Wöngtsang Chime Dorje

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Wöngtsang Chime Dorje (20th c.) was a fierce mahasiddha and the spiritual leader of a community of ngakpas, called Gökar Sermo Jong, in the Repkong area of Amdo (now Tongren, Qinghai). Wöngtsang Chimé Dorjé became a main disciple of Dudjom Rinpoche, based in Lama Ling, and was the father of Lama Tharchin Rinpoche.

Birth, Family

Wöngtsang Chimé Dorje was the ninth generation descendant of Palchen Namkha Jikme (1757-1821), founder of Kyunglung and the 1900 Ngakpa group in Amdo, Tibet. His father was Wöntsang Drukgyal, the eight-generation descendant of Palchen Namkha Jikme.


Wöngtsang Chimé Dorje was trained by his father, Wöntsang Drukgyal, and grew up within the Repkong community.

According to Lama Tharchin Rinpoche[1]:

Repkong yogis, or Repkong ngapkas, are the most famous and powerful yogis of Tibet. They have such a realization. Guru Rinpoche predicted that the community of Repkong would be the inheritors and foremost proponents of the wrathful activities, or conducts, of tantric Buddhist practice. During the time of Palchen Namkha Jikme, they was 1900 yogis in the community. During Wöntsang Drukgyal’s time, there was 2000 yogis; during my uncle lama Sherab Dorje’s time, over three thousands yogis. Now, the Repkong yogi Doctor Nyida said there are between 4,000 to 5,000 yogis, and it is really increasing.
Palchen Namkha Jigme established really strict rules for the Repkong yogis. During winter times, nobody is allowed to go outside: everybody has to stay at home and to do a personal retreat. Because of that, during winter times, if people see a yogi in a town, they think “Oh maybe this is a bad omen. Could you do a divination for the obstacles to be removed?”.
Repkong is one monastery by within it there are four different groups: Nyingtik, Mindroling, Tersar and one other. Ngakpas are not monks. They are like householders. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche used to say that “Repkong is the source of all knowledge”.
My father’s was prophesied by Guru Rinpoche, as was his meeting with my mother.


Becoming the head of the Repkong Gompa

At a time, while young, Wöngtsang Chimé Dorje took his father’s place, and was enthroned as the head of the gompa.

Leaving Repkong as a wandering practitioner

Later, when he was 25 years old, he left Repkong and became a wandering practitioner, and went for a pilgrimage to Lhasa on foot, while prostrating the whole journey.

Lama Tharchin Rinpoche recounts: [2]

As the head of the very famous gompa of Repkong Ngakpa, in Amdo, my father was revered by a community of several thousands ngakpas, and by practitioners of the whole area.
My father had a position in his monastery as a throne holder (Lha Gong), and as the tribe leader (Gyalkong). Those two positions had a lot of power, and he did not like that power.
One time, he travelled to the North. Because he was of his high station, he had to travel with a large retinue of attendants. In the North of Amdo, people were quite poor, but because of culture and custom, they were obliged to show respect and hospitality to Ngakpas. My father saw that it was too much for them, but because he was famous, they had to show respect. He did not like this at all.
The public also had to support his monastery. When he went to visit their homes, he saw that they were very poor. Still, every year, they had to make large offerings to the gompa. He felt that fame was not pure, that it was a big obstacle. My father Wöngtsang Chimé Dorje saw that he could not truly develop his practice while being famous.
One night, when he was twenty-five years old, he jumped out of the window and he escaped. He left everything, and became a beggar. On the journey, he never told anyone his name or where he was from.
From Repkong in Eastern Tibet to Lhassa, Central Tibet, normally, it is a quite far journey. By horse, it used to take three months to get to Lhassa. MY father did it by foot, while doinf prostration the whole journey. He just began his pilgrimage from East Amdo up to Lhasa. On the way, he did retreats in many different caves and holy places, and made great progress in his practice. There are so many stories of his of meditation experiences.

Meeting his future wife, Sendok Tsewang Drolma, in Gonjo

Along the way, while travelling through the province of Kham, Wöngtsang Chimé Dorje met his future wife, Sendok Tsewang Drolma, in Gonjo, Kham. Lama Tharchin Rinpoche recounts[3]:

My mother’s family, from the Gonjo Agartsang, was a very ancient and famous one, descending from a minister of Gesar of Ling. Her father was a lama, but as the time she met my father, her father had already passed away. Her brother, who was also a lama, met my father. Although my father was a beggar, the brother recognized his quality right away and introduced him to my mother, Sendok Tsewang Drolma. Otherwise, he would never have recommended a beggar to his sister, who was of noble family. At that time, my mother was very sick, so sick she almost died. My father said to her, “It would be better if you would become a beggar, too”. As she had great faith in him, she went with him. The same day that they left, she completely recovered from her illness. They travelled together until they came to Lhasa.

Meeting Dudjom Rinpoche in Lhasa, and being sent to Kongpo

In Lhassa, Wöngtsang Chimé Dorje met Dudjom Rinpoche who told him, ‘Your second wheel of Dharma is sufficient. Now it is time for you to turn your third wheel” [4]. Go to Kongpo”, which is were Dudjom Rinpoche had established Lama Ling. So Wöngtsang Chimé Dorje journeyed about fourteen days on horse back, and settled with his wife there, and his sons and daughter grew up in Kongpo. Wöngtsang Chimé Dorje established is own monastery in Kongpo.

Fleeing Tibet to India

In 1960, due to the political events, Wöngtsang Chimé Dorje escaped Tibet with his family, including his wife Sendok Tsewang Drolma, his son Pema Rinchen with his wife and daughter, his son Lama Tharchin Rinpoche, his younger daughter, and a friend with his wife and daughters.

