International Drikung Kagyu Council
Honoured to organise the 800th Commemoration of Lord Jigten Sumong's Maha Parinirvana.

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Nyidzong Gön

Lho Lungkar Gön  |  Gar Gön  |  Nyidzong Gön  |  Drubgyu Gön


Nyi002Dorje Niyngpo (rdo rje snying po) was one of the main disciples of Kyobpa Jigten Sumgön (1143-1217). He attained magical powers and eventually travelled from Central Tibet (Ü-Tsang) to Eastern Tibet (Dakham, mdo khams) to a place called She’u (zhe'u). One night he had a dream in which he saw extraordinary signs that were in accordance with what was prophesized by Kyobpa Jigten Sumgön. The next day he went to the Nyidzong Valley. He carefully scrutinized the area, as well as the specific place where the present monastery stands. All favorable conditions (rten 'brel) had come together there. The place was perfect and hence Dorje Niyngpo realized that this was the right place. In the year 1188 they started building the Nyidzong (nyi rdzong) Monastery. At this place there is a mountain called Wenri (dben ri), meaning an isolated mountain, distant from human settlements. There on the mountain Wenri the monastery was built. It is part of a mountain range which has the same quality as the great intellectual masters Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava), Lochen Berotsana (lo chen be ro tsa na), Lushabpa Jigten Sumgön (klu zhabs pa 'jig rten gsum mgon), Kunkhyen Chökyi Drakpa (kun mkhyen rig 'dzin chos kyi grags pa) and so forth. On this mountain range Dorje Niyngpo executed a consecration and said: “This is a very sacred place. If you practice for one day in this area it would be equal to practicing one year in another place.” In this way he opened up this specific mountain range as a powerful place for retreats.

Nyi003The reincarnation of Kham Dorje Nyingpo, Nyidzong Trichen Konchog Namgyal (nyi rdzong khri chen) became one of the three leading regents of the Drikungpa in Eastern Tibet. The two others are the heads of Lho Lungkar Gön and Gar Gön. The three together are known in short as Lho Gar Trisum (the Lhochen, Garchen, and Trichen Rinpoches respectively). Nyidzong Trichen uttered the prophecy: “In the future this monastery will have great potential to make the Drikung Kagyu Lineage flourish. In the future we will have the good karma to gather again at this place.” Then he left his footprint there. It was said that in the future when the three favorable conditions come together his footprint will naturally reappear. As he said then and as has been prophesized by the earlier masters, the lineage of the father will always be continued by the son.

On that mountain Wenri they build a retreat center. That was sort of the beginning. During the time of the first Nyidzong Trichen the Drikung Kagyu Lineage was first introduced in that area. Then gradually mainly Nyidzong Trizur (khri zur) and a large number of monks and nuns have brought the Drikung Kagyu Lineage to grow with a philosophical school and a retreat center. Since then the Drikung Kagyu Lineage was firmly established in Domé in the monastery Nyidzong Tegchen Shedrup Chökhor Ling.

Nyi006Much later, during the time of the Chinese occupation in the middle of the last century, the monastery and lineage degenerated. Then again, like the sun rising in the early morning, the monastery and the lineage rose up again. The Rinpoches of the monastery took the responsibility and the older monks started to rebuild the monastery and the lineage in Dokham. As per the wishes of the monastery, in 2005 Zurtrul Konchog Tenzin Ngedön Lungtog Gyatso (zur sprul dkon mchog bstan 'dzin nges don lung rtogs rgya mtsho) took the main responsibility. They changed the place where the new monastery was built. As had been prophesized by the earlier masters, at that time the footprint of Nyidzong Trichen Konchog Namgyal naturally appeared. In addition, on the cliff at the right side of the mountain the letter Hung naturally appeared and several other supernatural occurrences were observed.

