Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche

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Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche

Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche (Tibetan: དཔལ་ལྡན་ཤེས་རབ་, Wylie: dpal ldan shes rab) (10 May 1938 – 19 June 2010), also called "Khen Rinpoche," is a teacher, a scholar, a lama, and a Dzogchen master in the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. He was considered by Penor Rinpoche to be one of the most learned Nyingma scholars alive.[1] Among other notable activities, he founded the first nunnery in Deer Park (Sarnath), the Orgyen Samye Chokhor Ling Nunnery.[2][non-primary source needed]

Born in Kham, Tibet, Palden Sherab escaped invading Chinese forces in 1960 to arrive in India where he joined other monastic leaders to collect and salvage Tibetan Buddhist teachings carried by the exile community. He was appointed as the Nyingma professor at the Central University of Tibetan Studies, in 1967. Palden Sherab's root lamas are Dudjom Rinpoche, Penor Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse, and his main lineages are Mipham Rinpoche's textual teachings and Terton Tsasum Lingpa's revealed Tersar. He also considered his shedra teacher Khenpo Ashe as very kind.

A close student of Dudjom Rinpoche, Palden Sherab taught in France and in the United States. Palden Sherab founded Padmasambava Buddhist Center in upstate New York, U.S., which grew to include monasteries and centers in Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, India and Russia. He designed and managed the construction of the retreat centers, monasteries and a nunnery, and the Miracle Stupa in India. Palden Sherab's seat is Orgyen Samye Chokhor Ling Nunnery in Sarnath. The Yangsi Rinpoche was born in Nepal, and enthroned in India as Palden Yonten Thaye Lodro Choyki Gyaltsen.



Palden Sherab was born in the village of Joephu (Tibetan: རྒྱུས་ཕུ་, Wylie: rgyus phu) on 10 May 1938,[citation needed] in the year of the Earth Tiger. Joephu is in the Dhoshul (Tibetan: རྡོ་ཤུལ་, Wylie: rdo shul) region of Kham, Tibet, near the sacred mountain of Jowo Zegyal (Tibetan: ཇོ་བོ་གཟེ་རྒྱལ་, Wylie: jo bo gze rgyal). His father was Lama Chimed Namgyal Rinpoche, and his siblings included two sisters and a brother, and his grandparents were respected scholars and practitioners. Per local traditions, his family was seasonally nomadic, and Palden Sherab's mother, Pema Lhadze, introduced him to the monk Lama Ahtsok, on solitary retreat in a nearby cave. From Lama Ahtsok he received Chetsun Nyingtik.[citation needed]

Palden Sherab entered monastic studies at 6 years of age at the Nyingma Gochen Monastery (Tibetan: སྒོ་ཆེན་སྒོམ་, Wylie: sgo chen sgom), which was founded in the late 17th century by the treasure revealer and crazy wisdom Terton Tsasum Lingpa. Tsasum Lingpa was a recognized reincarnation of Nubchen Sangye Yeshe, one of Padmasambhava's twenty-five close students.[3] Palden Sherab is a recognized emanation of Nubchen Sangye Yeshe.[4][non-primary source needed] While at Gochen Monastery, Palden Sherab was considered famous for reading very fast, and was thought of as somewhat crazy. Palden Sherab's nickname was "The Cyclone" due to his constant activities.[5]

Gochen Monastery had been administered for generations by Palden Sherab's family. At the age of 12, Palden Sherab was invited to attend Riwoche Monastery's shedra, where he could also be groomed to take over as the khenpo, or abbot, of Gochen Monastery. Palden Sherab then entered the Taklung Kagyu school's Riwoche Monastery, in the Riwoche (Tibetan: རི་བོ་ཆེ་, Wylie: ri bo che) region of Kham, where his record of scholarly capabilities was established. He received lineage teachings of Mipham Rinpoche and of Katok Monastery through his shedra teacher Khenpo Ashe, and also received Longchenpa's Seven Treasuries, three volumes of Rongzompa, and the teachings of Katokpa Dampa Deshek, Katok Khempo Nyakchung, and Getse Mahapandita. Just prior to China's invasion of eastern Tibet, he completed the shedra's monastic university at Riwoche Monastery, which further included the subjects of philosophy, astrology, medicine and Sanskrit in addition to the major Buddhist texts. Palden Sherab was considered very learned by his classmates.[citation needed]

