22. 1st Sangye Nyenpa 1457 - 1525

grub chen bkra shis dpal 'byor

„You whose mind has perfected the aspects of supreme union,

Lord Sanggye Nyenpa, I supplicate you.”

-- “Supplication to the Kagyü Gurus”



The First Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche, Drubchen Tashi Päljor, was born in Nyen Phodrang near Thadul-gyi-Zug-Lhakhang in the Denma region of Derge, East Tibet. When he was 5 years old, he heard the name “Karmapa” and deep devotion arose within him. A year later, he met Gyalwa Chödrag Gyatso, the Seventh Karmapa, who gave the young boy the name Tashi Päljor. At the age of 8, he received the novice vows, empowerments, and profound instructions, and then he studied all the sciences with great interest. He took the full ordination vows later. Until he was 23 years old, he practiced the three wisdoms of listening, contemplating, and meditating under the guidance of both Bengar Jampäl Zangpo and Päljor Dondrub, the 19 th and 20 th great masters in the line of the Lineage-holders of the Glorious Kagyü Golden Rosary.


Tashi Päljor relied one-pointedly on the instructions he received from the Seventh Gyalwa Karmapa, his Root Guru, and didn’t leave his side for seven years. During this time, he received the entire Karma Kamtsang Lineage empowerments and instructions from His Holiness, who then told him to practice at Gampo Nyenang for three years, at Tsurphu for two years, at Palpung for two years, and at Thaklha in North-East Tibet for one year. He did as told and didn’t rely on worldly nourishment for eight whole years, rather was solely nourished by bar-lung (the advanced “intermediate energy practice”). Notably, he meditated on Tsenmodo, the little island on Namtso, the largest lake in North-East Tibet, where Bengar Jampäl Zangpo had meditated for eighteen years before he composed “The Short Dorje Chang Lineage Prayer.” And so, Tashi Päljor followed the example of Jetsün Milarepa and Bengar Jampäl Zangpo and practiced meditation uninterruptedly from the age of 23 to 43 years.


Renowned Lamas and Dakinis prophesied that Tashi Päljor would establish a great Dharma Palace in his native birthplace in Denyül. It is reported that while he was staying on the fourth floor of a house there, a severe earthquake occurred, which destroyed every building in the area, killing and burying many people under the rubble. Tashi Päljor miraculously flew into the air and remained unharmed. Many people witnessed this and ever since then he became known as Drubchen Tashi Päljor, “the accomplished Mahasiddha Tashi Paljor.” He laid the foundation for Changchub Chökhor Ling Monastery at Denkhog in the Land of Denma.


His Holiness the Eighth Gyalwa Karmapa, Mikyö Dorje, had a vision of Mahakala, who instructed him to take Mahasiddha Tashi Päljor as his Root Guru, which he did. Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche has continued transmitting the complete Karma Kagyü empowerments and deep instructions to the incarnations of the Gyalwa Karmapas ever since then.


His Holiness Mikyö Dorje described his Root Guru in the “Supplications and Offerings to the Kagyü Gurus” with the following verses that he composed:

“From the tastes of gain, esteem, and fame, the eight worldly Dharmas,

He fled like a wild animal frightened by enemies.

He is unable to be deceived by the triflings of this life.

I supplicate at the feet of Sanggye Nyenpa.


“Karma and kleshas, the causes of samsara,

He quickly dropped like a large poisonous snake.

He does not confuse the root of suffering with pleasure.

I supplicate at the feet of Sanggye Nyenpa.


“All the happiness and wealth of the three realms of samsara,

He renounced as the torment of a terminal illness.

He is unable to be beguiled by seeming happiness.

I supplicate at the feet of Sanggye Nyenpa.


“The great suffering of birth, old age, sickness, and death,

He feared greatly like a wild animal caught in a trap.

He is not influenced by the fixation on appearance as permanent.

I supplicate at the feet of Sanggye Nyenpa.


“Those masters accomplished in the holy Dharma,

He properly attended like a thirsty man seeking water.

He is not seduced by mundane activities.

