Rigdzin Namkha Gyatso Rinpoche was born in december 1967 in Dza-Chu-Kha in the province of Kham, Tibet. His father Thupten Sherab, and his mother Dawa Sherab called him Drupa Tharchin. Both his father and grandfather were ngagkpas, and before he died, his father told him to be particularly careful, since he represents the 18th generation of this yogic lineage. Therefore, since his early childhood, he has been involved in activities related to the Holy Dharma.
His masters were his own father Thupten Sherab, as well as Dza-Gyal Khenpo Bumthar, Arig Dza Khenpo Pema Tsewang, Khenpo Jigme Phüntsok, Tulku Pema Kalsang, Khenpo Munsel, Khenpo Chokyab, Khenpo Pema Wangyal, Khenpo Wanglo, Khenpo Kalsang Khedrub, Khenpo Pema Lodro, Khenpo Wangdu, Gotsa Phurba Tulku Rinpoche, Kulong Lama Lungtok Rinpoche, Muge Samten Rinpoche, Troru Tsenam Rinpoche, and Tseten Shadrung.
Left, Kyabje Düdjom Rinpoche. Right, Düdjom Rinpoche’s daughter, Semo Dechen Yudron
These are lamas that Namkha Rinpoche followed when he was in Tibet. The most important lamas for Namkha Rinpoche were Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche’s daughter, Semo Dechen Yudron, and her husband Chonyi Rinpoche. Rinpoche also received teachings from Kyabje Dodrubchen Rinpoche, Kyabje Dzogchen Rinpoche, Kyabje Tseley Khandro Rinpoche and Kathog Moktsar Tulku Rinpoche.
From all these lamas that Namka Rinpoche followed in Tibet, he received teachings from all of the four traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyü and Gelug. His main orientation is the Ancient Translation School, Nyingma.
Study and Retreat
Namkha Rinpoche studied during four years in Dzogchen monastery Sher Sang Ha in Kham, Tibet. Thereafter, he attended during four more years Namdhun Buddhist school in Peking, China. This school was founded by the tenth Panchen Lama (1938-89). Namkha Rinpoche received many teachings there from him as well as from another lama, the second Alak Zangkar Rinpoche (Thupten Nyima, *1943), who in Tibet is believed to be the true reincarnation of Do Kyentse Yeshe Dorje (he used to live in Tibet but is presently living in Canada).
Dzogchen monastery Sher Sang Ha in Kham, Tibet
The main practice of Namkha Rinpoche is that of the new treasure of Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche (Jigdral Yeshe Dorje, 1904-1987), the Dudjom Tersar. He received it from the daughter of Jigdral Yeshe Dorje, Semo Dechen Yudron, under whose direction he accomplished the traditional three year retreat. This retreat took place in Kongpo Lama Ling, in Kongpo province, where Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche lived.
At that time Semo Dechen Yudron was in charge of this monastery. It is near the lake Nam-Tso Chug-Mo, so large that it takes a full month to go around it. The lake is a pilgrimage spot for Dorje Kundragma, one of Tibet’s twelve local protectors (Tenma Chu-Nyi). When the lake is calm and peaceful and no wind ripples its surface, if you climb a mountain and look at it you can see clearly on its surface the mark of the hands of Guru Rinpoche. In the middle of this lake there is a tiny mountain island. There are no boats nor any other means of reaching it during summertime. During wintertime the lake is covered by ice for around three months, which allows people to reach this mountain island by foot. Namkha Rinpoche went to this very special island walking on the frozen surface of the lake and remained there in retreat for two years. To return one needs to wait for the following winter for the surface of the lake to freeze again. However, it can happen sometimes that the water does not freeze, and then one is stuck there for another year. This lake is not like those in the west. It resembles the sky or outer space. There is nothing there and nobody uses it for any reason whatsoever. There is no activity around it. Also there is no particular reason for going there. After his retreat on this mountain island, Namkha Rinpoche gathered around forty-eight monks and nuns, who were all his close disciples and they prostrated around this lake for six months.
Later on, Namkha Rinpoche did a pilgrimage to Mount Kailash, which lasted for eight months. He left Lhasa (Tibet’s capital) to reach the border of Buthan. He continued along the border until he reached Mount Kailash, following a pilgrimage route marked out by stops established by Milarepa and other great masters.
Further, Namkha Rinpoche made two retreats at Samye, being the heart place of the body, speech and mind of Guru Rinpoche, one lasting for two years, the other one six months.
