Click/Swipe across for more

1st Beru Khyentse Rinpoche

The Speech reincarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1895 - 1945)

Beru Khyentse (Karma Jamyang Khyentse Ozer)
Beru is the name of Hor Kingdom’s royal family. Karma denotes association with the Kagyupa sect and his main seat is the Palpung Monastery in Derge, which is also the main seat of its founder, Tai Situpa.

Later in his life, the Great Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye spent most of his time at his main seat Tsandra Rinchen Drak. One of Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche’s close disciples who was also Dzogchen Paltrul Rinpoche’s disciple, named Gonpo Dudul, was also the King of the Tre-hor Beru family.  He was a very spiritual person and all his activities were related to the Dharma.  One day he visited Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche at Tsandra Rinchen Drak to offer his respect.  Whilst there, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche predicted that his wife will conceive very soon and this boy is the speech emanation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo.  He told him that if Palpung Monastery wishes to take care of this child, he should not refuse.  He advised him not to miss this opportunity and to keep this matter as secret for a while.  At this time, Beru Khyentse’s father, Gonpo Dudul had no idea that his wife was pregnant.  When he returned he found his wife was indeed pregnant and she later gave birth to a boy as predicted by Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche.  The Beru family had only one boy and an elder daughter, so the family members wanted to keep the boy as heir to the throne of the Beru King.  But since Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche had already mentioned about the boy to the father, therefore he accepted the advice and gave the child to Palpung Monastery.

Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche also said that his main disciple, abbot Tashi Ozer, would take care of the child.  He predicted the child as the speech emanation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo of the Kagyu Lineage at the Palpung Monastery.

Conditions of his Birth

In 1896, the Fire Monkey year of the Tibetan calendar, the child was born amidst many auspicious signs.  His father’s name would be Beru King Gonpo Dudul and mother’s name Sonam Chodron.  A few years after the child’s birth, the Palpung abbot came to see the child with another Lama, they offered many precious gems and a ‘khatak’ (white scarf signifying auspiciousness) to the Yangsi Rinpoche, who later became popularly known as Beru Khyentse Rinpoche.  They escorted the child to Palpung Monastery where Situ Pema Wangchok and Abbot Tashi Ozer held a major enthronement ceremony at the Palpung Monastery.

Beru Khyentse Rinpoche received his outer Vinaya Vows, Bodhisattva Vows, Secret Vajrayana Vows and Empowerments from Tashi Ozer. Beru Khyentse Rinpoche was given the title of a high-ranking lama, the Kagyu Lineage holder, Kagyu Gyalwa Yabsay.  His full name was Karma Jamyang Khyentse Ozer Lodro Mizad Jampal Gocha Ozer Drima Mepai Pal.  His tutor was Lama Tsewang from Hor Bengen Gon Monastery.

Beru Khyentse Rinpoche’s father had five monasteries under his direction.  Hor Bengen Gon was one of them.  His tutor Lama Tsewang was a great Dharma Master.  When Beru Khyentse was young, he studied Vinaya Sutra, Abhidharma, Madhyamika, grammar, poetry, medicine, astrology, mathematics, sound practice, arts and all the rituals from his teacher. He possessed special wisdom, was very quick in learning and had excellent memory. His main teachers at the time were Abbot Tashi Ozer and the great Master Tashi Choephel.  He had also received various teachings and empowerments from many other Rime masters.  He studied sound practice and Sanskrit as well.  When he visited India on a pilgrimage he discussed and debated with Indian Masters.  His main root guru was the15th Gyalwa Karmapa Khakhyab Dorje, who took him as his main heart disciple.

Exchanging Teachings

15th Karmapa Khakhab DorjeThe Dharma father, 15th Karmapa Khakhyab Dorje passed on the Dharma treasures of special tantra to his Dharma son Beru Khyentse.  Thus, in a way, he became the Dharma successor of the Karmapa besides being appointed as Karmapa’s regent.  In his turn as the teacher, Beru Khyentse exchanged teachings, empowerments and oral transmission to the Karmapa as mandala offerings.  The 15th Karmapa Khakhyab Dorje’s autobiography mentioned that he had received the oral transmission of Jonang Taranatha’s text, 2nd and 5th Shamarpa’s text, Jahtson Nyingpo’s text and the empowerment of many yidams. Therefore, Beru Khyentse was Karmapa’s disciple as well as one of his teachers. The Karmapa had great respect for him and relied on him very much. In the autobiography of the 15th Karmapa, it was mentioned that at the age of fifty-two, Karmapa wrote a letter to Beru Khyentse which said,

“I, your spiritual father have grown old now and cannot live longer therefore you should remember what I said before.  Also do visit here (Tsurphu) quickly.”

In his autobiography (Namthar Namjay Danang), it has been mentioned that the 15th Karmapa requested Beru Khyentse to guide and advice his followers in the matters related to his future lives.  This appeared to be a prediction related to the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa Rigpei Dorje and to the 17th Karmapa.

Beru Khyentse Rinpoche received from 2nd Jamgon Kongtrul Palden Khyentse Ozer, the Rinchen Terzod recovered treasure containing more than 65 volumes of terma empowerments and teachings.  From the 2nd Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, he also received the oral transmission and empowerments from four other recovered treasures.

Palpung Monastery in Derge Kham region the main seat of the 1st Beru KhyentseIn Situ Pema Wangchok’s autobiography, he said that Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo’s speech emanation; the son of Hor Beru family, our Palpung Khyentse was a very great person because his wisdom quality is very pure with compassion.  He was a great saint. Situ Pema Wangchok was the head of the Palpung Monastery. Beru Khyentse Rinpoche was one of the three high-ranking Rinpoches of the Palpung Monastery, along with Situ Rinpoche and Jamgon Rinpoche.

