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Most Venerable Migyur Rinpoche: A Biographical Sketch



The great lord of Accomplished Ones, the holy Garchen Tenzin Phuntsog, has three emanations—that of body, speech and mind.


The 7th Gar Migyur Rinpoche is the mind emanation.


Most Venerable Gar Migyur Thubten Tsultrim Gyaltsen Rinpoche was born in 1940 in the village of Sibda, Eastern Tibet, to Garwag Karge and Tashi Tsetso. Many miraculous signs accompanied his birth. His mother, Tashi Tsetso, experienced pleasant dreams and auspicious omens during pregnancy and childbirth rather than any great difficulties or pain.


Migyur Rinpoche’s parents raised him with great care. When he was two years old, his mother brought him to a large gathering at Jagon, Nangchen in which the 16th Karmapa Rigpe Dorje was present. The Karmapa pointed his finger at the child and asked for him to be brought forward. He offered the child a white scarf, placed it around his neck, and with great joy named him "Karma Throgyal". He advised Tashi Tsetso to take good care of her son.


Since he was a small child, Migyur Rinpoche completely refrained from non-virtuous behavior. He was very bright, spoke little and delighted in virtuous deeds. At the age of eight, the Karmapa recognized Migyur Rinpoche as a tulku—an incarnated lama—and enthroned him at Gar Monastery with the name "Gar Migyur Rinpoche".


At Gar Monastery, Gar Migyur Rinpoche learned to read and write from his tutor, Dorje Rinchen, and diligently trained in monastic rituals and other practices. Under the guidance of Gar Siddha Chime Dorje and others, he studied and practiced the Dharma together with Garchen Triptul Rinpoche. He was first ordained as a monk at age thirteen by Doe Sangtrul Rinpoche and given the name Thubten Tsultrim Gyaltsen.


Gar Migyur Rinpoche meticulously observed his monk’s vows with great discipline. Not long afterwards, Tibet was invaded and great turmoil broke out. Migyur Rinpoche, together with Garchen Rinpoche, fought to protect the country, and both were captured and arrested by the Chinese army and sentenced to more than 20 years in prison in Xining. During this time in prison, Migyur Rinpoche shared a special and close friendship with Garchen Rinpoche.


Gar Migyur Rinpoche's practice of patience in prison towards those who caused harm was supreme. The 37 Practices of Bodhisattvas contains a verse on patience that says, "To bodhisattvas who desire the pleasures of virtue, all those who do harm are like a precious treasure. Therefore, cultivating patience devoid of hostility is the bodhisattva’s practice." Gar Migyur Rinpoche accomplished this practice perfectly.


In 1978 Gar Migyur Rinpoche was released from prison and returned to Gar Monastery, which was destroyed. He dedicated himself completely to its reconstruction, as per the intention of Garchen Rinpoche. Migyur Rinpoche advised: "For devoted monks, the karmically destined deity is the most exalted Avalokiteshvara, who appeared in human form as H.E. Garchen Rinpoche. Thus, it is of utmost importance that we act according to his instructions. To fulfill the root guru's intention is very meaningful in this and future lives. Therefore, take this to heart and act accordingly."


Garchen Rinpoche has said that Lama Migyur Rinpoche's intention is significant for accomplishing the benefit of sentient beings. Furthermore, if his working day and night continuously to benefit sentient beings would fulfill Migyur Rinpoche's intention, then he would like to do nothing more than that. Indeed, we all know Garchen Rinpoche engages in these activities ceaselessly. Migyur Rinpoche has been very kind to the Drikung Kagyu lineage, and he also left a significant imprint on the Buddha's teachings, in general.


Gar Migyur Rinpoche received full ordination vows from Siddha Karma Norbu, who was just like Jetsun Milarepa, and urged him as follows: "The survival of the Buddha’s precious teachings depend on preserving the training of ethical conduct. Thus, as your omens to bring vast benefit to the Buddha's teachings are extremely auspicious, you should confer ordination upon monks by all means. The full ordination of monks should become widespread."


Since few Khenpos were able to confer full monastic vows at Gar Monastery, resident monks wishing to receive full ordination had to travel long and arduous journeys. Because of this, Lama Migyur Rinpoche was requested to confer full ordination vows. He continued to confer full ordination vows, without bias, to more than ten thousand monks from Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu, and Nyingma lineages. Since instruction on conferring vows derives from the sacred Vinaya body of teachings, Migyur Rinpoche always precisely practiced the modes of conduct of all permissions and prohibitions exactly according to the rules. He became renowned all over Tibet for his immaculately pure observance of vows.


Gar Migyur Rinpoche received Dzogchen teachings from Khenpo Munsel Rinpoche, who considered him one of his foremost disciples. Likewise, when Khenpo Jigme Phuntsog conferred empowerment to a thousand of the greatest masters, tulkus, monks and nuns, the Drikung Kagyu Lama (Gar Migyur Rinpoche) newly arrived. Upon arrival he was already requested to go around and offer the empowerment blessing to the assembly. All the other masters praised Gar Migyur Rinpoche highly, knowing that he possesses the qualities of the three secrets. This great master, Gar Migyur Rinpoche, still remains alive as the refuge for those without protection, and he radiates the light of enlightened activities a thousand-fold.


According to the request of the dharma brother Ven. Dorzin Dondrup, this was gathered from the brief history of Gar Monastery, Khenpo Konchog Samdrub. May it turn into vast offering clouds to the kind and holy guru.


Ohio on January 1, 2013

[Translated by Ina Bieler]