Our Teachers


Late Holiness Penor Rinpoche Supreme Head of Nyingma and Eleventh Throne Holder of Palyul Lineage

Kyabje Drubwang Pema Norbu Rinpoche

Pema Norbu Rinpoche, the eleventh throne holder of the Palyul Lineage of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, was born in 1932 under auspicious signs in the Kham region of eastern Tibet. At the age of four Rinpoche took refuge at the Palyul monastery and began his Buddhist studies. Rinpoche studied with many lamas, benefiting most deeply from his great master, the Second Chögtrul Rinpoche. It was Chögtrul Rinpoche and the fourth Karma Kuchen Rinpoche who enthroned His Holiness. In 1963, following a difficult and dangerous journey from Tibet, with only 300 rupees and a handful of monks, Pema Norbu Rinpoche began building the Namdroling Monastery on land that had been donated by the Indian government. In time, the Namdroling monastery would grow to become the largest Nyingmapa teaching center in the world with close to 5000 monks and nuns. Rinpoche worked tirelessly to spread and strengthen Buddhist practices throughout the world. Eventually His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as requested by the entire Nyingmapa Community, appointed him as the Supreme Head of the Nyingma School in 1993, following in the footsteps of HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and HH Dudjom Rinpoche. In 1997 he founded the Palyul Retreat Center in the small rural community of McDonough, NY. His Holiness taught the traditional retreat course Liberation is in the Palm of Your Hand from the first retreat in 1998 until 2008.

His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche attained Paranirvana at 8:20 PM on March 27, 2009.

“I don’t have any quality or power but still I will do my aspiration prayers for all of you that you could carry through your practices and not have any obstacles and be successful with your practices.” – Kyabje Drubwang Pema Norbu Rinpoche

Click here to read more about the life of Pema Norbu Rinpoche.

Official Announcement of the Recognition of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche’s Reincarnation


It is a matter of great joy and pleasure to inform all the disciples and well-wishers of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche residing around the globe that our beloved root guru has been reborn in Tibet. According to His Holiness Chatral Sangye Dorje prophecy letter, Penor Rinpoche’s Yangsi (reincarnated being), was born near Leten Tramo Drag or Dung Lung Tramo Drag, the sacred place where the Nyingthing Yabshyi (The Four Cycles of Heart Essence Teachings) was revealed. Based upon this prophecy letter, combined with pure visions of Tulku Thubten Palzang Rinpoche, the Yangsi was authentically recognized.

His Holiness the Fifth Karma Kuchen Rinpoche

Heart Son of Holiness Pema Norbu – Twelfth and Current Palyul Lineage Throneholder

With the passing of our beloved Holiness Penor Rinpoche in the Spring of 2009, His Holiness Karma Kuchen Rinpoche has assumed his responsibilities as the 12th Lineage Holder of the Palyul tradition. He was recognized as the 5th Karma Kuchen Rinpoche by both the late Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche and Holiness Penor Rinpoche, who cared for him as one of his three Heart Sons since the age of 4. After his accomplished training at Namdroling under the direct guidance of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, he was formally enthroned as the 12th Throneholder of the Palyul Lineage in 2000. He assumed the major responsibility of the Palyul Mother Monastery in Tibet where he rebuilt many temples, prayer wheels, and sacred objects of veneration, as well as spread the Dharma in the Land of the Snows. Of the many remarkable qualities he possesses, the most striking quality is his strict and pure observance of all the vows of a monk. He is thus the embodiment of pure conduct in these degenerate times. In the fall of 2009, Palyul students were fortunate that His Holiness Karma Kuchen Rinpoche embarked on a 14 city tour of the US, Canada, and Mexico to visit the dharma centers and to get to know his students. We pray for his long life and wish that he will return soon to be with his devoted students here in the U.S.

Click here to read more about H.H. Karma Kuchen Rinpoche.

