Here is an explanation of the vajra-holder Phakchok of Taklung Martang, the Riwoche Monastery in Dokham (East Tibet).The emanation basis of our unequalled place of refuge, protector of the beings of the three realms, Phakchok Rinpoche is the great secret of all the Buddhas, condenser of the teachings, Lord of Secrets, Vajrapani; the great disciple of the Teacher, the Arhat Ananda; the direct disciple of the great master, Guru Rinpoche, Lhalung Palgyi Dorje; and the mighty siddha, Rechung Dorje Drakpa.
The First Phakchok Rinpoche
Having manifested an inconceivable display of magical emanations to influence beings in accordance with their needs, the first Phakchok incarnation was the thirteenth throne-holder at glorious Riwoche, whose full name was Tashi Wangyal Ngawang Drakpa Damcho Puntsok. He was born in the year of the Earth Dragon in the twelfth cycle (1688) into the Taklung Gazi family, one of the six original family clans of Tibet. He immediately spoke the six syllables of great compassion and recalled his former lives. He was accompanied night and day by many dakinis and dharma protectors. He engaged in approach and accomplishment for many years in solitary retreat and thus saw the face of the supreme deity Maitreya. Having actualised the siddhis, he was unrivalled in the excellent qualities of knowledge, compassion, and power.
The first Phakchok was bestowed special honors due to the kindness of Gyalwa Kalsang Gyatso, the Seventh Dalai Lama. The Emperor Yutrig conferred the Golden Credential upon him, and he was offered the Nomihan rank with the associated seal, palanquin, and parasol, as well as documents written in Tibetan, Chinese, and Mongolian.
In the scripture shrine room within the Grand Temple of Riwoche, he had statues of the sixteen arhats, Padmasambhava's eight manifestations, and many other sacred representations of Body, Speech, and Mind built and installed. After accomplishing an immense benefit for the teachings and beings through his mastery in miraculous powers and clairvoyance, at the age of thirty-six he passed into nirvana.
The Second Phakchok Rinpoche
The second Phakchok incarnation was Tashi Drakpa Gyaltsen, the fifteenth throne-holder of Riwoche, born into the Lho Dasho Meru Ponyo family of the Lhugpo clan. Having been recognized as the rebirth of the previous Phakchok, he was brought to Yang-gön at the age of five where he identified shrine objects belonging to his predecessor. Upon entering the great temple he recognised the statues and so forth that he had erected in his previous lifetime saying, “I erected these!” He learnt effortlessly to write, read and so forth. From his early years onwards he had visions of his yidam deity and saw directly many Buddhas, bodhisattvas, dakinis, and dharma protectors.
The ordination as a monk he received from Yizhin Trinley Chokdrub, the supreme Martang incarnation, and from Jedrung Rinchen Sherab. They also bestowed upon him the lineage of the ripening empowerments and liberating instructions of the profound Dharma.
After Jedrung Rinpoche passed on, he took the position of throne-holder of Yang-Gön and kept a very strict discipline for the monks at the monastery. In the Grand Temple he supervised the building of new statues of Maitreya, the Eight Close Bodhisattvas, Padmasambhava, and others. As representations of enlightened Speech, he provided a new set of the Kangyur, the collected words of the Buddha's true meaning. He also renovated the accommodations for monks.
This Phakchok Rinpoche was highly respected by the dignitaries and influential people of both Tibet and China, but without prejudice he cared for people of every standing and helped them in accordance with the Dharma. Through his inexhaustible fourfold activity to propagate the Dharma traditions of teaching and practice, he helped to establish everyone, both clergy and laity, in the happiness of pursuing the ten virtuous actions. In short, up until the time of Phakchok Jigten Wangchuk, it is renowned that there has been no other throne-holder of Riwoche who developed the monastery more and kept a stricter discipline than this sublime master.
Numerous monasteries of all traditions in both Ü, Tsang and Kham he provided with donations and assistance. To all their sublime masters, headed by Drigung, Taklung, Kamtsang, and Drukpa, he made offerings and paid respect to their shrine objects. He also gave alms to the poor and thus manifested a life of goodness. At the age of sixty-two he passed into nirvana accompanied by wondrous signs.
The Third Phakchok Rinpoche
The third Phakchok incarnation was Choying Lhundrub, the seventeenth throne holder of Riwoche, born into the Bechen Khardru family during the thirteenth year cycle. In Lhasa he was approved by the official divination and the installed in the seat of his predecessor. Having awakened his past imprints of learning, he directly comprehended all of the outer and inner topics of knowledge merely by being told about them and thereby emerged as a great scholar. Having perfected discipline he was a supreme monk. His enlightened mind-stream was thoroughly tamed by altruism, loving kindness, compassion, and bodhichitta and he perfected the excellent actions and conduct of a liberating lifestyle. He was the supreme siddha who had obtained mastery over the samadhis of the Vajrayana’s development and completion stages. It is difficult to measure even a part of his excellent great qualities of enlightened body, speech, and mind, since they are an object of experience only of noble beings; ordinary beings are not able to fathom them. Yet to talk of them in merely ordinary terms, he had inconceivable mastery over pure visions, saw the face of the deity and so forth.