During the winter of 1960 after China's invasion, Palden Sherab left the monastery to join his family as they escaped into the Himalayan mountains. With India as their destination, they evaded and escaped from capture on three occasions, notably also at Pemako (known as Nyingtri today). His youngest sister Ting Ting Karmo died. Another sister Yangzom and his mother both died after arriving at a refugee camp in Assam, India. Palden Sherab's father Lama Chimed, and his brother Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche, survived.[citation needed]


After the escape and Assam, they arrived at another Indian refugee camp at Kalimpong and lived with other Tibetans fleeing from Chinese forces, where Palden Sherab taught each day from the Prajnaparamita, from Mipham Rinpoche, and from the verses of grammar in the Sumtak. They afterward moved to another camp in Darjeeling for six months, where Palden Sherab continued giving teachings from Mipham's commentaries, from Shantideva's Way of the Bodhisattva (Bodhicharyavatara) and from the Sumtak to the exile community. They continued travels to Bodhgaya then to Tso Pema, and Palden Sherab continued to teach, which people seemed to appreciate.[citation needed]

In 1964, Palden Sherab received full ordination three years after his escape[citation needed]

In Mussoorie in 1965, Dudjom Rinpoche requested that Palden Sherab join as the Nyingma representative a year-long conference of scholars, overseen by the 14th Dalai Lama, from the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Khunu Tenzin Gyaltsen Rinpoche was the main teacher for the conference dedicated to protecting the culture and spiritual heritage of Tibet.[6] Their focus was also recovering sacred texts missing or destroyed in the struggle with China. Palden Sherab was responsible for salvaging thousands of texts and commentaries, and the complete Tibetan cycle of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhist teachings was recovered. At that time he also received important teachings from Khunu Rinpoche.[citation needed]

In 1967, the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, (later renamed as Central University for Tibetan Studies), which resulted from the conference, opened in Varanasi. Palden Sherab was appointed by his root lama Dudjom Rinpoche to found the university and to represent the Nyingma school, and from Dudjom Rinpoche he received transmissions of Nyingma Kama and all Nyingma Terma, both oral transmissions and commentaries on the Guhyagarbha Tantra, and all empowerments, transmissions and oral instructions of the Dudjom Tersar.[7]

For a time Palden Sherab was the only professor and administrator of the Nyingma Department, where he taught for 17 years, up to 13 classes a day in the first years while writing the text from Mipham Rinpoche on a blackboard. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and other Nyingma teachers were pleased with his role and extended more teaching opportunities at other occasions. Dilgo Khyentse bestowed Chogyur Lingpa's Terma, Jigme Lingpa's Nyingtik Tsapo, and both oral transmissions and commentaries on the Guhyagarbha Tantra to Palden Sherab, and became his root lama.[7]

Palden Sherab was also a teacher in the Tibetan department at the Government Sanskrit College in Varanasi. In 1984, he drafted the basis for the commentary, "The Radiant Light of the Sun and Moon", which was published by the Central University.[citation needed]

United States[edit]

When the iron bird flies and horses run on wheels, the dharma will come to the land of the red man.

