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Biography: Mipam Pema Karpo

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“Taken from THE WAND that Opens the Eyes and Dispels the Darkness of Mind" © Drukpa Plouray June 2004.

|The fourth Incarnation took birth at the foot of the mountain of Tsechen in the Kongpo region of Tibet in 1527. His Father, Josey Luyi Wangpo, was a descendant of the Nub clan and his mother was Chokyong Dolma.

At the age of nine he received the full power over the Dharma of the Glorious Drukpa Lineage. He was enthroned at the grand monastic college of Tashi Thongmon, in the Country of Jayul, where he studied with Pandita Tashi Namgyal, the younger brother of the Third Gyalwang Drukpa, and other Masters.

At the age of eleven he put himself in the hands of the Lord of All Families, Kyabje Drukchen Ngawang MipamPemaKarpoChoegyal and received the lay ordination and bodhicitta vows from him. He then gradually received the whole cycle of the Drukpa tradition transmissions, namely the empowerments which bring maturity, the instructions which liberate and the supporting scriptures.

When he was seventeen, he went to Palkhor Dewachen Monastery in Gyantse, where sixteen Masters from sixteen monasteries were staying together. There he chose as his principal instructor Khenpo Rinpoche Tashi Namgyal, the Abbot of all of them. He took novice and full ordination vows from him in the middle of an assembly of ten other monks from Dewachen, Gyantse and Tsechen monasteries. From the same preceptor, he received the Vinaya Teaching.

With precious universal jewel Masters such as Lodo Zangpo and Drukpa Lotsawa Ngawang Drakpa, he studied Grammar, Logic, Middle Path, Great Wisdom and all areas of the Sutras and other sciences.

Later he received of all the Vajrayana traditions from Yongzin Ngagkyi Wangchuk, Kunpang Sherab Gyatso, Je Yonten Yeshe, Dorje Zinpa Chokyi Goenpo and Ngagchang Tshedak Tashi, with the main focus on the Drukpa Lineage, but including other transmissions of the new and old translations schools. He took perfectly to these studies and he attained realisation through contemplation and meditation.

He Divine Yidams appeared to him often in visions, bestowing upon him the waves of their grace. He received the transmission of Guru Drakpo Kilaya through Pure Vision, at the Vajra Throne of Palri, the Glorious Copper Mountain where Guru Rinpoche resides.

In Lhasa at the Temple of Rasa Thrulnang (the Jokhang), the self arisen eleven faced Avalokiteshvara statue had, over the years, become tilted. There Pema Karpo entered into the profound meditative absorption of Great Compassion. Maintaining his meditation, he respectfully bowed down to the Lord of Compassion his hands in prayer position with his head down at the heart of the statue and he then slowly stood up straight. At the same time the statue straightened as well and become as it originally had been. Seeing this, everyone believed him to be an emanation of the Great Compassion.

Among the wondrous deeds, he founded thirteen monasteries, notably Sangag Choeling, The Sanctuary of the Dharma of the Secret Mantra in Southern Tibet to which he shifted the main seat of the Drukpa Lineage and four hermitages, notably the Bamboo Grove. For each of these he established a religious community as foundations for the Teaching and instigated the full practice of the Three Trainings (discipline, concentration and wisdom), as well as the transmission, study and practise of Secret Mantras and meditation.

Among his outstanding disciples were Mipham Choegyal; Mipham Tenpai Nyima,; Lhatsewa Ngawang Zangpo; the first Yongdzin Rinpoche (1546–1615); the Bodhisattva Sempa Rinchen Palzang; the learned and accomplished Khedrub Lhawang Lodo; Tagtse Tulku Pekar Wangpo; Dorje Zinpa Kunga Nyingpo, Tingzin Sangpo (the reincarnation of Drukpa Kunley); and the great scholar Khepay Wangpo Sangay Dorje, all of whom became accomplished Masters.

A mark of the liberation and complete opening of his Wheel of Bliss (the subtle centre of speech at the throat) is that he left a legacy, for the benefit of future disciples, of twenty four volumes of A Hundred Thousand Words, a word of exceptional encyclopaedic breadth. In recognition of his scholarship he was called Kunkhyen The Omniscient.

He received an invitation from the ruler of Chongye, Sonam Tobgyal, to visit his region. Accepting the invitation he said, “I will come and I will return a total of Twelve times to Chongye. For the time being I will come to establish the connection with all of you.

He then visited every house, rich or poor, wherever he was invited. Having been requested by the governor to consecrate the tomb of King Songtsen Gampo, he went there and afterwards said, "Please construct a small house for me in this spot, for I shall return soon as a native of this region."

He showered the people of Chongye with praise, saying that they belonged to the high royal Indian caste of Zahor, and were all the noble descendants of the nephew of the Abbot Shantarakshita and of Lord Atisha. He also visited Tradruk, a nearby sacred site, and ritually requested the Protector deities to ward off any obstacle to his taking rebirth in Chongye.

Then he returned to Sangag Choeling and sealed all the practice text except the one on the Chakrasamvara smoke offering. He moved to Tashi Lhateng, a hermitage made of branches, south of Sangag Choeling and said, I shall be in retreat for seven days. These times are very inauspicious and I can no longer sustain myself here. But I shall be reborn very soon.

After that he departed his Body. That was in 1592, on the full moon of the seventh lunar Tibetan Month. He was sixty six years old.

Last Updated on 20 June 2010