The third Kathok Situ Rinpoche, Kuenkehn Maha Pandita, Ugyen Choeki Jatsho was born as such a time when Nyingma teachings in general and Kathok teachings in particular were on the verge of declining by a great degree.
As the Nirmanakaya aspect of Lord Maitreya, Rinpoche is reincarnated in the human form to revive the Buddha Dharma, as it’s mentioned in the terma prophesies of Gyalwang Tshoki Dorji.
Moreover, in a great Terton Dudul Dorji Damchoe’s prophecy, it’s predicted as follows:
“At the time when the Buddha-Dharma is at its low ebb in Kathok, To revive the teachings, a renowned being by the name of Dharma would appear”.
“In the Goenpa know as Kah;
A renowned being by the name of Dharma would appear;
Who would then build the Pelri Monastery;
And guide to Zangdo Pelri whoever makes a Dharmic link to the Monastery”.
The above prophesies unambiguously stand as the witness to the great holy being, HH, the 3rd Kathok Situ Penchen Rinpoche, who was born in the year 1868, corresponding to the 15th Rabjung, in the Male Earth Dragon year, to Terton Sanggag Lingpa and HH Jamyang Khentse Wangpo’s sister, who was endowed with all the signs of a Dakini, amidst many miraculous and auspicious signs. The sacred birth place is in the north-eastern direction of Kathok Dorji Den (Vajra Seat), in the region of Derge of lower Do Kham, not very far from the sacred place of Riwo Wangshu, in a place called Ter Lung Due Go, at which the past luminaries and renowned masters such as Moktrul Jigdrel Choeying Dorji, Kabab Duden Pema Dongag Lingpa alias Jamyang Kheyntse Wangpo and others were born in this same place.
Right from his childhood, Rinpoche showed the extraordinary behaviors and signs of a great realized being. HH Pema Yoedsel Dongag Lingpa and Jamgoen Lodroe Thaye performed the hair-cutting ceremony and Zhabdrung Khyentse Rinpoche composed and offered the long-life prayer to Rinpoche, with the conferment of sacred name Ugyen Jigme Choeki Nangwa.
Before long, Rinpoche exhibited an extraordinary capacity to recollect his past lives very lucidly/clearly, thereby convincing everyone without any doubt that Rinpoche is reincarnation of 2nd Kathok Situ, Choeki Lodroe Rinpoche.
When the enthronement ceremony, which was presided over by Drimed Zhing Chong Rinpoche and Yonten Jigme Goenpo, was held at the Kathok’s main monastery, Rinpoche saw the vision of Guru Rinpoche and the rays emitting from the statues in the main congregation hall, and moreover, many signs indicating that the Dharma protectors were happy with the occasion were seen by all present at that time.
Then, the most learned and proficient Rigzin Jatsho was appointed as the tutor, from whom Rinpoche learnt the basics of reading and writing, including the grammar, thus, completing his studies completely.
Thereafter, Rinpoche received elaborate teachings from the great masters and attended upon numerous other teachers, the prominent of which include such as Jamgoens( The Sun and the Moon), Mipham Jamyang Choglay Namgyel, Kushap Yonten Goenpo, Rigzin Jampel Dorji, Great Terton Chogur Dechen Lingpa, Dza Keunzin, Khenchen Trashi Yoedzer, Jamyang Loter Wangpo, Karma Khachap Dorji, Adzom Drukpa Drodul Pawo Dorji, Thrakthung Dudjom Dorji, Geling Thugki Dorji’s disciple Trangpo Lama Kuenzang Jurmed, and other great masters of the rimed tradition that includes more than hundred in number.
From the above teachers, Rinpoche received the full teachings in their entirety on the Kathok traditions as the main lineage, including the new and old Tantra teachings and the main tantra and sutra teachings.
Moreover, from the true embodiment of Lord Manjushri in person, Mipham Choeje Rinpoche, Rinpoche received the teachings on the Five Treatises of Lord Maitreya, Madhyamakalankara and all the main teachings found in India and Tibet, thereby, perfecting and accomplishing the philosophy and view of the Nyingma teachings, thus, simultaneously achieving extraordinary meditative realizations. Therefore, Rinpoche could attain such a high level of profound confidence through his practice, whereby, Rinpoche achieved spiritual independence.
