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The Biography of HH the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang

heartThe Biography of His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang, From the Heart of Tibet, is now available.

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Elmar R. Gruber recounts the fascinating story of the Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang in an eloquent manner and in great detail against the backdrop of the political, religious, and social developments, thus unfolding a marvelous cultural history.

Gruber describes the search and identification of the new reincarnation of the Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang, his early childhood in the Lhasa mansion of his aristocratic family, his enthronement at four years of age and his subsequent life in the main Drikung monasteries.

He paints a vivid tableau of the transition of traditional Tibetan culture during the troubled years of Chinese Communist occupation, when his family members fled the country in the wake of Chinese oppression together with the Dalai Lama and many high-ranking Lamas, aristocrats and common people. The young Chetsang Rinpoche was compelled to remain behind in Tibet upon orders of the Drikung officials and thus had to endure many hardships in the ensuing years. The author’s account of the Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang’s experiences during the precarious and desperate period of the Cultural Revolution is brilliant yet disconcerting, replete with many lesser-known aspects of the state of civil society.

erg-02The book narrates the Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang’s adventurous lonely escape from a forced labor camp across the Himalayans and proceeds to relate how His Holiness eventually assumed his position as the head of the Drikung Kagyu lineage and the intricate developments through which he lead the lineage to unprecedented significance in exile and in Tibet. The author also offers comprehensive background information on the “spiritual genealogy” of the Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang by recounting the history of the reincarnation lineage of the Chetsang Rinpoches in particular and of the Drikung throne holders in general.

Gruber’s book, which contains many photos, is an enthralling account of a courageous life, spanning the time in the Land of Snows rooted in Buddhist tradition, through the period of Chinese occupation and oppression, followed by escape and exile. It also traces the volatile history of the Drikung lineage through the ages and its remarkable restoration and prospering accomplished by the enlightened activity of the Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang.

The book carries forewords by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa, and His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche.

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Reviews of From the Heart of Tibet

“This is a fascinating, terrifying, moving, and exalting account of a truly great being’s success in rising above adversity and making an outstanding contribution to a part of humanity under extreme pressure. I warmly recommend it to anyone who might like to discover a magnificent chest of treasures.”—Robert Thurman, professor of Indo-Tibetan Studies at Columbia University

“This life story of an extraordinary Buddhist spiritual teacher and intellectual is thoroughly fascinating. This document is probably the most important biography to appear of a Tibetan in recent times. Elmar Gruber's sense for dramatic narration is unparalleled. This is a must read for Buddhist scholars and practitioners.”—E. Gene Smith, co-founder of the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center

“Chetsang Rinpoche is one of the biggest incarnate lamas, head of a tradition, but also, he experienced the life of an ordinary American. This is unlike any other biography—one sees how a neighborhood boy can become a great spiritual master.”—Gelek Rimpoche, author of Good Life, Good Death

“Gruber’s marvelous narrative excels by enormous detailed knowledge and an adequate linguistic rendering. His book stands out by its strikingly substantial background knowledge. His work should find its place in the book shelves of every friend of Tibet right beside the biography of the Dalai Lama My Home and My People.”—Jan-Ulrich Sobisch, professor of Tibetology at the University of Copenhagen

“Gruber skillfully narrates this story of survival and triumph over tragedy without embellishment or sensationalism.”—Buddhadharma


Excerpts from the forewords to From the Heart of Tibet

It gives me great pleasure to know that with the publication of this book readers in the wider world will be able to learn for themselves about Drikung Chetsang Rinpoche's unusual life, which covers such a range of experience, from the ways of life of old Tibet, through the hardships that followed, and the success of efforts here in exile to preserve and promote the values that all Tibetans hold dear. Therefore, while I pray that Rinpoche may live a long and healthy life, I trust that others will take hope and inspiration from what he has achieved so far.

The Dalai Lama   

I am very happy that Dr. Elmar R. Gruber is offering the biography of His Holiness as an inspiration to the present world and beyond. His life story will definitely encourage countless spiritual practitioners to take challenges as a form of spiritual practice so that the strength of spirituality will grow within their mind as a positive development for the long run.

The Gyalwang Drukpa   

Kyabgön Chetsang Rinpoche’s story is one of wholehearted dedication to the Buddhadharma. Throughout the turmoil of his youth, he maintained his monastic vows in a hostile, anti-religious environment, finally managing a miraculous escape from Tibet. After all the hardships he had suffered, he went to India to take up the heavy responsibility of leading and revitalizing the Drikung Kagyu lineage, still finding time for his own practice, study, and retreat. I am amazed at how much a single person has accomplished in such a short time.