Then the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang was invited to Kham and he turned the wheel of Dharma and consecrated the new monastery. Zurtrul Rinpoche took the responsibility and with the aid of monks, sponsors, and people of the area they were able to establish the great new monastery. The monastery complex is made up of various buildings. In the east Dorsem Ling (rdor sems gling) in the south Rinchung Ling (rin 'byung gling), in the west Nangtha Ling (snang mtha' gling), in the north Jang Dönyö Ling (byang don yod gling), and in the center the wonderful temple of Phuntsok Tagten Ling (phun tshogs rtag brtan gling).
Moreover there is a shedra and retreat center and an Apchi Lhakhang. There is also the famous sky burial cemetery. The temples are filled with many beautiful statues and chörten. The foremost statue of the Buddha in the main temple is more than ten meters high and made of gold, copper and silver. Two large statues of Guru Rinpoche and Jigten Sumgön are also kept in this temple. An unbelievable number of further statues can be seen in the monastery. When rebuilding the temple they brought the relics of the Buddha from the old statues and filled them into the now ones. Also a bone from the head of Atisha is kept at Nyidzong Gön, as well as Rigdzin Chökyi Drakpa’s seal made of ivory and the ritual dagger (phur ba) of Gyalwang Rinchen Phuntsog made of meteoritic iron.

Nyi005One Lama and one Tulku are presently abiding in the monastery, as well as Drubpöns, Khenpos and Lobpöns, and in total over 100 monks. In Kham the Lama Dance from Gar Monastery (Gar Cham) is very well known. But there is a also a very special dance at Nyidzong Gön called the Nyidzong Shitrö (zhi khro), a peaceful and wrathful dance of the goddess which involves very complicated steps. This dance is very renowned far and wide. In the Upper and Lower Shedra classes are taught by Khenpos and Lobpön and 70 monks are currently studying there. In the retreat center the Fivefold Path of Mahamudra and the Six Yogas of Naropa are always being practiced without interruption. The present Nyidzong Trichen is the 15th and the present Trichung Rinpoche is the 12th, while there is the 9th and the 7th Zurpa Rinpoche.


Drubgyu Gön

Lho Lungkar Gön  |  Gar Gön  |  Nyidzong Gön  |  Drubgyu Gön

In the 17th century Lho Khonchog Thrinle Namgyal had founded the monastery Lho Miyel Gön (lho mi g.yel dgon) at the Migyel Cave in Dokham. He was a disciple of Kunkhyen Rigzin Chödrak (1595-1659). He recognized Drubgyu Chökyi Nyima as the emanation of Chakna Dorje (phyag na rdo rje, Skt. Vajrapani) and he gave him his name. With Drubgyu Chökyi Nyima the line of incarnations of the Drubgyu Tulkus started.

Thrinle Namgyal then prophesized that Chökyi Nyima would erect a new monastery in front of a mountain named Driri near Jekundo (Kyigudo) in Kham. Drubgyu Chökyi Nyima prayed to Achi, Gönpo, and Chökyong, the three protectors of the Drikung Kagyu order. After that he shot an arrow into the air, which landed across from the prophesized mountain, which is a mandala of Chakrasamvara. There Drubgyu Monastery was built in 1668.

From its foundation until 1959 around 400 to 500 monks were living in the monastery. There were about 20.000 families living in the land pertaining to Drubgyu Monastery and they were strongly devoted to the Monastery and the Drubgyu Rinpoche, as was the custom in Kham. But the monastery did not have an institute for higher Buddhist studies (Shedra), therefore education was poor at Drubgyu Gön.

Following the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese, in 1959 the monastery was destroyed. More than two decades later permission was granted to rebuild monasteries in Tibet, and reconstruction at Drubgyu Gön started in 1982. Eventually many new monks joined the monastery.  

Already at a very young age, the present Drubgyu Chenga Rinpoche went to Sichuan to study philosophy for ten years under Khenpo Pema Tsewang, Khenpo Chöying Kyabdag, and Khenpo Jigme Phuntsog. Khenpo Pema Tsewang, his main teacher, motivated him to build a Shedra at the monastery, and Drubgyu Chenga made intense and successful efforts in building up a Shedra there. The subjects taught in the Shedra by nine Khenpos are grammar, Buddhist dialectics, commentaries, Madhyamaka, Prajnaparamita, and Tantra. For the older monks there is a special course in the practice of rites and rituals. 