Then, from two Dzatrul Kuenzin, Rinpoche received and actualized through personal practice, the Longsel Dorji Nyingpo’s practice guide. Moreover, Rinpoche achieved the Heart-essence instructional blessings through the practice of Kyabje Khentse Wangpo’s Heart- treasure teachings. Rinpoche also revealed a mind-treasure(Gong-Ter) at the same time. Similary, Rinpoche did not leave any teaching just on a hear-say basis, but, practiced them with great effort to actualize the teachings.
Due to the genuine and authentic practice of the Dharma, Rinpoche could see the true vision of Guru Rinpoche, Avalokitteshwara( The Compassionate One), Lord Maitreya, Kuenkhen Longchen Rabjam, Kuenzig Dampa Desheg and other great Lams and Rinpoches, from whom Rinpoche received numerous essence teachings directly in a vision. Not only that, Rinpoche could visualize the Dharmapalas(protecting deities), such as the Palden Lhamo and Goenpo, and could subject them to servitude, thereby, accomplishing numerous Buddha-activities. If one is interested in knowing more about how Rinpoche had accomplished the practice of numerous deities, yidams, and gods and showed the unmistakable signs of accomplishment, you are advised to refer the detailed biography of the 3rd Kathok Situ Rinpoche.
Thus, in this manner, through listening, reflection and contemplation of all the teachings, Rinpoche achieved the realization of the Ultimate Truth.
A brief outline of how H.H, the 3rd Kathok Situ Rinpoche had exhibited the numerous Buddha-activities to benefit the Budhha-Dharma in general, and the Kathok Lineage teachings in particulars is presented below:
Firstly, to ward off/dispel/avert the evil spirits of both humans and non-humans from their obstructions to the founding of the Kathok lineage teachings, Rinpoche invited Jamgoen Kongtrul Yonten Jatsho and Great Terton Chogyur Lingpa to the Kathok Vajra-seat, and requested to perform the fierceful rituals to clear the obstacles, including the repulsion, suppression, burning and expulsion rituals. To benefit the Buddha’s teachings in general, great temples dedicated to the Kilaya family of deities and numerous meditation centers were built.
Rinpoche also built a great congregation hall including the statues, religious objects, and undertook the repair of old statues and frescoes that formed the main part of the hall Then, in the year 1906, corresponding to the Male Fire Horse year, as per the wishes of Jamgoen Mipham Chogley Namgyel, Rinpoche built a college for the advanced Buddhist studies, including the additional construction of numerous rooms for the monks.
Rinpoche had also provided food provision to about fifty Shedras (Buddhist Colleges), and within a short span of about five years, instituted and strengthened the Buddhist learning and practice culture based on the age old traditions advocated by luminaries such as Jamgoen Mipham and others, to such an extent that the culture became very popular, which is being still adopted to this day.
Also, for the sake of sentient beings to accumulate merits, Rinpoche initiated the construction of five-storeyed Glorious Copper Colored Mountain Monastery at Kathok. The upper most storey houses the statue of Lord Amitabha Buddha and its retinues, while in the middle storey, it’s the statue of Avalokiteshwara with eight principal Boddhisattvas, and in the lower storey, it contains the statue of Guru Pema Jungney, along with the statues of eight-manifestations of Guru Rinpoche, One hundred and eight Tertons, Sixteen eight skeletal deities (Gingchens) and Four great kings. Below this, surrounding the monastery, there are One Hunderd and Eight prayer wheels which contain sacred mantric formula scrolls, decorated with elaborate paintings. The inner walls are adorned with intricate frescoes depicting various Buddhist themes such as the Demon’s realms etc. Moreover, Rinpoche installed numerous precious, and extraordinarily rare relics in the monastery and initiated the Tshechu ceremonies on the 10th day of the Buddhist calendar every month.
Rinpoche also constructed a new monastery with main inner teasure as the three-storeyed Buddha statue cast out of gilded copper, which is flanked by the two chief disciples, including the statue of sixteen Arhats which were built out of various precious metals, stones and substances, ranging in size from about eight inches to life-sixe statues. Then, Rinpoche aslo instituted the strict and systematic monastic rules, regulations and teaching-learning curriculum.