Kyabje Garchen Triptrul Rinpoche 

 

Books

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Elmar R. Gruber
From the Heart of Tibet

The Biography of the Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang

read

 

 

tibemp01

 Two Tibetan Books by His Holiness

The Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang

read

 




masters001a

 Masters of the Golden Rosary Lineage

read

 



gong01

Kyobpa Jigten Sumgön

Gongchig

read



 

jskabum01

Kyobpa Jigten Sumgön
Collected Works (Tibetan)

 read

 


phagdru01

Phagmodrupa

Engaging by Stages in the Teachings of the Buddha

 read

Resources

 

Books

This section includes announcements and reviews of books
as well as information on items relating to the Drikung Kagyu Lineage

 

texts

Texts

This section offers a variety of texts relating to the Drikung Kagyu Lineage
for download to our registered users

Texts

textsPlease feel free to download and disseminate the resources made available here, except for those who are designated to be used only for practitioners having received the necessary empowerments and transmissions. We ask that you 1) do not use these materials for personal financial gain and 2) acknowledge this website when you pass these resources along (in whatever form they may be).

The Splendor of Generosity
An Elaborate Torma Offering to the Nāgas
[klu gtor rgyas pa sbyin pe lang tsho  /  Nāga Menaka]
Download PDF file


Dagpo Chenga Rinpoche
The Life and Liberation of Phagmodrupa, the Protector of Migrating Beings
Download PDF file

 

Garchen Rinpoche
Drikung Kagyu Mahamudra Teachings
Download PDF file

 

Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen
Samsara and Nirvana, Two Sides of the Same Hand 
Download PDF file

 

Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen
In Praise of the Great Holy Praise Tsaritra, The Embodiment of Bodhicitta
Download PDF file

 

Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen
Permissions and Prohibitions: Their Mode of Abiding
Download PDF file

 

Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen
Some general remarks on the Dharma
Download PDF file

 

Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen
2012 Gongchig Winter Teachings
Lamp of Wisdom Illumination by Chenga Dorje Sherab
Translated from the Tibetan by Terence Barrett
  


The following resources are intended solely for practitioners having received the necessary empowerments and transmissions. If this applies to you, please feel free to download the resources for your own practice. We ask that you 1) do not use these materials for personal financial gain and  2) do not pass these resources along (in whatever form they may be).

Long Chakrasamvara Sādhana
The detailed sādhana of Chakrasamvara according to the system of the Indian Mahāsiddha Ghantapa, which was brought into its present form by the 17th Drikungpa, Rinchen Phüntshog in the first half of the 16th century.

Download PDF File

Two Books by H.H. the Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang

For the last eight years, His Holiness Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang has carried out extensive research on the Tibetan manuscripts discovered in Dunhuang at the turn of the last century. His Holiness's research interests are centered on early Tibetan history and the Zen teachings in Tibetan. This summer, two books will be published as the fruition of these efforts.

tibempireThe first work is entitled “A History of the Tibetan Empire” (bod btsan po'i rgyal rabs) and discusses the Tibetan Empire of Pugyal, which began its expansion across the Tibetan plateau at the beginning of the 7th century. Within one hundred years it had become a power to be reckoned with in the heart of Asia, challenging the great Tang dynasty of China, and the Arab Caliphate of Baghdad. Thus in a short period of time, the mounted armies of Great Tibet came face to face with the full array of surrounding peoples and civilizations. This too was the most glorious period of expansion of Mahayana Buddhism. The warring Tibetan nation was deeply impressed by the foreign religion, and by the diversity of the human condition, by different ethnic groups, languages, and writing systems, art and architecture, medicine, political systems and ways of life, clothing, food, drink and habitat. A cosmopolitan ethos was born, impregnating the elite of the empire, laying the foundations for an abiding multicultural consciousness that would arise and disappear, only to arise again when conditions were favorable, over the next millennium.

Drikung Chetsang Rinpoche has produced a detailed overview of the Pugyal Empire of Great Tibet, using Tibetan and Chinese sources, but based essentially upon the Dunhuang manuscripts, contemporary with the empire, as well as other key historical texts from the early years of the Second Diffusion of Buddhism in Tibet. His thorough analytical method is matched by an enquiring, original approach to the rich materials he provides, creating an important arena for discussion and debate on this relatively new research field. His well-illustrated book in Tibetan will be an essential reference for new research on the early history of the Land of Snows, for many years to come.