Drubgu Gön has also a retreat center and until now four three-year retreats have been completed with ten to fifteen monks in each retreat. After practicing the 6 Yogas of Naropa they practice the 13 Tantras of Marpa (Kagyu Ngag Dzo). In this way Drubgyu Chenga and Drubgyu Thenpel Rinpoche have succeeded in making the monastery complete with Shedra and retreat center. 

The Shedra has a very strict curriculum and candidates for becoming Khenpos have to carry out extensive studies there and at other Shedras to perfect their knowledge of Buddhist dialectics. Following a proposal by Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen,  every year after the Parinirvana day of Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon, a seminar is held in which Gonchig (dgongs gcig, “The Same Intention”), a famous collection of commentaries on Jigten Sumgon’s pith instructions, is taught.

Presently the monastery houses about 700 monks and a new Nunnery, Drikung Kagyu Dolma Jangchubling, with approximately 400 nuns has been founded. Presently in the nunnery the distinguished text of the Drikung tradition Thegchen Tenpe Nyingpo (theg chen btsan pa'i snying po) by Ngoje Repa (ngo rje ras pa), a disciple of Jigten Sumgön, is being taught. 

During the past years Drubgyu Chenga Rinpoche often traveled to Kongpo to give teachings. As a result he has many disciples from Kongpo; quite a few of those entered Drubgyu Monastery to pursue their studies. There is almost no Drikung Kagyu presence in Kongpo. Now an old monastery there has been offered to Drubgyu Chenga Rinpoche. It will become a Drikung monastery in the future. In addition Drubgyu Chenga has established a retreat center for nuns in Kongpo, Samten Dorje Ling, where the first 15 nuns are about to finish their three-year retreat. 


Gar Gön Jangchub Chöling

Lho Lungkar Gön  |  Gar Gön  |  Nyidzong Gön  |  Drubgyu Gön

upper gargon monasteryOne of the foremost disciples of Kyobpa Jigten Sumgön was the siddha Gar Chödingpa, considered an emanation of Aryadeva. He was the reincarnation of Gar Dongdzen, a minister of King Songsten Gampo, from whom the name Gar derived. When Gar Dongdzen returned from a visit to China, in order to bring back the Chinese king's daughter as a wife for Songsten Gampo, he carried with him a precious Buddha statue and a Dharma wheel, both made during the lifetime of Buddha Shakyamuni. He hid the Dharma wheel in the ground as a terma (gter ma), later to be revealed by his incarnation Gar Chödingpa. It was at a place called Lungzhu Chöding that Gar Chödingpa founded a monastery. This is why he was called Chödingpa. During the later years of his life, Gar Chödingpa erected another monastery at Pumi Phulung where he eventually passed away. Consequently many of his incarnations took charge of Pumi Phulung monastery. 

The reincarnation of Gar Chödingpa in the 16th century, Tenzin Phuntsog, was born as the son of the Nangchen king. At Pumi Phulung monastery, Tenzin Phuntsog received a prophecy from Achi Chökyi Dolma instructing him to proceed together with the precious dharma wheel to a rocky mountain in the shape of an arching snow lion, where he should establish a new monastery. He found the place foretold when a rainbow appeared over the rocky mountain. There he built the monastery where today Upper-Gar monastery (Yargön) is situated, called “Lion Fortress of the Sky.” 

lower gargon monastery

In a terma of Guru Rinpoche, revealed by Ratna Lingpa (ratna gling pa, 1403-1478), a prophecy foretells the coming of an emanation of Chenrezig with the name Tenzin Phuntsog. This terma also contained samaya substances (dam rdzas) such as mani-pills, which ought to be presented to the emanation of Chenrezig, so that in the future the Dharma would spread from him around the world. Gar Tenzin Phuntsog was recognized to be the one mentioned in the terma and was handed the samaya substances. Since that time the tradition of a continuous day and night Chenrezig practice was initiated and continued uninterruptedly until the Chinese invaded Tibet and demolished the monastery in 1958. Until this time the Dharma wheel was turning ceaselessly. With Tenzin Phuntsog the line of the Gar Tulkus (sprul sku) initiated. 