— prophecy attributed to Guru Padmasambhava[8]

Palden Sherab first traveled to the United States in 1980 with his brother, Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche, at the behest of Dr. Rhoda P. Lecocq of California.[9] In Vermont, connections were established between Dudjom Rinpoche, Palden Sherab, and his brother, and Venerable Khandro Dhyani Ywahoo of the Native American Cherokee tribe at the Sunray Meditation Society.[10] The connection also fulfills[citation needed] both Guru Padmasambhava's prophecy of "when the iron bird flys" and the red man, and a Native American Hopi tribal prophecy of white brothers coming and wearing a "red cap or red cloak".[a]

In 1981, Palden Sherab replaced his brother as Khenpo of Dudjom Rinpoche's Dorje Nyingpo center in Paris, due to Khenpo Tsewang's problems with travel documents. Then in 1984, Palden Sherab moved to follow and attend their root lama Dudjom Rinpoche in New York and then California, and taught at Yeshe Nyingpo while making connections with Western students during a growth of interest in Buddhism.[citation needed]

In 1985, Palden Sherab founded Dharma Samudra, a non-profit publishing organization in Boulder, Colorado, and with his brother published 11 volumes on Terton Tsasum Lingpa as the inaugural publication. Since then, Sky Dancer Press, Snow Lion Publishing, Wisdom Press, and Shambhala Publishing have worked with his books.[citation needed]

As an accomplished scholar, Palden Sherab has written and published numerous scholarly and respected texts on Tibetan history, on Biographies of Vajrayana masters, on the Tibetan language and grammar, on poetry, and on logic. His bibliography of published works also includes texts on Buddhist philosophy, numerous lineage practice sadanas, as well as text and commentary on Vajrayana tantra.[citation needed]

In 1989, Palden Sherab founded the Padmasambhava Buddhist Center and its main retreat center and monastery is Palden Pema Samye Ling, (Tibetan: དཔལ་ལྡན་པདྨ་བསམ་ཡས་གླིང་, Wylie: dpal ldan pad+ma bsam yas gling) located in Sidney Center, Delaware County, New York.[citation needed]

Afterwards, Palden Sherab directed large design and building projects at monasteries, a nunnery, and at retreat centers. As inspired and blessed by Dudjom Rinpoche, land in Sarnath was purchased in 1972, and construction began in 1990 for Padma Samye Chokhor Ling Monastery, which was consecrated in 1995.[11][non-primary source needed]

In the 1990s during Khenchen Jigme Phuntsok's travels to the west, Palden Sherab met him and received the reading transmission of Chetsun Nyingtik.[7]

"The Khenpo Brothers", Palden Sherab (right) with his brother Tsewang Dongyal, at Palden Padma Samye Ling

Simultaneously during the 1990s, Palden Padma Samye Ling Monastery and Retreat Center in upstate New York was being built and expanded. He and his brother were referred to as "The Khenpo Brothers" by western Buddhist practitioners, as Palden Sherab gave commentary, empowerments and transmissions of Nyingma Kama and Terma lineages, for which his brother Khenpo Tsewang provided translations. Padmasambhava Buddhist Center later grew to include 20 retreat centers and monastic institutions in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, Russia, Mexico and India.[citation needed]

As the first Buddhist nunnery in the history since Buddha Shakyamuni's teachings at Sarnath, Orgyen Samye Chokhor Ling Nunnery was opened by Palden Sherab in March 2003 and consecrated on Lha Bab Duchen, 12 November 2006,[2] and blessed by the Maha Bodhi Vihara and Society, among other Buddhist institutions. Then in 2004 at Jetavan Grove in Shravasti, where Buddha Shakyamuni spent the rainy seasons in retreat and performed miracles, Palden Sherab created the Miracle Stupa for World Peace at Padma Samye Jetavan,[12][non-primary source needed] as a restoration and commemoration of the original Miracle Stupa. Its reliquary contains sacred objects from the Buddha, from Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyal, from Vajrayana masters Longchempa and Dudjom Rinpoche, and contains a collection of Nyingma termas.[citation needed]

