastery in Ladakh under the guidance of the stern retreat-master Kyunga Rinpoché, Zodpa Gyatso (1911-1980).
Aside from receiving all the important lineage transmission from his highly realized teachers in the Drikung Kagyü, His Holiness also received extensive teachings and transmissions from the 14th Dalai Lama, the 16th Karmapa, Dilgo Khyentsé Rinpoché, Taklung Shabdrung Rinpoché, Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoché and Drukpa Khenpo Noryang Rinpoché. Since 1987 His Holiness has been giving teachings around the world while working tirelessly to ensure the continuity of the lineage. Today, His Holiness resides at Drikung Kagyü Institute at Dehra Dun, India. The Drikung Kagyü Institute is an educational center, which emphasizes both traditional monastic education, as well as present-day training to meet the needs of these times. The Institute consists of the main monastery (Jangchubling), a nunnery (Samtenling), Songtsen Library (a center for Tibetan and Himalayan studies) and Kagyü College (center for higher Buddhist Studies).
_________________Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes
"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche