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The second throne holder, Drodul Pawo Dorje

The second throne holder, Drodul Pawo Dorje (1842 – 1924)

Heart-essence of the Samantabhadra’s realization,
Cornerstone of the dzogchen teachings, supreme holder of the transmission,
Rigdzin Drodul Pawo Dorje,
I supplicate you to bless my mind.

Chapter 1

The second throne holder, Azom Rigdzin Drodrul Pawo Dorje, (Drodrul Pawo Dorje), is renowned in all directions. The time of birth and other aspects of this holy being were all in accordance with the vajra prophecies, and when the time came for these to be fulfilled, the nirmanakaya form was born.

In Rigdzin Dudul Dorje’s profound Damcho Gongpa Yongdu treasure’s Gangzag Golung it says:

Today’s Ratna Shri,

In the future in Kathog in the east,

Someone holding the name ‘A’, performing the benefit of beings will arise.

Through the path of the definitive secret of the dzogchen, Rigdzin Chenpo Pema Dudul matured in one lifetime from a defiled state into a body of light. In the introduction to his profound dharma Khakyab Rangdrol, called Dzamling Kunang Rangdrol, it says:

At the time of opening the door to the profound and vast dharma,

An emanation of the accomplished Mathog Rinchen,

In Trom, a holder of the profound termas will appear.

If they meet with him, countless fortunate ones will be liberated.

From the Ngulkar Melong prophecy of the fourth dzogchen incarnation, Mingyur Namkhai Dorje:

Padmasambhava’s enlightened activity brings forth a hundred emanations.

In this time of the five degenerations, the enlightened activity is swifter than lightning.

In the country of Trom, a being with the name Yudrug;

When seeing his face or hearing his voice, beings will be born in Chamara.

The name and fame of the one uniting the two sections will be hoisted to the

peak of existence.

From the prophecies of Rigdzin Sangak Lingpa:

An emanation of Mathog with the name Drug

Will appear in the east or south.

And from the prophecies of Chogyur Dechen Lingpa:

When the times draw to an end,

A destined one, having the name Drug

Will spread benefit to the teachings and beings.

He was born in accordance with all of these prophecies, and those of other realized and authentic beings.


Chapter 2

At his place of birth, kings rules in accordance with the dharma. Not far from the great kingdom of Lhundrub Teng, in the east, at Dridza Zalmo Gang, lies the hidden land of Dremo Jong, (Tashi Trom). Near a sacred place connected to Padmasambhava’s qualities, is Dungral Raltri Mountain, (Dorje Yongdzong), which is replete with profound hidden terma treasures. On the mountains in front, the eight auspicious symbols can be seen. The front of the mountain, protected by Brahma’s eight horse-riders, was called Tashi Dungkargang, a geomantically important place of delight, liberation, and clarity. Here, Drodul Pawo Dorje took birth in the year of the Male Water Tiger of the fourteenth cycle (1842) in the month of the Monkey (the seventh month). His birth was on the same date as that of Padmasambhava, who took birth from a magical thousand-petaled lotus in the lake of Vajrasindhu.

During the sixth Tibetan month, at the auspicious festival of the Buddha’s first turning the wheel of dharma for the first time, the moon was completely full. The nectar of its light banished the dark. At that time, perfect omens of protection manifested. These signs were in accordance with the last words of Drodrul Pawo Dorje’s predecessor and with the prophecies cited above. His father, Lama Sonam Gyamtso, was a great being, siddha, and a nephew of Azom Rigdzin Chenpo. He had mastery over the development stage of the Eight Sadhana Practices, and had completed many recitations, (such as a hundred million recitations of the mantras of great Heruka, Amithaba, Avalokiteshvara, etc).He had clairvoyant powers and special powers of speech. His mother, Akar, was from the Adzi Ango family, and her mind was favorably disposed towards the dharma. She was endowed with faith, pure perception, and great compassion. Drodul Pawo Dorje was thus born on that day to these two parents and manifested all auspicious signs and marks.

At that time, there were signs that the gods who protect goodness rejoiced. The Three Roots, including the dharma protectors, gave their blessings and protection. They sent many auspicious signs such as rainbows and many other signs. He was beautiful and resplendent with light for seven days after he was born. He had the capacity to make even the hairs of the clothing he was wearing give off light.

As it says in Entering the Middle Way:

Holy supports are beautiful with light,

Thus it can be seen that these signs are certainly of a holy being that is dwelling on the bhumis.


