Khengen Tulku

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Khengen Tulku aka Khengen Tulku Jambal Norbu Wangyal (Tib. མཁན་རྒན་སྤྲུལ་སྐུ་འཇམ་དཔལ་ནོར་བུ་དྭང་རྒྱལ་, Wyl. mkhan rgan sprul sku 'jam dpal nor bu dwang rgyal) was a renowed incarnate lama in upper Pemakö, Powo, and a prince of Kanan Denpa (his father belonged to the line of the King Kanam Depa) and the father of Dudjom Rinpoche. He was recognized as the incarnation of Japhur Lama, son of Katok Gyalse Sönam Deutsen, and grandson of Longsal Nyingpo from Katok Monastery[1].

Birth & Family

On the family side, as a son of King Kanam Depa, Khengen Tulku descended from the royal clan of the Tibetan dharma monarchy, and became the ruler of the Powo kingdom. His monastery Khang Kheng was located in the upper valley of Pemakö, near Lhotod Kha.

Training & Activity

Departure from Powo to Pemakö

According to Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche: [2]

Khengen Tulku, the father of Dudjom Rinpoche, was a prince of Kanam (Kanam Kings are direct descendants of King Trisong Detsen). He was expected to become the king. Instead, he left the kingdom for his elder brother, saying, “You rule the country, as I have a dakini revelation stating that I must leave this place to meet my future consort and from our union a great teacher will be born.”
His brother replied, “In that case, please take several hundred citizens with you to Pemakö.” Pemakö is close to the Indian border, but far from Po where they lived. Although he left with three or four hundred citizens, only a few hundred arrived at Pemakö owing to the difficulty of the journey. The land was heavily forested with many wild animals. Food was very scarce, but fortunately, wild fruits were scattered throughout the forest. Rivers had to be crossed on foot or on a rope. When I was small, I remember crossing one of those rivers in a basket on a rope bridge.

Meeting Namgyal Drolma

Khengen Tulku, the Prince, found his future consort, Namgyal Drolma, caring for farm animals. She was from a very poor family, living in a very poor little house. He recognized her as his consort immediately but didn’t say anything to anyone so he could learn more about her. He discovered that she had migrated from Bhutan when her family couldn’t afford to pay the very high taxes on their land. They sought a better life in Pemakö.

Eventually, he announced to his citizens that he had found his wife, pointing to the young woman from the village. They were astounded, “You are a prince. You are telling us that you are going marry this common girl? No, we cannot accept that.” The Prince responded, “Whether or not you accept it, she is the one. I will stay here in Pemakö.” Unhappy, they protested, “This land has nothing to cultivate, nothing with which to earn a livelihood. We are in the middle of a forest and this woman is from a poor family. How can you do this?” Rinpoche’s father responded “Those who want to leave and return to Po can do so. I give you permission. Those who want to stay with me, please do.” Some left, but most stayed. Namgyal Drolma was not an ordinary female. Although her family was poor, they were descendents of Terton Pema Lingpa. Terton Pema Lingpa was a great Nyingma Terton who discovered many teachings of Guru Rinpoche. Dudjom Rinpochewas born from the union of Khengen Tulku and Namgyal Drolma.

According to Dudjom Rinpoche[3]:

Khengen Tulku, although not a monk, wasn’t married. He was living at his monastery of Khang Kheng and performing beneficial activities. Once again, a dakini, and also Lama Chabdo Phagpa Lha, told him to go to the Terkong Nang area, where he would meet a karmically connected dakini, establish a monastery, and have a very special son who would benefit the dharma and sentient beings greatly.
Following their instructions, Khengen Tulku eventually arrived there and found the area populated by about thirteen large families and fifteen or sixteen retinue families. Among the large families was one that had emigrated from eastern Bhutan and was descended from the great Nyingma tertön Ratna Lingpa. Khengen Tulku asked that family to host him, and with great joy and respect they agreed. This family had a young sixteen-year-old daughter named Namgyal Drolma. He slept with her that night and many beautiful signs and indications came. In the early morning he told the daughter’s parents, “I want to stay in this area ad build a monastery near the mountain, but I will need our help. I would also like your daughter to be my wife.” The parents joyously agreed.

Establishing Khang Kheng, his practice centre in Pemakö

According to Dudjom Rinpoche[4]:

Khengen Tulku and his wife Namgyal Drolma sought out a perfect location for the monastery and found a beautiful site about three miles from the village. In that area, however, there were no stones, and everyone said, “If the temple is not built of stone, it won’t last long.” The lama prayed to the Three Roots and especially to Guru Padmasambhava, performed many tsok and made many offerings to the local land deities. He had auspicious dreams that night. Early in the morning, he told his students and dharma patrons, “Today I am going to reveal a treasury of stones, but I will need the assistance of a man named “Stone””.
Everyone was trying to think of some one with that name. Someone remembered a very good craftsman from Powo named Dorje Dragpa, and there was general agreement that he must be the man. They located this man, and then all of them accompanied the teacher to the selected location where they did fire puja Jinsek and dharmapala offerings. Khengen Tulku said to Dorje Dragpa, “Dig in the dirt.” Dorje Dragpa struck with his pick, and when he did, many stones of different sizes emerged looking like they had been prepared by a mason. With them, they were able to complete the construction of the monastery”.

Final Years

In the mid 1920’s, a war broke out between Central Tibet and Powo kingdom, and after much resistance, Khengen Tulku had to leave Powo and settled on the border of India[5].


According to Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche[6], Khenghen Tulku 's emanation was Tulku Pema Yeshe, who became a student of Dudjom Rinpoche.


  1. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal, Light of Fearless Indestructible Wisdom: The Life and Legacy of H. H. Dudjom Rinpoche, Snow Lion 2008, page 32.
  2. Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche, ‘Chime Sog Thig Teachings’ © YesheMelong 2015.
  3. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal, Light of Fearless Indestructible Wisdom: The Life and Legacy of H. H. Dudjom Rinpoche, Snow Lion 2008, page 59-61.
  4. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal, Light of Fearless Indestructible Wisdom: The Life and Legacy of H. H. Dudjom Rinpoche, Snow Lion 2008, page 59-61.
  5. Further research must be done to clarify if it was Khengen Tulku who settled in India, his father who became the King Kanan Denpa, or their father the previous king of Kanam.
  6. 'Continuity of aspiration, an interview with HH Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche', interview conducted for The Shambala Sun in 1988'.

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