Also, Rinpoche built a great Thanka(Thongdrol) measuring about 45 metres, including numeruous other Thankas totaling about three hundred in number. Again, as if the protecting deities have willed, Rinpoche could get the possession of rare texts/scriptures from as far as Khamo, U and Tsang regions of Tibet. For example, from Tsang Trashi Lhunpo monestry, Rinpoche could get the most rare text containing Nubchen’s teachings, Tsang Nyon’s teachings and other Sutra treatise teachings, including the extremely rare text on Khandro Yeshey Tshogyel’s teachings.
Rinpoche also initiated the construction of most appreciated library in the land of entire Tibet, which contained the collection of some seven thousand( 7000) volumes of scriptures that included the rare texts of the Rimed tradition, Kathok’s visionary lineage teachings scriptures which were directly transmitted in a vision to the great Kathok masters. Due to Rinpoche’s unstinted efforts in preserving these rare scriptures and teachings, the lineage teachings are still existent and propagated uninterruptedly till this day.
In this own words, Rinpoche prophetically remarked:
“Although the propagation of these rare teachings would extremely benefits the spread of Buddha-Dharma, which is very important;yet, I wonder what would become of these teachings hereafter.”
As per the Kalachakra tradition, for about two months starting from the fourth till the sixth month of the Tibetan calendar, Rinpoche initiated/introduced the ceremonies for Ka Gyed Nam Sum, Gongdue teachings, three kinds of Kilaya cycle teachings, Ka Gong Phur Sum, Guru Sadhna, Ati Yoga, Avalokiteshwara, and other Kama and Terma mandalas, Shri Kalachakra rituals, which were performed regularly on an annual basis. For these rituals and ceremonies, Rinpoche instituted the budget, monastic rules and regulations, accessories and other facilities such as the masks, dance costumes, rituals drums, clarinets ect. required/necessary as per the different rituals and ceremonies.
At Nyag Rong Daki Druk Toed Goenpa and Traleg Buddhist institute and in many other Goenpas, Rinpoche initiated and institutionalized the practice and rituals on Gyud Sangwa Nyingpo and many other Karma and Terma traditions, the tradition of which still exists for all to see.
Rinpoche also widely traveled on pilgrimage and blessed the place such as Jarong, upper and lower Gulong, Nyagrong, Godrak, Donye Ser Bum, Rongtsen Khawa Marpo, Jang Yul, Riwo Jakhang in China and so on. In places like Ten Goen, Rinpoche liberated whomsoever he came across through seeing, blessing and touching. Moreover, in U-Tsang and other regions in the South, Rinpoche went on pilgrimage and offered fervent prayers and gave blessings for the peace and harmony in Tibet.
Also, in that region, Rinpoche selflessly gave the ripening and liberating teachings and instructions to numerous Trulkus of Sarma, Nyingma and Rimed traditions, thus fulfilling the wishes of one and all aspiring disciples. Rinpoche is also popular for his composition of the Pilgrimage Guide Book to Central Tibet, which is being extensively used as an invaluable guide in the regions of India, China, and Nepal, where the copies are preserved and found in most of the libraries.
Rinpoche also met the 13thDalai Lama, Gyalwang Thubten Gyatsho and made rich offerings to the Dalia Lama.
Then, in the Kham region, as per the capacity and aspirations of the individual disciples, Rinpoche taught the various texts on Sutra, Tantra and other commentaries/treatises, thereafter receiving the title of “Maha Pandita”, while at the same time showering with words of praises to such an extent that, one of the great contemporaries of that time Gylatshab Gyurmed Pema Namgyal prayed and praised saying thus:
“At present, the example of a most-learned, with most profound realizations, the most dedicated to the propagation of Buddha-Dharma in general, and the Vajrayana in particular, incomparable in the exhibition of Buddha-Activity, is the one called Situ Penchen Rinpoche, who occupies the throne of the fearless lion, thus turning the wheel of the Dharma and becoming the objects of worship and reverence for the Nyingma practitioners. I offer my prayers that he live for many, many Kalpas to benefit the beings.”
The above praise offering speaks volumes about the popularity and great renown of Rinpoche’s knowledge and wisdom. Once while Rinpoche was thinking about the peace and tranquility of Tibet region, in his visionary dream and trance state, Rinpoche was transported into the presence of Jowo statue and had the visions of Spontaneously Arisen Five Images of Avalokiteshwara and Jetsun Brolma(Goddess Tara), with whom he had series of divine conversations. During these visionary divine conversations, Rinpoche received the prophetic instructions or advice saying that as an antidote to the diseases, famine, war and disharmony in Tibet, it would be advisible to initiate the Vajra Guru and Mani mantras recitation Drupchens. Therefore, accordingly, Rinpoche remarked saying:
“Now I am also nearing my old age. As one of the last activities to benefit the Buddha-Dharma and also to purify my own negative Karma, it has become inevitable to start one Drupchen ceremony.”
