Drikung Ontül Rinpoche's previous incarnations are connected with Drikung Orgyen Nuden Dorje, a great discoverer of hidden teachings (gter ston) of the last century. He was well known as an emanation of Nyang Ban Tingdzin Sangpo, a great master at the time of the 8th-century Tibetan emperor Thri Song Detsen. The elder brother of Nuden Dorje and first Ontül was Kunsang Drodul. He was born into a noble familiy lineage in the village of Zalmo Gang in Kham province of Eastern Tibet. The 5th Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche Thugje Nyima (1828-1889) recognized him to be the emanation of Brog Ban Khiu Chung Lotsawa, one of the twenty-five main disciples of Guru Padmasambhava. Since Kunsang Drodul was the elder brother of Orgyan Nuden Dorje, his successive incarnations are known as Ontül, which means “the incarnation of the elder brother”.

The present incarnation was born in Kham Nangchen in Eastern Tibet in the year 1950. His family lineage is called Göpe, or also Pebön Thogtrul, which is one of the thirteen noble familiy lineages which are again explained as stemming from the inner lineage of Lodan Nyingpo, who is one of the four ‘ancient Tulkus of Bon religion, before Padmasambhava’s time.

In 1954, His Holiness The Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche and His Holiness The 16th Gyalwa Karmapa recognized him as the incarnation of Ontül, and was given the name Konchog Tenzin Thrinle Rabgye Palzangpo. Accordingly, in the same year he was enthroned in the Monastery Dong Med Ogmin Thubten Shedrub Ling. Lama Kalsang Namgyal, the attendant of his previous incarnation, took the responsibility for giving him the basic education such as in reading and writing, reciting texts, etc.

In 1959 when the Chinese Communist army occupied Tibet, his tutor Kalsang Namgyal and Ontül Rinpoche left their home monastery and, together with many monks and people of their village, together they began the flight by foot from Tibet to India. On the way they experienced terrible thirst and hunger, and were constantly threatened by the Chinese soldiers. In spite of many difficulties, they managed to cross the Tibetan border and arrived in India through Nepal. Life in India was also not easy because they did not have a place of our own to settle down. They were forced to wander from place to place for almost fourteen years.

In India, again Ontül Rinpoche met Drikung Khandro Neni Rinpoche (mkha' 'gro or dakini signifies a highly realized female yogi). She iutroduced Ontül Rinpoche to Ven Khenpo Thubten, a great Nyingmapa teacher. The first teaching which Ontül Rinpoche received from the Khenpo was an extensive instruction on the Longchen Nyingthig Ngondro practice. Later Ontül Rinpoche received more teachings from Khenpo Thubten on several important texts.

On different occasions Ontül Rinpoche received Mahamudra and Dzogchen teachings from H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche, Ven. Khunu Lama Tenzin, Gyaltsen, H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Ven. The 3rd Kalu Rinpoche and others. From the yogi Ven. Khyung Ka Rinpoche, Ontül Rinpoche received teachings and his personal instructions on the Drikung Kagyu Five-Fold Profound Path of Mahamudra. In the years which followed, Ontül Rinpoche went to Drikung Kagyu Monasteries in Ladakh where he received most of the important empowerments, instructions and oral transmissions of the Drikung Kagyu tradition from H.E. Choje Togden Rinpoche. Ontül Rinpoche spent several years in Ladakh and travelled with Togden Rinpoche extensively in Ladakh to visit several Drikung monasteries with him.

After coming back to India, in 1971 Ontül Rinpoche bought a piece of land at Tso Pema (Rewalsar, Himachal Pradesh, India) from the donations which he received from the people of Ladakh. With the help of my monks Ontül Rinpoche managed to construct a monastery on this piece of land. Tso Pema means the “Lotus Lake”, and this is one of the sacred places where Guru Padmasambhava demonstrated his miraculous powers. The purpose of his exhibiting miracles on that place was to subdue the king and the people of that region, which was then known as Sahor. It took many years for Ontül Rinpoche to complete the monastery with the sacred objects, ritual instruments, and other necessary things. Now the monastery is almost complete and nearly thirty monks are residing there, maintaining the tradition of the Drikung Kagyu.

In 1978 H.H. The Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche recognized the 7th incarnation of the Terton Ogyen Nuden Dorje and gave him the name Konchog Lhundrub Nyendrag Namgyal. At that time the young Tulku was only three years old. In 1980 he was enthroned as the spiritual head of The Drikung Kagyu Buddhist Monastery in Tso Pema. At present he is studying at the Drikung Kagyu Institute in Dehra Dun, U.P., India.

In 1983 Ontül Rinpoche made a journey to central Tibet and Kham, his first visit to Tibet after escaping in 1959. First Ontül Rinpoche reached Lhasa and then after making a short visit to Drikung Thil, he travelled to his monastery in Eastern Tibet. It was one of the bigger Drikung monasteries in that area and it is located close to Ontül Rinpoche's birth place. During the Cultural Revolution the main monastery was completely destroyed. Through the effort of three Tulkus (Tulku Thub-nying, Gyaltsep Tulku, Tulku Phuntsok), and Lopon Gonjam, monks, and the local people it is being rebuilt now, some parts have already been completed. There are about one hundred monks, some of them are in retreat practicing the “Chagchen Ngaden”. Since Yogi Drubwang Pachung Rinpoche passed away, they are guided by his main disciple, Ven. Gelong Tenzin Nyima.

In this area Ontül Rinpoche spent almost six months attending several ceremonies in his monastery, giving empowerments and teachings to the monks and local people. Ontül Rinpoche also initiated “Vajra Kilaya Dupa” (annual ritual) in the monastery and since then it is done for ten days annually. Our Monastery has severe1 branch monasteries, among them Bumang Monastery. Their Rinpoche died during the Cultural Revolution. His reincarnation, now eleven years old, was recognized by H.H. Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche and at present is studying in Drikung Kngyu Institute, Dehradun, U.P., India. Ontül Rinpoche's monastery also has one branch nunnery which was destroyed completely by the Chinese communists. Since 1993 it is under reconstruction and some nuns are practising Dharrna there. From Kham, Ontül Rinpoche returned to Drikung Valley in Central Tibet in the autumn of the same year. At Drikung Til monastery Ontül Rinpoche had the opportunity to meet Yogi Druwang Pachung Rinpoche. From him he received oral transmissions and teachings, which Ontül Rinpoche, together with Ven. Gelong Tenzin Nyima, repeated thoroughly and then practised. During this time Ontül Rinpoche met H.H. Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang Rinpoche who was residing at Lhasa. After staying in Drikung for a period of nearly three weeks, Ontül Rinpoche came back to his Drikung Kagyu Buddhist monastery at Tso Pema in Northern India.

prepared by;
Drikung Kagyu Study Group, Hamburg

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