Thursday, August 18, 2005

Padmasambhava - the Lotus-Born master, and his terma treasures

At the end of the eighth century, Padmasambhava, the Lotus-Born, arrived in Tibet. As the primary master of Vajrayana, he accompanies every one of the thousand buddhas of this eon. He had twenty-five main disciples; in later incarnations those disciples were reborn as tertöns, who revealed teachings Padmasambhava had hidden to benefit people of coming times.
My root guru, Samten Gyatso, had incredible faith in Padmasambhava and would tell me how he marveled at the words of the Lotus-Born. Although Samten Gyatso was extremely erudite and had studied vast volumes of literature, he continued to find many fresh levels of meaning in Padmasambhava’s teachings.
“There is no one greater than Padmasambhava,” he would often say. “Of course, Buddha Shakyamuni is the root, but the Lotus-Born made the Vajrayana teachings spread and flourish throughout India—and especially in Tibet. If you look closely, you can see just how amazing his terma teachings are! And if you compare his terma revelations with any other treatise, you can see their unique quality. The reason is that they were from Padmasambhava himself.
“The beauty of their prose is astounding! It is very difficult for anyone to write with such beauty and depth as you find in terma practices. Unlike treatises by people who are merely learned, in a terma each word can be understood on increasingly deeper levels. That special quality of Padmasambhava’s vajra speech means that whenever you read his teachings, you inevitably feel faith and devotion, trust and complete confidence!"
During the time of Khyentse, Kongtrul, and Chokgyur Lingpa, those twenty-five foremost disciples of the Lotus-Born who had gathered around him at Samye almost a thousand years earlier all returned in simultaneous incarnations. As one of my teachers, Dzongsar Khyentse, put it, “The twenty-five disciples of the Lotus-Born came back together like a throng of sheep and goats running out of a barn. These disciples reappeared as masters with incredible experience and realization, learning, and accomplishment. Their personal disciples and their disciples’ disciples were equally amazing.”
In fact, throughout Kham and the rest of Tibet, tulkus of all twenty-five were identified and recognized.
--Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, Blazing Splendor
As a long-time favorite project of mine, and also to foster even further mutual respect among all the various Dharma groups, I am making a webpage listing the current whereabouts of incarnations -- or multiple incarnations -- of the 25 disciples. Please post there details, short biographical date, small pictures for the web, who recognized them etc. to me, or under "post a comment" at the bottom of
The list of the 25 disciples is at
Just contact me at
Warm wishes, Erik Pema Kunsang


Anonymous said...

Do you Lama Tsering, who lives in Sao Paolo, Brazil?

Don't you know she is against Dharma blogging?

Stop this, you are loosing your time!

michael said...

unfortunately no i am not familiar with Lama Tsering, though perhaps Erik knows her. you are very fortunate to have a close relationship with your teacher and to dedicate yourself to practice, i also assume you can speak and read Tibetan fluently, which is all very wonderful and i am sure you will benefit many beings bringing them happiness and freedom from suffering, so i thank you for your concern. however i am surprised by your demand that we stop providing texts and teachings in English, for many people the world over are not only grateful but depend upon the translation, publishing and dissemination of dharma texts from sadhana texts to commentaries. Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche dictated his memoirs with the intention that they would inspire devotion and the urge to practice in those who read them. To this end i personally feel this blog is providing a great service. And a final note, the incomparable Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche himself has encouraged his students, which are scattered throughout the world, to develop a stronger sense of community and himself suggested using blogs and the like as an aid to this end. Remember the Buddha himself said there are as many entranceways to the Dharma as there are individuals, and for some this book and this blog may just be the threshold to a better life.

Anonymous said...

A few of the recognized reincarnations of the 25 who are alive (some of whom are Tertons) and teaching right now are (Erik - I love your project, I've always wanted to arrange a REUNION!!! - this is a good list to check against yours): (please correct if you spot errors!)

