Dzongpön Tsewang Rigdzin

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Dzongpön Tsewang Rigdzin (Wyl. rdzong dpon tshe dbang rig 'dzin) was a main Powo and Pemakö lineage holder of the Dorjé Tokmé [Wyl. rDo rje thogs med] [1] and of the Dudjom Tersar lineages.

Birth, Family

Dzongpön Tsewang Rigdzin was born in the Dugkor family, and as such was among the descendants of the King Kanam Depa line, ruler of Powo.

Training

Dzongpön Tsewang Rigdzin received many empowerments from Nyamnyi Dorjé Rinpoche(Wyl. mNyam nyid rdo rje), who became his root teacher. Dzongpön Tsewang Rigdzin was a practitioner of the Seven Profound Dharmas[2] of Dorjé Tokmé, as well as Dudjom Lingpa’s treasure teachings.

Activity

Dzongpön Tsewang Rigdzin became a very influential Dzongpön in Powo and Pemakö, and also a main Dharma practitioner under his root guru.

Being requested as a Dzongpon in Powo

At this time, mid 19th, Powo was still an independent region within Tibet, and Pemakö was governed by King Kanam’s administration. Since Dzongpön Tsewang Rigdzin was a son of the Dugkor family, who were descendants of King Kanam, people in the area unanimously requested that he became a Dzongpön of the region. Accepting their request, he led the region according to the principles of Dharma and fulfilled all wishes in prosperity and peace.

Every year, inviting Nyamnyi Dorjé Rinpoche to teach in the Gyatön region, in Powo

Every year, thanks to the patronage of Dzongpön Tsewang Rigdzin, Nyamnyi Dorjé Rinpoche would visit the Gyaton (Wyl. rgya ston) region of Southern Tibet, giving empowerments and teachings everyone.

Lama Rigdzin Phuntsok shared the following story[3]:

One year, while traveling in Gyaton, Nyamnyi Dorjé Rinpoche stopped in Powo Yigun after being invited there by the people of that village. The villagers had heard that Nyamnyid Dorje Rinpoche was a powerful psychic and could perform miracles. To test his psychic powers, they built a well decorated throne, using the twelve volumes of the Buddha’s own words (called (Bum), which contain the Prajnaparamita teachings.
Upon his arrival to Powo Yigun, the people welcomed Nyamnyi Dorjé Rinpoche and ushered him to the throne. Before climbing upon it, Nyamnyid Dorje Rinpoche stopped momentarily and snapped his fingers. After this, without hesitation he sat upon the throne. After he left to continue his journey to the Gyaton region, the people started to question his powers, some saying that he, in fact, had no psychic power or ability to perform miracles. Their rumbling grew into quite a scandal in the region.
After many months had passed, there came a time for reading the volumes of the Prajna Paramita teachings, which had been used to build the throne, as part of a local ceremony. As the villagers of Powo Yigung opened the volumes, they found only blank pages, with not a single word left in any of them. Everyone was amazed, and they immediately sent someone to invite the great master back. When asked to return, he replied, “There is no auspicious circumstances for my returning to that place; what perhaps you really need are the volumes of the Prajnaparamita teachings. I thought you people didn’t need the sacred teachings, so I concealed them temporarily in the expanse of Dharmadhatu. If your people truly want the sacred teachings, the words in the volume will be restored.” When the messenger returned, the reopened the volumes and found that all the words had indeed been restored just as they were before.

Thereafter, Nyamnyi Dorjé Rinpoche’s fame for psychic power and miraculous activity spread throughout this region even further, and new waves of devotion and faith rose in the minds of all who witnessed or heard of the event.

Beging requested by Nyamnyid Dorje Rinpoche to move south to Neley Köchung, in Pemakö

Right before Nyamnyi Dorjé Rinpoche left for Pemakö, he said to his main students and to Dzongpön Tsewang Rigdzin: “You all must come to Neley Köchung, also known in Chendrug, in Pemakö. To practice Buddha Dharma to attain enlightenment within this lifetime, there is no better place than this holy land.” Although Tsewang Rigdzin wished to depart immediately in accordance with his root teacher’s advice, he could not due to his responsibilities as a leader for many and also due to his responsibilities to his family, cattle, lands, and the maintenance of other material belongings. Thus, his departure was delayed for a few years’ time.

