The Second Shangpa Rinpoche
|Fig 1. The Second Shangpa Rinpoche
The second Shangpa Rinpoche was born in the family of a well-respected Thangka painter on September 12, 1960 near the border of Tibet and Nepal. At the age of two he was recognised by His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa as the reincarnation of the Great Yogi Shangpa Rinpoche.
At a very tender age Rinpoche lost his beloved father. He and his mother went through an arduous journey and finally reached Pokhara, Nepal when he was nine years old. At the age of eleven, he was ordained as a monk by His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa who bestowed him the name Karma Shedrub Chokyi Sengge, which means "The Dharma Lion of Knowledge and Practice". His Holiness predicted that the Dharma propagation of Shangpa Rinpoche will benefit countless sentient beings in the future. Till this day, His Holiness is still the source of boundless inspiration and strength behind Rinpoche's ceaseless efforts to benefit as many sentient beings as he can.
At present, Rinpoche is the Chief Abbot of various Buddhist institutions in Nepal, namely, Jangchub Choeling Monastery, Vikrama Shila Buddhist Institute, Karma Ngedon Palbar Ling Retreat Center in Pokhara; Tharpa Choeling Nunnery in Mustang; Drubgyud Choeling Monastery in Lumbini and Kagyu Institute for Buddhist Studies in Kirtipur. He is the honorable advisor of Dharmodaya Society, a member of the official Buddhist Organisation World Fellowship of Buddhists in Nepal, and the chairman of Shangpa Foundation with the approval and support of the Nepalese Government. Beyond Nepal, he is the Chief Abbot of Karma Kagyud Buddhist Centre in Singapore and spiritual advisor of Karma Shedrup Choeling in Denmark.
|Fig 2. Letter of Recognition|
Around 4 to 5 years after Shangpa Rinpoche had passed away, many disciples discussed about finding the reincarnation of Shangpa Rinpoche and finally decided to send some representatives to Rumtek where His Holiness the 16th Karmapa resided. The group of representatives comprised of three persons. They are Karma Trasam, Dawa Pura and another village head of Dolpo. According to them, when they saw His Holiness for the first time, they also brought photos of Shangpa Rinpoche for blessing. His Holiness asked for one of the photos from them. He told them that Shangpa Rinpoche was a great master and also a Buchen (great son) of the 15th Karmapa. He then kept the photo. They asked him if Shangpa Rinpoche had been reincarnated. His Holiness said he was a great Bodhisattva. Therefore, he surely must have been reincarnated. His Holiness said he would check carefully and write down how to find the reincarnate in a letter. The next day, His Holiness called for them and gave them the letter that he had prepared.
My mum cannot remember exactly the contents of the letter, but it goes something like this: "The father is talented and the first name of the mother is Donma. They have a son born in the year of the pig with some marks on his body. This son is unmistakably the incarnation of Shangpa Rinpoche. In their home, they have a dog and a horse which are also specially marked". Since His Holiness mentioned that the father is talented, the representatives interpreted that the father is a famous artist . My mother’s name indeed starts with Donma. Her full name is Donma Tsomo and her nickname is Dontso. I was born in the year of the pig and I have a whole round of red dots around my waist. My parents had a horse whose forehead was pure white and also a unique dog which is reddish in color but whose mouth and legs are all white.
His Holiness' letter also mentioned that the Tulku - reincarnate may face lots of obstacles. In order to overcome the obstacles, many prayers needed to be done and many pujas needed to be performed. These are one hundred thousand 21 praises to Tara prayers, one hundred million recitations of the 100 syllables mantra of Vajrasattva, and the reading of the Kangyur texts. All these needed to be done as soon as possible. The preserved body of the first Shangpa Rinpoche must be cremated to overcome the reincarnate’s obstacles.