The second Gar Tulku was Tenzin Drakpa. As too many monks were joining the upper monastery there was a need for another monastery. He thus built the lower monastery (Margön) Gar Gön Jangchub Chöling (mgar dgon byang chub chos gling). The present Garchen Triptrul Konchok Ngedön is the 8th Gar Tulku. He was recognized by the 34th Drikung throne holder Shiwe Lodrö. 

Gar003Gar Monastery underwent times of flourishing and also times of weakening throughout generations, yet the worst decline was experienced during the Cultural Revolution, when the monastery was completely destroyed by the Chinese. In 1979 the political situation loosened somewhat and the reconstruction of the monastery could begin. The upper and lower monasteries were rebuilt and monks again began to assemble. Presently the upper monastery is like it was in the old days. In 1982 the continuous retreat was reestablished and the Dharma wheel again turns ceaselessly.  There are about 70 to 80 monks who engage in the continuous Chenrezig practice at the upper monastery. At the lower monastery a few monks are practicing the Dharma protectors and Achi Chökyi Dolma at all times. There are also about 20 to 30 Ngakpa (sngag pa, lay practitioners) staying at the lower monastery. Many different retreats are held around the year at Gar Monastery. 

There are two new retreat places where retreats on the Five-fold Path of Mahamudra and the Six Yogas of Naropa are held according to the Drikung tradition. Three three-year retreats also have been held at the old retreat center. Currently 22 practitioners are engaged in the fourth three-year retreat at the new retreat center. In addition there also exists a retreat place especially for the Yamantaka retreat. The traditional summer retreat is held annually at upper Gar Monastery. A college educating approximately 80 monks also has been started.

Lho Lungkar Gön

lungkar004Lho Lungkar Gön  |  Gar Gön  |  Nyidzong Gön  |  Drubgyu Gön

The first Lho Rinpoche, Thrinle Namgyal established his monastic seat in Dokham near the Miyel Cave, the practice place of Seltong Shogom. His monastery, in which the tradition of the Drikung Kagyu was upheld, became renowned as Lho Miyel Gön (lho mi g.yel dgon).

A hill of the mountain range of Chito Sermo Yimon in the shape of a white conch shell coiled clockwise, located in the Drongme region of Kham, became the site chosen by Lho Drubchen Tenzin Sangpo for building a new monastery. He was was one of the the incarnations of the Lho Bongtrul Tulkus. In Tibetan “white conch” is called dung kar (dung dkar). Thus the monastery was called Lho Dungkar Gön (lho dung dkar dgon, White Conch Monastery). In the course of time this name was corrupted to Lho Lungkar Gön. It became the largest monastery of the Drongpa highlanders. The complete name of the monastery is Ogmin Thubten Shedrub Ling ('og min thub bstan bshad sgrub gling).

lungkar005The historical importance and of Lho Lungkar Gön is closely connected with the fourth Tulku in this line of incarnations, Lho Jedrung Orgyen Nuden Dorje (also known as Lho Bongtrul Changlo Mebar). He was the holder of seven transmission lineages and a most learned and accomplished master of both the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions. Born in the year of the 1849, he became the disciple of numerous learned and accomplished masters, among them the 5th Drikung Chetsang Thukje Nyima (1828-1885). Renowned for his knowledge and realization he was highly esteemed by both the Drikung Kyabgons, Chungtsang Chökyi Lodrö (1868-1906) and Chetsang Thukje Nyima, as well as by Garchen Thrinle Yongkyab. It was during the lifetime of Nuden Dorje that Lho Lungkar Gön experienced a period of flourishing.