Minling Trichen Rinpoche (was Vairotsana)
Trulshik Rinpoche (was Khenpo Shantirakshita)
Do Drupchen Rinpoche (was Prince Mutri Tsenpo)
Bhaka Tulku Rinpoche (was Vairotsana)
Kunzang Dechen Lingpa (was Konchog Jungney)
Namkha Drimed Rinpoche (was Namkai Nyingpo and also Gyalwa Jangchub)
Youngey Mingyur Dorje (was Prince Mutri Tsenpo)
Thinley Norbu Rinpoche (was Princess Pema Tsal)
Sogyal Rinpoche (was Nanam Dorje Dudjom)
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche (was King Trisong Deutsen)
Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche (was King Trisong Deutsen)
Alek Zankar Rinpoche (was King Trisong Deutsen)
Tulku Hungkar Dorje (was King Trisong Deutsen)
Kusum Lingpa (was Lhalung Palgyi Dorje)
Penor Rinpoche (was Lhalung Palgyi Dorje)
Dudjom Yangsi (was Drogben Kyeuchung Lotsawa)
Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi (was King Trisong Deutsen and also Vimalamitra)
Khatok Moktsa Rinpoche
Namkai Norbu Rinpoche
Ontul Rinpoche (was Drogben Kyeuchung Lotsawa)
Khenpo Ngagchung Rinpoche (was Vimalamitra)
Adzom Rinpoche (was King Trisong Deutsen)
Gangteng Tulku Rinpoche (was Princess Pema Tsal)
Jigme Tromge Rinpoche - (was Yudra Nyingpo)
Orgyen Tromge Rinpoche (was Drogben Kyeuchung Lotsawa)
Tulku Sang Ngag Rinpoche (was Gyalwa Chojang)
Sakya Trizin Rinpoche
Dzogchen Khenpo Choga Rinpoche
Lhoga Tulku Rinpoche
Kunzang Tulku Rinpoche (was Nub Sangye Yeshe)
Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche
Jamgon Kongtrul IV Rinpoche
Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche
Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche
Lama Drimed Norbu (was Odran Palgyi Wangchuk)

Others who I think must be but I haven't actually heard that they are:
Chatral Rinpoche
Lama Wangdor Rinpoche
Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche
Lama Tharchin Rinpoche
The Khenpo Brothers
Khenpo Tsewang Gyatso Rinpoche
Gyatrul Rinpoche
Ayang Rinpoche
Garchen Rinpoche
Younge Khachab Rinpoche

Recently deceased reincarnations of the 25 include
Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche (was Gyalwa Chojang)
Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (was Nub Sangye Yeshe)
Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche
Chimed Rigdzin Rinpoche (was Drogben Kyeuchung Lotsawa)
Padgyal Lingpa (was Nub Sangye Yeshe)

Erik Pema Kunsang said...

Thanks - more than 25 times - that was quite a list! I will update as many as I can. Some I just haven't even heard of, so please add more information.
Please take a look at the updated webpage. And, next time, add your name as well, so I can thank you in name-person.

Erik Pema Kunsang said...

Here is a tangkha of Padmasambhava and his twenty-five chief disciples.

Anonymous said...

From the world that i come from,I would term it as "Spiritual Desert" if I coin the term right and it's through the magic of internet that I came to know Vajrayana and inspired me to search for more...I think this blog is wonderful though its only a means to an end and not an end by it self.I would definitely get hold of Blazing Splendor once its available at our local stores and am thinking of visiting Nepal...

Anonymous said...

Beautiful list, I have one more for you: Chagme Rinpoche (was Gyalwa Cho Yang)

Stanley said...

Re: your project on current incarnations of the 25 disciples of Padmasambhava.

Kyeu Chung Lotsawa: If you havent posted one, here is a good recent picture of Dudjom Rinpoche Pema Osel, taken in Pharping in January 2005. Rinpoche is now 14 years old, and offered dudjom tersar wangs to many thousands of people in Bhutan on his trip in June. As you no doubt know, he was enthroned as the Dudjom tulku by Chatral Rinpoche [his root lama] in the presence of Penor, Dzongsar Khyentse & Rabjam Rinpoches.

As students of Dudjom Rinpoche Jikdral Yeshe Dorje, the quality of this special emanation tulku is abundantly clear.

John & Diane Stanley

Doug Scown said...


You may be interested to know (perhaps already know) that Sogyal R. is commissioning a reproduction of the 'Looks like me' image(in your post) at the new institute being built at Lerab Ling, France. The original (which many find they have a profound connection with) was destroyed during the chinese occupation.
Thankyou for providing an effective avenue whereby we may continue to remain up to date with ones 'dharmic family.'

douglas scown

Erik Pema Kunsang said...

That is a most wonderful piece of news!!! Please post the link to this statue once it is completed.

ele não sou eu said...

