His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche
Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche was the most important mentor and pillar for H.H. Dalai Lama, especially during the most difficult times in Tibet. The miraculous escape of H.H. Dalai Lama from Tibet to India also owes much to the wise advice and support of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche.
Out of the two tutors of H.H. Dalai Lama, it was Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche who offered His Holiness every important aspect of Buddhism. His other tutor, Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, had great respect for Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche; these two tutors were very close to each other, having a mutual Guru and disciple relationship.
In our time, all the important masters of the Gelug tradition have been the disciples of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. For example: Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, Venerable Lati Rinpoche, Venerable Ratö Rinpoche, and Venerable Geshe Rabten Rinpoche, together with many others. Some of the leading figures who have been actively engaged in the restoration and the revival of Buddhism in Tibet as well as abroad were also his disciples. In fact, in the Gelug tradition, in the 20th century, all the masters, Rinpoches, Geshes and ordinary monks, as well as people from every walk of life were brought up by him.
Many respectable masters from other Tibetan Buddhist traditions have equally held Trijang Rinpoche in very high esteem. There is even a belief, shared by many people that H.E. the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa and Trijang Rinpoche are of the same nature; they were extremely close, had frequent joyful meetings together and also passed away within the same week.
Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche was third in the line of Trijang Rinpoches. The first and the second have both been not only important throne holders of Je Tsongkhapa, but also in their time, have been very similar to Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang - respected and most cherished Gurus, masters of everyone belonging to the Gelug tradition.
If one counts all the recognised reincarnations of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, one can see that they go back to the time of Buddha Shakyamuni. At the palace of prince Siddhartha he was responsible for the prince's horses and later became the Arhat Bhadra. Over time he has appeared as various Indian pandits and Siddhas and has also manifested in the form of many outstanding great masters of all four Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Starting from the time of Buddha Shakyamuni there have been 17 incarnations, three of whom had the name Trijang. The first master with the name Trijang originated in Chatring region of Kham in Eastern Tibet.
Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche was born in 1900 and passed away at the age of 81, the same age as Buddha Shakyamuni when he passed away.
Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche, his successor, was born on October 15th 1982 in India. Through very precise examinations by various sources and out of a great number of candidates, the present Choktrul Rinpoche was confirmed as the fourth Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche by H.H. Dalai Lama. On the 23rd of February 1988 Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche was formally enthroned as the 4th Trijang Rinpoche.
Following the footsteps of his predecessors, Choktrul Rinpoche joined the Dokhang department of Gaden Shartse College, where, under the tutorship of the most Venerable Lati Rinpoche he has started his formal Dharma studies. From a number of outstanding great masters, including H.H. Dalai Lama, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, Zemey Rinpoche, Dagom Rinpoche and Yonggya Rinpoche he has received further extensive transmissions of the Sutra teachings together with Tantric initiations.
Until 1996 Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche lived in India. At that time political and religious turmoil has occurred in the Gelug monasteries, which has completely disrupted the peaceful, smooth spiritual life of thousands of members of the monastic Sangha. Unfortunately, for Rinpoche in India, this has culminated into unbelievable negative interferences with regards to the continuation of his Dharma activities. Consequently, Rinpoche left India and came to the West, where he spent some years in the Rabten Choeling and Tashi Rabten monasteries continuing his Dharma studies with some of his Venerable teachers.
After some time, having received a property from a devotee in the United States, he has established the Trijang Institute in Vermont, which has become his permanent residence. There he has spent his time in personal studies of the Dharma, both Sutras and Tantras, in particular with the most Venerable Yonggya Rinpoche, who lives in California. He has also spent much time in retreat and in recent years has started to give wonderful teachings on Lamrim.
He has also given some important Tantric initiations, such as those of Yamantaka, Vajrayogini and Chakrasamvara. Thus, he is steadfastly holding the views, the practice and the teachings of his predecessor, for the preservation of the authentic teachings of Dharma, in particular the oral transmission lineage of Je Tsongkhapa, and is thereby fulfilling the needs of countless serious Dharma seekers both in the East and the West.
For our most beloved and precious Master Geshe Rabten Rinpoche, the founder of all our centres in the West, out of all his spiritual masters the former Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang was his principal master, his root Guru. The Guru-disciple link between both, the two former masters and the two present young reincarnations, is amazing to witness! Geshe Rinpoche regarded Trijang Dorje Chang as the very embodiment of all Gurus and Buddhas, whose word he always sought as the decisive guiding force for all decisions on his personal practice as well as for all of his activities.
Therefore, we are overjoyed to announce the visit of H.H. Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche on this most fortunate occasion of the 40-year-Anniversary of the Founding of Rabten Choeling.