Tai Situpa Rinpoche

El XII Tai Situpa Rinpoche

In our world, the appearance of a Buddha is considered very rare. It is as rare as a heavenly flower which blooms only once in a million years. So precious is the appearance of a Buddha in the world that to simply hear about his qualities bestows benefit.

Just, as Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche mentioned: “The appearance of the Tai Situpa is like the appearance of a Buddha. The loving protector of beings, Tai Situpa, is in essence inseparable from the victorious Karmapa, although he appears sometimes as the Karmapa’s spiritual master, sometimes as his disciple. Not even a tiny fraction of the lives of the Karmapa and Tai Situpa, the spiritual father and son, can be accurately seen or described by ordinary beings, or even by the gods such as Indra or Brahma. Tai Situpa has already attained full awakening and enlightenment but by the force of his compassion, he continually works for the welfare of others for as long as life remains in the universe.”

The Tai Situpa and his incarnations were clearly foretold by Guru Padmasambhava in the Command Seal of Prophecies, which was discovered by the Terton Sangye Lingpa.

Since beginningless time, Tai Situpa has manifested to benefit beings and will continue to do so. In the past, Tai Situpa appeared as the founding father of the Kagyu Lineage in Tibet, Marpa Lotsawa. Likewise, he was the King of Gyantse, Taranatha and Dombi Heruka. His emanations will culminate in the appearance of the fifth and next Buddha of this eon, Maitreya. Maitreya is known as the Protector Loving Kindness. Situ Rinpoche is also the emanation of the Yidam Hevajra and Guru Padmasambhava.

The Terton Chogyur Lingpa predicted in the XIX Century: “The XVII Karmapa’s mind shall be blended together with Kenting Tai Situpa’s mind. Through this, the teachings will flourish.” Such a clear prophecy has been fulfilled. Inseparable from the Gyalwa Karmapa, the present and XII Tai Situ Rinpoche was the regent of the XVI Gyalwa Karmapa. Tai Situpa is now the main teacher to the XVII Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje.

The relationship of the Karmapas and Tai Situpas dates back to the XII Century, when the first Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa bestowed the Kagyu teachings (and a prediction concerning his rebirth) to his Dharma heir Drogon Rechen, a previous incarnation of the Tai Situpa. Situ Rinpoche was therefore second holder of the Kagyu Lineage. Since the time of the first Gyalwa Karmapa, the Tai Situpas have appeared as either the master or disciple to the Karmapa.

During Situ Rinpoche’s fifth incarnation, the Gyalwa Karmapa bestowed upon the Tai Situpa the Red Vajra Crown. This crown symbolizes the Tai Situpa’s enlightened qualities and his inseparability from the Karmapa. Just seeing this Vajra Crown plants a fertile seed for enlightenment and it is the cause to be reborn among the retinue of the Buddha Maitreya.

As the Terton Chogyur Lingpa said in the XIX Century, “The XVII Karmapa’s mind shall be blended together with Kenting Tai Situpa’s mind.  Through this, the teachings will flourish.”   Already, we can see the Terton’s prediction being demonstrated through the Buddha activity of the XVII Karmapa and XII Tai Situpa.

The XII Tai Situpa Rinpoche

El XII Tai Situpa Rinpoche en Sherab Ling

When His Holiness the XVI Gyalwa Karmapa was in Beijing to discuss the affairs of Tibet, he had a vision of Mahakala concerning Tai Situpa Rinpoche’s rebirth. There, the Gyalwa Karmapa wrote the prediction letter for the discovery of the XII Tai Situpa Pema Donyo Nyinje Wangpo. The Gyalwa Karmapa accurately foretold the signs surrounding Tai Situpa Rinpoche’s birth and dwelling. Likewise, the XI Tai Situpa Pema Wangchog described the circumstances of his next incarnation before passing away.