Heather Stoddard, professor at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO) in Paris, France

 

To order the Tibetan edition, please contact The Office of His Holiness Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

ZenThe second book by Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang is a work on Zen that was begun during the 8th century, “The Record of the Masters and Disciples of the Lanka (School)”. The Dunhuang corpus contains an incomplete translation into Tibetan of this Chinese Zen text. Using versions of the text found in the Chinese Tripitaka, His Holiness has completed the translation and incorporated it into a complete book in bilingual edition, with Tibetan and Chinese side-by-side. It is being published in Taiwan and will be released this month as a joint collaboration between Songtsen Library and the International Dunhuang Project (IDP) at the British Library.

In his preface, Sam van Schaik of the International Dunhuang Project writes:
“The Record of the Masters and Disciples of the Lanka (School)” is one of the most important sources for understanding the Tibetan Zen. The Tibetan translation of the Record, which was originally written in Chinese in the early eighth century, is found in a unique manuscript from the library cave in Dunhuang (IOL Tib J 710), now held in the British Library.
His Holiness Drikung Kyabgön Rinpoche has created a bilingual edition of this crucial work which places the Tibetan text beside an edition of the original Chinese version. As the Tibetan manuscript does not contain the complete text, His Holiness has added the final section from the Chinese Dunhuang manuscripts and the Taisho Tripitka, which he has translated into Tibetan. In this way he has provided the first complete Tibetan translation of the Record of the Masters and Disciples of the Lanka Tradition.
This book is both a scholarly edition and a continuation of the work of the early Tibetan practitioners of Zen, which began in the eighth century during the reign of the emperor Tri Song Detsen. I am very pleased that the International Dunhuang Project has been able to assist in this worthwhile project by providing the images of the manuscript of IOL Tib J 710.

Sam van Schaik
Research Project Manager, International Dunhuang Project, The British Library
For ordering information about this book please contact The Office of His Holiness Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Masters of the Golden Rosary Lineage

masters001Masters of the Golden Rosary Lineage recounts the life stories of the Drikung Kagyu throne-holders from the beginning of the lineage until the present day. Subtitled Life and Liberation Stories of Drigung Kagyü Throne-holders, this fine book is based on texts translated and edited by Khenpo Tsültrim Tenzin and Dr. Hun Lye.

The first part of the biographies up to the 28th throne-holder, the 3rd Drikung Chungtsang, Tenzin Chökyi Nyima (1755-1792), are based on The Golden Garland of the Throne Lineage (Denrab Chöjung Serthreng, gdan rabs chos byung gser phreng). This famous work had been composed by the 4th Drikung Chetsang, Tenzin Peme Gyaltsen (1770-1826) in the early nineteenth century. Peme Gyaltsen’s sources were chronicles and works by earlier Drikung lineage holders as well as the Dharma history of Pawo Tsuglag Threngwa (1504–1566). Peme Gyaltsen’s text had been extensively revised by the present Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang. For the biographies from Peme Gyaltsen up to the present throne-holders, Drikung Kyabgön Chungtsang and Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang, the authors have mostly relied on the voluminous Religious History of Drikung Kagyu (‘Bri gung chos byung) by Dakpo Chenga Rinpoche.

Of course this book does not present a history in the strict sense of the word, as it is a compilation of so called Namthar (rnam thar), “lives of liberation”. Namthar is a special genre in Tibetan Buddhist literature of spiritual careers of eminent individuals as religious biographies. These comprise the “outer” career of external deeds and the “inner” and “secret” life stories of learning, reflection, meditative experience, and realization. Although these accounts are embedded in a historical framework, history is only one aspect of the narrative. Nonetheless Masters of the Golden Rosary Lineage is an indispensable source for those who want to gain a deeper understanding of the roots of the Drikung Kagyu lineage in its historical and spiritual dimension.

The marvelously produced book is illustrated with brilliant full-page color plates of an exquisite set of thangkas depicting the Drikung Kagyu throne-holders as well as numerous additional pictures, thus making it not only a highly recommended read, but also an intriguing iconographical discovery.

masters003The first edition was published as a special limited edition of 108 copies at the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Tibetan Meditation Center, Frederick, ML. As the authors received many requests for the book, they were able to produce this magnificent revised edition primarily thanks to the generous financial support of Dr. and Mrs. Hoh Shu Chin from Malaysia, while Millard Pate of Vajra Publications shouldered the burden of producing this second edition. May this work reach the large audience it certainly deserves.

 


Masters of the Golden Rosary Lineage
Life and Liberation Stories of Drigung Kagyü Throne-holders

Khenpo Tsültrim Tenzin & Hun Lye
Vajra Publications, Gainesville, FL
ISBN 0-9655988-6-1, 114pp.

