Part IV: The Karmapas and Jamyang Khyentse lineage

In this post, making a slight diversion from the content of the transmissions of the Siliguri empowerment itself, I write about the close connection between the Karmapas and the Jamyang Khyentse lineage, focusing in particular on a recent speech HH 17th Karmapa gave in 2016 at the Dzongsar Shedra in Chauntra, HP, India.

As is relatively well-documented now the first Dzongsar Khyentse, was a close friend and like-minded pioneer of Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye in preserving and collecting the various Tibetan Buddhist lineage texts, in a non-sectarian manner without bias.  As it says in the Treasury of Lives bio for Khyentse Wangpo:

Khyentse Wangpo met Jamgon Kongtrul at the end of 1840, when he went to Pelpung to receive teachings from the elder lama on Chandragomin’s grammar. They met again before Jamyang Khyentse went to Tibet the second time. Khyentse Wangpo’s beloved elder brother, Gyurme Dondrub had passed away in Tibet, and it appears that in his grief Khyentse Wangpo turned to his growing friendship with Jamgon Kongtrul for companionship. He went to Pelpung for an extensive transmission of Jonang teachings, including the complete works of Tāranātha and the Kālacakra. Jamgon Kongtrul continued his transmission of Jonang teachings to Khyentse Wangpo after the later returned from Tibet in the early 1850s, giving Tāranātha’s Drubta Rinjung (sgrub thabs rin ‘jung). At the time Khyentse Wangpo gave Jamgon Kongtrul a complete set of Tāranātha’s writings.

HH 17th Karmapa spoke warmly in his speech of the relationship between Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo: “In the predictions of the 5th Karmapa Deshin Shekpa (1384-1415), the coming of the Khyentse and Kongtrul incarnations was foretold, and Deshin Shekpa also prophesized that whoever made a connection with them would find it deeply meaningful.”

The Karmapa also commented, “Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye’s Five Great Treasuries were mainly requested by Khyentse Wangpo, who also gave him encouragement and support, so Khyentse Wangpo deserves a lot of credit, which is clear when you read the life story of Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye.”

Further remarking that “The Karmapa and Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye had a connection, a Dharma samaya, so close that they were almost one person with the same heart. Something similar can be said about the connection between the Karmapa and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo—they were like one person with the same heart/mind.”

The previous Karmapas and their connection with Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse lineage

These are some of the key points of the connections between the Karmapa and Khyentse lineages:

The first Khyentse and 14th and 15th Karmapas

Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1st incarnation)
14th Karmapa, Thekchog Dorje


”Khyentse Wangpo received numerous reading transmissions and empowerments from the 14th Karmapa and also met in his dreams the 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Dorje and the siddha Orgyenpa. Traveling to the Karmapa’s seat at Tsurphu, Khyentse Wangpo received many profound teachings from him and made the Karmapa one of the main caretakers of his terma.

When the 15th Karmapa was born, Khyentse Wangpo was fifty-two years old. When the Karmapa was fourteen years old, Khyentse Wangpo invited him to his monastery and offered the young Karmapa empowerments. Jamgon Kongtrul advised the Karmapa to receive the ‘Collection of All the Tantras’ from Jamyang Khyentse, and so at the age of 16, the Karmapa went to Dzongsar Monastery and, welcomed with great honor by Sakya Trizin as well, the Karmapa received all these empowerments and reading transmissions. At this time, Khyentse Wangpo said to the Karmapa that since he was a knower of the three times, he should write a history of his previous incarnations, which the Karmapa did in one night during the time it took a butter lamp to burn. Later, the 16th Karmapa would create a Tibetan opera based on this history.”

The 2nd Khyentse and 15th and 16th Karmapas

15th Karmapa, Khakyab Dorje
Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro
16th Karmapa, Rigpe Dorje








”Khyentse Wangpo passed away in 1892, and of his five future emanations, the activity emanation was Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö, born in 1893. His lifetime coincided with the later years of the 15th Karmapa and the early years of the 16th Karmapa. In terms of ordinary appearances, it is said that the 15th Karmapa did not meet Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö; however, he made a connection with the Karmapa through a pure vision.

Khakhyap Dorje passed away in 1922, and the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, was born in 1924. Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö and the 16th Karmapa met numerous times both inside and outside Tibet and exchanged empowerments. It is said that their minds were blended together as one.”

Khyentse Chokyi Lodro and 16th Karmapa

The 3rd Khyentse and the 16th Karmapa

The current Dzongsar Khyentse with a backdrop of the previous Khyentse Chokyi Lodro.

”The second Khyentse passed away in 1959 and was reborn in Bhutan in 1961 as Jamyang Thubten Chökyi Gyatso. The 16th Karmapa welcomed him to Rumtek, his seat in exile, and gave him a long-life empowerment and blessings. In Nepal, the 3rd Khyentse also received all the Kagyu Ngakdzo empowerments from the 16th Karmapa. When Rigpe Dorje passed away, Jamyang Thubten Chökyi Gyatso followed his Kudung to Rumtek.

“In general there is no doubt that between the successive incarnations of the Gyalwang Karmapa and the incarnations of Je Khyentse, there were extensive outer, inner, and secret connections that were both ordinary to worldly eyes and extraordinary.”

HH 17th Karmapa’s connection with Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
HH 17th Karmapa meeting HE Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche at Dzongsar shedra in 2016.


HH 17th Karmapa teaching at Dzongsar Shedra in 2016

In his recent speech in 2016, given at Dzongsar monastery, Chauntra, India, HH the 17th Karmapa started his talk with thanks to Khyapje Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche for inviting him and recalled: “When I was still in Tibet, of all the collected works I read, the one I Looked at the most was that of the first Khyentse, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (Pema Ösel Dongak Lingpa). I read it cover to cover and returned to it many times.” Khyentse Wangpo was truly rime (nonsectarian), the Karmapa stated. “These days saying ‘rime’ sounds good but often it is just ornamental, merely for show,” the Karmapa remarked. “To be a true master of these teachings is not at all easy. Many people are said to be experts, but if you look through history for a master of the teachings, you will find that Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo was an authentic one.”

He then went on to talk about the extremely close samaya between Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye and how it was thanks to Khyentse Wangpo that the Five great Treasuries of Jamgon Kongtrul came into being.

His Holiness remarked, “The Karmapa and Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye had a connection, a Dharma samaya, so close that they were almost one person with the same heart. Something similar can be said about the connection between the Karmapa and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo—they were like one being in whom beat the same heart.”

The report of this event (which has been the main resource for this short post) by the Kagyu Office can be read here. Here is the video of HH arriving at the monastery and the full speech (in Tibetan):

Written and compiled by Adele Tomlin, 10th February 2020.

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