I supplicate at the feet of Sanggye Nyenpa.


“The discursive thoughts of selfishness and laziness,

He saw as an assassin’s attack.

He is not influenced by what pretends to be Dharma.

I supplicate at the feet of Sanggye Nyenpa.


“Glorious Guru, whatever you are:

Your retinue, long life, and buddha field,

And whatever fame of your supreme goodname,

May I and others become just like this.”


Having performed wondrous Buddha activities for the benefit of all sentient beings with utmost wisdom, compassion, generosity, and a pure heart, Drubchen Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche passed into Parinirvana at the age of 68.


Inseparable with his Root Guru and out of greatest compassion for sentient beings, Mikyö Dorje wrote the following devotional prayer that disciples are invited to recite, contemplate, and meditate:


“Those who have been my mothers, all sentient beings, limitless as space, supplicate the Guru who is the precious Buddha.

Those who have been my mothers, all sentient beings, limitless as space, supplicate the Guru who is the dharmakaya, the all-pervading.

Those who have been my mothers, all sentient beings limitless as space, supplicate the Guru who is the sambhogakaya, the great bliss.

Those who have been my mothers, all sentient beings, limitless as space, supplicate the Guru who is the compassionate nirmanakaya.

Those who have been my mothers, all sentient beings, limitless as space, request the blessing of attaining the state of the Lord of Yogins, the great Sanggye Nyenpa.

May the supreme siddhi be granted that I am never separate from the great Lord of Yogins.”


Venerable Tenga Rinpoche tells us that there is a precious silver statue of Drubchen Tashi Päljor, which is known as “The Silver Statue that Floated in Midair.” This precious statue was made by his heart-son and spiritual heir, Mikyö Dorje, and is said to have floated in the air for seven days after the Karmapa had consecrated it. It contains some hair, bone fragments, pieces of the clothes and relic pills of Tashi Päljor and has great blessings. Tenga Rinpoche added that “often rituals for the sick are performed in front of this statue. If the sick person will live, the eyes of the statue will look upwards. If the person will die, then the statue’s eyes will look downwards. During the destruction of Tsurphu, where the statue was kept, it was saved and buried on the mountain behind the monastery by one of the Tsurphu monks. Decades later, after Tsurphu Monastery was rebuilt, the same monk searched and found the statue again. It is now enshrined in the large silver reliquary in Tsurphu as one of the most precious relics of the Karma Kagyü Lineage.”


In “Supplications and Offerings to the Kagyü Gurus” (also in “The Rain of Wisdom”), Mikyö Dorje advised his disciples on how to engage in practice and wrote: “Chant melodiously starting with the songs of the Kagyü Vajradhara up through my own songs. Furthermore, adding no extra words as your melodious chant, meditate properly in your mind on their meaning. Mix whatever you can of the meaning with your mind. Particularly, on the four holy days, before an image of Sanggye Nyenpa, take the Mahayana vow and purification and then sing the songs. Furthermore, on the twenty-ninth day of the month, the great holy day of Sanggye Nyenpa, organize a chanting session. Also, when endangered by epidemics, obstacles, and other adversities, and for the benefit of the dead and such, one should organize a chanting session.”


Being an emanation of ‘Phagpa Chenrezig, the source of Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche’s incarnations is Buddha Maitreya, the Fifth Buddha who will appear in this fortunate aeon. Sangye Nyenpa had taken many births as a Mahasiddha in India, such as Yeshe Nyingpo, Jnanagarbha in Sanskrit. Because he was a Mahapandita, Jnanagarbha, who was also one of Lord Marpa’s main teachers, was a gatekeeper at the University of Vikramashila, residing near one of the two pillars that stood in the center of the monastic complex. Sangye Nyenpa had also taken birth as Mahapandita Mirtijana and others, and, in wonderful ways, he continuously works for the Buddhadharma and for the benefit of all living beings. His ten incarnations known in the world as Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche are:


Ist Sangye Nyenpa - Tashi Päljor, who was the 21 st Lineage-holder in the line of great masters of the Kagyü Golden Rosary;