His Eminence The Fourth Gyankhan Tulku Rinpoche

Heart Son of Holiness Pema Norbu and Head of Namdroling Monastery

The Fourth Gyankhan Rinpoche was born in India, and recognized as the authentic incarnation of the Third Gyankhan Rinpoche by H.H. Penor Rinpoche, H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche and H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

At the age of four, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche invited him to stay in Namdroling Monastery and thereafter looked after him as his own child. When he was 15, he received the esoteric teachings of Tantra thus laying the foundation for the higher practices. He entered Ngagyur Nyingma Institute (Shedra), a branch of Namdroling Monastery and an advanced college of Tibetan Buddhism where he studied general Buddhist Philosophy as well as the distinct Nyingma Teachings.

He received the empowerments, oral transmissions and pith instructions on the whole Kama and Terma teachings (the distinct Nyingma Teachings of the Transmitted Precepts and the Rediscovered Treasure Teachings) from His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Dodrubchen Rinpoche, Jadrel Rinpoche, Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche, and Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche. He specially received the distinct teachings of Palyul Tradition including the Namchö Teachings from His Holiness Penor Rinpoche.

In 1994, under the Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya, Gyankhan Rinpoche received the vows of full ordination from His Holiness Penor Rinpoche. In 1995, he completed the nine years course in the institute and considering his high level of knowledge, Penor Rinpoche bestowed him the title of a “Tulku Khenpo” and recognized him worthy of a dharma teacher who can guide others towards the path of enlightenment.

Click here to read more about The Fourth Gyankhan Rinpoche.

His Eminence Mugsang Kuchen Rinpoche

Heart Son of Holiness Pema Norbu and Head of Namdroling Monastery

Mugsang Kuchen Rinpoche is one of His Holiness Pema Norbu’s three Heart Sons, and along with Gyankhan Tulku Rinpoche shoulders the responsibility for Namdroling Monastery in Bylakuppe, India which houses over 5,000 monks and nuns. He was born to Penpa Dorjee [ father] and Sonam Yangzom [mother] in Nepal, on the tenth day of the fourth Tibetan month with miraculous signs. At the age of two, His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche and His Holiness Drubwang Pema Norbu Rinpoche recognized him as the unmistakeable reincarnation of Chogtrul Kunsang Sherab. From the age of three, Penor Rinpoche looked after him with great compassion and care. When he reached the age of four, he he received the Rinchen Terzod Empowerment cycle from His Holiness Drodrupchen Rinpoche. Beginning at age five, he learned to read and write in Tibetan and began training in the distinct rituals of the Palyul tradition. Subsequently, he received the kama Empowerments, instructions on Ngondro, Tsalung, and Dzogchen directly from His Holiness Penor Rinpoche. Thus he has upheld and continued activities of his predecessor.

Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso Rinpoche

Spiritual Director

Known affectionately as Khenpo Guru by his Dharma students, our Spiritual Director Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso Rinpoche was born in 1954 in a village near Lhakhang Dzong in the southern region of Tibet bordering Bhutan called Lhodrak. In 1969 he entered the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan studies at Sarnath, near Varanasi. There he followed a nine-year curriculum in Buddhist studies and general education under his principal teacher, Khenpo Palden Sherab, and other masters. His class work included Sanskrit, English and intensive studies in the textual traditions of Indian and Tibetan Buddhism. He graduated with the degree of Acharya in 1978, ranking first overall among the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism represented at Sarnath. His Holiness the Dalai Lama honored his achievement with the award of a silver medal. After graduation he was invited to teach at Palyul Namdroling Monastery at the Tibetan settlement in Bylakuppe, near Mysore in South India. For several years he was engaged in training the young monks and teaching in the monastic college, the Ngagyur Nyingma Institute (Shedra). In 1983 he was enthroned as a khenpo by His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche. In the Nyingmapa tradition, a khenpo is a professor of Buddhist studies.

Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso has received all of the major lineage empowerments and transmissions of the Nyingmapa school, including the Dudjom Tersar from Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche; the Longchen Nyingthig Yabshi, and Nyingma Kama from Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche; and the Rinchen Terdzod and Nam Chos from Pema Norbu Rinpoche. He has done intensive dzogchen practice under the guidance of Penor Rinpoche and other eminent masters including Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche and Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche. Pema Norbu Rinpoche has authorized him to represent the monastery and to teach, to confer empowerments and to give personal instruction in Buddhist practice.

Click here to read more about Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso Rinpoche.