A search party discovered the XII Tai Situpa quickly. The previous XI Tai Situpa Rinpoche Pema Wangchog was one of the principle teachers to the XVI Gyalwa Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje. Tai Situpa Rinpoche was born in 1954, in the Palyul section of the Derge province, eastern Tibet.  On the day of his birth, the entire region witnessed two solar orbs illuminating the sky.

As Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche wrote “Tai Situ Rinpoche, who was second in importance in the Kagyu Lineage, had died some years before and no reincarnation had been found.  The Karmapa could now tell them where the incarnation had taken place.  Everyone rejoiced and started immediately to make the preparations.”

On the route of the Gyalwa Karmapa’s return to Tsurphu Monastery, which is in central Tibet, His Holiness the Karmapa enthroned the Tai Situpa (who was eighteen months old) at Palpung Monastery in eastern Tibet. 

There, high officials from the Tibetan Government, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and China were present.  Soon after, His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited Palpung Monastery and performed the Refuge Ceremony (hair cutting ceremony) for the XII Tai Situ Rinpoche, naming the Tai Situpa according to Guru Padmasambhava’s terma:  Chime Pema Donyo Nyinje Chogle Gyalwa De.

In eastern Tibet problems were arising with the Communist presence. Tai Situpa then went to  Tsurphu Monastery, the Karmapa’s monastery. For the first time, Rinpoche performed the ceremony of the Red Vajra Crown.  At five years old, Rinpoche fled Tibet on the advice of the Gyalwa Karmapa. The Karmapa foresaw that soon they all would have to go into exile, so His Holiness commanded for many Kagyu gurus to flee ahead of time.

Situ Rinpoche arrived in Bhutan and was welcomed by disciples from his previous incarnation, which included the Bhutanese Royal family. Shortly after arriving in Sikkim, Rinpoche contracted tuberculosis. After receiving medical treatment in Darjeeling, he returned to Sikkim. Rinpoche, like most Tibetan refugees, struggled to live and relief organizations provided aid.

The Tai Situpa received complete religious transmission from masters including the XVI Gyalwa Karmapa and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.  Rinpoche also studied poetry, grammar, astrology, medicine, sacred dance, painting and sculpture. Situ Rinpoche received the Kalachakra Initiation and instructions from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. From Kalu Rinpoche, the Tai Situpa was bestowed numerous transmissions including the Rinchen Terdzo. From Thrangu Rinpoche, the Tai Situpa received teachings on all matters of philosophy and the study of the scriptures.

Tai Situ Rinpoche was taught along side the Gyalwa Karmapa’s other heart sons, Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche and Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche.

In 1981, during the cremation ceremony for the passing of the XVI Gyalwa Karmapa, the heart relic of the Karmapa rolled out of the stupa and into the hands of Tai Situ Rinpoche while he was making offerings into the burning fire. Advice was immediately sought from Kalu Rinpoche. Most surely, such an auspicious sign indicated that Tai Situpa Rinpoche was to be the principle heart son of the XVI Karmapa.

Since 1981, Tai Situpa Rinpoche has been teaching around the world. He is the author of many books including The Way to Go, Relative World/Ultimate Mind, Tilopa, Awakening the Sleeping Buddha and commentary to the III Karmapa’s Mahamudra Prayer. Tai Situpa Rinpoche is fluent in English, his style of teaching is both understandable and profound. He relates to western and eastern students easily when teaching.

In 1983, Rinpoche founded the Maitreya Institute, a nonsectarian forum for inter religious dialogue. Rinpoche has been involved in world peace, and has met with other religious leaders such as Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa and monks of the Assisi Order.

In 1984, Rinpoche was able to return to Tibet and ordained over 2,000 people.  Since then, Rinpoche has returned to Tibet to recognize Tulkus, reestablish Palpung and other monasteries, and preserve Tibet’s culture. In particular, the Tai Situpa recognized the reincarnation of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in the early 1990’s.

