A Tribute to His Holiness the 3rd Kyabje Penor Rinpoche

At the height of the ban on Dorje Shugden in the late 1990s, Tibetan communities throughout India lived constantly under the fear of witchhunts. Shugden practitioners were not permitted to speak to or associate with non-practitioners in any way. There arose an iron silence between Shugden devotees and the rest of the world both in spiritual and secular affairs.

This was a time when Shugden practitioners found themselves completely ostracized and estranged from their community and people. They were denied access to the most basic necessities. Worse yet was that it was their own fellow Tibetans who were discriminating against them the most. Tibetan grocery shops were not even permitted to sell goods to Shugden practitioners.

It was at this time that the great Nyingma Lama, H.H. the 3rd Kyabje Penor Rinpoche, opened his own monastery in Bylakuppe, South India for Dorje Shugden monks living nearby – especially from Serpom Monastery – to obtain supplies. This move directly contravened orders issued by the Tibetan government for people NOT to associate with Shugden practitioners in any way.

It was a shocking statement from H.H. Penor Rinpoche but not one that anybody could counter. The Dalai Lama and Tibetan government knew that they would not be able to speak against this as their orders about Dorje Shugden could be issued only within the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. No other sect would tolerate criticism, bans or regulations on practices issued by the Dalai Lama, who is from the Gelug sect.

The kindness of opening up his Namdroling Nyingma Monastery to Shugden practitioners to purchase supplies was simply because H.H. Penor Rinpoche understood the difficulties they were facing and acknowledged their need for the most basic necessities. There was nothing political in this move; just the wish to help fellow Buddhists and monks.

H.H. Penor Rinpoche exemplified a totally non-sectarian and humanitarian vision which clearly manifested in his allowing Shugden monks to come to his monastery to purchase supplies and other necessities during their time of need. We at DorjeShugden.com fold our hands and humbly salute this great living Bodhisattva who, during degenerate times, was a pure embodiment of Guru Padmasambhava’s compassion, wisdom and activities.

H.H. Penor Rinpoche never issued any comments against Dorje Shugden or those who chose to continue their Shugden practice. Nor was he seen running to Dharamsala to attend teachings and pujas to the Dalai Lama, or getting involved with Tibetan politics. He was a Lama who practiced his own lineage perfectly without getting involved with politics. His example was one of a great sense of Dharma purpose – a truly evolved being and very inspiring.

In the light of the difficult Dorje Shugden ban, H.H. Penor Rinpoche showed an entire community of Buddhist practitioners the true practice of kindness and equanimity. He showed what it really means to relieve the suffering of others, not add to it. Above all, he proved what it means to live the Dharma, and not just preach by its words and politics.

For more information about this great master, check out these links:

H.H. Penor Rinpoche sympathetic to Dorje Shugden Monks

Biography of the Third Kyabje Penor Rinpoche

All of us at DorjeShugden.com make this virtual offering of a butterlamp to the very holy master H.H. the 3rd Kyabje Penor Rinpoche, requesting his incarnation to return swiftly and remain among us for thousands of years to continue turning the wheel of Dharma and benefiting countless beings.




Extracted from Palyul Ling International: PalyulLing.com

The Third Drubwang Pema Norbu (“Penor”) Rinpoche was born in the Powo region of Kham, East Tibet to Sonam Gyurme (father) and Dzom Kyi (mother) during the twelfth month of the lunar calendar the year of the Water Monkey (1932). His birth took place during the most bitter, cold, bleak and dry part of the winter season, a time when nothing grows and the land is blanketed with thick, deep, heavy snow. Yet at the time of his birth, sweetly-scented flowers burst into blossoms all around the home of the infant tulku. Moreover, two search parties for the new tulku, one sent by Dzogchen Rinpoche and one sent by Khenchen Ngagi Wangpo, met each other at the same time at this same house, thus confirming the recognition without doubt. Communications and travel in the high mountains of Eastern Tibet were not as speedy as today so this was considered to be a very auspicious sign.

Khenchen Ngagi Wangpo Rinpoche foresaw the exceptional destiny of the new incarnation. In 1936, the year of the Fire Mouse, the young Pema Norbu (“Penor”) Rinpoche was invited to the Palyul monastery where he took refuge with the great and learned Khenpo. Khenchen Ngagi Wangpo Rinpoche performed the traditional hair-cutting ceremony and gave him the name “Dhongag Shedrup Tenzin.” Khen Rinpoche then granted him the long life empowerment of Amitayus and composed the long-life prayer which was chanted daily by thousands of Penor Rinpoche’s followers all over the world through until the time of his parinirvana.

