A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems

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Cover of Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche’s “A Marvelous Garland of rare Gems”

A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage is the only comprehensive history of the Nyingtik lineage, which forms the core of teachings known as Dzogchen (Great Perfection) in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. It was written by Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche, one of the most outstanding and knowledgeable exponents of Dzogchen, and translated into English from the Tibetan by Richard Barron (Chokyi Nyima). In this work, framed as a series of biographical accounts, Nyoshul Khenpo provides a wealth of information invaluable to spiritual practitioners, as well as historians studying the cultures of central Asia.

In the Introduction, Sogyal Rinpoche underscores the importance of this work:

There could come a time in the future,’ [Nyoshul Khenpo] wrote, ‘when holders of the lineage would profess to transmit the lineage without being able to recall even the names of its masters.’ This is why he considered this history to be ‘as indispensable as our eyes or our life force,’ providing all the grounds and inspiration ever needed for total conviction. He compared the life stories of the vidyadhara masters in this lineage to a fine chain of gold or a garland of rare gems. […] With immense attention to detail, Nyoshul Khenpo maps out the ‘ultimate lineage of direct transmission,’ the heart of all the lines of transmission of Dzogpachenpo from the primordial buddha to the present day, showing the connection between masters and students in an unbroken line of succession. His work stands out because of its completeness, for it includes all of the distinct lineages, along with the lives of the students of the great masters, stories from the oral tradition, and the different teaching styles. Anyone who matters is represented here, every link in the chain, including masters of our time. . . . It is a milestone, and I do not feel that it will ever be equaled."

The Table of contents of “The Lineage” section of the book provides a remarkable way to trace down many lineages:

1 The Mind-to-Mind Transmission by Victorious Ones

2 The Transmission Through Symbols by Masters of Awareness

3 The Oral Transmission by Human Individuals

Kama, the Historical Transmission: The Categories of Mind and Expanse

Terma, the Hidden Treasure Transmission: The Category of Direct Transmission

4 The Lineage of Transmission from Vimalamitra

The More Extensive Lineage: The Category of Direct Transmission

5 Longchen Rabjampa Drime Ozer

Longchenpa's Outer Biography: Enlightened Form

  • Longchenpa's Birth and Early Life
  • Later Studies
  • Training under Rigdzin Kumaradza
  • Teaching Activities

Terma Revelations and Other Activities

  • Exile and Return
  • Later Life and Passing

Longchenpa's Inner Biography: Enlightened Speech

  • Longchenpa's Writings
  • Paltrul Rinpoche's Eulogy
  • Dzogchen Commentaries

Longchenpa's Secret Biography: Enlightened Mind

6 The Combined Lineages from Longchenpa to Jigme Gyalwai Nyugu

7 The Lineages of Transmission from Jigme Gyalwai Nyugu: Paltrul Rinpoche

8 The Lineages of Transmission from Jigme Gyalwai Nyugu: Jamyang Khyentsei Wangpo

9 The Lineages of Transmission of Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa: The Dodrupchen Line of Incarnations

The Lineage of Dodrubchen's Incarnations

The Lineages of Students of the First Dodrupchen

The Alternative Lineage of Dodrupchen Trinle Ozer

10 The Students of Longchen Rabjampa

The Lineage of Longchenpa's Teachings

  • Orgyen Choje of Drok Valley
  • Guru Osel Rangdrol
  • Tulku Paljor Gyaltsen
  • Dokhampa Dengom Chodrak Zangpo
  • The Lineage of Both Khedrup Delek Gyatso and Takok Jadral Choje
  • Khedrup Delek Gyatso
  • Takok Jadral Choje Tashi Jungne
  • Guru Zhenpen
  • Namkha Dorje
  • Osel Longyang
  • Dzogchenpa Sonam Rigdzin
  • Kunkhyen Ngawang Pema
  • Dzogchenpa Sonam Wangpo
  • Lhatsun Namkha Jigme
  • Dzogchenpa Longdzok Tadral

