He was forced to flee to India in 1959, and consequently went to Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, where the Karmapa has his seat in exile. He was the main teacher of the four principal Karma Kagyü tulkus of that time—the four regents of the Karmapa (Shamar Rinpoche, Tai Situ Rinpoche, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, and Gyaltsab Rinpoche). At the age of thirty-five he was given the degrees of Geshe Lharampa and Khenchen. Later, he was also appointed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to be the personal tutor for His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa.
In 1976 he began to teach in the West and became the abbot of Gampo Abbey—a Buddhist monastery in Nova Scotia, Canada—as well as to take charge of the three-year retreat centre at Samyé Ling in Scotland. He is a recognized master of Mahamudra meditation and has a special, direct transmission of the Shentong philosophical tradition. He is especially known for making complex teachings accessible to Western students.
- Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Essential Practice, translated by Jules B. Levinson (Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2002)
- Thrangu Rinpoche, Buddha Nature (Bookpeople, 1996), ISBN 978-9627341178
- Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, The Practice of Tranquility and Insight—A Guide to Tibetan Buddhist Meditation (Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications, 1993), ISBN 978-1559391061