His Holiness questioned them about the whereabouts of the artist Karma (my father). They told him that the artist had passed away. HH clapped both his hands together once and said it was a big loss as such a skilled person was hard to find. He further asked them if the artist had any family. They told him that he has a wife and one son who is just three years old. His Holiness told them that they must take a good care of the son. His Holiness instructed they must tell Shey Tulku that His Holiness asked him to take care of any matters concerning the artist's son and wife. His Holiness said that this was very important as times were bad. He also mentioned that if the son was well taken care of, he could become an important person in future. Because of this short conversation and the letter given by His Holiness, the representatives felt certain that the artist’s son is the reincarnate. So they brought the letter back to Dolpo.
The representatives then called a gathering with everyone, inviting Shey Tulku and the head man as well. His Holiness' letter was read. The representatives described whatever His Holiness had told them. The most urgent thing to do was prayer recitations and pujas. Those were voluntarily taken care of. The reading of the Kangyur text was taken care of by the village head. Shey Tulku sponsored and took care of the recitation of the 100 syllables mantra of Vajrasattva. The recitation of the 21 praises to Tara was performed by a group of monks.
According to His Holiness' instruction, the preserved body of Shangpa Rinpoche should not be kept and must be cremated. However, the body of the first Shangpa Rinpoche was still in Tibet. Therefore, a man named Drawa Pura went to Tibet and brought the preserved body back by carrying it on his back all the way to Dolpo. After he reached Dolpo, the people of Dolpo did not want to cremate the body and wanted to keep it. A big argument ensued. Finally, Drawa Pura told them that if any of them was still against the cremation, he would not tolerate and will fight all the way. No one dared to object further. Drawa Pura cremated the body and managed to do it well.
After all the preparations had been completed, they gathered together again to finalize the recognition of the reincarnate. Based on His Holiness' letter, some of my actions and my stories, they decided that I was unmistakably the reincarnate of the first Shangpa Rinpoche. I was just four years old then. One day, some people came to my room at Trekyam Gompa, passed the letter to me and put on me a very long protection cord with two colors. They also gave me many Dharma pills and Black pills to eat for blessings. After that, they did prostrations in front of me and queued up to get blessings from my hands. I did not know what was happening at that time, yet I felt good as my mother looked very happy.
So in this way, people started to regard me as Shangpa Rinpoche and showed me respect.
|Fig 3. HH 16 Karmapa|
|Fig 4. Second Shangpa Rinpoche|
The life of the young Shangpa Rinpoche was filled with intensive education of a Tulku under the guidance of the late Dupsing Rinpoche and other teachers in Pokhara, Nepal. This consists of studying and memorising vast collections of ancient Buddhist rituals and scriptures.
"Prior to meeting Khunu Rinpoche, I was not serious in my studies... After his first lesson, every early morning I would go to the top of the mountain to memorise the root text willingly, not out of the fear of punishments", recalled Shangpa Rinpoche.
At the age of sixteen, Shangpa Rinpoche joined the Central University of Tibetan Studies (CIHTS) in Varanasi, India, where he mastered key subjects including Buddhist philosophy, literature, poetry, history, and the Sanskrit language. During his fourth year of study he lost his teacher the late Dupsing Rinpoche, founder of the Jangchub Choeling Monastery in Pokhara, Nepal. His Holiness the 16th Karmapa thereby instructed Shangpa Rinpoche to suceed as the Chief Abbot of Jangchub Choeling Monastery.
Shangpa Rinpoche also received extensive empowerments, transmissions and essential teachings from great masters of different lineages, such as His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, the late His Holiness Trulshig Rinpoche, His Holiness Chogye Tri Rinpoche, His Holiness Shamarpa Rinpoche, the late Urgyen Tulku Rinpoche, Khenpo Rinchen, Lama Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche, the late Dupsing Rinpoche, Tenga Rinpoche, Choje Lama and many others.
|Fig 5. Young Shangpa Rinpoche with the late Dupsing Rinpoche|
In 1976, at the age of 19, Shangpa Rinpoche lost his personal tutor, Venerable Dupsing Rinpoche, the founder and abbot of Jangchub Choeling Monastery in Pokhara. His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa instructed Shangpa Rinpoche to succeed as the abbot of the Monastery. This ascension marked Rinpoche's continuation of the noble aspirations of his late teacher. Motivated by his deep devotion to his guru and with the blessings from His Holiness, there has not been a day in the past 30 years when Shangpa Rinpoche has not worked for the betterment of Jangchub Choeling Monastery.