Penor Rinpoche turning the wheel of Dharma for devotees

Rinpoche was formally enthroned by his master Thubten Chökyi Dawa (1894-1959) [the second Chögtrul Rinpoche], and Karma Thekchok Nyingpo (1908-1958) [the fourth Karma Kuchen Rinpoche]. In time, Penor Rinpoche would become the Eleventh Throneholder of Palyul Monastery with its more than four hundred branch monasteries. He spent many years at Palyul, studying and receiving teachings from numerous masters and scholars. He received mind-to-mind transmission from Lungtrul Rinpoche Shedrup Tenpai Nyima. He also received training and instructions from the Fourth Karma Kuchen Rinpoche, the Tenth Throneholder, who carefully prepared him as his successor. In turn, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche trained the Fifth Karma Kuchen Rinpoche.

There are many instances demonstrating Penor Rinpoche’s extraordinary powers even as a young child. On one occasion he was playing with an old and precious vajra when it suddenly slipped through his fingers and dropped to the ground, breaking in two. Fearing a reprimand from his teacher, he quickly glued it back together with his own saliva, making the vajra stronger than ever before. A similar incident occurred later on when, during the Chasum ceremony, he accidentally dropped his ritual bell onto the stone floor. Everyone assumed that the bell had shattered, but when Penor Rinpoche picked it up, it was unbroken and rang even more sweetly than before. At the age of 15, Penor Rinpoche left his footprint in stone near Dago retreat monastery above Palyul where it can still be seen today.

Once while he was still young, Rinpoche was approached by an old man who insisted that he practice Phowa for him. Innocently he complied with the request. At the end of the practice, he shocked to see that the old man had passed away – the Phowa had worked only too well! Immediately he started to practice again, to revive the corpse lying there in front of him. To his immense relief, the old man came back to life, but instead of thanking him, he shouted, “For heaven’s sake, why did you bring me back? I was already in the Pure Land of the Buddha Amitabha!” For many years following, the old man’s great grandson worked at Namdroling Monastery in India.

Penor Rinpoche has dedicated his life to the spread of the Nyingma lineage

Penor Rinpoche studied with many lamas, benefiting most deeply from the warm and close relationship he enjoyed with his great master, the Second Chögtrul Rinpoche. At his lay ordination, Chögtrul Rinpoche gave him the name Thubten Lekshe Chökyi Drayang, “Upholder of Buddha’s Teaching with the Eloquent Speech of Melodious Dharma.” At Dago retreat monastery, he received and engaged in the Namchö Dzogchen preliminary practice teachings of Sangye Lakchang, “Buddha in the Palm of the Hand.” He also learned general subjects, including writing, poetry, astrology and medicine, and went on to study the sutras with Khenpo Nuden, Khenpo Sonam Dondrup and Khenpo Gondrup.

At the age of twelve, in the water sheep year 1944, Penor Rinpoche began to receive the most important transmissions and empowerments of the Nyingma School. From Chögtrul Rinpoche he received the Great Empowerment of the Kagyé and the Rinchen Terdzö empowerments, transmissions and secret sealed protector empowerments. From Karma Kuchen Rinpoche, he received the Namchö, the terma revelations of Ratna Lingpa and the major empowerments of the cycles of Kagye and Lama Gongdu.

At the age of thirteen, he received novice (getsul) ordination and with it the name “Dongak Shedrup Tendzin Chokle Namgyal” (All-Victorious Holder of the Teachings of Study and Practice of the Sutras and Tantras). At twenty-one he took full (gelong) ordination with his master at Tarthang Monastery and received a vast number of teachings covering all the essential instructions and empowerments of the Nyingma tradition. This lineage of the vinaya is a very pure one, transmitted to Tibet by Shantarakshita during the time of Padmasambhava.

At the time of his ordination, Chögtrul Rinpoche offered Penor Rinpoche the yellow robe that had been treasured and handed down by generations of lineage holders. Despite the tremendous difficulties of escaping from Tibet, Penor Rinpoche was to carry this robe with him all the way to India while leaving behind many other precious possessions. As a direct result, during his life in exile he was able to ordain more than 10,000 monks and nuns, so making a priceless contribution towards the stability of the vinaya vows and Vajrayana practice during this age of degeneration.