Price: US $45.00

For purchasing the book, individuals and centers should contact Tibetan Meditation Center at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Kyobpa Jigten Sumgön: Gongchig

gong

The Gongchig (The Single Intent or the Unified Enlightened-Thought) is regarded as the most distinctive teaching of the Drigung Kagyu lineage. It represents the culmination of Kyobpa Jigten Sumgön’s (1143-1217) study, practice and realization of sutra and tantra teachings as bestowed exclusively on his heart-son, Chenga Sherab Jungne (1187-1241).

It is of great benefit not only to the followers of the Drikung Kagyu lineage but for Dharma practitioners in general that this highly significant text is now available for the first time in an English as well as in a German translation. It was translated by the Drikung Kagyu Institute's translator training program under the guidance of Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche. The translation not only includes the root text of Kyobpa Rinpoche’s teachings as recorded by Chenga Sherab Jungne, but also the Nyima Nangwa (nyi ma snang ba), an important commentary by the 1st Chungtsang Rinpoche, Rigzin Chökyi Drakpa (1595-1659).

The title of the treatise, The Single Intent, points to the fact that Jigten Sumgön's and the Buddha's intentions were the same. As Rinchen Jangchub, the younger brother of Sherab Jungne and the first commentator of the Gongchig put it: “Each of the vajra-statements has a different meaning, yet in every single statement the meaning of all is summarized. Therefore this teaching is identical with the intention of the Buddha."

The Gongchig consists of 152 main vajra-statements (rdo rje'i gsung) with forty-six auxiliary or supplementary vajra-statements. Chenga Sherab Jungne later organized these vajra-statements into eight chapters:

 

1. The Synopsis of the Vital Points of the Wheels of the Dharma (thirty statements),
2. The Synopsis of the Vital Points of Dependent Origination (fifteen statements),
3. The Synopsis of the Vital Points of the Vinaya Pratimokśa (twenty statements),
4. The Synopsis of the Vital Points of the Bodhisattva Training (twenty-four statements),
5. The Vows of the Knowledge-bearers of the Secret-Mantra (twenty-eight statements),
6. The Special View, Meditation and Conduct (twenty statements),
7. The Resultant Ground of Buddhahood (fifty statements) and
8. The Auxiliary Statements (forty-six statements)

 

The meaning of the term “vajra statement” has been explained by Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen in his introduction to Rigdzin Chökyi Dragpa's Nyima Nangwa in the following manner: “Since (these statements) cannot be separated from the ultimate nature of the interdependent origination of all phenomena, they are called "vajra"; since they cannot turn away from that natural state to something else, they are called "vajra"; since it is difficult to make them the objects of the intellectual sphere of dialecticians, they are called "vajra"; and since they totally uproot non-realization, erroneous notions and doubt - the great mountain of ignorant error - they are called "vajra."

After its dissemination, the profound but sometimes radical contents of the Gongchig sparked many debates among the Tibetan masters in the course of the centuries. A number of treatises have been written opposing and praising the Gongchig. Among those are commentaries by Chödrak Yeshe (the 4th Red-Hat Karmapa, 1453-1524), Mikyö Dorje (the 8th Black-Hat Karmapa, 1507-1554), and Chökyi Wangchuk (the 6th Red-Hat Karmapa, 1584-1635). Recently the learned Drikung Kagyu scholar Dagpo Chenga Rinpoche published The Ornament of Gongchig, a detailed refutation of criticism brought forward against this text.

 

Jigten Sumgon
Gongchig. The Single Intent, the Sacred Dharma
With commentary entitled
The Lamp Dispelling the Darkness
by Rigdzin Chokyi Dragpa
From Tbetan to English
By Markus Viehbeck
280 pages
Price: € 18,80 + shipping
ISBN 978-3-933529-28-2
The work may be ordered directly from the publishers at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Collected Works of Jigten Sumgön

jskabumHis Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche comments on the precious Jigten Sumgön Kabum:

The entire collected works of the founder of the Drikung Lineage, Jigten Sumgön, the Dharma King of the Triple World (1134-1217), is now available in Tibetan in a beautiful four volume hard bound set. It is a must for any Drikung Kagyu Center or Tibetan Scholar. The Collected Teachings or Kabum (‘bka ‘bum) of Jigten Sumgon are not an elaborate or flowery presentation of the Buddha Dharma. The Kabum records his personal and direct experience shared with his closest disciples. Most of Kyobpa Jigten Gönpo’s Kabum is based upon the words of his root guru, the great Kagyu master Phagmodrupa (1110–1170). Both the words of Jigten Sumgön and those of his teacher are based on the Palchen (phal chen, Avatamsaka Sutra) and Konchog Zegpa (dkon mchog brtsegs pa, Ratnakuta Sutra), both original teachings of Lord Buddha Shakyamuni. Kyobpa Jigten Gönpo’s outer teachings are called The Jewel Treasure Store. Kyobpa Jigten Gönpo’s inner profound teachings are called The Jewel Rosary.

