Venerable Buddhist scholar and Tulku Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche has passed away

- through Henry Oudin

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The Thrangu Tashi Choling Monastery in Nepal has announced that the revered tulku of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, Venerable Yongdzin Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, died on June 4. He was 91 years old.

Thrangu Rinpoche, one of the senior lamas of the Kagyu school and tutor of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, had been hospitalized since early May due to health issues.

In a public statement dated June 8, the monastery shared:

. . . on June 4, the full moon day of the fourth Tibetan month, Saga Dawa – the sacred birthday of Buddha Shakyamuni, our incomparably kind teacher, passing into parinirvana – Rinpoche decided that he had completed his activity for this lifetime. At 13:30 p.m., he lay down in the same posture in which Shakyamuni Buddha had lain down when passing through parinirvana, and then showed the appearance of his mind dissolving in the luminous expanse and undefiled by dharma and passing in peace. Immediately, Kyabje Lodrö Nyima Rinpoche offered Rinpoche a reminder of tukdam meditation.

(The Most Venerable Ninth Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche)

The Gyalwang Karmapa had advised that the news of Rinpoche's passing should not be announced until four days after his death in order to provide a peaceful environment for his passing through the state of tukdam meditation.

In a social media post in response to the news, the famous Tibetan tulku in the Nyingma and Karma Kagyu lineages, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche shared:

It is with immense and poignant sadness that we acknowledge the passage to parinirvana of the great master, Kyabje Yongzin Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche.

Thrangu Rinpoche was the main abbot of the Karma Kagyu lineage. He was a very dear and important teacher for Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche.

Rinpoche's unlimited enlightened activities were by no means limited to the formal monastic institution of the lineage. His many books, which address complex Dharma topics in a remarkably gentle and digestible manner, have benefited countless Dharma students, from beginners to the most advanced practitioners. For years, Rinpoche circled the Earth, fully presenting the vision of Karma Kagyu in a complete, authentic and always utterly lovable way. Rinpoche's compassion has extended even beyond formal Dharma, including many tremendous philanthropic efforts in many parts of the world. His activities were unprecedented.

While the presence of his teachings will remain strong, due to the strength of his compassionate and enlightened aspirational prayers for the benefit of all sentient beings, the departure of his kaya form from this world is a difficult loss for those who follow. the principles of the Buddha. teachings in general, and followers of the Karma Kagyu tradition in particular.

We sincerely pray for Thrangu Rinpoche's speedy rebirth and for his enlightened intentions to be fulfilled without any obstruction. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the followers of Thrangu Rinpoche and his network of spiritual communities, and to all those affected by his passing.

With Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. At
With His Holiness the Dalai Lama. At

Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche was born in a small village in the traditional Kham region of eastern Tibet in 1933. At the age of five, he was officially recognized as the ninth incarnation of the great Thrangu Tulku. by the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje and the 11th Tai Situ Rinpoche Pema Wangchuk Gyalpo.

In 1953 Rinpoche took on the responsibility of overseeing Thrangu Monastery, shortly before receiving full monastic ordination from the Gyalwang Karmapa at Palpung Monastery in 1954. Rinpoche was forced to flee the monastery in 1958, eventually travel to India via Bhutan in 1959. Soon after, the Gyalwang Karmapa arranged for Rinpoche to join him at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim. In 1967 Rinpoche traveled to Assam, where he took examinations for the geshe diploma before His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He got the highest degree, Geshe Laharampa.

In 1974, the 16th Karmapa suggested to Rinpoche to build a monastery in Nepal. Rinpoche traveled to Nepal in 1976, where he established a three-year retreat center at Namo Buddha and a small monastery near the Great Stupa of Boudhanath.

When the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa arrived in India in 2000, the Dalai Lama appointed Rinpoche to be his tutor, thus playing a key role in preserving the lineage of Karma Kagyu teachings.

Rinpoche also founded a monastic college, a school for young monks and a new large temple, Thrangu Tashi Yangtse Monastery, at Namo Buddha. This was followed by Thrangu Tara Abbey for female monastics near Swayambhunath in Nepal, and other Buddhist study and retreat centers in Nepal and India. Over the years, Rinpoche's monastic sangha has grown to around 1 female and male monks.

One of the most esteemed teachers and masters of Mahamudra meditation, Rinpoche has touched the lives of students around the world, giving countless teachings in person and as a prolific author through numerous books and other writings.


The word Buddha simply means "to wake up". For example, in the Tibetan translation of the Sanskrit word, Buddha, is the two-syllable word sangje. The first syllable, sang, means to purify or remove. It is about transcending or letting go of all the problems that otherwise plague our mind: sadness, regret, aggression, jealousy, arrogance, ignorance, apathy, etc. The second syllable in Tibetan is je, which means to expand or flourish. SO sangje means that when we can let go of all the problems that have plagued our mind, then all of our innate qualities that have been bound or restricted can flourish freely. These innate qualities that have been suppressed are: wisdom, awareness, compassion, kindness, love, etc.

(Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche)

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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