From the great Khenpo of Kathok monastery, Khenpo Lekshe Jorden, Penor Rinpoche received many transmissions. One special one was the Kham tradition of the Anuyoga empowerment of the Do Gongpa Dup through Mokton Dorje Palzang’s famous empowerment ceremony “The River of Honey.” Penor Rinpoche also received the ancient tradition of Kathok monastery and at the same time the empowerments, transmissions and teachings of Jamgon Kongtrul’s “Treasury of Essential Instruction;” Tertön Dorje Lingpa’s “Condensed Utterance of the Lama;” the Dorje Lingpa terma “Hung Kor Nyingtik;” Ngari’s Complete Condensation of Kagye; and Lerab Lingpa’s great terma revelation, the cycle of Tendrel Nyesel. The transmissions he received from Karma Kuchen Rinpoche included Nyelpa Delek’s Anu Yoga empowerment from the Rinchen Trengwa tradition.

Another of his teachers was Khenpo Khyentse Lodrö, also known as Khenpo Nuden, from Kathok. In a forest above the Dago retreat centre, Khenpo Khyentse Lodrö performed the Drupchen of the Anuyoga Dupa Do, at the same time giving the very first transmission of his newly written four volumes on Anuyoga. Khenpo told the following story. Before the second Drubwang Pema Norbu had passed away, he had given the Khenpo a small knife. At the time he had not given it much thought, but now he realized what this had really meant. The knife represented the sword of wisdom, and when he handed it to him, it was as if Pema Norbu was granting the Khenpo his blessing to finish writing these important new treatises, so as to be able to transmit them to his next incarnation.

From Khenpo Pema Jigme, a learned Khenpo from the Palyul tradition in Golok, Penor Rinpoche received the nine volumes of Jigme Lingpa’s collected works, the thirteen chapters of Karma Chagme’s “Ah Cho” and the collected works of So Wangdrak Gyatso. While he was receiving this transmission, Penor Rinpoche began to make intricately woven knots in blessing cords with his tongue, something which is done only by the most highly accomplished masters. He continued to make these special blessing cords until 1958. They were renowned for affording powerful protection when worn. One such cord is kept and treasured by one of his attendants today.

Around this same time, Penor Rinpoche happened to write the syllable Ah on a white conch shell. Once the ink had worn away, the syllable remained embossed on the shell. This shell is still kept as an object of veneration in Palyul monastery in Tibet.

Penor Rinpoche’s Monastery, Namdroling Nyingma Monastery, in South India

Having received all the transmissions of the Kangyur and Tengyur, as well as completing a Vajrakilaya retreat, Penor Rinpoche entered into retreat with his master Chögtrul Rinpoche. To go into retreat with one’s own teacher is a rare privilege enjoyed by very few. Penor Rinpoche spent four consecutive years in retreat at Tarthang Monastery in the same room as his master. Already elderly and with failing eyesight, Chögtrul Rinpoche endured great personal hardship in order to give Penor Rinpoche virtually all the transmissions practiced in the Palyul tradition emphasizing the empowerments, transmissions and secret oral instructions of Tertön Migyur Dorje’s Namchö and the terma revelations of Ratna Lingpa.

Beginning with Ngöndro, up to the most profound innermost teachings of Dzogchen, he stressed every practice until the naked truth was revealed to his young disciple. He said, “If I am not able to transmit all the empowerments, transmissions and teachings to the third Pema Norbu Rinpoche before I leave this world, then this precious human life of mine will have been wasted.” With the constant guidance of his master, Penor Rinpoche successfully completed all the stages of the practice, accomplishing the root recitations of the Three Roots (lama, yidam, and khandro), the Namchö preliminary practices, tummo and tsalung, and the actual foundation practice of the Dzogchen “Buddha in the Palm of the Hand”, including trekchö, clear light tögal, inner tögal practice, darkness practice, and training in the dream state, the nature of sound and the pure realms.

HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche once said, “Penor Rinpoche is a saint who has transcended the boundary of samaya.” By this, he meant that Penor Rinpoche had actualized the experience of inner wisdom, and so realized the state in which there is nothing to grasp and nothing to release.

