Biography Ofkhensur Rinpoche

The following article is from the Spring, 1996 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

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Khensur Rinpoche

Khensur Rinpoche was born in 1934 in Kham, eastern Tibet and, at the age of ten, entered Ba Zingon Monastery in Kham. At the monastery for eight years, he followed the basic monastic studies, including memorizing sadhanas, initiation rites and other related scriptures of Guhyasamaja and Yamantaka, and invocations of the five principal protector deities in the Gelugpa tradition.

At the age of 18, Khensur Rinpoche journeyed to central Tibet and joined Drepung Loseling College of Drepung Monastic University near Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. At Drepung, he pursued vigorous scholastic studies on the five great treatises: pramana (logic and epistemology), prajnaparamita (metaphysics), madhyamaka (middle way philosophy), vinaya (discipline), and abhidharma (cosmology). For seven years, as a junior student, Khensur Rinpoche studied collected topics (bsdus-grwa), science of mind and reasoning (blo-rigs and rtags-rigs), Buddhist and non-Buddhist tenet systems, and pramana.

In 1959, Khensur Rinpoche fled Chinese-occupied Tibet, following His Holiness the Dalai Lama to India. As a refugee in India, in 1960 he continued his studies at Buxa in eastern India, where a temporary monastery was created at which refugee monks could continue their studies. Rinpoche completed all his remaining required studies in prajnaparamita, madhyamaka, vinaya, and abhidharma.

In 1970, Rinpoche moved to Mundgod, southern India, where Drepung Monastic University was finally able to build its permanent assembly hall and residences for monks. Rinpoche completed two more years of further study in Mundgod, and then went to Sarnath, where he studied until 1977. Rinpoche returned to Drepung to take his final Geshe degree, the highest scholastic degree. His scholastic achievement earned him the highest honor degree, Geshe Lharampa.

Khensur Rinpoche was then invited to teach at Namgyal Monastery, where he served as senior teacher for 14 years, teaching both sutra and tantra In 1991, His Holiness the Dalai Lama appointed him Abbot of the monastery and he served in that office until 1994. In 1995, His Holiness the Dalai Lama appointed Khensur Rinpoche Abbot and senior resident teacher at Namgyal Monastery in Ithaca, New York.

During his studies at various monastic universities, not only did Khensur Rinpoche study core geshe curriculum under many renowned scholars, but he also received various tantric initiations and teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, his two tutors, and other esteemed scholars including Zong Rinpoche, Kalu Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Khrul Zhi Rinpoche, and Cho Gyay Khrichen Rinpoche. After joining Namgyal Monastery, Rinpoche received initiations and teachings of Guhyasamaja, Chakrasamvara, Yamantaka, Kalachakra, and Vajrakila, along with other tantric deities of all four traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.

As abbot of Namgyal Monastery, he presided over all the religious ceremonies of the Tibetan government-in-exile and accompanied His Holiness the Dalai Lama, including in 1991 to New York City for the Kalachakra initiation at Madison Square Garden. ä_æ

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