A Brief Biography of Drupön Lama Karma Jnana

Throughout Bhutan Drüpon is renowned as an exemplary retreat master and has been the most influential lama to maintain the tradition of Terton Pegyal Lingpa. This is in large part a result of having directly served for many years as Pegyal Lingpa’s scribe and attendant. In 1988, Drüpon bestowed the oral transmission of Pegyal Lingpa’s Kusum Gongdü to many tulkus, lamas and devotees, while the empowerments were offered by the Terton Pegyal Lingpa himself. Since Pegyal Lingpa’s parinirvana, Drüpon continues to serve his root master’s lineage by disseminating his teachings. Today, Drüpon’s students include many Bhutanese tulkus, khenpos, lamas, and lay practitioners, who are primarily practicing the tradition of the Kusum Gongdü. He continues to serve as retreat master for one of Pegyal Lingpa’s main centers, Pema Yangdzong Monastery, located in Paro, Bhutan.

Venerable Drüpon Karma Jnana was born in Chakyi Demig of the Tashi Yangtse region in eastern Bhutan near Pemaling, a sacred hidden site of Padmasambhava, on the fifteenth day of the first month of the water snake year (1953) to his parents, Lama Sonam Wangchuk and Drenga. Also known as Drub-la Karma Yeshe Tharchin, his formal education began at the age of six when his father taught him to read and write Tibetan. The youth was then enrolled in school where he studied for four years. When he was thirteen years old, Drüpon served as one of the scribes for the massive project of preparing a version of the Buddhist Canon (Kangyur) in golden ink script. The project, which was commissioned by the third king of Bhutan, took place at Trashi Choedzong located in Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan.

At the behest of his father as head lama, Drüpon joined Long-Nying Chöling Monastery. In accord with tradition, he began the fivefold 100,000 accumulations of the preliminary practices of the Longchen Nyingtik tradition. These practices commenced with a period of special mind training contemplations. He also trained in the various aspects of the ritual tradition within the Longchen Nyingtik. At the age of twenty-six, Drüpon was introduced to his root teacher, a great yogi of Mahamudra and Dzogchen, Lama Naljorpa, from whom he received the vows of a lay practitioner (genyen). He was bestowed a new name, Gyalse Lodrö Thaye Gyurme. During this period, he received the detailed empowerments, instructions, and oral transmission of the Chöd liturgy called Rinchen Threngwa. Drüpon was then guided through a very strict retreat, training in the chöd practice of Dhen-thog Chigma. He also trained in Tulzhug Ronyom, remaining in the state of the yogic conduct of equal taste for long periods.

Then, over a period of three months, Drüpon completed the requisite mantra accumulations of the Khorwa Dongthrug. Drüpon also received the empowerments, oral-transmission, and instructions related to Dechen Zhingdrub, which he trained in for three months within a retreat setting. In addition to these practices, he was also taught both theoretical and practical Vajrayana Buddhist teachings, including the Words of my Perfect Teacher (Kunzang Lamai Zhal lung), Shantideva’s Way of the Bodhisattva, Ascertaining the Three Vows, the Thirty-seven Practices of a Bodhisattva, the Profound Instructions on the View of the Middle Way, the Four Oral Instructions on Freedom from Attachment (from the Sakya tradition), the Virtuous Practice Related to the View, Patrul Rinpoche’s Meditation and Conduct in the Beginning, Middle, and End, the Oral Instructions for the Practice of Mountain Retreat by Dudjom Rinpoche, the Three Words that Strike the Vital Point, Gangama Instructions: Tilopa’s Mahamudra Upadesha on The Great View of Mahamudra, and the exalted practice of the Six Yogas of Naropa, starting from the preliminary practices up to the practices of yogic exercises (trulkhor) and the transference of consciousness (phowa). Drüpon received and trained in the Mastery of the Exemplary Conduct of the Six Levels of Even Taste (Ro-nyom kordrug) and in the calm abiding instructions for remaining in the nine stages of meditative concentration. He studied A History of the Nyingma School by Dudjom Rinpoche, Karma Lingpa’s Bardo Tödrol, and the 100,000 Sacred Songs of Milarepa.

Moreover, Drupla received the preliminary practices, three roots, and instructions related to the recitation manual of the Konchog Chidü tradition and the preliminary practices, three roots, and chöd practice called Laughter of the Dakinis from the Longchen Nyingtig tradition. Subsequently, he completed a seven-month retreat of Rigdzin Düpa, the inner guru sadhana of the Longchen Nyingtig. Following this, Drüpon received the empowerments, oral transmission, and instructions related to the Four Feast Kusali Chöd, dream interpretation, Dispelling Darkness in the Ten Directions, Longchenpa’s commentary on the Guhyagarbha Tantra, Shabkar’s Flight of the Garuda, the Commentary on the Vajra Verses of the Natural State, the Profound Pith Instructions of Dorje Phakmo, and instructions on the channels, energies, and yogic exercises.

Subsequently, Drupla began a long period of retreat at Deleg Namkha Kyung Dzong in Pemaling, a sacred site of Guru Rinpoche. This retreat was presided over by his root guru, Lama Naljorpa Rinpoche, who sealed off his retreat room. Lama Naljorpa taught him extensively on the nature of mind. These teachings included the instruction and practices for examining the source, abiding, and movement of the mind. He was also taught and practiced the teachings of Yeshe Lama and the Lotus Essence Root Tantra from the Kusum Gongdü tradition.

