Filmmaker? Photographer? Football fan? In a world where labels matter, finding just one that captures the essence of Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche might, on the face of it, seem an impossible task. But actually, it couldn’t be simpler. First and foremost, Khyentse Rinpoche is and always will be a Buddhist teacher, and all his other activities are merely creative responses to this central aspiration.
Khyentse Rinpoche was born in 1961 into what he describes as a ‘hard-core Buddhist family’ in the ‘staunchly Buddhist country’ of Bhutan. At the age of seven, he was recognized by His Holiness Sakya Trizin as the main incarnation of the incomparable Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö, the spiritual heir of one of the most influential and admired 19th century incarnations of Manjushri (the Buddha of Wisdom), Jamyang Khyentse
An Auspicious birth
His Holiness' grandfather had been the last Sakya Trizin in his family. For the sake of having a son, His Holiness' parents went on a pilgrimage to Mount Kailash, to Nepal, to Lhasa, and to South Tibet, but there was never a sign that a son might be born. They had all but given up hope when they reached the Nalanda Sakya Monastery north of Lhasa, and told the abbots about this.
The abbots were shocked and very worried, as the family lineage, the Dolma Palace line, held the traditions of the most esoteric Sakya teachings. In addition, most of the heads of the monastery had received teachings from His Holiness' grandfather. So the continuation of the family line was considered to be very important.
The abbots urged His Holiness' parents not to give up hope and moreover, gave up one of their best teachers, Lama Ngawang Lodro Rinchen, so that he could travel with them. This was a loss to the monastery because he was a very powerful lama who could perform all the different rituals, and in particular, his prayers had caused children to be born to women who had been unable to have children before.
His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Rinpoche (Wyl. 'jigs bral bdag chen sa skya) was born into the Phuntsok branch of the Khön lineage of the Sakya school in 1929 in southwestern Tibet. Under the guidance of his father, H.H. Trichen Ngawang Thutop Wangchuk (the 40th throneholder of the Sakya school), and other distinguished teachers, he received instructions in all the teachings of the sutras and tantras. Upon completion of his training, he received the unbroken Khön lineage transmission of the Sakya Vajrakilaya and Hevajra empowerments and the complete Lamdré Tsokshé, which are the main teachings of the Sakya tradition. Following this he went into a long series of study and meditation retreats. He then conferred the Lamdre Tsokshé on the monks, nuns, and lay people of Sakya.
The late His Eminence Chogye Trichen Rinpoche, Ngawang Khyenrab Thupten Lekshe Gyatso, was the head of Tsharpa sub-lineage of the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Born in 1920, His Eminence was recognised by the 13th Dalai Lama as 18th in the lineage of Chogye Trichens. His Eminence was a renowned tantric master, a dedicated practitioner, an outstanding scholar and an eloquent poet, embodying the wisdom, spirit and activities of the holy Dharma.
His Eminence was a master of masters as most Tibetan Buddhist lineage holders were his disciples, among them His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Holiness the Sakya Trizin and the late Dudjom Rinpoche.
In the words of His Holiness the Sakya Trizin, describing the great accomplishments of His Eminence, There are many who have attained the wisdom arising from the study of the Scriptures. There are some who have attained the wisdom arising from contemplation of the Dharma. There are few who have gained wisdom arising from meditation. His Eminence Chogye Trichen Rinpoche is one who has attained all three wisdoms. One should consider oneself fortunate just to meet him, which is in itself a great blessing.
His Eminence Luding Khenchen is the head of the Ngor sub-lineage of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism. He bears the title of Kyabgye, Protector or Chief Refuge.
His Eminence Luding Khenchen Rinpoche, Jamyang Tenpei Nyima, is one of the most highly respected and learned teachers of the Sakya tradition and of Tibetan Buddhism at large. He is believed to be the emanation of Vajrapani and was born in 1931 to the noble family of Shang, Sharchen or Ludingpa, which is renowned for producing great scholars and siddhas.
At the age of ten, according to the Luding lineage, he was ordained as a monk by his uncle and root guru, the most gracious Khenchen Sharchen Jamyang Thupten Lungtok Gyaltsen Palsangpo. As befitted a major lineage holder, he was given extensive training by the best teachers in the Sakya and other traditions. He undertook innumerable major and minor retreats, practising almost all the deities of the Sakya and the Ngor traditions.
His Eminence Ratna Vajra Rinpoche, eldest son of His Holiness the Sakya Trizin, is one of the most important young lineage holders and a descendant of the Khon family - successive generations of which have continued an unbroken lineage of great and famous masters.