Hi, Erik! is Lama Drimed Norbu (was Odran Palgyi Wangchuk)the student of H.E. Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche?

ele não sou eu said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Erik P K said...

I haven't heard that.

ele não sou eu said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ele não sou eu said...

Chagdud Rinpoche has a student called lama Drimed Norbu. When lama Drimed Norbu finished his 3 years retreat Rinpoche recognazed him as a tulku. He didn't use the word tulku, but said the through the practice in other lives he attained a lot of realization. So I wondered that they could be the same lama.
Well, I was there when Tsering la said about blogs. She was speaking about people give dharma instructions or teachings without the lamas's authorization. She even told as, before she became a lama, when she was translating Rinpoche, people come to her to ask some questions, and she asnwered them. But, Rinpoche said that she haven't this authorization. So, I think she was speaking about people who speaks about dharma without any authorization by the lama.
I didn't see anybody giving theaching here yet, or dharma instructions. So, I think she is "against" people theaching the dharma without authorization, maybe all the lamas agree with her. This is the letter of the ordination of lama Tsering and lama Drimed Norbu:
(sorry for my bad english)

Erik Pema Kunsang said...

Dear Pedro,
Thanks for your input. The word "dharma/Dharma" covers a variety of meaning and people from different countries and backgrounds have several ways to understant it as well. So when the statement is brought up that someone is allowed or not allowed to teach "the Dharma", it opens up so many other issues in peoples' minds: which Dharma? says who? should I listen to that? why? or why not?
Are we talking about sharing information, guidance in simple living, the Mahayana path, or taking the position of a Vajrayana master?
In Blazing Splendor we see endearing examples of people who had to be forced to take that position -- of a Vajrayana master -- as in the instance of Samten Gyatso, by the own teacher.
But Dharma also includes telling someone to "mind your steps" or "take it easy" and I'm sure that's perfectly all right. Don't you agree?

ele não sou eu said...

Yes, I agree with you. Maybe I couldn't express my thought due my poor skill in english. There is one of the Rinpoche's student that through his own practice and devotion to Rinpoche can help others in their meditation. Although he never gave any teachings, somehow he can help. But, there is also, people who don't have a strong practice or even none practice, thinking they're lamas. So, I think lama Tsering was talking about this second type of person. Anyway, this blog is a way to connect people with Tulku Urgyen and the Chogyur Lingpa lineage.
So, this is what is important, right?
Erik, you tranlated some of the sadhanas of Chagdud Gonpa. Do you have them in tibetan?

Erik Pema Kunsang said...

Agreement is great!
Yes, I translated the sadhana materal for the Lotus Dakini. The Tibetan scriptures are includes in the New Treasures. They were published several times and are being republished by Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche's second son, himself an incarnation of Chokgyur Lingpa.

ele não sou eu said...

Where I find this publication?

Erik Pema Kunsang said...

These New Treasures—Chokling Tersar—are a collection of termas in the forty thick volumes revealed by Chokgyur Lingpa together with connected teachings, arrangement texts and commentaries written primarily by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, Jamgön Kongtrul, Khakyab Dorje, Tsewang Norbu, Tersey Tulku and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. They are currently being reprinted, in Tibetan script, by the incarnation of Tsikey Chokling whose name is Gyurmey Dewey Dorje. He resides in Boudha, Nepal, at Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling monastery.

John said...

There is more info about Padmasambhava here:

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just noticed that Pdro mentioned Lama Drimed Norbu did three year retreat. Actually, this is not the case. That's all.


Teri Sandison said...

When I was so fortunate to visit Samye Monastery in 1999, I had a vision which said that Nanam De(Nanam Zhang Yeshe De) later incarnated as Marpa the Translator.

Anonymous said...

"Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, one of the foremost living Dzogchen masters, was born in Derge, eastern Tibet in 1938. At the age of two he was recognized as the reincarnation of the Dzogchen Master Adzom Drugpa by Palyul Karma Yangsid and Shechen Rabjam. When he was three years old, the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa recognized him as the mind reincarnation of the first Dharmaraja of Bhutan, Ngawang Namgyal." From

This would make Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche an incarnation of King Trisong Deutsen through Adzom Drugpa.

Anonymous said...

"Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, one of the foremost living Dzogchen masters, was born in Derge, eastern Tibet in 1938. At the age of two he was recognized as the reincarnation of the Dzogchen Master Adzom Drugpa by Palyul Karma Yangsid and Shechen Rabjam. When he was three years old, the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa recognized him as the mind reincarnation of the first Dharmaraja of Bhutan, Ngawang Namgyal." From

This would make Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche an incarnation of King Trisong Deutsen through Adzom Drugpa.

