Biography of Venerable Tulku Damcho Rinpoche

Tulku Damcho Rinpoche

Early Life and Ordination

Venerable Tulku Damcho Rinpoche was born on June 28, 1973, in a small village in Nubri, Nepal. His father was named Nyima Woser and his mother was Sonam Sangmo. At the age of eight, he began to learn reading and writing Tibetan with the help of Ani Lhakpa Dekyi.

He was the eldest son in the family, so his father had high hopes that he would uphold his family name, but his grandmother Tsering Dolma insisted that he become monk to help all sentient beings. At the age of 13, he came to Kathmandu city with his grandmother. In 1986, he received the Kalachakra empowerment bestowed by His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama at Bodhgaya, India, and then returned to Nepal. Meanwhile, his grandmother wished him to become monk along with his cousin Tenzin Dorje, and five other young boys from Nubri.

He first visited Thrangu Monastery, located near the Great Stupa of Boudhanath, in 1987. He was happy to visit—his friends Tenzin Dorje, Karma Tsewang and Karma Chokyi had already already ordained. A few days later, he had a great opportunity to meet the Very Venerable Ninth Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche and became a monk at Thrangu Tashi Choling Monastery in Boudha.

Monastic life and Education

In 1987, at the age of fourteen, he received the Barma Rabjung vow from Vajradhara Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche and was given the dharma name Karma Damcho. His grandmother was so happy as her greatest wish was finally fulfilled. He then continued learning Tibetan under the guidance of the great Khenpo Ngedon. In 1988, he completed the first stage of monastic education in reading, writing, and ritual practice.

In 1989, at the age of 16, he received novice (getsul) vows from Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche in the Green Tara shrine hall at Thrangu Tashi Choling Monastery, Boudha. In 1991, according to the arrangement of the monastery, he became ritual and chanting master. He sat for ritual examination under Rinpoche’s guidance. He then studied Tibetan grammar and calligraphy from General Secretary Tenzin Namgyal. In 1997, he traveled to Oxford, England, where he spent four months learning English. In 1998, he returned to Boudha and continued learning rituals, including how to make sand mandalas.

Life as a personal attendant of Thrangu Rinpoche:

In 1990, Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche appointed him as his personal attendant for Nepal. Whenever Rinpoche traveled abroad, Tulku Damcho stayed behind and continued taking part in the monastic life of his fellow monks. In 1991, he accompanied Rinpoche to Manang, a region on the border with Tibet, where Rinpoche bestowed blessings and gave introductory teachings on Buddhism at Braka Nuns Retreat Centre.

In the summer of 1991, he traveled with Rinpoche to Ladak in India. They performed Lama Thugdrup Yishin Norbu Puja at Lama Chime Rigzin’s monastery. They also visited Drupon Rinpoche’s monastery.
In 1992, he received the full ordination of bhikshu (gelong) vows from Vajradhara Thrangu Rinpoche. In that same year, he received the empowerments, oral transmissions, and instructions of the Treasury of Oral Instructions from Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche along with Zuri Rinpoche, Yongye Mingyur Rinpoche, the khenpos, lamas, and hundreds of members of the sangha. In 1992, he began traveling abroad with Rinpoche, visiting Hong Kong, Sweden, Iceland, and other countries.

Recognitions and Blessings

In April 1994, he accompanied Thrangu Rinpoche to Kham, Tibet, along with Khenpo Karthar and Lama Kunchen. Rinpoche bestowed the empowerment cycle Knowing One Frees All in Thrangu Monastery in Tibet. In the evening, Rinpoche held a meeting and told all the Sangha that he, Karma Damcho, is the incarnation of Lama Tsoknyi, a great practitioner from the Tibet monastery. Rinpoche showed everyone the recognition letter from H.E. Tai Situ Rinpoche. On February 20, 1997, an enthronement ceremony was held at the main monastery in Boudha to enthrone him as well as to enthrone the newly recognized Tulku Lodro Nyima Rinpoche, and to bestow the title of Khenpo on three scholars.