Trak Ngak Lingpa Tulku
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (Tashi Paljor, 1910-1991), the successor of Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche as leader of the Nyingma school, visited Tibet three times. The first time was in 1985. During his last visit, Namkha Rinpoche had a chance to meet him. At that time Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche recognized him as the twelfth reincarnation of Rigdzin Trak Ngak Lingpa, hereby officially confirming the already cirulating rumours in several neighbouring monasteries, that Namkha Rinpoche is indeed the present reincarnation of this Tertön (a revealer of spiritual treasures hidden by Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyal). Namkha Rinpoche did many things in Tibet. Without going too much into detail, he founded several monasteries, and conferred many teachings and initiations. When he was still in Tibet, students gathered from all provinces, from Amdo, Kham, U-Tsang as well as from China and the West. The number of his students can be guessed at several hundred thousands.
Leaving Tibet and Recognition as Domang Yeshe Dorje Tulku
Namkha Rinpoche has been arrested and imprisoned in Tibet for the first time in 1990-1991. In total, he has been arrested four times and imprisoned three times. Since another arrest seemed imminent, Namkha Rinpoche fled Tibet in 1998. The Chinese government was becoming progressively less tolerant of his fame and the scope of his activities. Once he reached India, thanks to the kindness of H. H. the 14th Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso *1935), he participated in 1999 in the great Monlam Chemo in Bodh Gaya. One of the highest Nyingma lamas, Domang Yangthang Rinpoche (the reincarnation of the previous Lama Lhatsun Namkha Jigme), to whom Dudjom Rinpoche himself payed homage, was also present. He is the root lama of Drubwang Penor Rinpoche. He spent also twenty years in Chinese prisons. At present he lives in Sikkim in northern India. He is also the root lama of Thubten Sherab, the father of Namkha Rinpoche. However, Namkha Rinpoche had never met him before. The same year Thubten Sherab was to die, he told his son to go and see Domang Yangthang Rinpoche and tell him about his death, and that he would feel really relaxed, pleased and happy if he did that. Therefore Namkha Rinpoche went to India to search for him. The moment Namkha Rinpoche realized Domang Yangthang Rinpoche was there, he immediately went to see him. Domang Yangthang Rinpoche was truly happy to see him and asked if he had already been recognized as a tulku (reincarnation). Namkha Rinpoche answered him that he had been recognized as the reincarnation of Rigdzin Trag Ngak Lingpa by Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche, who gave him the name Rigdzin Namkha Gyatso. Yangthang Rinpoche then joined his hands in a gesture of thanks for Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. But he immediately added that, even though what the latter had said was certainly true, he had himself had an extraordinary dream the previous night. In this dream he clearly saw that Namkha Rinpoche is also the reincarnation of a tulku from his own lineage, Domang Yeshe Dorje, who was the root lama of both Domang Yangthang Rinpoche and Drubwang Penor Rinpoche. He then added that there was no doubt that all Buddhas are One in the extension of primordial wisdom. Afterwards, Domang Yangthang Rinpoche informed Penor Rinpoche (who was the head of the Nyingmapa lineage) of the news. The latter confirmed in a letter bearing his signature and stamp that Namkha Rinpoche is the reincarnation of Domang Yeshe Dorje. That is how Rigdzin Namkha Gyatso Rinpoche was officially recognized as tulku. He also had several other positive indications in this regard, such as dreams and many other signs, but we will not go into details here.
International Activities : Rigdzin Community
Namkha Rinpoche gave many teachings as soon as he arrived in India and he also taught in other countries like Tibet, U.S.A., Nepal, Lituania, Spain, France, Sweden, The Netherland and Switzerland. For the good of all sentient beings he founded an international Dharma community called Rigdzin Community.
Namkha Rinpoche's Root Lama Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche
Dungse Thinley Norbu
Since his arrival in India he received many teaching from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, from Kyabje Penor Rinpoche, from Trulshik Rinpoche (Ngawang Chokyi Lodro, *1924), from Jatral Rinpoche and from Domang Yangthang Rinpoche. In particular, during his stay in the United States, he received teachings from the elder son of Dudjom Rinpoche, Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche (*1931). The Guru Rinpoche Tsok (ritual ceremonies where offerings are given) and the Tröma Nagmo Tsok held at the Ewam Rigdzin Sangchen Thegchok Ling in Switzerland originate from him. Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche, who is exiled in the United States, is the root lama of Namkha Rinpoche, his refuge and his main supporter.
Rumours have been around from a Western Lama proclaiming that Namkha Rinpoche is one of his disciples. There is no reason for Namkha Rinpoche to have root teachers other than Dungse Trinley Norbu Rinpoche, and other Root Lamas he had in Tibet, so these rumours are hereby disconfirmed.