Soktse Rinpoche (Wyl. sog rtse rin po che) aka Kunzang Tendzin Gyaltsen (kun bzang bstan 'dzin rgyal mtshan) is one of the oldest living disciples of Dudjom Rinpoche and a major Drukpa Kagyü and Dudjom Tersar lineage holder. Based in Ladakh, in the northern part of India, he has literally spent half of his life in strict meditation retreats.
Birth, Family and Recognition
The previous incarnation of Soktse Rinpoche, the 5th Soktse Rinpoche, left a letter indicating various signs about his next incarnation’s birth and how he was to be found.
Although the previous incarnation was Drukpa Kagyü, Soktse Rinpoche’s parents insisted on putting him in Khyung Gompa, a Gelugpa monastery near their home in Gyantse. Soktse Rinpoche stayed in this monastery from the age of six to the age of eighteen.
When Soktse Rinpoche was sixteen, Karak Yongdzin Rinpoche tried to take him and enthrone him at his previous incarnation’s monastery at Soktse. However, Khyung Gompa would not let Soktse Rinpoche leave. Subsequently, Kyabgon Karak Yongzin Rinpoche began a lawsuit at the highest levels of the Tibetan government in Lhasa. After approximately two years, the Kashag (the Tibetan ministerial cabinet) ordered the gompa to let Soktse Rinpoche go to his previous incarnation’s monastery.
Soktse Rinpoche spent several years studying with Karak Yongzin Rinpoche at his monastery in Karak, receiving many Kagyü and Nyingma transmissions, and completing the ngöndro twice, before beginning a long series of kyerim retreats.
Although Karak Yongdzin Rinpoche was a member of the hierarchy of the Drukpa Kagyü lineage, he and his disciples were primarily Nyingma practitioners.
During his time studying with Karak Yongzin Rinpoche at Karak, Soktse Rinpoche also met Dudjom Rinpoche in Lhasa, and later met Punda Khen Rinpoche at Yarlung Sheldrak, who gave him Dzogchen teachings over the course of seventeen years.
Soktse Rinpoche’s three root gurus are therefore:
- Karak Yongzin Rinpoche
- Dudjom Rinpoche
- Punda Khen Rinpoche
In 1961, Soktse Rinpoche came to India and established his residence there. His main monastic seat outside of Tibet is in the high border region of Ladakh in northern India, where he also established a nunnery called Tashi Chöling, in Hanley, Ladakh.
He has also established a nunnery and retreat center at Kechuperi in the mountains of western Sikkim.
Soktse Rinpoche has literally spent half of his life in strict meditation retreats, having completed several three year retreats, and many shorter ones. Numerous lamas have received meditation teachings from Soktse Rinpoche.
Over the years, Soktse Rinpoche has refused many offers to travel abroad and teach in Asia, North America and Europe, preferring to stay on retreat and to spend time with his teachers, Dudjom Rinpoche and Punda Khen Rinpoche.
However, in 1991 and 1999, he made two visits to the U.S. at the request of Chhoje Rinpoche, where he gave extensive teachings, including guiding a group of students on a year long retreat.
One of Soktse Rinpoche's main student is Chhoje Rinpoche.
- Kyabgon Karak Yongdzin Rinpoche was the previous incarnation of Yongzin Rinpoche, who was the leader of the Drukpa Kagyü lineage in central Tibet at that time.
- Karak Yongzin Rinpoche was also a tertön who had encountered Guru Padmasambhava’s wisdom body and had revealed a number of termas. Karak Yongzin Rinpoche’s root teacher was Trulshik Dongak Lingpa, the previous incarnation of Trulshik Rinpoche.