Chapter 3

Around his fourth and fifth year, he entered the dharma for the first time through Shechen Mahapandita Gyurme Tutob Namgyal. When Drodul Pawo Dorje was twelve, he met with Situ Rinpoche Chokyi Lodro and received instructions on the Dorje Nyingpo Preliminary Practices from him. From then onwards, a strong weariness of the ocean of samsara and renunciation arose within his mindstream. With the uncommon nature of liberation planted firmly in his mind, he cultivated an exceptionally strong interest in the Vinaya teachings of the sacred dharma. With great reverence, he rejoiced in the importance of the vows of individual liberation, the first entrance into the dharma, and in the practice of the rituals of the three bases of the Vinaya.

From when he was thirteen years old, he engaged one-pointedly and without distraction in spiritual practice. He received teachings from Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Urgyen Jigme Chokyi Wangpo on the precious arousal of bodhicitta, according to the tradition of the profound view, and teachings according to the tradition of vast conduct from Urgyen Khanyam Lingpa. He did not merely receive the lineage of precepts, but when engaging in the mind training of exchanging self and other, there was no doubt that he was actually capable of giving his body away.

From Situ Rinpoche he received all the cycles of the Longsel treasure dharma, its empowerments and instructions, and many other teachings. From Palyul Gyatrul Dongag Tendzin and Wontrul Rigdzin Jigme Rangdrol he received a vast amount of different empowerments and instructions, such as the tugdrub cycle of Ratna Lingpa, Mati’s Sengdong, The Self Liberated Mind of the Peaceful and Wrathful ones, the Instruction of the Six Bardos, and the middle and extensive versions of the Triyig Sangye Lagchang.


Chapter 4

Drodul Pawo Dorje had his first vision when he was staying in Phuntsok Gatsel Ling. Once, on a day of the full moon, he beheld Kunkhyen Jigme Lingpa, as if he was sitting in the sky in front of him. Jigme Lingpa burst out in great laughter and Drodul Pawo Dorje temporarily lost consciousness. As soon as he awoke, his clinging to appearances as real was destroyed. Without having to rely on anyone or anything, he went into a pleasant state of open yogic concentration which included all vehicles, views, and tenet systems. He said that this was thanks to Kunkhyen Jigme Lingpa.

This was not merely a trifling experience or a confused dream, but in fact he said that by the power of being directly blessed by Jigme Lingpa, he gained a certainty that penetrated the meaning of the indivisibility of the ground, path, and fruition. He said that even though he owed much to many people and lamas, no one could equal his gratitude for Lama Kunkhyen Jigme Lingpa who was therefore his sole root guru. Drodul Pawo Dorje said repeatedly, “I can say without self praise that I am very familiar with both the long and the short lineage of the Osel Nyingtig.

Drodul Pawo Dorje had visions, prophecies and pure perceptions of Padmasambhava, the vajra holder from Uddiyana, and Yeshe Tosgyal, the queen of space. Friendly dharma protectors and dakinis helped him with their enlightened activity. He tamed non-human disciples. The way in which he did these can all be found in the Yikyidungsel.


Chapter 5

From among the explanation lineage and the whispered lineage of the Osel Nyingtig dharma cycle, the highly exalted teachings of the three sections of dzogchen, he studied most of the explanation lineage teachings with Paltrul Rinpoche Jigme Chokyi Wangpo. Moreover, he also received extensively detailed teachings on the cycles of Nyingtig tsalung cycles and so forth. In particular, the ordinary and extraordinary instruction of Yeshe Lama was bestowed upon him by Abu Paltrul Rinpoche.

He did not allow the traditions of teaching and practice decline, and instructed his students with great care. It is said that except for this great lama, Paltrul Rinpoche did not give the complete set of these instructions to anyone else. He met Paltrul Rinpoche seven times in total, and received all of his instructions, from the way of prostrating up to the profound pith instructions, like all the water from one vessel being poured into another.

Drodul Pawo Dorje also received the general explanations of mahamudra, dzogchen and madhyamaka, and the complete explanation tradition of Yeshe Lama in detailed fashion from Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. In particular, he received the empowerment, oral transmission and instruction of the Chetsun Nyingtig and was thus empowered as the doctrine holder of those teachings.

Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche bestowed immeasurable kindness upon him by giving him the empowerments, oral transmissions, and instructions of the Rinchen Terdzo Chenmo, Kagyu Ngagdzo, the fifteen sets of tantras of Marpa of Lhodrak, the Minling Dojo Bumzang, etc. In this way, he received an ocean of dharma instructions of ripening and liberation from Jamgon Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, who looked after him with great care and delight. Thus, it was like all of the water from one container being poured into another. The two rinpoches repeatedly praised him with their unstained vajra speech and made him their regent.