The history of the compilation of the Kyobpa’s Kabum extends over many centuries. For three hundred years after the founding of the Drikung Kagyu Lineage the teachings remained for the most part dispersed and secret. In a history written by the 5th Dalai Lama it is said that during the first flowering of the Drikung Kagyu Lineage there were more than 180 000 disciples, but even with this large number of disciples the teachings of the Kyobpa remained so secret that the Kabum was not completely compiled. Indeed, even today the collection of teachings that we possess represents only a part of Kyobpa Jigten Gönpo’s total teachings, and we are still discovering manuscripts of his teachings in India and Nepal that are not in the Kabum. In the time of the 16th Drikung Kagyu Throne Holder, Gyalwang Kunga Rinchen (1475–1527), the first officially edited version of the outer Kyobpa Kabum was published in five volumes, with the inner profound teachings included in two volumes. It was written in gold and silver ink on black paper.

In the present collection all of Kyobpa Jigten Gönpo’s outer teachings and his inner profound teachings that are now known have been included. A total of eleven volumes of Kyobpa Jigten Sumgön’s Kabum will be published.

Gönpo’s Kabum is published by the Drikung Kagyu Institute’s Songtsen Library. The editors were myself, the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, and Drong Ngur Kalsang Chöphel.
I pray that this noble work contributes to Buddha’s teachings and benefits many sentient beings.

Complete Set (4 Hardbound Volumes) $100 USD plus Shipping
Orders for the Jigten Sumgön Kabum can be sent to:

Songtsen Library
Center for Tibetan and Himalayan Studies
P.O. Kulhan
Sahastradhara Road
Dehra Dun 248001
UA/India

Phone +91 135 2607810 and +91 135 2607811
Fax +91 135 2607813

E-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website www.songtsen-library.net 

Phagmodrupa: Engaging by Stages in the Teachings of the Buddha

phagdruSince four years a training course in the translation of ancient Tibetan Buddhist texts is underway at Drikung Kagyu Institute at Dehra Dun, India. The goal is to educate students to attain skills and greater perfection in translation. Guided and supervised by Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche, Khenpos (teachers) from the Drikung Kagyu Institute teach and train translations of texts from the Drikung Kagyu lineage on a daily basis to western students, who reside in the Kagyu College or in the Songtsen Library. The Tara Foundation from Germany is generously supporting this significant program.

Three years ago Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen wrote: “I am very grateful for this opportunity, and am very confident that this training will be successful and will result in the translation of many important Dharma texts as well as provide for the interpretation of many Dharma talks and teachings by the great teachers of our time in various Dharma centers. This will benefit many people in the West and in the world at large.”

Now the first fruit of this endeavor has manifested with the publication of the text Engaging by Stages in the Teaching of the Buddha by Phagmodrupa Dorje Gyalpo (1110-1170) translated by the students in the program. Phagmodrupa, a principal disciple and Dharma heir of Gampopa (1079-1153), was the founder of the Phagdru Kagyu and established his monastic seat Densa Thil at Phagmodru in 1159. Later the eight foremost among his many great disciples established their own lineages. One of them was Kyobpa Jigten Sumgön , the founder of the Drikung Kagyu, who was appointed Phagmodrupa's vajra-seat regent.

Engaging by Stages in the Teachings of the Buddha is a work similar to the famous Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, but shorter and more straightforward. Phagmodrupa illustrates the stages of the path with utmost lucidity, providing references to authoritative texts, historical examples and employing logical analysis. His description of the six paramitas is especially valuable, and worth being read and studied thoroughly.

The edition contains two translations from the classical Tibetan text Engaging by Stages in the Teachings of the Buddha, along with a translation of Phagmodrupa’s biography from a modern Tibetan collection, as well as the original Tibetan texts.

Engaging by Stages in the Teachings of the Buddha has been published in a fine edition by Otter Verlag, Munich, Germany, in two volumes in a slim case (384 pages) and sells for € 14.00 plus shipping and handling. The work may be ordered directly from the publishers at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Subcategories

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

ABOUT DHARMA
Buddhadharma
Dharmawheel
The Four Noble Truth
Dharma Practice


BUDDHIST BELIEFS
What is the Mind?
Reincarnation
Karma
Renunciation
Loving Kindness and Compassion

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

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