In 1989, he led the Pilgrimage for Active Peace which included many religious leaders and humanitarians. In the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, Tai Situpa Rinpoche constructed Palpung Sherab Ling Monastery. This soon became his new seat outside of Tibet, built with the encouragement of the Gyalwa Karmapa and the support of his disciples.  Tai Situ Rinpoche designed the monastery with his own architectural skills.  Rinpoche is a renown artist, poet, scholar, author, calligrapher, and he is learned in the art of Feng Shui.
Sherab Ling Monastery has grown slowly over the years. Many monks have completed retreats there and have been trained at the monastic college. Saljay Rinpoche and Mingyur Dorje Rinpoche have been two guiding figures at Sherab Ling. In the year 2000, a stupa containing a relic of the VIII Tai Situpa Rinpoche Chokyi Jungey was inaugurated at the monastery.

In 1992, the Tai Situpa Rinpoche recognized the reincarnation of Kalu Rinpoche. That same year, through the prediction letter left behind by the XVI Gyalwa Karmapa to Tai Situpa in a pouch, the XVII Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje was found in eastern Tibet. His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama confirmed the XVII Karmapa’s recognition through his own wisdom eye and pure vision.

His Eminence Tai Situpa Rinpoche enthroned the XVII Gyalwa Karmapa at the glorious seat of Tolung  Tsurphu Monasteryin 1992. In 2000, the XVII Gyalwa Karmapa arrived in India after fleeing Tibet due to restrictions being placed on his religious education.

(Extracted from the Web page: www.palpung.org and reviewed by Trikaya)

Like his predecessors, the present Tai Situ Rinpoche is renown for his many glorious qualities throughout the world, especially in Tibet, China, Europe, America and India.  Tai Situpa Rinpoche is the main teacher of the XVII Gyalwa Karmapa.

Since the year 2003 and until the year 2009, the XII Tai Situpa Rinpoche imparted for the first time in India a Mahamudra Course to a group of disciples, between which were found Westerners and Asiatic students, in the Sherab Ling Monastery, in the surroundings of Dharamsala. Likewise, in the year 2008, there were concluded the transmissions of the Treasure of Knowledge, recopilated by the first Jamgon Kongtrul on the XIX Century and that, as it was explained by Tai Situpa Rinpoche himself, constitute the source which has allowed the preservation of the Vajrayana Buddhism.

The devotees who had the unique oportunity to receive these transmissions, which started on the year 2006, were fortunate witnessness to see the devolution of this knowledge to the IV Jamgon Kongtrul, who at the end of this event was 11 years old. A relevant fact was that in the closing ceremony, His Holiness the XII Tai Situpa Rinpoche asked to the young Jamgon Kongtrul to give these transmissions ten times throughout his present life.

aTaiSitupaThe present days

For the first time, in November of 2010,  various Indian politicians, such as the head of the congress Virbhadra Singh and some First Ministers of different states, as Arunachal Padresh, wrote to the minister of Home Affairs of India, P. Chidambaran, asking for the removing of the restrictions imposed by the Indian government over His Eminence the XII Tai Situpa, to whom during the years they deprived of his freedom to move inside and outside of India. One of these cases happened  at the end of the nineties, when, after the visit of the XII Tai Situpa Rinpoche to Bhutan, the Indian authorities impeded his return to his Monastery of Sherab Ling, in India, restriction that the government kept during four years. His Eminence began to build this monastery at the age of 22 years. Likewise, in the beginning of the XX century, during  his return  to India from abroad, the Indian Government imposed a veto for him to move inside or outside the country. Since then and up to the present days, the XII Tai Situpa remains under arrest at his monastery of Sherb Ling.  This prohibition was only raised during the times, when His Eminence has attended the event of the Kagyu Monlam, annually held in the Indian town of Bodhgaya, or has gone to Delhi.


During eight days of the month of 2010, the XII Tai Situpa Rinpoche gave the last collective transmission of “The Ocean of Certainty” to a committed international group of practitioners, who returned for this purpose to the Sherab Ling Monastery (India). In such occasion, the transmission took place before a new altar, consecrated by the XII Tai Situpa at the Buddhist International Institute of Sherab Ling the 31st of March of that year itself.