The Tibetan Canon Critical Edition Project
The Tibetan Canon Critical Edition Project is a joint project of Esukhia and Theksum Do-ngak Choling in Taiwan, on behalf of the Barom Kagyu Monastery in Nangchen, Tibet, and under the auspices of Trulku Tsoknyi Odzer Rinpoche and Khenpo Jigga; Trulku Kyodrak Tsoknyi Odzer Rinpoche is the current incarnation of the Tsoknyi Odzer line, important to the Barom Kagyu lineage.
Trulku Kyodrak Tsoknyi Odzer Rinpoche’s Bio
The First Kyodrak Tsoknyi Rinpoche
The first Kyodrak Tsoknyi Odzer was born in 1749 in Kyodrak Dewatang. Having been drawn to the Buddhist teachings from a very young age, he traveled to Central Tibet in order to study. There, he met Karmapa Dudul Dorje, and received many teachings and transmissions from him. The Karmapa recognized him as an immenation of Choeje Lingpa, and told him, “Your activities and disciples are in Kyodrak, so return to teach them.” At that time, he also made predictions about how much benefit he would bring to the lineage and bestowed him with the name Tsoknyi Odzer.
Kyodrak Tsoknyi Rinpoche then received all the teachings of the Barom Kagyu lineage from Selje Choedrup Sengay, thus becoming an important lineage holder. Up until that point, the Barom Kagyu monasteries had been nothing more than simple encampments erected with tents; however, in 1807, Rinpoche gathered together the practitioners and sponsors of the lineage and built the first monastery. Following that, in 1814, he built a new temple which housed many statues. His religious activity was vast, and the lineage had sponsors from China, Mongolia, and Tibet.
The Second Kyodrak Tsoknyi Rinpoche
The second incarnation of Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Karma Tsewang Kunkyab, passed away at a very young age; thus, unfortunately, very little is known of his life.
The Third Kyodrak Tsoknyi Rinpoche
The third Tsoknyi Rinpoche was called Drupwang Ngawang Tsoknyi. Born in Sengay Dzong in Amdo in 1828, he came from the family line of the Tibetan kings, the Lhagyeri family. He was thus the recipient of the Buddhist teachings from a very young age. When he was still a child, his family left the region for political reasons; they traveled Central Tibet, living as nomads, for many years before their return. At the age of 22, he took ordination from the fifthe Trulsheek Rinpoche Gyurmay Tsewang Trinlay. His ordination name was Ngawang Tsoknyi.
For 2 years he received many teachings and empowerments from many masters; at 24, he left for retreat. Even though all of his provisions were exhausted 9 months in, he still kept on for a full 4 years. During his retreat, Rigzin Choegyel Dorjay visited him and gave him the transmission of treasure teachings he had discovered; he also made a lot of predictions about his future religious activities, which all came true.
For example, one time, when he was performing a White Shambala Ritual, molten butter flowed down over all the statues in the temple, covering the entire temple became covered in a layer of butter. When people asked what had happened, he said it was a sign he had realize the White Shambala, and that it was an auspicious connection that would ensure that all his disciples would never be left wanting. He kept studying and giving and receiving practices and empowerments up until the end of his life; in 1888, at the age of 61, he passed away. His many accomplished students included the likes of Kamtrul Rinpoche and Ngor Khenchen.
The Fourth Kyodrak Tsoknyi Rinpoche
The fourth Tsoknyi was called Lhagyel Dorjay. He was born in Kyodrak and recognized by Terchen Barway Dorjay, who named him. Unfortunately, his biography was lost, so not much is known regarding the details of his life.
The Fifth (& Current) Kyodrak Tsoknyi Rinpoche
The current and fifth Tsoknyi is named Karma Khenrab Lodroe Choekyi Dhondrup. He was born in Kyodrak in 1972. His father was a Lama and a great practitioner, so since birth he was a participant in rituals and ceremonies of the religious life. He would sit on his father’s lap during morning and evening daily rituals, so even before learning to read and write, he knew them all by heart.
In 1982, he took refuge vows from Kyodrak Seljay Rinpoche, who asked him, “What’s your name?” He responded, “Tsultreem Nyima” Kyodrak Seljay Rinpoche replied, “Usually we change names for refuge; however, I think this is a good name, so you’ll keep it.” He joined the monastery and became well-versed in the dances, chants, and other rituals of Buddhist practice. He received from Lama Jamyang Lodro Rinchen, he received transmission of all the Barom Kagyu lineage.
Seljay Rinpoche and Dungtrul Rinpoche he received many empowerments and meditation practice instructions. Doday Rinpoche, he got ordination and the name Tsultrim Zangpo. He received some special transmissions (that are only given to one student per generation) from Sangay Tenzin Rinpoche. He also studied Tibetan medicine and astrology, and received the six yogas and mahamudra, from the Yogi Yeshe Rabgay. He also completed the traditional 3 year retreat.
In 1958, Situ Pema Wangchoke Gyelpo traveled through Kyodrak. At that time, the monastery and the people there asked him to recognize a reincarnation of Tsognyi Rinpoche. But he replied, “There’s no rush. The future is bright. The next reincarnation of Tsoknyi Odzer will accomplish so much by way of his religious activity that the reincarnation will be obvious.”
One day,Tsultreem Nyima went to see Seljay Rinpoche with some Taiwanese disciples. Seljay Rinpoche called him, “Rinpoche”; he replied, “Please don’t call me Rinpoche, I’ve never used this title.” Seljay Rinpoche responded, saying, “Well, it’s already slipped out of my mouth, and this seems like an auspicious moment; I’m recognizing you as Tsoknyi Rinpoche!” He handed him a bowl of yogurt, connecting him symbolically with this action to all the teachings of the Barom Kagyu and even the Buddha himself. He received the name Karma Khenrab Lodro Choekyi Dhondrup; Goshree Gyeltsab Rinpochay the 12th also contributed a recongition letter.
In 2001, he built a new temple, school, and retreat center in Kyodrak Monastery big enough to house 4,000 monks. He and his brother Khenpo Jigga support all the students of the monastery; their religious activities span the globe, including a Buddhist center in Taiwan, Barom Teksum Choekorling, a center in Macau Naydung Tekchenling, a center in UK called Kunpen Jampaling. In 2014, under the direction of Khenpo Jigga and Tsoknyi Rinpoche and with the help of the Taiwan center’s director Dechen Yangdzom, they began the current project in collaboration with Esukhia.