Born on 19 November 1974 in Dehradun, Uttar Pradesh, India, His Eminence was from birth the recipient of blessings, initiations and teachings from many high lamas, including his own father, to increase his capacity for knowledge and wisdom.
In his childhood, he travelled widely in India as well as many other countries with his parents. At the age of six, he began his formal education under the tutorship of Venerable Rinchen Sangpo. In the next few years, he studied Tibetan reading, writing, grammar, memorisation and recitation of basic prayers and rituals.
In 1987, when His Eminence was fourteen, he passed his first major examination at the Sakya Centre, Rajpur. Two years later, he completed all his basic studies of different rituals and scriptures at the Sakya Centre.
His Eminence Khöndung Gyana Vajra Rinpoche, youngest son of His Holiness the Sakya Trizin, was born on 5 July 1979 in Dehradun, Uttar Pradesh, India. During his childhood, together with his elder brother, His Eminence Khöndung Ratna Vajra Rinpoche, His Eminence studied religious text, reading, writing, grammar, memorisation of important prayers and rituals under the tutorship of Venerable Rinchen Sangpo.
His Eminence then joined Sakya Centre, the main monastery and seat of His Holiness the Sakya Trizin, where he learned all the basic rituals and prayers. Following the completion of his studies and training at Sakya Centre he joined Sakya College and furthered his studies in Buddhist philosophy for next five years. During this period, he often participated in the religious ceremonies held annually at the Sakya Centre. He has also received many major initiations, common and uncommon teachings from His Holiness.
In all, he received decades of rigorous training from His Holiness himself, as well as many other lamas such as the late His Eminence Chogye Trichen Rinpoche, His Eminence Luding Khen Rinpoche, Khenpo Appey Rinpoche, and the late Khenpo Migmar Rinpoche. His Eminence has accompanied His Holiness during many of his teaching tours throughout India and abroad, and recently returned to lay life. His Eminence Gyana Vajra Rinpoche married Dagmo Sonam Palkyi on 21 April 2008.
Her Eminence Jetsun Kushok Chimey Luding is known by many names: Mrs Luding, Lama Chime, Jetsun Kushok, Chime Osel Rikdzin Bhutri Thrinley Wangmo, Sakya Jetsunma, Chime Luding or just plain Chime-La. She is often mentioned in conjunction with her family: sister of His Holiness the Sakya Trizin, the sister-in-law of His Eminence Luding Khenchen Rinpoche, or the mother of Luding Shabdrung Rinpoche. On other occasions she is invoked as one of the three women in the history of Sakya to have transmitted the Lam Dre teachings. She is spoken of as an emanation of Vajrayogini, the enlightened energy of liberation. But to those who know her well, she is the earth itself, stable, unshakable, free from the eight worldly dharmas, and a pure example of the fruition of practice under difficult circumstances.
In 1938, the year of the earth Tiger, this Sakya Jetsunma was born as the first child of her parents. Three other children were born after her, but only she and the youngest, who became the Sakya Trizin, survived to adulthood. They shared the same teachers, took the same teachings, and made the same retreats. They also shared the loss of their siblings, parents and homeland and were very close. They were raised by Thinley Zangmo, their mother's sister, a remarkable woman who oversaw their education, who supervised the running of the town of Sakya, and who only slept from the hours of nine to eleven in order to practise through the night in her meditation box.
His Eminence Luding Khen Rinpoche is an excellently qualified, wise and compassionate Dharma teacher, and a member of one of the great families of Tibetan Buddhism. His mother is Her Eminence Sakya Jetsun Chimey Luding, the sister of His Holiness the Sakya Trizin, and his father is Sei Kushog, the brother of His Eminence Luding Khenchen Rinpoche, the former abbot of Ngor Monastery.
As a child, His Eminence Luding Khen Rinpoche was selected to be trained as the successor to the abbot of the Ngor Monastery and was sent to Ngor Monastery in Manduwalla, India to undergo the rigorous training that is a prerequisite for lineage holders. For the next two decades, he trained intensively under the daily tutelage of then senior Ngor abbot His Eminence Luding Khenchen Rinpoche, Jamyang Tenpei Nyima. He also received many teachings and empowerments directly from His Holiness the Sakya Trizin.
His Eminence's training as a lineage holder included all of the common and uncommon teachings of the Sakya tradition. From the tantra, he studied and mastered the precious Lam Dre teaching, the Collection of All the Tantras, Collection of All the Sadhanas and many others, and accomplished all of the many retreats required for a vajra master. From the sutra, he spent many years at Sakya College studying religious philosophy under the direction of the famous Khenpo Migmar Tsering. As a result, His Eminence is exceptionally well trained in both tantra and sutra.