Biography Series

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Drokmi Lotsāwa

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Translations of various namthar (rnam thar) or biographical and autobiographical works:


This short autobiography, composed in verse, covers the main events in the great treasure-revealer’s life from 1829, the year of his birth, until 1865, which was five years before he passed away at the age of 42.

Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö wrote this brief autobiography as a supplement to the collected biographies of lineage masters for the Chöd (gcod) practice known as The Whispered Transmission of Machik's Secret Conduct (ma gcig gsang spyod snyan brgyud) or The Whispered Transmission of Thangtong Gyalpo (thang stong snyan brgyud).

Jamyang Khyentse wrote this verse autobiography at the request of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910–1991). Its detailed lists of teachings received, practices accomplished and teachings given later formed the basis of the full biography that Dilgo Khyentse himself wrote.

This outer autobiography in verse was likely composed in 1786 at the request of the Sakya throne-holder, Jamgön Wangdü Nyingpo (1763–1809).

The late Khenpo Petse Rinpoche wrote this brief autobiography in or around 1997, when he was in his mid-60s. It is primarily a list of what he received from his various teachers, presented with characteristic humility.

Sera Khandro composed this verse autobiography, which is suitable for daily recitation, in 1929, two years after completing a longer, more detailed account of her life. As with many other biographical works in the Tibetan tradition, the story is itself a Dharma teaching, demonstrating the importance of following one’s heart, persevering in the face of difficulties, and cultivating complete trust and devotion

Biographical Prayer

This short prayer based on the life and liberation of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö (1893–1959) was composed by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche in the presence of the master's reliquary.

Poetic verses summarizing the liberational life story (rnam thar) and attainments of Khandro Yeshe Tsogyal.

This biographical prayer to Do Khyentse Yeshe Dorje was written by the master himself at the request of a king (sa dbang), most likely Namkha Lhundrup of Trokyap.

This biographical prayer (rnam thar gsol 'debs) to Tertön Sogyal Lerab Lingpa was written by fellow tertön, Drimé Ösal Lingpa, at the request of the latter's son, Pema Wangchuk.

Jamgön Kongtrul composed this biographical prayer (rnam thar gsol 'debs) to Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo by extracting verses from a longer prayer to the masters of the Shangpa Kagyü lineage. For this edition, which is found in the Rinchen Terdzö, Jamyang Khyense Chökyi Lodrö composed three additional verses that refer to Khyentse Wangpo's parinirvāṇa and rebirth.

Jamgön Kongtrul’s biographical prayer to Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa (1829–1870) details the master's life and legacy, especially his terma revelations and accomplishments. The text is included within the Rinchen Terdzö collection.

Jamgön Kongtrul wrote this biographical prayer (rnam thar gsol 'debs) to Guru Padmasambhava at the request of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. It focuses on the deeds the Precious Guru is said to have performed on the tenth day of each month, when he is commemorated by his followers.

Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye composed this beautiful prayer summarizing Samten Lingpa’s famous terma biography of Khandro Yeshe Tsogyal in 1893 at the request of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and the yoginī Doshul Khandro.

This prayer is the only known source for key biographical information about Jamyang Khyenrab Tayé (1862–1937), a master from whom Jamyang Khyentse received the Kālacakra empowerment and other teachings.

This prayer beautifully summarizes the Padma Kathang (The Chronicles of Padma), one of the most famous and influential of Guru Padmasambhava's many biographies. It reveals how Guru Rinpoche manifests in an infinite variety of forms in order to protect and spread the Buddhadharma.

Jigme Lingpa wrote this prayer recalling his own life and liberation at the request of the First Dodrupchen, Jigme Trinlé Özer (1745–1821). The prayer includes a summary of his previous lives, as well as his most important accomplishments and qualities, when—as he puts it—he emphasized the positive.

This short biographical prayer (rnam thar gsol 'debs) to Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820–1892) is drawn from the collection of texts known as The Whispered Transmission of Thangtong Gyalpo (thang stong snyan brgyud).

This prayer recalling the accomplishments of Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche, written by the master himself, was later supplemented by additional verses composed by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö at the behest of Khenpo Kunpal (1862–1943).

This prayer in 26 verses recounts the major events of the life of Guru Padmasambhava, from his miraculous birth upon a lotus to his final departure from Tibet for the land of the rakṣasas. Upon recollecting each stage or episode in the Guru's life, the reader requests empowerment and blessings.