Following these teachings. Drupla entered another six month retreat focusing on the Seven Line Prayer Sadhana. Thereafter, he spent many months in retreat focused solely on practicing Treg-chö and Tögal. Drupla received teachings on consort practices such as Zo-Gag Ned-kyi Tembu. In addition, he was taught the Fivefold Mahamudra of Gyalwa Drikungpa, the Mahamudra preliminary practices, Dudjom Rinpoche’s Song of the Noble Goal, the postures and the gazes of the three kayas, as well as other teachings.

Following this period, Drupla spent many years with Terton Pegyal Lingpa Rinpoche until he passed away in 1988. Drupön Lama Karma was the scribe who recorded the entirety of Pegyal Lingpa’s four volume Kusum Gongdü treasure cycle. This was written directly from the word lineage of the yellow scrolls at Sengye Dzong (site of Pegyal Lingpa’s three-year retreat). Drüpon received all the empowerments and transmissions of the Kusum Gongdü, with Red Vajrasattava arising as his special practice. He also received pith instructions on the nature of mind, the chöd empowerment called Opening the Gate to Space, the empowerment and practice of Sidog Raksha Tötreng, a Vajrakilaya practice from Chogyur Lingpa, the empowerment of Apam Terton’s sadhana related to the Seven Line Prayer, the bodhisattva vows, various Konchog Chidü transmissions, Karma Lingpa’s Vajra Guru Mantra Commentary, the Seven Chapter Prayer to Guru Rinpoche, the Practice of the Universal Panacea, and instructions on the filling and consecration of statues and other sacred supports. Due to the vast extent of teachings received, Drüpon became the 

preeminent expert in Bhutan on Pegyal Lingpa.

Drupla received many teachings from many exemplary lamas. From H.H. Dodrubchen Rinpoche, Drupla received the six volume Jatson Nyingpo Terma, the empowerments and oral transmissions of Rinchen Terdzö, Nyingtig Yabzhi, and the Seven Chapter Prayer to Guru Rinpoche. From H.H. Penor Rinpoche, he received the treasure cycles of Gesar and the empowerment of the Rinchen Terdzo and Nyingthik Yabzhi. From H.H. Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche, Drüpon received the Rinchen Terdzod. From Jadral Jangchub Dorje, he received the Dudjom Tröma oral transmission and Apam Terton’s Seven Line Prayer Sadhana.

From Tulku Rigdzin Pema, Drüpon received the oral transmission of Mipham Rinpoche’s collected works. From Mindroling Gyalse Tulku Rinpoche, he received the Choying Dzod, Paltrul Rinpoche’s Meditation and Conduct in the Beginning, Middle, and End, and the Konchog Chidü long life practices. From Dagpo Rinpoche, Drüpon received Yeshe Lama. From Rabjam Rinpoche, he received Nyag’s Vajrakilaya.

From Yangthang Rinpoche, Drupla received the empowerments of the Kagye Desheg Düpa and from Gonjang RInpoche, the accompanying oral transmission. From Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche, he received Longchenpa’s Seven Treasures.

From Gochen Tulku Sangngag Rinpoche, Drüpon received the empowerments and oral transmissions of the treasure cycles of both Tsasum Lingpa and Pegyal Lingpa, the chöd empowerment called Opening the Gate to Space, the chöd cycle of Rinchen Threngwa, teachings on Sampa Lhundrubma, Dzogchen Khordhe Rangdrol, Lotus Essence Root Tantra, Enlightened Intent of Equality of Samantabadra, the Lion’s Roar for Cutting Through Errors and Deviation, instructions on Generation Stage, and so forth. From H.H Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche, Drupla received the Rinchen Terdzod empowerments.
In addition, from H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche, he received long life empowerments. From the Sixteenth and the Seventeenth Karmapas, Drupla received the Ornament of Precious Liberation and long life empowerments. From Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche, he received the preliminary practices.

From H.E. Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche, Drupla received long life empowerments and instruction on the refuge vows. From Tsultrim Zangpo, he received the Avalokiteshvara sadhana of Ngari Drubchen. From Mani Lama, Drüpon received Avalokiteshvara empowerments, the Mani Zang-dharma, and other teachings. From Dokya Chokyi Nyima, he received long life empowerments. From Lopön Ugyen, he received the Mindfulness: The Mirror of the Mind. From Tsampa Konchog, Drüpon received instruction on the Laughter of the Dakinis and dedication prayers.

To briefly summarize his life of spiritual practice, Drupla was extensively trained and rigorously engaged in very strict retreats for many years under the guidance of his root teacher, Terton Pegyal Lingpa Rinpoche, and the prophesized Dharma holder, Lama Neljorpa Rinpoche. Among the many strict meditation retreats, to highlight a few of his retreats, Drupla spent eight months at Long-Nying Choling Monastery, three years at Tashi Yangtse Charnel Ground, two years at the snow peak of Pema Ling (the sacred site of Guru Rinpoche), two years at Sengye Dzong, six years at Phurpaling, and three years as a retreat Master at Paro Pema Yangdzong retreat center. On an annual basis, in addition to teaching and presiding over various drubchens and drubchods in Pegyal Lingpa-affiliated monasteries in Bhutan, Drüpon regularly engages in three month strict retreats.

In conclusion, based on experience garnered over the past six decades, Ven. Drupön Lama Karma has been of invaluable benefit to the many committed Buddhist practitioners in retreat. May the lifespan of the glorious Guru remain firm! May happiness arise for all beings equal to the extent of space! May all beings, through having accumulated merit and purified obscurations, be swiftly established on the stage of the Buddhahood!


Biography of Lama Neljorpa

For Those who are interested in reading a short biography of Lama Karma’s root guru, Lama Neljorpa, composed by Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche, you can do so by clicking the button below.

Drupon Lama Karma at his retreat place in Bhutan with some of his close disciples.