Biography Series

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Drokmi Lotsāwa

Further Information:

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


Biographical Prayer

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 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.

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


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.

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 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 in the 8th century, 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 relating to a different aspect of the master’s life and activities.

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 Trisong Detsen 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.

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.

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.

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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