Anonymous said...

Lama Drimed Norbu, Chagdud Rinpoche's student, was ordained by Rinpoche in 1994. At that point he had not done a three-year retreat. However, he is currently (03/07) in the last months of his three-year retreat.

Anonymous said...

I find that, the older the Dharma student the more they argue, and the younger the Dharma student the more they gossip.

michele said...

Lovely page, thank you for your peerless efforts over the many years Erik! I have had the extremely good fortune to be close with Lama Padma Drimed Norbu over the last 13 years, and can hopefully clear up some of the confusion over who he is. 12 years ago, shortly before His Eminence Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche moved to Brazil, in a very formal ceremony at Rigdzin Ling he ordained both Lama Tsering and Lama Drimed as qualified vajrayana lineage holders. He also left the responsibility of the spiritual upkeep of his activities on this continent to Lama Drimed, naming him as his primary lineage holder and head lama of Chagdud Gonpa, North America. Rinpoche authorized him to teach all levels of Buddhist practice and meditation, and he did so up until he undertook a traditional three year retreat, which he
succesfuly completed last February . May all who are inspired forge sublime connection with him, as he is truely an unprecedented qualified teacher and magnificent human being.

Anonymous said...


just want to say a lovely thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing this blog. It is fantastic work and i come across it at the right time when my interest in the Old tradition is peaking up.

thank you for your perseverance in keeping this blog going despite of the initial protest made few years ago. Time will erode away much held-on attitudes. 30 years ago, i would have no idea that i would be searching for more information on the 25 disciples. And to know that some returned as Sakya Trizins have cemented some missing links which have kept all traditions separated for a long time which is no good for the heart. Thanks once again, thug jay che

Anonymous said...

hi erik, to continue from where i left off yesterday:

i read that Pema Lingpa was reincarnate of King Trison's daughter Pemasal.

Crosslinking the 25 disciples to other traditions, i read that Dudjom Rinpoche was the 5th Sakya Founding Lama Chogyal Phagpa. Dudjom Rinpoche was Shariputra during Buddha Shakyamuni's time.

Also Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo was the 2nd Sakya Founding Lama, Jetsun Dragpa Gyalsten.

Of course, now it is internetting out that the present 41st Sakya Trizin (my root Lama - birth year 1945) is the reincarnate of a famous Nyingmapa Lama Apong/Apang/Apam terton (1895 - 1945).

Jamgom Kongtrul was Ananda during Buddha Shakyamuni's time.

There is a phase in your website that goes "In fact, throughout Kham and the rest of Tibet, tulkus of all twenty-five were identified and recognized. Paradoxically, this flowering was a portent that the time for Tibet’s role as a field of influence to benefit beings was just about to run out."

Now perhaps identifying these 25 disciples NOW might help to bring about the reverse ... the benefits are far more reaching and greater when the situations are more difficult globally.

so I begin: all the present Khyentses in all traditions are emanations of King Trison/Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo.

that's my little gift for Saka Dawa which is tomorrow 18/6/2008. May all aspirations be fulfilled.


Olá irmãos e irmã do Dharma, sobre Mestre que foram reencarnações do 25 discípulos de Guru Rinpoche vcs esqueseram de dz que o Grande Mestre S.S o Karmapa-Lama, também o era, existem muitas coisas sobre esse grande buda que precisam ser conhecidas para as pessoas passarem a saber quem é um pouco de S.S Karmapa, também gostaria de saber algo e se possivel fosse enviado a meu e-mail ( alguma resposta sobre isso, para mim isso é muito importante já que sinto conexão com os dois Mestres de quem vou falar, ouvi dizer por algumas pessoas do Chagdud Gompa que quem tem conexão com S.S Dudjom Rinpoche não pode fazer praticas ou ser estudante de Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, vc sabem dizer o motivo disso?, ouvi dizer que era pq ela dava ensinamentos Dzogchen sem o Ngondro, mais outros Grandes Mestre de Dzogchem também o dão, Tulku Urgyen por exmplo, por-favor me esclareçam se puderam, pq ninguém pode proibir algo sem dar algum por-que, mesmo sendo um Mestre do Dharma, os ensinamentos Budista dizem isso