Story of the stag and of the insect

Lama Rigdzin Phuntsok shared the following story[4]:

One day, while Dzongpön Tsewang Rigdzin was riding his horse, he ran into a large stag standing by the side of the road. He thought, “If I had not known my master, I would have killed this stag. Today, I abstained from the act of killing and let the stag go off to its own destination wherever that might be. Oh, this is due to the great kindness of my root teacher.” Then he continued on his journey.
Another day, while riding his horse, he saw a large insect right in the road, crawling with great hardship. Immediately, he got down from his horse and, with great compassion, he picked the insect up and released it at the side of the road. Once more he thought, “This is due to my teacher’s kindness; I did not ignore or kill the insect, but I saved its life.” As he had more of these kinds of incidences while he was still in his homeland, he came to realize that every one of his acts of compassion, loving kindness, and benevolence for the sake of other beings arose solely from the blessings of his guru.
As time passed, Dzongpön Tsewang Rigdzin’s genuine longing to be around his teacher grew even more, and eventually he gave up all attachment to worldly things, handing his responsibilities to others, and of his properties and other belongings, he made offerings to those he respected and distributed all the rest to those who were in need. Dzongpön Tsewang Rigdzin finished his worldly activity well and with a pure sense of renunciation and pure intention to pursue Dharma. Leading many others who were genuinely motivated to practice Dharma from Powo and Gyaton, Dzongpön Tsewang Rigdzin and his family then left for Chendrup in Pemakö, where is teacher was in retreat. Upon arriving in Chendrup, he sent a messenger to his guru telling him of his arrival. Nyamnyi Dorjé Rinpoche was pleased with the news, and he wrote back to Dzongpön Tsewang Rigdzin. In this letter, he said,
To see if you, my son, would really avoid the act of killing your father guru, I came to you in the form of a stag. To see if my son really had genuine compassion and love, I, your father guru, came to you in the form of an insect.
The letter went on explaining how Nyamnyi Dorjé Rinpoche had manifested in many forms to Dzongpön Tsewang Rigdzin and also expressed that he was pleased with all Dzongpön Tsewang Rigdzin’s actions, including his arrival in Chendrup.

Students

Among the main students of Dzongpön Tsewang Rigdzin is his own son, Dorje Drakpa.

Family

Dzongpön Tsewang Rigdzin had only one son, Dorjé Drakpa, whose birth and activities in Pemakö was prophesied by Nyamnyid Dorje Rinpoche. Among his family descendants are:

Final Years

Lama Rigdzin Phuntsok wrote the following prayer:

At the ripening of prophecies, after numerous incarnations, in the hidden land of Guru Padmasambhava, the excellent pure land with five attributes, you miraculously manifested and, through the excellent path of spontaneously present Tögal, you fully attained the Four Visions.
In every corner of this holy land, with all of its beneficial, meritorious works, you restored all that were in decline and established new ones in the manner of the great works of the Flower of Gods King Trisong Detsen of ancient times.

Notes

  1. Dorjé Tokmé (1746-1796/1797) was a Nyingma Tertön from the southern borderlands of Tibet, especially of Pemakö. Dorje Thokme was a reincarnation of Yudra Nyingpo and one of the openers of the hidden land of Pemakö.
  2. Tshe sgrub 'od kyi dra ba'i zab chos bdun pa sbas yul sgo 'byed, The Long-Life Practice, the Light-Matrix of the Seven Profound Dharmas that Opens The Hidden Land.
  3. Joyful Feast for the Minds of the Fortunate Ones, A Collection of Compositions by Lama Rigdzin P'huntsok.
  4. Joyful Feast for the Minds of the Fortunate Ones, A Collection of Compositions by Lama Rigdzin P'huntsok.