IInd Sangye Nyenpa - Lhungpo Rabten;
IIIrd Sangye Nyenpa - Geleg Nyingpo;
IVth Sangye Nyenpa - Geleg Gyatso, who established Benchen Monastery slightly southwest of present day Qinghai. Before he actually founded the monastery, instead of living in his own monastery at Denkhog, he went to Zurmang Monastery. There a building was established for him known as The Red Abode of Nyenpa Rinpoche. After leaving Zurmang, one day he came to an area called Ga. He saw that this was a very good place and so he built Benchen Phuntsog Dargyeling Monastery there .
Vth Sangye Nyenpa - Deleg Nyingpo;
VIth Sangye Nyenpa - Drubgyu Tendar;
VIIth Sangye Nyenpa - Sherab Nyingpo;
VIIIth Sangye Nyenpa - Tashi Drubchog, who recognized Tenzin Chögyal as the reincarnation of Lama Samten, the First Venerable Tenga Rinpoche. Ever since then, there is a deep bond with Tenga Rinpoche, which has continued unbroken to this day;
IXth Sangye Nyenp - Tenpe Nyima, who passed into Parinirvana at the age of 66 in Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim, the main seat of the Karmapas in exile. It may be of interest to many people to read that Matthieu Ricard states: “Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's elder brother had been recognized as the incarnation of Sangye Nyenpa.”
Xth Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche was recognized and enthroned by His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, at Rumtek Monastery. His Holiness gave him the name Karma Pälden Rangjung Trinley Kunkyab Tenpe Gyaltsen Päl Sangpo.


The following treatises and texts by His Eminence Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche are available to Tibetan-speaking students and disciples in the section “Buddhist Philosophy Texts” of this website:

"Chenpo Zhentong.” The commentary to the Mahamudra prayer; “A teaching on the 3rd Karmapa’s ‘Mahamudra prayer’ ” by the Venerable 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche at Benchen Phuntsok Dhargje Ling, Swoyambhu, Kathmandu, Nepal. Transcription by the senior class of Karma Lekshey Ling Institute, 2004;

Teachings on ‘The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva’ (‘Gyalse Jungog’)” by the Venerable 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche at Benchen Phuntsok Dharje Ling, Swoyambhu, Kathmandu, Nepal. Transcription by the senior class of Karma Lekshey Ling Institute, 2002;

“A commentary on ‘Drodhon Khachapma’ (Chenrezig Puja )” composed by H.E. Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche in 2006.

In English, H.E. Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche , “An Introduction to ‘ The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva’ by Gyatsäl Thogme Zangpo,” in the link “Audio, Teachings and others.”


Long-life prayer for His Eminence the Tenth Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche:

May the life of the Glorious Lama remain steadfast and firm.

May peace and happiness fully arise for beings as limitless in number as space is vast in its extent.

Having accumulated merit and purified negativities, may I and all living beings without exception

swiftly establish the levels and grounds of Buddhahood.



Kagyu Office of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, “The Golden Rosary” (2008).

Benchen Phuntsok Ling, “A Short Biography of the Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche,” Belgium (2008).

“The Rain of Wisdom. The Vajra Songs of the Kagyü Gurus ,” transl. under the direction of Chögyam Trungpa by the Nalanda Translation Com., Boston & London, 1980, pages 1, 5-6, & 11-12.

Venerable Tenga Rinpoche, in: RywikiTsadraOrg, “Great Masters of the Kagyü Lineage” (2008).

Matthieu Ricard, “The Life of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche,” in: Dilgo Khyentse Fellowship, Shechen (2008).


May we exemplify the supreme conduct conducive to awakening and attaining enlightenment for the benefit of all living beings!


(With sincerest gratitude to Khenpo Karma Namgyal for his wonderful activities, compiled & written for English-speaking students & visitors of Karma Lekshey Ling Institute, near the Great Stupa of Swayambunath in Nepal, by Gaby Hollmann, Munich, 2008; copyright.)

© Karma Lekshey Ling Shedra, Post Box No.8435, Swoyambhu, Kathmandu, Nepal