Then, accordingly, in the year of the Wood Ox year, Rinpoche initiated the ten-day Drupchen for Longsel Pema Yoebar Siddhi’s 100,000 (One Hunderd Tousand) liberation pills, by inviting the Trulkus of the Kathok tradition such as Gaytse Zhingchong, Moktsa Trulkus and Bodpo Pema Gyeltshen etc…,Dzogchen Rinpoche Choeki Dorji, Pelpung Situ Rinpoche Pema Wangchuk Gyalpo,Pelyul Penor Rinpoche, Karma Kuchen’s Trulku, Kuenkhen Ngagi Wangpo, Traleg Chagtse Rinpoche Pema Thinley Jatsho, Gyalkong Trulku Kuenzang, Drakmar Trulku Pema Gyeltshen, Terchen Drimed Dorji etc.including many lamas and trulkus within the region, consisting of about 300 trulkus and about 3000 khenpos and monks.
After this successful ten-day Drupchen, celebration befitting the success of the Drupchen was observed by organizing the elaborate tshechu mask dances, and the Tantric college monks made a feast offering, and during the Dakini Empowerment Ceremony, in the presence of the senior officials of the local government and other hunderds of people, all could hear the voices of the Dakinis.
While opening the container of the liberation pills, different rainbow colors filled the sky, and all saw the many miraculous signs including the rainbow light rays striking the Glorious Copper Colored Mountain Monastery.
After that, people initiated the seven-day liberation pills Drupchen based on the Avalokiteshwara’s terma. Even during this time, while opening the container of the liberation pills, in addition to the pills having multiplied, the Drupkhang was filled with rainbows and other miraculous signs.
To the high lamas of Pelpung, Palyul, Shechen and Dzogchen lineage and to other lamas and Trulkus, Rinpoche offered generous respects, offerings of various kinds, thereby very auspiciously concluding the two very important Drupchen ceremonies. During the same year, i.e, the Wood Ox year, coinciding with the 7th day of the Tibetan calendar, Rinpoche chose to pass into the state of Nirvana.
Since Rinpoche’s disciples in Tibet, China and India, are as numerous as the stars in the night sky, it’s very difficult to name each one of them here. However, just to mention some of the prominent ones as given below:
Jamyang Khentse Choeki Lodroe, Gaytse Chogtul Jurmed Tenpa Namgyel, Drimed Zhingchong Rigzin Jigmed Dechen Dorji, Moktsa Jigdrel Choeki Langpo, Je Bon Pema Gyeltshen, Chagtsa Chogtrul Pema Thinley Jamtsho, Kushap Drupwang Jigmed Dechen Dorji, Pelyul Chogtul Choeki Dawa, Drakmar Trulki Pema Gyeltshen, Lhatsun Tenzin Pawo of Sikkim, Jakong Chogtrul Kuenzang, Muksang Nay Gyen Trulku Jamyang Lodroe, Jangkar Trulku Minjur, Tsuphu Drupchen Trulku Songtsen, Drupwang Pema Norbu’s Trulku Thupten Choeki Langpo, Trulku Jurlo, Decha Chogtrul Jamyang Losel Dorji, Adzom Gyelse Jurmed Dorji, Tersey Dechen Namgyel, Khunu Tenzin Gyatsho, Gyalsey Trulku Phendey Gyatsho, Khenchen Kuenzang Pelden, Khenchen Ngawang Pelzang, Mewa Khenchen Sonam Choedrup, Khenchen Legshed Jorden, Khenchen Gyeltshen Pelzang, Khen Kelang Wangchuk, Drupwang Delog Jowo Trashi Rabten, Dzogchen Namjorpa Kyatra Lama Shri Jnana, Shechen Gyaltsap Pema Namgyel, Dodrup Chogtrul Tenpai Nyima, Terchen Leyrap Lingpa, Goeter Dudjom Yeshey Rolpatsel, Dzogchen Rinpoche Thupten Choeki Dorji, Khenchen Atop Thupten Gyeltshen Yoedzer and so on were some of the main disciples.