A prayer to Guru Rinpoche recounting eleven significant deeds in his life: 1) forming the enlightened intention to tame beings, 2) descending into the lotus flower, 3) spontaneously taking birth, 4) enjoying the pleasures of a prince, 5) taking ordination, 6) practicing various austerities, 7) overcoming Māra's hosts, 8) attaining complete awakening, 9) turning the wheel of the Dharma, 10) engaging in yogic disciplines, and 11) hiding terma treasures to spread the Dharma far and wide.

This prayer, which recounts Mandāravā’s lives and liberation, forms the 37th chapter of Samten Lingpa’s famous terma biography of Princess Mandāravā.

A supplication prayer that recalls Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche's thirty previous incarnations and their major accomplishments, as well as the master's own life and future emanations.


Alak Zenkar's brief biography of Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye (1813–1899) summarizes the great master's extraordinary education and activity, especially his remarkable literary output, which resulted in the so-called 'Five Great Treasuries' (mdzod chen lnga).

Alak Zenkar summarizes the remarkable life and liberation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820–1892), showing how he mastered the so-called 'eight great chariots of the practice lineage' (sgrub brgyud shing rta chen po brgyad) and received the seven special transmissions or 'descents' (bka' babs bdun). Zenkar Rinpoche also briefly summarizes Khyentse Wangpo's collected writings, which are divided into nine main categories.

Alak Zenkar Rinpoche offers a concise account of the extraordinary life and teaching career of Dza Patrul Orgyen Jigme Chökyi Wangpo (1808–1887), one of the most influential Tibetan masters of the nineteenth century. The biography has been reprinted a number of times since it was first published in the 1980s, and is included in most recent editions of Patrul's most famous work, Kun bzang bla ma'i zhal lung.

In this brief account, Zenkar Rinpoche summarizes the education and activity of Shechen Gyaltsab Gyurme Pema Namgyal (1871–1926), and outlines the contents of the thirteen volumes of his collected writings.

A brief biography of the Gelugpa geshe Drakkar Lobzang Palden Tendzin Nyendrak (blo bzang dpal ldan bstan 'dzin snyan grags, 1866–1929), who famously debated with Ju Mipham (1846–1912), composed his own Dzogchen treatise, and passed on the transmission for a number of major collections including the Kangyur.

This brief introduction to the life and works of Kharlek Tulku Pema Kunzang Rangdrol (1916–1984) was originally written as an introduction to the master's non-sectarian Dharma history.

This brief sketch of Jetsün Tāranātha's life provides details of his education and accomplishments and lists his main students and most important writings.

This concise biography of the eighth-century master from Uḍḍīyana, Guru Padmasambhava, who established Buddhism in Tibet, was revealed in 1856 by the great treasure-revealer Chokgyur Lingpa as part of the Sevenfold Cycle of Profundity (zab pa skor bdun). The text consists of ten short chapters, each related to a different aspect of the master’s life and activities.

Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche (b.1951) composed this short biography of his father, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (1920–1996), following repeated requests from the khenpos, tulkus, vajra masters, and senior monks of Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling, as well as from disciples at Nagi Gompa, Asura Cave retreat centre, and other Dharma centres.

A brief biography of Kunga Palden (1878–1944), one of the main disciples of Orgyen Tendzin Norbu (1841–1900), from whom he is said to have inherited the 'practice lineage' (while Khenpo Shenga inherited the lineage of study). Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, the biography's author, received instruction on tsa-lung yoga and Lama Yangtik from Kunga Palden and also benefitted from the master's kindness after being scalded in a childhood accident.

These verses in praise of Rogza Sönam Palge (rog bza' bsod nams dpal dge, 1800–1884) provide a rough sketch of the master's life, including his dates. In fact, this is the only known text that specifies the years of his birth and parinirvāṇa.

This seven-chapter biography is a late example of the Kathang (bka' thang) genre, a versified chronicle of Padmasambhava's life as recounted to Emperor Tri Songdetsen and his subjects. The text is unusually detailed in its description of Padmasambhava's personal practice, listing dozens of places where he meditated, how long he stayed, which practices he performed, which results he gained, and so on. It concludes with a chapter that includes prophecies and practical advice for the people of Tibet.