Shangpa Rinpoche has also undertaken many projects elsewhere in his ceaseless efforts to benefit all sentient beings. Some of these projects were a continuation of efforts from his previous life. Others are initiated during by the present incarnation. Shangpa Rinpoche first set foot in Singapore in 1982. Upon the request of His Holiness the 14th Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche, Rinpoche became the spiritual teacher and advisor of the Karma Kagyud Buddhist Centre in Singapore. Besides advising the followers of the centre, Rinpoche was instrumental in the acquisition of the present premise for the Centre.
|Fig 6. Shangpa Rinpoche with his beloved Guru the late His Holiness Trulshig Rinpoche during the opening ceremony of the Kagyu Institute Buddhist Studies|
His tireless effort is mirrored in Nepal. As the abbot of Vikramashila Buddhist Institute, Shangpa Rinpoche fulfilled his vision to build an institute for higher education in Buddhist studies for members of the Sangha in Pokhara. The first Shangpa Rinpoche spent many years teaching in Mustang. Tharpa Choeling Nunnery in Muktinath was established with the support of the King of Mustang and devoted disciples from his previous incarnation. Caring deeply about educating the nuns, Rinpoche built a Buddhist institute for the nuns in 2005. To benefit more sentient beings, Rinpoche recently started construction of a 35 feet stupa of enlightenment in Mustang.
Drubgyud Choeling Monastery in Lumbini was completed in 2001. To further Dharma practice, Shangpa Rinpoche sponsored the first bi-annual Kamtsang Choghar Dharma Camp at the monastery in 2003. As many as 200 practitioners from various prestigious Buddhist institutes around the world attended the camp. In 2004, Rinpoche completed the Kagyu Institute for Buddhist Studies in Kirtipur, the first school in Nepal of the Karma Kagyud tradition, where lay practitioners from around the world can study and do retreat under the guidance of famous learned Kagyud masters. Despite the recent social unrest in Nepal, the institute is firmly committed to provide Buddhist teachings to all who seek with a sincere heart.
Shangpa Rinpoche's aspiration to help as many sentient beings as possible has motivated him to organise the first World Peace Grand Prayer at the Great Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu on 7th December 2005. Ngedon Palbar Ling Retreat Centre is a retreat centre on a mountain peak in Pokhara. It is meant as a living space for lamas engaging in retreats that spans for 3 years and 3 months. Rinpoche's tireless effort to realise his vision has won respect from many people. Shangpa Rinpoche was appointed the President of Dharmodaya Sadha, a leading Buddhist Organization in Nepal. The Shangpa Foundation was founded, with the approval and support from the Nepalese Government. This foundation is built to help Rinpoche manage his numerous projects. Shangpa Rinpoche is currently heading the Foundation.
|Fig 7. The 2nd Shangpa Rinpoche with Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche|
Besides his Dharma activity to help sentient beings, Shangpa Rinpoche is continuously strengthening his personal practices. He received teachings from many great masters from all traditions and lineages. In 1998, he received the Drupthab Kundu initiation and transmissions from His Eminence Chogye Tri Rinpoche in France. Rinpoche received oral transmission of a collection of 15th Karmapa's teachings from Lama Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche in 2001. In 2002, Rinpoche received the extremely rare and precious "Treasury of Spiritual Instructions" transmission, comprising teachings from all major lineages collected by The Great Jamgon Kongtrul, from His Eminence Trulshig Rinpoche in Kathmandu.
Since the day Shangpa Rinpoche was enthroned by His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, Rinpoche has embarked on a ceaseless journey to propagate Dharma to help as many sentient beings as possible towards the Path to Enlightenment. This journey has taken Rinpoche two lifetimes and it will take him many more lifetimes in the future to accomplish.