Khandro Tsering Chödrön
Khandro Tsering Chödrön (Tib. མཁའ་འགྲོ་ཚེ་རིང་ཆོས་སྒྲོན་, Wyl. mkha’ ‘gro tshe ring chos sgron) (1929-2011), the spiritual wife of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö, was universally acknowledged as one of the foremost female practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism of recent times and was considered to be an emanation of Shelkar Dorje Tso.
Khandro was born in the Earth Snake year (1929) into the Aduk Lakar family of Kham Trehor, an ancient family of benefactors who supported many monasteries and teachers in Tibet dating back to the time of Je Tsongkhapa. Her mother was Dechen Tso, a princess of Ling, who was married to the two Lakar brothers Tutob Namgyal and Sonam Tobgyal. She became Jamyang Khyentse's spiritual wife in 1948, at a time when he was in poor health and many of his disciples were urging him to take a consort to prolong his life. For the next eleven years she served as his attendant and devoted companion, receiving countless teachings and transmissions, requesting practices and prayers and putting questions to him in the form of songs.
According to Dzongsar Ngari Tulku (Tenzin Khedrup Gyatso), on one occasion [c.1952], when Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö was opening the sacred place of Khyungchen Paldzong (ཁྱུང་ཆེན་དཔལ་རྫོང་, khyung chen dpal rdzong), known locally as Gyalgen Khyungtak (རྒྱ་རྒན་ཁྱུང་ལྟག་, rgya rgan khyung ltag), above Dzongsar Monastery, Jamyang Khyentse, Gyarong Khandro, Khandro Tsering Chödrön and Sogyal Rinpoche all left their handprints in the solid rock.
Together with her elder sister, Tsering Wangmo whose husband Tsewang Paljor was Jamyang Khyentse's private secretary, the young Sogyal Rinpoche, Lama Chokden and a small party of family and attendants, she accompanied Jamyang Khyentse to Central Tibet in 1955, during which time her tutor Lama Tseten passed away near Yamdrok Tso. From Central Tibet the party went to India and to Sikkim, making their residence at the temple of the Royal Palace in Gangtok.
Khandro continued to live there for many years after Jamyang Khyentse passed away in 1959, quietly devoting her life to constant prayer in the presence of his reliquary stupa. During this time she read the entire Kangyur and Tengyur. She travelled from Sikkim to Europe and America several times (see dates and places below) at the request of her nephew Sogyal Rinpoche. On 5th of December 2006, near the beginning of Rigpa's first three-year retreat, Khandro Tsering Chödrön took residence in Lerab Ling.
Khandro Tsering Chödrön passed away on the 24th day of the 3rd lunar month (26th May 2011) in Lerab Ling. Sogyal Rinpoche and Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche were both present at the moment of her passing where she showed all the signs of attaining the final accomplishment of a great Dzogchen practitioner.
Gallery of Images
Together with Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö, date and place unknown
In Lhasa, 1950's
With her sister, Mayum Tsering Wangmo, date unknown
With Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, ca.1982
With Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, date unknown
upon arrival in Lerab Ling, August 1996
Lerab Ling, December 2006
Khadro Tsering Chödrö's memorial stupa in Lerab Ling, France
Early Visits to the West
[some of this information still needs to be double checked]
- 1981: UK (St Paul’s Crescent Rigpa Centre) and France (Grasse, Valmorin August retreat)
- 1982: US (Vidya School in Boulder and Rigpa retreats)
- 1984: France (La Castillanderie 1984), US (Santa Cruz retreat)
- 1988: US (Dharmadhatu Centre in Berkley, September), Dzogchen Beara in October, Switzerland, Germany
- 1996: Khandro's first visit to Lerab Ling
Oral Accounts of Her Life
- Sogyal Rinpoche, Berkley Dharmadhatu, CA, 2 September 1988
- Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche, Lerab Ling, 24 August 1996
- Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche, Lerab Ling, 30 May 2011
- Sogyal Rinpoche, Berlin Centre, 3 June 2011
- Sogyal Rinpoche, Dzogchen Beara, 15 June 2011
- Sogyal Rinpoche, Garrison Institute, 26 June 2011
- Sogyal Rinpoche, Lerab Ling, 17 July 2011
- Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Brilliant Moon: An Autobiography of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (Boston & London: Shambhala, 2008), pages 128, 138.
- Jamyang Sakya and Julie Emery, Princess in the Land of Snows: The Life of Jamyang Sakya in Tibet (Boston: Shambhala, 1990)
- Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, pages 143-144.
- View: The Rigpa Journal, August 2009, '50 Years On—The Life and legacy of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö'
- A Brief History of the Lakar Family by Khandro's sister Mayum Tsering Wangmo
- Prayer to Khandro Tsering Chödrön