lungkar001He established yearly ceremonies for many Drubchen (sgrub chen, insensive group sadhana practice) traditions. Among those was the Drubchen of the Kabgye Deshek Düpa (bka' brgyad bde gshegs 'dus pa, Eight Commands, a terma revealed by Nyang Ral Nyima Oser, nyang ral nyi ma 'od zer, 1124-1192), by following the perfect tradition transmitted jointly down through Gyalwang Rinchen Phuntsog (1509-1557) and Rigdzin Chödrak (1595-1659). In Kham Lho Lungkar Gön was the only monastery to sustain the Kabgye Drubchen in the Drikung tradition. In later years, the monasteries of Nangchen Gar Gön, Lho Miyel Gön, and Tsele Gön were also holding the Drubchen of Kabgye, which an appointed khenpo from Lho Lungkar Gön was sent to teach.

This extraordinary Dharma tradition has lately been swept under by the waves of upheaval. Nevertheless, in combination with the restoration of the monastery, the Drubchen ceremonies of Kabgye, Lama Gongdü (bla ma dgongs 'dus), and Phurpa (phur pa yang gsang bla med) have already been re-established. 

lungkar002The sixth incarnation of the Lho Bongtrul Tulkus was Lho Bongtrul Tenzin Drodul. He was the root Lama of both the Drikung Kyabgons, the 7th Chungtsang Chökyi Jungne (1909-1940), and the 6th Chetsang Shiwe Lodrö (1886-1943). The seventh incarnation is the present Lho Bongtrul Tenzin Nyima (he is also the Mind incarnation of the first Lho Tsele Lhündrup).

In 1998 Lho Bongtrul Rinpoche rebuilt the historically important Lungkar Bumo Che Chörten. He later re-built Lho Lungkar Gön Monastery and added retreat centers to the complex. In addition he built a medical dispensary for the local people and founded a school for local children.

Main Monasteries in Eastern Tibet

Lho Lungkar Gön  |  Gar Gön  |  Nyidzong Gön  |  Drubgyu Gön

Kyobpa Jigten Sumgön, the founder of the Drikung Kagyu lineage, was a descendant from the Kyura clan from Kham, Eastern Tibet. During the early history of the Drikung Kagyu Order all the throne holders came from the Kyura clan. Although Jigten Sumgön had founded his monastery in Drikung in Central Tibet, from the beginning there were strong ties with his native soil in Kham and he had many followers there. As a result many Drikung Kagyu monasteries were established in Eastern Tibet.

The historically significant monastery Lho Miyel Gön (lho mi g.yel dgon) at the Migyel Cave in Dokham has lost its importance through the course of time. It was the seat of the first Lho Rinpoche, Thrinle Namgyal. Among the most prominent monasteries in the region until present are Lho Lungkar Gön, Gar Gön, Nyidzong Gön, Drubgyu Gön, Palme Gön, and the nunnery of Tsele Gön.

The Tulkus of Lho Lungkar Gön, Gar Gön and Nyidzong Gön were and still are held in especially high esteem. There is an old tradition among the Drikung Kagyu that certain empowerments and transmissions to the throne holders (the Kyabgon Rinpoches) could only be bestowed by the Tulkus from these monasteries.



The Birth of Buddha
Buddha's Renunciation
In Search of Truth
Turning the Wheel of Dharma
Buddha's Parinirvana
Buddha's Teachings

The Four Noble Truth
Dharma Practice

What is the Mind?
Loving Kindness and Compassion

What is Vajrayana?
Why Practice Vajrayana?
Authentic Vajrayana
Levels of Vajrayana
Attachment and Vajrayana
What to Meditate On
Sitting in Meditation
Preparing for Meditation
The Meditation Session
A Meditation Schedule

The Kagyu Lineage
Meaning of Hung Symbol
Meaning of Drikung
Life Story of Achi
The Three Protectors