Palden Sherab continued to receive transmissions and empowerments, notably Mipham Rinpoche's Kalachakra lineage from Penor Rinpoche in 2007, from whom he also received the Sky Teachings and the Rinchen Terdzo. He also received numerous Kadam empowerments, transmissions, and instructions from the HH 14th Dalai Lama, and received the Vajrakilaya Terma, the Treasury of Knowledge, and the transmission of Longchen Nyingtik from Dzigar Kongtrul Lodro Rabpel. Palden Sherab also received the Longchen Nyingtik, and the entire cycle of Terma of the great Tertön Lhatsun Namkha Jigme from the primary lineage holder Chatral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche.[citation needed]

In eastern Tibet, Palden Sherab also began the rebuilding of Gochen Monastery, which had been destroyed after the Chinese invasion of Kham, and a monastery building has been completed. The Riwoche Monastery had likewise been destroyed during the invasion, and afterwards.[citation needed]

Palden Sherab died on Saturday, 19 June 2010, at Palden Pema Samye Ling. His body remained there in post-death meditation (Tibetan: ཐུགས་དམ་, Wylie: thugs dam) until Wednesday, 23 June 2010. He was cremated on Thursday, 24 June 2010. His chorten was built and consecrated at Orgyen Samye Chokor Ling Nunnery in Sarnath.[citation needed]

In this life as an accomplished Vajrayana Nyingma master, he received lineage teachings, recognition, honors, and appointments from Dudjom Rinpoche, the 14th Dalai Lama, Dilgo Khyentse, the head of the Nyingma school Penor Rinpoche, and other Tibetan spiritual leaders and high lamas. Penor Rinpoche stated Palden Sherab was the most learned Nyingma scholar presently alive.[citation needed]

Palden Sherab held full knowledge in the Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana schools, and held transmissions in Nyingma Kama and Terma lineages. His main lineages were Mipham Rinpoche's texts and Terton Tsasum Lingpa's Terdzo. And as a Dzogchen master, Palden Sherab was particularly well known and respected for his texts and teachings on Dzogchen.[citation needed]


The search for the yangsi (reincarnation) of Palden Sherab was undertaken. He was located in Nepal, where he was born. In 2019, he was enthroned in India by Terton Namkha Drimed Rinpoche, and given the name Palden Yonten Thaye Lodro Chokyi Gyaltsen. His seat is the Orgyen Samye Chokhor Ling Nunnery in India.[citation needed]

Selected teachers[edit]

Palden Sherab's teachers from Tibet, India and the U.S. include:[7]

Selected lineages[edit]

Palden Sherab's general lineages include:[7]

  • Primary textual lineage is of Mipham Rinpoche, including the Kalachakra Tantra, Chetsun Nyingtik, and the Katok Monastery Mipham lineage teachings
  • Primary terma lineage is of terton Tsasum Lingpa
  • Nyingma Kama lineage and 'Precious Treasury' terma lineage

Palden Sherab's specific lineages include:[citation needed]


Commentary texts on Vayrayana and Nyingma school teachings and philosophy include English, Tibetan, and Spanish language texts. Shedra texts are also listed.

English-language commentary texts[edit]

  • Khenchen Palden Sherab. Prajnaparamita: The Six Perfections. Sky Dancer Press, 1990. ISBN 1-880975-00-9
  • Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche, The Commentary on Mipham's Sherab Raltri: The Blazing Lights of the Sun and Moon, Turtle Hill Sangha transcription of translation, [1]
  • Khenchen Palden Sherab. The Commentary on Mipham's Sherab Raltri Entitled: The Blazing Lights of the Sun and Moon. Dharma Samudra, 1997.
  • Khenchen Palden Sherab. The Smile of Sun and Moon: A Commentary on the Praise to the Twenty-One Taras, Translated by Anna Orlova. Sky Dancer Press, 2004. ISBN 1-880975-07-6
  • Khenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal. Door to Inconceivable Wisdom and Compassion. Sky Dancer, 1996.
  • Khenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal. Lion's Gaze: A Commentary on Tsig Sum Nedek. Sky Dancer Press, 1998. ISBN 1-880975-05-X
  • Khenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal. Ceaseless Echoes of Great Silence. Sky Dancer Press, 1999. ISBN 1-880975-02-5
  • Khenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal. Opening To Our Primordial Nature. Snow Lion Publications, 2006. ISBN 1-55939-249-5
  • Khenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal. Tara's Enlightened Activity: An Oral Commentary on The Twenty-one Praises to Tara. Snow Lion Publications, 2007. ISBN 1-55939-287-8
  • Khenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal. Illuminating the Path: Ngondro Instructions According to the Nyingma School of Vajrayana Buddhism. Padmasambhava Buddhist Center, 2008.
  • Khenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal. The Dark Red Amulet: Oral Instructions of the Practice of Vajrakilaya. Snow Lion Publications, 2008. ISBN 1-55939-311-4
  • Khenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal. Beauty of Awakened Mind: Dzogchen Lineage of Shigpo Dudtsi. Dharma Samudra, 2013.