Chapter 6

In accordance with Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche’s command, he went to meet Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche. Mipham Rinpoche said that he had heard of many great treasure revealers and siddhas, however he had not heard of a dzogchen yogi as great as Drodul Pawo Dorje. Mipham Rinpoche then asked him to give a short explanation of the view, meditation, conduct, and fruition while remaining in equipoise. Drodul Pawo Dorje answered that whether he was in equipoise or not, his certainty regarding such matter was the same, and he gave Mipham Rinpoche a short explanation. Immediately after, Mipham Rinpoche got up and presented him a large khatag, and then took Drodul Pawo Dorje’s foot and placed it on his head. It is said that Drodul Pawo Dorje felt very embarrassed about that for a long time afterwards.

It is said in the Eight Thousand Stanzas:

Even though the mind does not exist as the mind,

The nature of mind is luminosity.

Mipham Rinpoche said that no matter how many explanations and commentaries he had given on these verses from the Eight Thousand Stanzas, only on the day of Drodul Pawo Dorje’s explanation had he the vast meaning of the text become clear. Drodul Pawo Dorje also received an extensive explanation of Sampa Nyurdrubma from Mipham Rinpoche. Their two minds became like two rivers merging into one. After being encouraged to compose a commentary on the Dodupa and after composing his own writings on the path of means, he offered them to Mipham Rinpoche. Mipham Rinpoche also received various dharma teachings of Drodul Pawo Dorje himself.

From Mipham Rinpoche’s writings:

Only through the powers of this profound inner yogi

I have found complete trust in this dharma.

This vidyadhara endowed with the wisdom eye,

Is called Drodul Pawo Dorje,

The mantra holder for whom everything is self-liberated,

He also wrote the following:

Of the Nyingma dzogpa chenpo teachings,

This is the yogi that has obtained the essence of the transmission of realization

Of the dzogchen of the early translations.

This self-liberated Vidyadhara, for whom all is self-liberated out of altruistic motivation,

Carries the great responsibility of benefiting the teachings and beings.

In this way Drodul Pawo Dorje was praised again and again.

In short, from his twelfth year onward he relied on approximately fifty-one spiritual teachers that were both expert scholars and realized beings from all kinds of schools and traditions such as the Nyingma, Kagyu, Drugpa, Sakya, Kadampa, Gelug, Zhicho, etc. Through receiving instructions on sutra, mantra and the sciences, both his innate and meditation-born wisdom blazed forth perfectly, and his heart overflowed with the key points of sutra and tantra. Because he opened the treasury of his powers of memory and ready speech, all great beings indiscriminately praised him as a great scholar and realized master. The way in which he established his seat and the supports of enlightened body, speech and mind he constructed are found in the condensed history of Azom Monastery.


Chapter 7

The main heart disciples and inheritors of Drodul Pawo Dorje’s lineage include Dzongsar Khyentse Chokyi Lodro, Drubwang Shakya Shri, Gyalse Phagchog Dorje, Yukhog Jadrel Choying Rangdrol, Paltrul Rinpoche, the fifth Dzogchen Tulku Thubten Chokyi Dorje, Kathok Sidhi Rinpoche, Drubwang Pema Norbu, Palyul Karma Kuchen, Tromge Kudun Rinpoche, Nyoshul Lungtog Tenpe Nyima, Nyoshul Khen Ngawang Chopel, Terton Sogyal, Khunuwa Tenzin Gyatso, Ragtrul Thubten Shedrub Gyamtso, Namtrul Yangsi Shakya Gelong Kunzang Osel, Semo Migyur Paldron, Chime Wangmo, Gyalse Drubtob Chenpo Namdrol Zangpo, Gyalse Shakya Gelong Pema Wangyal, and his actual successor Gyalse Gyurme Dorje.

He also had many other students, that are not mentioned above, to whom he passed on the instructions of the innermost secret dzogchen teachings. There are hundreds of heart-sons to whom he passed on the mind transmission of blessings; many thousands who actualized the truth of the path of seeing; tens of thousands that are connected to him through the development and completion stages, empowerments, and instruction; and hundreds of thousands that established a dharma connection with him and gave rise to strong devotion through just seeing or listening to him. He always exerted himself in the activities of a bodhisattva by turning the wheel of dharma. He taught according to the needs of all of his different disciples which came from India, Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet, and China. He acted exactly in accordance with the terma teachings that say, “He will lead two-thirds of the world to Chamara”.


Chapter 8

After he completed his enlightened activity in this realm, on a night of the victorious month of the Wood Mouse year (1924), various extraordinary signs appeared. There was a magical manifestation of nirmanakaya forms of the peaceful and wrathful deities, dakinis came to welcome him, and around midnight, from his nose a great amount of small balls of light came forth like a swarm of bees. A great thunder clap resounded and the earth shook. Accompanied by all these amazing signs and omens, at early dawn on the tenth day of the waxing moon, he manifested his final enlightened activity by dissolving his emanation body into the expanse of the luminously clear dharmakaya.