Khenchen Namdrol Rinpoche

Khenpo Namdrol was born in 1953 in Derge. Al the age of seven, in 1959, he fled Tibet and reached Bylakuppe, South India. He began his studies with Nyoshu1 Khen Rinpoche and Khenpo Khedrub, and then continued in Sikkim for five years, where he received various teachings on Prajnaparamita, Madhyamika, Pramana and other topics from Khenpo Tsöndrü.

At 25, along with Khenpo Tsöndrü, he returned to Namdroling Monastery and together they established the Ngagyur Nyingma Institute. In 1983, he received the title of Khcnpo from His Holiness Penor Rinpoche.

In 1988, Khenpo Namdrol Rinpoche traveled to Tibet to receive Dzogchen teachings from the Venerable Khenpo Jigme Phuntsog. He returned to Tibet again in 1992 and received further instructions from Khenpo Jigme Phuntsog. In 1998, under the guidance of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, Khenpo Namdrol established the Palyul Retreat Center Samten Osel Ling in Pharping, Kathmandu Valley, Nepal.

In 2002, Khenpo Namdrol founded the Padmasambhava Global Project for World Peace. Khcnpo now spends much of his time at his center, as well as teaching abroad and at the Ngagyur Nyingma institute.

Khenpo Rinpoche has contributed greatly through his work in the administration and by teaching in the institute and abroad with only the single intention of the preservation of authentic dharma in these degenerate times.

Khenchen Pema Sherab Rinpoche

Khenpo Pema Sherab was born in 1936, at Riphu, a place in Dege Jomda, in the Kham Province to Dorje Dhondup and Tse Tso. When he was eight, he studied reading and writing Tibetan from his uncle Lama Choesang while herding cattle. At fourteen, he went to Lhasa and studied under masters and scholars of all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. While receiving teachings, he rendered service to his teachers and studied with great enthusiasm, day and night.

In 1953, Shechen Kongtrul Rinpoche bestowed novice vows upon him. In 1959, he fled from Tibet to India. He met H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, from whom he received most of his teachings including the Guhyagarbha Root Tantra, Longchenpa’s Treasury of Pith Instructions, Kagyud Ngag Dzod (Treasury of Tantra teachings of Kagyu Lineage), Rinchen Terdzod, Jigme Lingpa’s Yonten Dzod (Treasury of Enlightened Qualities), Lochen Dharmashri’s Explanation on Ngari Penchen’s Three Vows entitled, Fruit of the Wish-fulfilling Tree, Patrul Rinpoche’s Words of My Perfect Teacher, and many other sutra and tantra teachings.

On various occasions, he has received many teachings including the Rinchen Terdzod Empowerments and its oral transmission from H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche and H.H. Penor Rinpoche. He received all the teachings related to Jang-ter (Northern Treasure Teachings) from H.H. Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche.

In 1968, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche invited him to come to Namdroling to teach the Dharma. Though at that time, the institute has not established, Khenpo spent a few years teaching the traditional common and uncommon fields of study to small monks of the monastery.

Since the establishment of the institute in 1978 until 2003, for 25 years, Khenpo Pema Sherab has been teaching in this institute out of compassion and kindness to the students. During his tenure, he has wholeheartedly rendered his priceless service without thought of eight worldly concerns and has stayed in the institute all these years, forbearing all hardships for the preservation and dissemination of Buddha’s teaching in general and the Nyingma doctrine in particular.

The teachings that he has dispensed include the common traditional sciences of Tibetan grammar, spelling and poetry. Among the uncommon traditional studies, he has taught primarily the Thirteen Great Treatises, Jigme Lingpa’s Yonten Dzod (Treasury of Enlightened Qualities), Mipham Rinpoche’s Osel Nyingpo; a commentary to Guhyagarbha Tantra, Longchenpa’s Ngalso Korsum (Trilogy of Resting in the Nature of Mind), Do Tshog Chen Dupa (Sutra that Gathers All Intentions and Great Accumulations), Rongzom Mahapandita’s Thegchen Tsul Jug (Entering the Mahayana Path), Mipham Rinpoche’s Gal Len Nam Sum (The Trilogy of Replies to Criticisms) and many other teachings that illustrates the distinct view, meditation, conduct, and fruition of the Nyingma Lineage.