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13 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. “In the light of the difficult Dorje Shugden ban, H.H. Penor Rinpoche showed an entire community of Buddhist practitioners the true practice of kindness and equanimity. He showed what it really means to relieve the suffering of others, not add to it. Above all, he proved what it means to live the Dharma, and not just preach by its words and politics.”

    In the extract above here is what captures me most. In times of the horrendous Ban and the sufferings to many as a result, it is heartwarming to know that such kindness still existed. In true Dharma there is no politics and no boundaries of sect. I rejoice and fold my hands humbly in honor of such a great Monk…may his reincarnation return to continue turning the wheel of dharma free from politics and boundaries.

  2. If you are really thankful to HH Penor Rinpoche then Dorjee Shugden followers must stop attacking and threatening Gelugs who want to practice Nyngma, Kagyuk and other sects.

    Not long ago Dorjee Shugden follower nearly killed Chadreal Rinpoche, another great Nyingma Rinpoche.

  3. If Dorjee Shugden followers are really thankful to HH Penor Rinphce, DS followers must critize Zemay Rinpoche and Trijiang Rinpoche for bringing out the Yellow book. This was the source of this problem.

    Thats why HH the Dalai Lama says Trijiang Rinpoche is wrong in a youtube video.

  4. Jhonny, I dont know where youve been getting your information from but Dorje Shugden followers have never attacked practitioners of other lineages. Dorje Shugden was / is a Sakya practice, and Dorje Shugden himself protects the Dharma so what would our practitioners gain out of attacking practitioners of other faiths?

    You seem to be highly misinformed as well, talking about the cause of the problem being Zemey Rinpoches Yellow Book. The source of the problem is THE BAN. If there was no ban, there wouldnt be a problem!

    Ive got nowt to say to Ram Kumar. First off, how is this spreading another ideology? This article is thanking someone who was kind to Dorje Shugden practitioners. Thanking others is not ass-kissing. Clearly you havent been taught how to express gratitude and for that, I pity you and your angersome self.


  5. Gaz. That was history, I doubt these days I would find a living Sakyapa who would be willing to say on record that they rely on Dorje Shugden as an enlightened protector. Sad times. In this 21st century who would want to be sectarian.

    If Zemay Rinphoche and Trijiang Rinpoche had not brought out this Yellow Book and publicised it at this modern age. This curse would have died with the older generation.

    I symathise HH the Dalai Lama who for the Unity of Majority of Tibetans had to speak out.

    So DS followers.who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

  6. I wish all Buddhist learn from His Holiness the 3rd Kyabje Penor Rinpoche, help and love each other, not violence in our body speech and mind!

  7. Thanks to the great living Bodhisattva HH Kyabje Penor Rinpoche’s kindness, compassion and His wisdom to open up Namdroling Nyingma Monastery for Shugden’s practitioners to get their daily supplies. The kindness of opening up His Namdroling Nyingma Monastery to Shugden practitioners to purchase supplies was simply because H.H. Penor Rinpoche understood the difficulties they were facing and acknowledged their need for the most basic necessities.

    And HH Kyabje Penor Rinpoche, was a Lama who practiced His own lineage perfectly without getting involved with politics.

    May HH Kyabje Penor Rinpoche’s incarnation returns soon and continue to spreads the light of BuddhaDharma.

  8. That was history? So in the past, the enlightened Sakyas masters made mistakes with their practice? How can an enlightened master make a mistake like that? Does that mean all of their practices now are invalid, because they made a mistake and theres a blip in their lineage? Come on, use a little logic please.

    So…Trijang Rinpoche was wrong for the Yellow Book. But since he taught the Dalai Lama…does that mean the Dalai Lama has learnt wrong knowledge too?

    Your labelling a whole bunch of lamas are wrong and incorrect, and making incesssant mistakes with their practice and knowledge. Where does it stop and wheres your respect for them, and who made you the judge and jury?

  9. @Gaz,

    We are in the 21st century. Religious leader and religion must tune according to time and tide. People have more freedom hence can judge what is wrong and right.