The tenth day of each lunar month of the Tibetan calendar is connected to a key event in the life of Guru Padmasambhava. In this brief text, Dudjom Rinpoche—who refers to himself here as "Padma's messenger"—explains the correlation of these events and the particular benefits that accrue from observing practice on such days.

Getse Mahāpaṇḍita wrote this catalogue to the collected writings of Jigme Lingpa on the occasion of their publication in Derge in or after 1802. He begins with a biography of Jigme Lingpa, then identifies the patrons of the printing, the King and Queen of Derge, and the one who requested the publication, Dodrupchen Jigme Trinle Özer. This is followed by the actual catalogue, which lists all Jigme Lingpa’s writings except those of the Longchen Nyingtik revelation, for which there is a separate catalogue by Jigme Losal Özer.

Gönpo Tseten Rinpoche wrote this explanation of the significance of the Tenth Day (or Guru Rinpoche Day) of each lunar month for his American students, in California in 1981. He tells the life-story of Guru Rinpoche, highlights the significance of the tenth day, explains the practice of gaṇacakra, and outlines its benefits.

This epic of Guru Padmasambhava, as recorded by Khandro Yeshe Tsogyal, was revealed by Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye as a “siddhi”. The text consists of ten short chapters, each related to a different aspect of the master’s life and activities.

Extracted from the famous collection of the life stories of 108 treasure revealers called A Precious Garland of Lapis Lazuli, this account of Guru Padmasambhava's life and liberation synthesises and even comments upon earlier sources.

Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö wrote this to supplement the collected biographies of lineage masters for the Chöd (gcod) practice known as The Whispered Transmission of Thangtong Gyalpo (thang stong snyan brgyud). It was Gyurme Jamyang Tenpel (as well as Katok Situ Chökyi Gyatso) who transmitted the practice to Jamyang Khyentse.

Brief surveys, taken from Jamyang Khyentse's personal notebook, of the life of Ngadak Sempa Chenpo Chögyal Puntsok Rigdzin (1592–1656) and the lives of the incarnations of Lhatsün Namkha Jigme (1597–1650)

This commentary to Jamgön Kongtrul’s biographical prayer to Chokgyur Lingpa, The Melody of the Auspicious Spiralled Conch, discusses the great tertön's life and legacy, celebrating, in particular, his terma revelations and accomplishments.

This brief biography of Khenpo Pema Vajra describes his early studies at Dzogchen Monastery and his path to becoming a teacher at its famous Śrī Siṃha college. It also details his later career at the nearby hermitage in Peme Thang, 'Lotus Plain', where he taught many of the most influential figures of nineteenth-century Kham.

This brief account of the life of Böpa Tulku (1898/1900/1902–1959), who is renowned for his Prajñāpāramitā commentaries and his systematic presentations of Ju Mipham's philosophy, was written by his direct disciple, Khenpo Pema Tsewang Lhundrup.

Shenpen Nangwa offered this brief biography of Ācārya Vasubandhu as an introduction to his annotational commentary (mchan 'grel) on the verses of the Treasury of Abhidharma (Abhidharmakośa).

Khenpo Tsöndrü's brief biography of his own teacher Khenchen Abu Lhagang (1879–1955), alias Pema Tekchok Loden, tells how he studied under some of the most illustrious masters of his day before serving as khenpo for eight years at the famed monastic college of Dzogchen Śrī Siṃha and then retiring to a nearby cave in order to focus on meditative practice.

This short biography of the great master Adzom Drukpa Drodül Pawo Dorje is written in verse in the form of an invocation. It was composed by Lhundrup Tso (1864–1946), the paternal grandmother of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche.

This revelation of Orgyen Lingpa, discovered at Samye Chimphu, provides a brief account of Guru Padmasambhava's life and deeds. Each of its sixteen chapters describes eight features, beginning with Padmasambhava's eight manifestations, his eight life-giving fathers, eight mothers, and so on. The text concludes with a series of prophecies.

Translated from audio recordings of talks given in Lerab Ling, France on August 23 & 24, 1996.

Translated from audio recordings of talks given in Lerab Ling, France on August 18 & 23, 1996.

Tāranātha composed this biography of Padmasambhava in 1610. It is unique insofar as it does not follow the version of the life-story recounted in numerous terma texts. Instead, it follows the historical perspective of the Testimony of Ba, as well as several Nyingma tantras and their commentaries.



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