Kunzang Dechen Dorje (Pema Kunzang)

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Kunzang Dechen Dorje (Tib. ཀུན་བཟང་བདེ་ཆེན་དྲོ་རྗེ་,Wyl. kun bzang bde chen dro rje) aka Pema Kunzang, Tsamtrul Rinpoche (ca.1845-ca.1925) was the immediate reincarnation of Jikmé Gyalwé Nyugu recognized by the Fourth Dzogchen Rinpoche. He stayed at northern Dzagyal Monastery.

Birth, Family, Recognition

According to Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche[1]:

Jikmé Gyalwé Nyugu’s immediate rebirth was recognized by the Fourth Dzogchen Rinpoche, Mingyur Namkhé Dorje, through the latter’s flawless vision born of timeless awareness. This tulku was Kunzang Dechen Dorjé, who was enthroned as the successor to the lord of guru’s former incarnation.
At one point during the lord guru Jikmé Gyalwé Nyugu’s later life, he heard of many sheep being slaughtered for the wedding feast of a bride from the Seshul clan. Of this he was heard to say over and over, “Alas! If I were a bodhisattva with sufficient power to do so, I would take rebirth as this woman’s son. Otherwise, who could save her from lower states of rebirth?” It was therefore widely held that this lord guru took rebirth as her child. When he was conceived in her womb, the family’s felt tents were bathed in white light that all the neighbors could see. Other signs were perceived as well. When the time came to enthrone the child, the Fourth Dzogchen Rinpoche wore a white shawl, prophesying, “This noble being will act as a tantric master in the future.” This tulku came to be a practitioner who brought fourth the four visions to consummation just as they are described.
Another incarnation of Jikmé Gyalwé Nyugu was born in the encampment of Khamgar and was enthroned with the title “Khamtrul”.


In his autobiography, Dudjom Lingpa recounts how Kunzang Dechen Dorje (Pema Kunzang) recognized his son Khyentse Tulku Dzamling Wangyal as an incarnation of Do Khyentse Yeshe Dorje[2]:

[In 1878], we set off north on the path by the river Dzachuka. As we journeyed, three hundred wild yacks appeared at Matö. They came with us for three days. During the day they walked in front of us and at night they stayed close by. I understood this to be a welcome from the [mountain god] Magyal Pomra.
Further, one night in a dream, the field guardian Kunga Zhonnü, Youthful Ever-Joyful, told me, “I’m going ahead of you; then I will announce your pending arrival to Tsamtrul. I have to borrow a place for you to stay.” Then he departed. Kunzang Dechen Dorje (Pema Kunzang) told me about that same night [the next day]: “Last night a black man with a lion face appeared. He was wearing a black cloack and riding a black horse with rings of white hair above its hooves. He struck my house with a club and told me, ‘Clear out of this house!’ Then he left. Therefore I said, ‘It’s likely that Tertön Rinpoche and his disciples are going to arrive tomorrow, so stash all these things away in yak-hair tents.’ Then the house was cleared out.”
That day, we stopped at a rest area in Mamö Drilkar. A welcome party had been sent from Dzagyal Monastery and we met them there. The next day when we arrived at Dzagyal Monatsery, we were welcomed by a line of monks and even Kunzang Dechen Dorje (Pema Kunzang) with his two students came out to greet us. We met all of them, and my youngest son was granted investiture on the throne: They made us a residence in Kunzang Dechen Dorje (Pema Kunzang)’s own home and we stayed there.
One night after a week there had passed, I met Longchen Dorjé Ziji, Dazzling Vajra of Great Expanse Longchenpa. He bestowed upon me the absolutely complete sacred instructions of Dzogchen. He fully entrusted me with the doctrine and then said, ‘This son of yours is my emanation, known as Rigdzin Jikme Lingpa. If he is diligent in retreat, he will arrive at the very highest degree of realization. Have him do that, and I think he will be of some benefit to the doctrine and beings.” Then he vanished without a trace.


  1. Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage (Junction City: Padma Publications, 2005), p. 222.
  2. Traktung Dudjom Lingpa, A Clear Mirror, The Visionary Autobiography of a Tibetan Master, The Outer Autobiography, translated by Chönyi Drolma, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2011, page 151-152.

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