The Lineage of Longchenpa's Incarnations

  • Rigdzin Pema Lingpa
  • The Second Pema Lingpa, Tendzin Chokyi Drakpa (Yenpa Lode)
  • The Third Pema Lingpa, Kunkhyen Tsultrim Dorje
  • The Fourth Pema Lingpa, Dorje Mikyotsal (Ngawang Kunzang Rolpai Dorje)
  • The Fifth Pema Lingpa, Kunzang Tsewang (Pema Tendzin Drupchok Dorje)
  • The Sixth Pema Lingpa, Kunzang Tenpai Gyaltsen Palzangpo
  • The Seventh Pema Lingpa, Pema Tendzin (Kunzang Ngawang Chokyi Lodro)
  • The Eighth Pema Lingpa, Kunzang Dechen Dorje (Ngedon Tenpai Nyima Palzangpo)
  • The Ninth Pema Lingpa, Tendzin Chokyi Gyaltsen
  • The Tenth Pema Lingpa, Pema Osel Gyurme Dorje (Tupten Chokyi Dorje)
  • The Eleventh Pema Lingpa, Kunzang Pema Rinchen Namgyal Ngedon Tenpai Nyima
  • Rigdzin Pema Trinle and the Family Lineages of the Pema Lingpa Tradition

11 The Students of Rigdzin Terdak Lingpa

The Lineage of Rigdzin Terdak Lingpa's Main Seat

  • Kunzang Mingyur Paldron
  • Khenchen Oddiyana (Orgeyn Tendzin Dorje)
  • Trichen Gyurme Trinle Namgyal
  • Jetsunma Trinle Chodron

Other Students of Rigdzin Terdak Lingpa

12 The Students of Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa and the First Dodrupchen, Jigme Trinle Ozer

The Students of Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa

The Students of the First Dodrupchen, Jigme Trinle Ozer

13 The Students of Jamyang Khyentsei Wangpo

14 The Students of Adzom Drukpa Rinpoche and Yukhok Jadral Choyiing Rangdrol

The Students of Adzom Drukpa Rinpoche

The Students of Yukhok Jadral Choying Rangdrol

  • Rakor Khen Drime Ozer
  • Gyarong Tsondru

15 The Students of Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro and Other Masters

The Students of Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro

The Students of Dudjom Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and Others

16 The Students of Paltrul Rinpoche

Khenchen Yonten Gyatso, His Students, and His Lineage

Khenchen Kunzang Palden Chodrak, His Students, and His Lineage

17 The Students of Orgyen Tendzin Norbu

The Personal Transmission for Spiritual Practice

The Personal Transmission for the Explanatory Teachings

  • Khenpo Shenga Dorje Chang (Zhenpen Chokyi Nangwa)
  • The Students and Lineage of Zhenga Dorje Chang
  • Palpung Situ Rinpoche Pema Wangchok Gyalpo
  • Zurmang Khenchen Pema Namgyal
  • Zurmang Tenga Rinpoche
  • Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche
  • Bo Gangkar Rinpoche (Karma Shedrup Chokyi Seng-ge)
  • Nyarong Guru Tulku
  • Drukpa Geshe Tenpa Rinchen
  • Other Students
  • Khenchen Tsondru, aka Khenpo Tsöndrü
  • Nyoshul Khenchen Ngawang Palzang Rinpoche
  • Tukse Serkha Chodrak
  • Rahor Chödrak Palden Chokyi Drakpa
  • Khunu Lama Tenzin Gyaltsen
  • Tukse Doring Choktrul Rinpoche, aka Doring Tulku

18 The Students of Lungtok Tenpai Nyima

  • Khen Rinpoche Dorje Dzinpa Tobden (Tupten Gyaltsen Ozer)
  • Naktar Tulku Sonam Chokdrup
  • Lhazang Lama Rigdzin
  • Sa-ngen Lama Wangchen
  • Lama Ngakchen (Orgyen Tutop Lingpa)
  • Tertön Sogyal Terchen Lerab Lingpa
  • Pema Gyaltsen
  • Dretse Tulku
  • Sungtrul Kunzang Nyima Dzongter Kunzang Nyima

19 The Students of Khenchen Ngawang Palzang

20 The Students of Lungtrul Shedrup Tenpai Nyima

  • Tekchok Tenpé Gyaltsen Khen Ngawang Palzang Yangsi Rinpoche
  • Choktrul Nyima Gyaltsen Rinpoche
  • Drakyab Lama Choden Rinpoche
  • Jokhang Choktrul Rinpoche

Publication Reference

  • Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, translated by Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005)