Padma Samye Ling shedra texts[edit]

  • Khenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal. Opening the Clear Vision of the Vaibhashika and Sautrantika Schools. PSL Shedra Series, Volume 1, Dharma Samudra, 2007.
  • Khenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal. Opening the Clear Vision of the Mind Only School. PSL Shedra Series, Volume 2, Dharma Samudra, 2007.
  • Khenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal. Opening the Wisdom Door of the Madhyamaka School. PSL Shedra Series, Volume 3, Dharma Samudra, 2008.
  • Khenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal. Opening the Wisdom Door of the Rangtong and Shentong Views: A Brief Explanation of the One Taste of the Second and Third Turnings of the Wheel of Dharma. PSL Shedra Series, Volume 4, Dharma Samudra, 2009.
  • Khenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal. Opening the Wisdom Door of the Outer Tantras: Refining Awareness Through Ascetic Ritual and Purification Practice. PSL Shedra Series, Volume 5, Dharma Samudra, 2009.
  • Khenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal. Splendid Presence of the Great Guhyagarbha: Opening the Wisdom Door of the King of All Tantras. PSL Shedra Series, Volume 6, Dharma Samudra, 2011.
  • Khenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal. Key to Opening the Wisdom Door of Anuyoga. PSL Shedra Series, Volume 7, Dharma Samudra, 2015.
  • Khenchen Palden Sherab. Turning the Wisdom Wheel of the Nine Golden Chariots. PSL Shedra Series, Volume 8, Dharma Samudra, 2011. (From a 1987 teaching in Australia)

Tibetan-language commentary texts[edit]

Palden Sherab's Tibetan language commentary texts have been collected in three ebook volumes titled Collected Works of Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche.

Spanish-language commentary texts[edit]

  • Khenchen Palden Sherab y Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal. La Luz del Dharma. Dharma Samudra, 2011.
  • Khenchen Palden Sherab. Echos Incesantes del Gran Silencio: Un Comentario sobre la Prajñāpāramitā del Sūtra del Corazón. (Texto tibetano y traducción. Traducción del tibetano por Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal. Traducción al castellano, notas y glosario de Ferrán Maestanza i García. Ed Kairós.) Dharma Samudra, 2019. ISBN 978-84-7245-522-1


  1. ^ Banyacya (1992): "We were told that three helpers who were commissioned by the Great Spirit to help Hopi bring about the peaceful life on earth would appear to help us and that we should not change our homes, our ceremonials, our hair, because the true helpers might not recognize us as the true Hopi. So we have been waiting all these years. [...] It is known that our True White Brother, when he comes, will be all powerful and will wear a red cap or red cloak. He will be large in population and belong to no religion but his very own. He will bring with him the sacred stone tablets. With him there will be two great ones, both very wise and powerful."



Works cited[edit]

Primary sources
Secondary sources

Further reading[edit]

  • Palden Sherab Rinpoche, Khenchen (Spring–Summer 2014). "The Radiant Light of the Sun and Moon". Pema Mandala. Translated by Ann Helm. Padmasambhava Buddhist.
Tibetan texts

External links[edit]