For the benefit of future generations, he has composed many books on Buddhist philosophy including a biography of Guru Padmasambhava, an Exposition on Two Truths, Lorig and Tagrig, Sun of Mind; an exposition of Logic and many others. All in all, he has taken the responsibility to manage the institute with great compassion to this day. Hence his kindness is unfathomable.

Khenpo Tenzin Norgay Rinpoche

Visiting Teacher

Khenpo Tenzin Norgay, was born in the Tashigang District of Bhutan in 1965. After completing Jigme Sherubling High School in 1986, he joined Ngagyur Nyingma Institute, the prestigious Buddhist studies and research center, at Namdroling Monastery in Mysore. At the Institute he studied under Khenchen Pema Sherab, Khenpo Namdrol Tsering and Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso and other visiting professors, including Khenchen Jigme Phuntsok and Khenpo Pema Tsewang from Tibet. He completed the Shedra program at the Institute in 1995 and joined the Institute staff, teaching there for three years. He was formally enthroned as Khenpo by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche in 1998 and was assigned by His Holiness to teach at the Buddhist college at Palyul monastery in Tibet. He has received all the major empowerments of the Rinchen Terzod, Nam Cho, Nyingthik Yabshi and Nyingma Kama from His Holiness Penor Rinpoche as well as the Mipham Kabum from His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Because of his knowledge and experience, and fluent command of the English language, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche has assigned him to teach students in the United States in conjunction with the ongoing teaching programs offered by Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso Rinpoche.

Lama Pasang Gurung

Lama Pasang Gurung was born in 1968 in the village of Sal Dang in Dolpa, Nepal.

At the age of 16 he entered Namdroling Monastery in Mysore, India and spent the next four years learning Buddhist practice, grammar, writing, and dharma history before entering shedra in 1990.

After completing the shedra in 2000, Lama Pasang was asked to become the umdze, or chant master, for His Holiness Penor Rinpoche. From 2000 until the passing of His Holiness in 2009, Lama Pasang traveled with His Holiness to Palyul centers in the United States and throughout the world.

In 2003, he became a teacher at the yearly Palyul Retreat in upstate New York, where he continues to instruct first year students in the Ngöndro or preliminary practices.

In addition to the many blessings, lung and wang he received from his root teacher His Holiness Penor Rinpoche; Lama Pasang received the Mipham Rinpoche Ka Bum lung and wang from His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse in 1989, and the Northern Treasure lung and wang from Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche in 1990.

In the fall of 2019, Lama Pasang was appointed resident lama to Palri Pema Öd Ling in Austin, TX where he benefits students in many aspects of dharma practice.

Loppon Rapjee

Loppön Rapjee Wangchuk

Our Resident Lama

Loppön Rapjee Wangchuk is a great source of knowledge and experience in many aspects of Vajrayana Buddhism.

He was born in Pemakod, India, where he started his Buddhist education and doing his preliminary practices of Ngöndro at a very young age. He later went to Namdroling, the monastic seat of the 11th Throneholder of the Palyul lineage, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, the late Head of the Nyingma tradition and studied all forms of Vajrayana rituals. He became very proficient and particularly well known for his performance skills in the Palyul masked dances (cham). He later entered shedra in the monastery, a nine-year college of higher Buddhist philosophical studies and graduated with a degree of Loppön (acharya or professor) in 1999.

After receiving his title as a Loppön in 2000, he was chosen by H. H. Penor Rinpoche to be his personal attendant. He had served His Holiness with utmost devotion at his fullest capacity for over a decade during which he had the good fortune to receive numerous teachings and empowerments from His Holiness and travelled to many countries to assist in the various ritual practices and lama dances.

Loppön Rapjee is an expert in creating Tibetan Sacred Mandalas and has directed many mandala constructions in the Palyul centers. Under the guidance of His Holiness, Loppön Rapjee has been the Tza Lung teacher both in the Annual Summer Program at Palyul Ling Retreat Center in upstate New York, and at the Namdroling Monastery for many years since 2001. He has benefitted many monastic and lay practitioners around the world.

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