Tulku Rinpoche has had many valuable opportunities to receive different empowerments, oral transmissions and teachings from his root guru, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche. He also attended empowerments, transmissions and teachings from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, H.E. Tai Situ Rinpoche, H.E. Gyaltsab Rinpoche, H.H. Sakya Gongma Rinpoche, Drupwang Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche, Sengdrak Rinpoche, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, Khenpo Sogyal, Khenpo Karma Tharchin, and Kyabje Mingyur Rinpoche.

Further Studies and Retreat

In 1999, he joined Vajra Vidya Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies and received teachings on the great treatises, philosophy, and logic from Khenpo Tashi, Khenpo Jigme, Khenpo Lobsang, and Khenpo Losal, as well as teachings on grammar from Gen Tenzin Norphel.

In 2003, he did the preliminary retreat at Namo Buddha under the guidance of the Lama Wangdue, the retreat master at that time. In 2004, with the blessings and instruction from Vajradhara Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, he received the opportunity to enter and practice the traditional three-year retreat at Thrangu Sekhar Retreat Center near Bhaktapur, Nepal. He received all the instructions and teachings on the practices of the paths of means and liberation from the retreat master Drupon Rinpoche Khenpo Lhabu, completing the retreat in 2008.

In December, 2020, he began a three-month Hevajra retreat which he followed with a month-long Akshobhya retreat that ended in late April, 2021.

His Current Dharma Activities

For some time, the Very Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche had been suggesting to Tulku Damcho that he build a monastery in Nubri village to benefit all villagers and give them a place to practice dharma. Finally, the construction work of Nubri Hinang Thrangu Tashi Chokhorling monastery began in 2002 and was completed in 2009. The opening ceremony was held on April 19, 2009, with Vajradhara Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche presiding. Since then, the monastery organized annual Mani Druchens. During the drubchen, Tulku Damcho gives teachings to and bestows empowerments on the villagers.

Tulku Damcho has consistently been generous in supporting the sangha of Thrangu Monastery and anyone else in need. He financially supported the building of a nine-story Milarepa tower at Thrangu Sekhar Retreat Center at Bhaktapur and continues to fund the maintenance of the building and surrounding facilities. He also supports the young monks from Nubri Hinang Monastery and Nar Thrangu Monastery along with their teachers by sponsoring their food when spend the winters at Thrangu Monastery in Lumbini. He also never misses an opportunity to make any gift he can, no matter how small, to monks, nuns, the poor, and his students, providing a true example of generosity.

Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche has also asked Tulku Rinpoche to represent him at important events in Nepal, such as the opening of Nar Satek Monastery in 2013. Tulku Rinpoche has also visited the Gurung Society Monastery in Pokhara, Nepal, annually since 2013. He leads the local community in pujas and gives them empowerments and teachings. He has also visited Tatopani in Sindhupalchowk District, Nepal, to consecrate a Guru Rinpoche statue and benefit the local population by spreading the dharma, performing rituals, and giving an Avalokiteshvara empowerment.

He has also traveled the world giving teachings, beginning in 2009 when Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche asked him to give teachings at Kamashila Buddhist Center in Germany. Since that time, he has traveled and taught in Europe, the Americas, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Malaysia, among other countries. He has devoted students all over the world. Though he cannot visit them in person at the present due to the covid epidemic, he has been teaching them online via Zoom and other platforms.

A Long Life Prayer for the Ven. Tulku Damchö Rinpoche

རྒྱལ་དང་དེ་སྲས་འཕགས་ཚོགས་དགེ་འདུན་སྡེ། །
gyal dang de se pak tsok gendün de
By the power of the truth of the firm bodhichitta and commitments,

ཐུགས་བསྐྱེད་དམ་བཅའ་བཙན་པོས་བདེན་མཐུ་ཡིས། །
tuk kye dam cha tsen pö den tu yi
Of the buddhas, bodhisattvas, noble beings, and the sangha,

ལུང་རྟོགས་ཆོས་ཀི་འཕྲིན་ལས་རབ་འཕེལ་ཞིང་། །
lung tok chö ki trin le rap pel shing
May this be a cause for your activity of the dharma

ཞབས་པད་ཡུན་དུ་བརྟན་པའི་རྒྱུར་གྱུར་ཅིག །
shap pe yün du ten pay gyur gyur chik
Of scripture and practice to flourish and for you to live long.

Written by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche at the request of faithful disciples.

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