His Dharma Activities

At Palpung, Beru Khyentse Rinpoche established a permanent retreat Centre of Buddha Verotsana and Vajrasattva. He commissioned the carving of wooden blocks of the 15th Karmapa’s text comprising of 15 volumes. These are just some of the few vast Dharma activities that he undertook.

Statue of 15th Karmapa Khyakhyab DorjeAfter the 15th Karmapa’s parinirvana, Beru Khyentse built a new stupa for the precious body of the Karmapa. He also wrote a long Guru Yoga sadhana for the Karmapa. He collected all the teachings of the 15th Karmapa and compiled them into a book of many volumes. Occasionally, he gave oral transmissions, empowerments and teachings of all these texts to the lamas and monks of the Tsurphu Monastery.

During that period of sorrow, Beru Khyentse had been very kind to the monks and staff of the Tsurphu Monastery. As such, the head lamas, general secretary and the staff had high respect for him and therefore asked his advice. At the same time, Rinpoche took care and repaired the roof of the Palpung Monastery. For this purpose, thousands of bags of cement were imported from India to the east of Tibet through big caravans of mules. It took several months for the caravan to reach its destination due to the long distance.

In the main hall of the Palpung monastery, he gave oral transmissions of the Jonang Taranatha’s text, empowerments and oral transmission of the Karma Chakmey’s text in its entirety. These teachings were attended by thousands of disciples.

According to the late Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche, Beru Khyentse was one of the fortunate ones among the gathering who had received the entire precious teachings and empowerments bestowed at that time. Furthermore, Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche told that the ability of the clairvoyance of Beru Khyentse to read other peoples’ thoughts had become a way to strengthen the confidence of the faithful sentient beings around him. In outer physical conduct, he gave importance to and practiced the three basic codes in accordance to “vinaya” or “the moral code of ordained community.” Inwardly, he was a Bodhisattva, giving love and compassion to all in accordance to the Bodhicitta training. Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche further stated that Beru Khyentse is a Bodhisattva, a sight of whose countenance involuntarily arouses happiness with faith.

Beru Khyentse had many disciples worldwide in countries such as Bhutan, India, Nepal and China. During the Second World War when China was under the Kuomintang regime, Marshal Chiang Kai Shek invited great Tibetan lamas of the four different schools of Tibetan Buddhism to perform prayers for the quick end to the world war and for peace to prevail in the world. Since the 16th Karmapa was still very young, Beru Khyentse went to China as his representative. He performed the Grand Mahakala Puja for many days. It was said that on the last day of the puja ‘Tordog’ (torma offering), sparks were seen emitted from the top of the torma and earthquakes were felt.

On another occasion, when Rinpoche was staying in the capital city of Beijing, it was stated that a tree had slanted towards the house near where he was staying and was on the verge of falling down on the roof. When Rinpoche was informed of this, he pointed to the tree in a scolding manner.  As soon as Rinpoche did this, the tree slanted to the other side. This incident is said to be recorded in one of the history books of China.

Beru Khyentse Rinpoche gave many teachings to his Chinese disciples, such as the explanation of the 3rd Karmapa text, Zabmo Nangdon (Profound Inner Meaning), Vajra yogini and Mahakala teachings. Two of his main Chinese disciples, Yogi Chang and Yogi Chen translated many of these teachings in Mandarin and these texts still exist in Taiwan until today. Beru Khyentse and Bho Gangkar Rinpoche of the Kagyu school and Norlha Rinpoche or Gahra Lama of the Nyingma school were the three very famous and popular teachers in China during the late 19th and 20th century. They spread the Vajrayana teachings far and wide across Mainland China and Taiwan.

His Entering into Parinirvana

Statue of 1st Khyentse WangpoDue to the lack of collective merits of sentient beings, Beru Khyentse Rinpoche entered into parinirvana in 1945 at the age of fifty-one at his seat Palpung Monastery. For the cremation of the physical remains, the funeral prayers were held for 49 days where Rinpoches, lamas and monks from Sakya, Nyingma and the Kagyu sect in the region of Derge and Nangchen were present. Unfortunately, at that time, Situ Pema Wangchok Rinpoche had left for Central Tibet and was not at Palpung Monastery. So, the sad news of Beru Khyentse’s parinirvana was sent to H.H Karmapa Ranjung Rigpei Dorje and Situ Pema Wangchok Rinpoche through a messenger. When they received the news they immediately performed detailed post parinirvana prayers and rites. Situ Pema Wangchok Rinpoche purposely visited Lhasa to perform prayers in front of the Shakyamuni Temple and offered butter lamps and monlam at other holy places. Prayers of the swift return of Beru Khyentse were also performed.

His Main Disciples

Beru Khyentse had many non-sectarian disciples from Sakya, Gelugpa, Kagyu and Nyingma traditions. Just to name a few eminent ones from the Kagyu sect were the 15th Karmapa (he was both his Guru as well as his disciple), 16th Karmapa, Nenang Pawo Rinpoche, Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche, Bho Gangkar Rinpoche, Zigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Khandro Orgyen Tsomo (consort of the 15th Karmapa), Zuru Akong Rinpoche, Zurmang Rechung Rinpoche, Jangtrul Drungpa Pema Tharsen Rinpoche, Great Yogi Drupchen Pema Norbu Rinpoche, Rewa Seljay Rinpoche and the Great scholar Amdo Gedun Choephel.

Past lives of all the high Karma Kagyu Lineage holders.  (From L-R) 2nd Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, Wogen Rinpoche, 1st Beru Khyentse Rinpoche, His Holiness 16th Karmapa, Situ Pema Wangchuk Rinpoche, Treho Rinpoche and Pawo Rinpoche