Nyala Pema Dündul

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Nyala Pema Dündul

Nyala Pema Dündul (Tib. ཉག་བླ་པདྨ་བདུད་འདུལ་, Wyl. nyag bla padma bdud 'dul) (1816-1872) — the famous Dzogchen master and tertön from Nyarong who was a teacher of Tertön Sogyal and who attained the rainbow body in 1872.


Nyala Pema was born in Delong Gyalnya Tang on the tenth day of the ninth month of the Fire Mouse year. His father was Khangtsek Gönpo and his mother was Sonam Kyi.

His teachers included Do Khyentse Yeshe Dorje, Lama Sonam Tsultrim, Namgyal Dongak Tenzin, Trosur Kalzang Deutsen and Chöying Rangdrol.

Kalzang Monastery beneath Mt. Lhangdrak

In 1860, Nyala Pema founded Kalzang Monastery. During the consecration, he had a vision of all the thousand buddhas of this aeon, the ‘Good Kalpa’ or ‘Fortunate Age’, dissolving into the site. So he named the monastery Kalzang Sangyé Chöling, “Dharma Sanctuary of the One Thousand Buddhas of the Fortunate Age”.

In the early summer of 1872 in Saga Dawa, the holy fourth month, in the Water Monkey year, the visionary master Nyala Pema Dündul gathered his closest disciples to give them what were to be his final teachings. The place he chose was the deserted Nyin Valley, named after a rare species of mountain goat, in the lower Tromkhok region of Kham. When the teachings were finished, they practised tsok feast together for many days, until the master asked them to accompany him further up the hillside. There he gave them the following instruction:

“Once and for all, give up the deluded way of living which comes from being obsessed with this life. Give up bogus acts of virtue all motivated by the eight worldly concerns. Give up View that is just talk, Meditation that is just error and deviation, and Action that is perverse. Give up bigoted squabbling, and feigning to benefit beings simply out of a desire for fame and fortune. None of them will provide even the meagrest cause for buddhahood. Exterminate the eight worldly concerns. Rid yourself of the preoccupations of this life. Don’t be proud and self-important. Just take the practice of the secret path of the Vajrayana to heart, strive to apply compassion to your mind, and the benefit of you and others will be accomplished, spontaneously. Then this old man’s wishes will be fulfilled. They say that ‘For those with faith and devotion, Padmasambhava sleeps at their door’, and so we shall never be apart. Please, please do what I say. Be determined, and have courage!”

At the end he recited a number of prayers, like the one which begins: “In all my lives, may I never be separated from the perfect Lama”, and then he turned to his disciples and said: “Sew up the door of my tent, and do not come near for seven days.”

Some say that it rained heavily all through that week, and rainbows appeared in the sky. Others said that when the seven days were coming to an end, the earth shuddered three times, the sky was streaked with rainbows and iridescent spheres of light, music was heard, and a fragrance of unearthly beauty filled the air. As they climbed the slope on the eighth day, most of the disciples must have known what they would find when they cut open their master’s tent: nothing but his hair, his nails and his clothes, still shaped around a body that was no longer there. Nyala Pema Dündul had attained the rainbow body, the supreme realization of Dzogchen, by dissolving his earthly body into light as he died.

Soon after, Patrul Rinpoche wrote to Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo:

“Concerning the Dharma of scholarship, the tulku of Dodrupchen—Jikmé Tenpé Nyima—has given the explanatory teachings on the Bodhicharyavatara at the age of eight. As for the Dharma of realization, Nyala Pema Dündul has just attained the rainbow body. So the doctrine of Buddha has not yet declined.”

His Students

The lineage of Nyala Pema Dündul’s teachings passed to his two main disciples, Tertön Rangrik Dorje and Lama Sönam Thayé, and these were known respectively as the ‘sun’ and ‘moon’ lineages. The ‘sun’ lineage passed down eventually to Minling Trichen Rinpoche, while Lama Sönam Thayé transmitted the ‘moon’ lineage to Tertön Sogyal Lerab Lingpa, and to Sempa Dorje, the reincarnation of one of Nyala Pema’s first masters. The latter transmitted the teachings to Anyé Tulku Pema Tashi. Sempa Dorje’s reincarnation was born in 1922. This was Sherab Özer Rinpoche, who received the transmission of the Khakhyap Rangdrol and Nyala Pema Dündul’s other revelations from Anyé Tulku when he was twenty four years old, in 1946.

He was also one of the main teachers of Adzom Drukpa.

Further Reading


  • Matthew Kapstein, 'The Strange Death of Pema the Demon-Tamer' in The Presence of Light: Divine Radiance and Religious Experience, ed. Matthew T. Kapstein, University of Chicago Press, 2004
  • 'On an Island of Wish-fulfilling Jewels' in Rigpa Journal, January 2000, pages 54-59
  • Yeshe Dorje. The Cloud of Nectar. Translated by Oriol Aguilar. Annotated edition edition. Arcidosso: Shang Shung Publications, 2014.


  • Oriol Aguillar, 'Los linajes de transmisión de Nyag bla Padma bdud ‘dul', Revue d'Etudes Tibétaines, Numéro 8 – Octobre 2005, pp. 65-83.
  • Oriol Aguilar, 'La Roca Blanca de Lhang Lhang: Un santuario en Nyag rong', Revue d'Etudes Tibétaines, Numéro 12 – Mars 2007, pp. 11-23

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