Lama Tharchin Rinpoche recounts:

It took us one month and twelve days [to travel from Kongpo to India].We just went up the sheer rock cliffs from mountain to mountain, up and down again and again, with no path, with nothing to eat. It took us one month and twelve days with nobody, no people in sight, only empty mountains. It was a very, very difficult journey. For the last twelve days we had nothing to eat. There was no path through thick Himalayan jungle. Finally, we came to a tribe of Lopa, Burmo-Tibetan jungle people, in the mountain kingdom of Assam, between Tibet and India. They were naked, and many of the tribes were cannibals. These people did not seem to be cannibals, however. They helped us, and gave us food. From there, we went on to India. That was 1960.

An accomplished ngakpa

According to Lama Tharchin Rinpoche[5], ‘There are many scholars in the monastery, but there are not just scholars alone, there are many, many great famous mahasiddhas, yogis who have attained great spiritual powers. In Tibet, we used to have lots of bandits. But even the bandits had to be careful with Repkong Ngakpas, they had great fear and respect for Repkong ngakpas. For example, if they were planning on robbing a camp, they used to make sure that it was not a camp of Repkong ngakpas, as they were afraid of their magical powers. My father, Wongtsang Chimé Dorje, had power like that, there are lots of stories about him.

According to Lama Tharchin Rinpoche, his father Wöngtsang Chimé Dorje was an accomplished practitioner[6]:

Wöngtsang Chimé Dorje did have amazing powers. He was a very wrathful person, not a gentle [one]. Sometimes my father used to get angry. When he got really moody, he could gather, [mix] big rocks together like if there were made of butter. All kinds… He was a also very famous healer, especially for those with mental disturbance. He brought those to our house. His healing technique was to shoot people with [a] gun. Sometimes, the bullet was made flat, sometimes it was printed on whatever cloth they were wearing, sometimes it made a Vajrakilaya of Hayagriva, wrathful deities, like a tsata which was printed under the bullet. Then, they were healed. Sometimes he had an old trick made out of steal, and he beat them, until he got tired. Through this pain, the original pain or sickness was healed. He had so many powers I saw.

Lama Tharchin Rinpoche recalls an incident which happened in Lama Ling:

Under my father generation, all of these stories of miracles accomplished by Repkong ngakpas were written in texts. But I never saw that [as I was born in Kongpo]. But I saw some things which my father did.
One time, I was young, maybe 13 or 14 years old, so maybe in the year 1947, I was travelling with my father Wöngtsang Chimé Dorje, riding horses to Dudjom Rinpoche’s monastery of Lama Ling. In Tibet, with horses, you have to have some ornaments. I had a very fancy kind of [sword], with silver and stones [on it]. In Dudjom Rinpoche’s monastery, there was a guest room, and I hung it on the wall.
Then Lama Dönden, a student of Dudjom Rinpoche, began debating with my father about something. I don’t know what they were debating about. They both were drinking whiskey we called arrat]. They were debating louder and louder. One was saying ‘Yes’, the other was saying ‘No’. It was getting louder and louder.
Then my father got up and took my sword out of its case, put it in his hand and rolled it up like a piece of paper, and he threw it with a loud noise on the table saying ‘What do you mean, yes or no?’ Then, Lama Dönden got up and started immediately prostrations saying ‘Sorry for my ego, [who pushed me to] debate with you.’ On my side, I thought ‘Oh no, my beautiful sword!’
Later, Dudjom Rinpoche heard what had happened and sent one of his attendant who said, ‘Bring that sword to me!’. It was no longer a sword but a piece of iron. Dudjom Rinpoche took it, and had it put in his dharmapala ‘s room (Gönkhang).
When we escaped from Tibet, I don’t know what happened to that ex sword.”


Among the students of Wöngtsang Chimé Dorje are:


Wöngtsang Chimé Dorje and Sendok Tsewang Drolma had three sons, all born in Kongpo:

  • Pema Rinchen, the first son.
  • The second son
  • Lama Tharchin Rinpoche (1935-2013), the third youngest son, born near the Buchu Golden Temple in Kongpo, Tibet.
  • A younger sister

According to Lama Tharchin Rinpoche, ‘My older brother, Pema Rinchen, was amazing, very smart and knowledgeable, and had similar spiritual power than those of my father. But my father chose me to be his lineage holder, to inherit his spiritual lineage. At the time, I wondered and everyone wondered why he did this. My eldest brother, Pema Rinchen was recognized as an important lama’s emanation (trulku) by the Karmapa Rangjung Rigpé Dorje when he was twenty-five years old, when he went to the Karmapa’s monastery in Tsurphu Monastery. He stayed there as a tulku. Then he went north Tibet to build a monastery there. He had many students. He became a very, very famous lama. However, he stayed in Tibet after the Communist invasion, and passed away. He did not have time to pass on many teachings. Now I understand why my father decided to choose me. I am still alive, while my brother is dead. My brother, Pema Rinchen, also had no son, whereas my family lineage passes from father to son.

Final Years

The memories of the final years of Wöngtsang Chimé Dorje have not yet been recorded.


  1. Interview with Lama Tharchin Rinpoche, Shambala.
  2. Interview with Lama Tharchin Rinpoche, Shambala.
  3. Interview with Lama Tharchin Rinpoche, Shambala.
  4. According to Lama Tharchin Rinpoche: ‘There are three Lama Wheels: the first is education and learning; the second is practice and accomplishment; the third is benefitting beings by serving the doctrine and giving teachings.
  5. Interview with Lama Tharchin Rinpoche, Shambala.
  6. Interview with Lama Tharchin Rinpoche, Shambala.