    Some Sakya enlightened masters teachings and some Geluks enlightened masters teachings in the past must have been valid according to those time and tide. But that does not mean they are right now. So they need to get rid of the unwanted vegetables and save the others. SIMPLE,

    I, like many have high respect for Trijiang Rinpoche but he was wrong as per dorjee shugden issue. As per HH Dalai Lama after much investigation he stopped the shugden practice as he knew this would disintergrated Tibetan buddhism and Tibetan Unity. I hope the new Trijiang as he lives in a multi-racial and multireligious country learn to regard and accommodate other sects and religions for Geluks and HH Dalai Lamas sake.

    In school, we were encouraged to correct a teachers mistakes if they were wrong with proof offcourse.

  10. @Jhonny: if people have more freedom, why does the Dalai Lama still uphold archaic religious bans?

    How can Trijang Rinpoche teach the Lamrim, and make a mistake like this? How can he be enlightened enough to teach the Dalai Lama, but not enlightened enough to judge what is a spirit?

    In school, you are encouraged to correct a teachers mistake because that is school teaching you something that does not bring you liberation.

    But in the Gelug tradition, guru devotion and upholding the practices that your teacher gives you is the key to the higher practices. Go and read Yonten Shi-Gyurma:

    “The basis of achieving the two powerful attainments is the PURE VOWS AND COMMITMENTS that I have pledged. Having found true understanding of this, may I keep them even at the cost of my life – inspire me thus!

    Having realised the significance of the two stages which are the essence of the tantric path, may I steadfastly practice without laziness the four sessions of yoga, and realise what the HOLY BEINGS HAVE TAUGHT – inspire me thus!”

    It doesnt say:

    “…what the holy beings have taught, which I can judge to be right or wrong, according to my deluded views”

    If you want proof, here is proof and a little logic:

    1) if the Dalai Lama and all the high lamas are enlightened (which I do believe them to be), how come they havent suppressed Dorje Shugden if he is just a spirit? How come Padmasambhava was powerful enough to subdue Pehar, but the Dalai Lama cannot subdue Dorje Shugden? Is a spirit more powerful than a Buddha?

    2) so either the Dalai Lama isnt a Buddha, or Dorje Shugden isnt a spirit.

    3) if Dorje Shugden cannot be subdued, it is because he does not have the karma to be subdued. The only beings that lack karma to be subdued are Buddhas. Ergo, Dorje Shugden is a Buddha.

  11. @ Gaz: As per the Pabonga, he tells taliban minded people like you to go and destroy Nyingma monastery and Guru Rinpoche statues. Will you do it and follow the book.
    Follow the Yellow book by Trijiang.

  12. I am so happy that rinpoche has born again and i am so thankful thet i have got a oppurtunity to read this biography la…….

  13. H.H. the 3rd Kyabje Penor Rinpoche is indeed a great master to rise above the controversy of the ban on Dorje Shugden to open his Namdroling Nyingma Monastery to Shugden practitioners to purchase supplies. This is especially so when the street sentiments of Anti-Shugden were to ostracised the Shugden practitioners and many are siding the 14th Dalai Lama for the glamour, favour, fame, etc. He is indeed a true practitioner of compassion for all sentient beings and puts his practise above political influence.

    From his biography, we are able to learn the greatness of H.H. the 3rd Kyabje Penor Rinpoche and to be inspired by his achievements. At a young age, Rinpoche was approached by an old man insisting Rinpoche practices Phowa for him, which he complied. Rinpoche was shocked that the Phowa worked and the old man had passed away. Immediately he started to practice again and revived the corpse lying in front of him. Without thanking Rinpoche, the old man shouted, “For heaven’s sake, why did you bring me back? I was already in the Pure Land of the Buddha Amitabha!” It was a funny incident but the effect of this miracle is not lost.

    May the new incarnate H.H 4th Kyabje Drubwang Penor Rinpoche Yangsi swiftly reach his teaching age to continue turning the Wheel of Dharma and inspire great faith in his followers in the Buddhadharma.

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.…Instead of turning away people who practise Dorje Shugden, we should be kind to them. Give them logic and wisdom without fear, then in time they give up the ‘wrong’ practice. Actually Shugden practitioners are not doing anything wrong. But hypothetically, if they are, wouldn’t it be more Buddhistic to be accepting? So those who have views against Dorje Shugden should contemplate this. Those practicing Dorje Shugden should forbear with extreme patience, fortitude and keep your commitments. The time will come as predicted that Dorje Shugden’s practice and it’s terrific quick benefits will be embraced by the world and it will be a practice of many beings.

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