At the age of sixty, he went to central Tibet and in Lhasa having met His Holiness the Dalai Lama, made offerings, paid homage, and then stayed for about three months in Taklung Yartang during which time he received from Je Tangpa an enormous amount of teachings, such as the perfect and complete oral transmission of the collected teachings of Sangye Wön, the sadhana Rinchung Gyatsa, and the elaborate and condensed empowerments of the Glorious Protector.
From a young age, he was remarkable at bestowing empowerments and giving dharma teachings. Moreover, he erected inconceivable amounts of supports for enlightened body, speech, and mind, such as a new Jokhang statue in the monastery, which became indivisible with the real Jowo in the temple Lhasa Trulnang. By turning the wheel of dharma widely and uninterruptedly, fortunate disciples, those to be tamed, were ripened and liberated.
Thus he became a great master endowed with the sublime qualities of learnedness, integrity, and noble-mindedness through which he accomplished the welfare of the teachings and beings. In the year of the Earth Ox, 1829, he dissolved his manifestation of the form body.
The Fourth Phakchok Rinpoche
The fourth Phakchok incarnation was Rinchen Lhundrub Drakpa Kunsel Nyima, the nineteenth throne-holder of Riwoche, born into the Rongko Longa Dzom family in Chamdo in the year of the Iron Horse (1830). Having been opproved by the official divination, he was installed in the seat of his predecessor. From many sublime masters, he received teachings on Sutra, Mantra, and the topics of knowledge and perfected study and learning. From Tenpey Nyima, Lord of the Buddha Families, he received all the ripening and liberating root texts and oral instructions of the long-standing tradition of glorious Taklung’s Four Jewels of Profound Dharma without exception and became lord of the teachings.
He engaged in the approach and accomplishment of the supreme deity Maitreya, saw the face of the deity, had inconceivable pure visions. Thus he became a great pandita and accomplished master. He erected supports for enlightened body, speech, and mind and his enlightened activity of bestowing empowerments and teaching the dharma spread far and wide. In Taklung Yartang, he bestowed the Meaning Lineage of the long-standing tradition of Taklung Kagyu, the ripening and liberating empowerments, transmissions, and instructions of the Wish-fulfilling Jewel in their entirety to the reincarnation of the omniscient Tenpey Nyima and Matrul Geleg Namgyal.
In Lhasa, he received the rank of a Nomihan after which he worked immensely for the benefit of the Buddhadharma and sentient beings in both spiritual and secular ways until his passing.
The Fifth Phakchok Rinpoche
The fifth Phakchok incarnation was Ngawang Kunga Namgyal, the twenty-first throne-holder of Riwoche, born into the Sedor Bongkar family in the year of the Water Ox (1913). After being installed on the golden throne of his predecessor, he studied with numerous tutors and spiritual teachers the ocean-like Dharma topics of Sutra and Tantra. In particular, he received teachings from Matrul Geleg Namgyal of Yartang and the great accomplished beings of Riwoche. On completing his studies and training he became both learned and accomplished and also brought forth the realization of the true transmission.
By means of his excellent qualities of knowledge, compassion, and power and amazing skill and expertise greatly benefitted both the dharmic and worldly affairs of Riwoche.
He then went to Lhasa where in an audience with the thirteenth Dalai Lama at the Potala Palace he was bestowed the official rank of his predecessor. Having benefited vastly the teachings and beings through his learned and accomplished qualities, he passed into nirvana. After the cremation, his whole skull remained and wherever the smoke rising from the funeral pyre went ringsel and other blessings rained down establishing him as an object of wonder, joy, and faith.
The Sixth Phakchok Rinpoche
The sixth Phakchok incarnation was Ngawang Jigmey Drakpa Tubten Namgyal, the twenty-second throne-holder of Riwoche, born into the same Sedor Bongkar family, and then placed on the Dharma throne at Yang-gön Monastery. From Jedrung Trinley Jampey Jungney, the lord of a hundred buddha families, and from many other tutors and spiritual masters, he completed the general studies of the graded path of Sutra and Tantra. In particular, he received in entirety the scriptures and teachings for the ripening empowerments and liberating instructions of the incomparable Taklung tradition. He spent long periods of time in retreat and became a crest-ornament among all learned and accomplished masters.
He saw the face of great beings such as Machig Labdron and was taken under their care. Even though he had command over inconceivable pure visions, because the mind of the master was so fathomlessly profound he did not teach even the slightest aspect of secret topics. Since bodhicitta had been fully born in his mind-stream, he treated everyone equally whether they were friends of strangers, high or low, and even when shown ingratitude he was not the slightest bit discouraged, but like the sky, his vast and expansive enlightened activities were unrivalled.
In particular, in the Year of the Water Dragon, 1952, he invited Tendzin Drakpa of Katok, also known as Pema Rangdrol, a master possessing the threefold qualities of being learned, upright and noble, to establish a new Shedra (Centre of Higher Buddhist Studies) for the Taklung and Drukpa Kagyu traditions. In Achog, he established a new practice centre. He also erected innumerable sacred representations of enlightened body, speech, and mind, and repaired old houses and so forth. In this way, he accomplished a great deal for Riwoche. Finally, when by the Communists’ conquest the district of Tibet and the Victorious One’s completely perfect teachings were obliterated, in Chamdo in a state of great hardship caused by his detainees in the year of the Earth Sheep, 1979, his form body departed to nirvana.