Revered scholar and teacher Nyingma Nyichang Khentrül Rinpoche has passed away

- through Henry Oudin

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Nyichang Khentrül Rinpoche (1932-2024). From Buddha Pada Facebook

Esteemed Tibetan lama Nyichang Khentrül Rinpoche, considered one of the greatest living scholar-monks in the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, has died parinirvana on February 14 in Kyushu, Japan. He was 91 years old.

Rinpoche was the longest-serving Tibetan lama living in Japan, where he resided for over 25 years, at the request of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Amid growing interest in Tibetan Buddhism, Rinpoche happily passed on the teachings of the Buddhadharma to all who expressed a sincere interest in learning. He emphasized that all serious students should study and practice ngöndrothe preliminary practices of Dzogchen, the ultimate teachings of Tibetan Tantric Buddhism.

Among his many Dharma-related activities, Nyichang Rinpoche also founded the Buddha Pāda Institute, a non-profit center for the study and practice of Buddhism and Indian philosophical systems, on the outskirts of Kalimpong, India, under the auspices of the revered Bhutanese lama, Dzongsar. Khyentse Rinpoche. The center includes a temple, prayer and teaching rooms, workshop spaces, accommodation facilities, dining rooms, a Japanese teahouse and a library.

“We are deeply saddened to announce that our founder, Venerable Nyichang Rinpoche, has passed away parinirvanasaid the Buddha Pāda Institute in a notice published on its website. “Rinpoche's devotion to the Dharma, to his teachers and his students will always be a source of inspiration. May we have the merit of caring for Buddha Pāda and preserving his legacy with the same love and dedication with which he built it. (Buddha Pada)

In his own message which was also posted on social media, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche shared:

It is with deep sadness that I learned of the death of Venerable Nyichang Rinpoche.

It was in the 1980s that I first met Nyichang Rinpoche at a karaoke bar in Tokyo. I had never really thought much about the man, but I kept hearing more and more about his academic prowess and his accomplishments in the dharma. More importantly, over time, I saw how absolutely dedicated he was to the preservation and propagation of the Buddhadharma.

Subsequently, I had the chance to meet Nyichang Rinpoche on several occasions and realized how particularly committed he was to preserving the teachings of the three Great Illuminators – Drimed Ozer Longchen Rabjam, Trengpo Sherab Ozer and Khyentse Ozer (Jigme Lingpa).

Among many other activities, Nyichang Rinpoche especially saved every penny for what we today call Buddha Pada in Kalimpong to materialize in the seat of these three great Ozers to revive their immaculate tradition. We must never forget this noble aspiration, and I am deeply grateful for Rinpoche's compassion and pure perception in entrusting me with Buddha Pada's care.

Earlier this month, shortly before Nyichang Rinpoche passed into nirvana, I had the great fortune of seeing him again. There we again discussed the crucial importance of these three Ozers and, as a great admirer and devotee of all three, I pledged in Rinpoche's presence to do all I could to realize his aspirations. May Nyichang Rinpoche's wishes come true quickly, and in this volatile time and age, may Buddha Pada bring wisdom, love, compassion and kindness into this world.

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and Nyichang Khentrül Rinpoche. Taken from

Nyichang Rinpoche was born in 1932 in a small village in southwest Tibet. At the age of 8, Rinpoche was placed under the guardianship of the great yogi Shukseb Jetsün Chöying Zangmo of Shuksep Convent. One of the most important teachings Rinpoche received from Jetsün Rinpoche was a rare Chöd transmission – a practice aimed at cutting off attachment to oneself – in the Dharseng lineage. Nyichang Rinpoche also studied and practiced under Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche VI at Mindrolling Monastery and Rahor Chödrak at Nyima Changra Monastic College. Rinpoche also received many teachings from Bötrül Dongak Tenpai Nyima, ascending to the position of against (teacher) from the age of 18.

In 1959, Rinpoche fled to India, where he served as principal and religious advisor to the Tibetan High School in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand state. He later served as a professor of Indian studies shastras at the Tibeto-Indian Research Institute of the Sanskrit University of Varanasi (now Sarnath Buddhist University). While in India, Rinpoche received teachings from revered masters including: Khunu Lama Tenzin Gyaltsen; Polu Khenpo Dorje; Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche; and Düdjom Rinpoche.

At the request of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Nyichang Rinpoche went to Japan in 1974, at the age of 39, to teach at Koyasan Buddhist University. He then served as a lecturer at the Institute for Humanities Studies at Kyoto University, at the Department of Indian Philosophy at Tohoku University, and at Iwate University.

Rinpoche participated in a research team studying Himalayan Buddhism in 1979, which traveled to India, Sikkim and Bhutan, to investigate ritual practices. Subsequently, Rinpoche was hired as a researcher at the UNESCO East Asian Research Center at Toyo Bunko and, from 1981, acted as an advisor to Hirakawa Shuppan, a publisher of books on Buddhism.

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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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