The guru is the luminosity of one’s mind.
In knowing this to be so,
The guru’s mind and mine
Are undivided and never separate, 
This is meeting the ultimate guru’s face.

–excerpt from the Billowing Clouds of Blessings: Guru Yoga (tr. Adele Tomlin)

For the 30th Paranirvana Anniversary of the 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul today, am re-posting an article I wrote about Kongtrul last year, as  one of the main lineage holders of Karma Kagyu and the Non-Sectarian movement in Tibet (Rimey), heart-son of 16th Karmapa and a Kālacakra master. There is a website section on the Jamgon Kongtrul lineage here.

In addition, here is a link to a translation of the 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul Guru Yoga, Billowing Clouds of Blessings: Guru Yoga said to have been composed by the 2nd Jamgon Kongtrul, Palden Khyentse Ozer at Tsurphu monastery, and amended by the 3rd Kongtrul. The text was translated in 1992 and I wanted to do a new translation of it to offer for the 30th Paranirvana. However, hard as I tried, I was unable to find the Tibetan copy of the text online. So if anyone has a copy of the Tibetan text, please do send me! 🙂

Music? Calling the Lama From Afar by Jamgon Kongtrul Great. Video compilation for the 30th Paranirvana by Valerio Albisetti.


Photo of 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul commemoration at Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim in 2021

Born in Tibet, Exile to Sikkim, Renovations in Tibet, Death by Car Crash

3rd Jamgon Kongtrul pictured at Palpung Monastery, Tibet

Born in 1954 in Lhasa, Tibet, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche was recognized as an incarnation of the previous Jamgon Kongtrul by the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa, Rigpe Dorje. At the age of six, the young tulku left Tibet to join the Karmapa at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim where he was raised by the Karmapa as one of his four “heart sons.”

3rd Jamgon Kongtrul with root guru 16th Karmapa, Rigpe Dorje

One online biography explains:

“During his lifetime, Rinpoche made two trips to Tibet, one in 1984 and one in 1991. During these trips he gave empowerments and teachings to hundreds of monks, tulkus, and lay people of Tibet; he obtained permission for the restoration of Tshurphu Monastery (the seat of His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa) in Eastern Tibet; at Palpung Monastery he ordained about 500 monks; he visited Derge Gonchen where he inspired the reconstruction of the traditional Tibetan Derge Printing House; and he gave the precious Kalachakra empowerment at Damkar Monastery in Nangchen. Rinpoche has also given the Kalachakra empowerment in Europe, Canada and Asia and he gave the Kagyu Ngakdzo empowerment (considered the heart of the Kagyu yidam transmissions) in February 1992 to the monastic community and lay people at Rumtek Monastery, seat of the Karma Kagyu lineage in India. In the late 1980s, Rinpoche completed one of his most outstanding projects: Shri Nalanda Institute for higher Buddhist studies in Rumtek, India.”

Here is a video of the 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul predicting the 17th Karmapa’s return to Tsurpu Monastery, Tibet:

Passed Away in Car Crash at 38 years old

The 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche died in a mysterious car accident in the Kalimpong District of Darjeeling, India, on April 26, 1992. A new BMW car swerved off the road and crashed. He was only thirty-eight years old. The accident took place near the site of Rinpoche’s monastery and the residential school that he founded for young monks and orphans. The driver of the vehicle as well as Lama Kunga, the head of the school, were also killed. Tenzin Dorje, Rinpoche’s closest assistant was the sole survivor of the crash. There are mixed views of the cause of the car crash, some saying it was not an accident and planned, see one account here and also, Mick Brown’s Dance of Seventeen Lives.

According to a follower of Beru Khyentse:

“Beru Khyentse reported that the 16th Karmapa had given protective neck  strings both to Jamgon Kongtrul and Beru Khyentse, saying that it was very  important to wear it .  Some years ago, Beru Khyentse was travelling in a car that had a terrible crash yet nobody was hurt. Beru Khyentse commented that the 16th Karmapa neck string blessing saved the passengers, Rinpoche included. According to Beru Khyentse, compassion led the 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul to give the 16th Karmapa neck string to his assistant (the sole survivor) and it was the lack of that neck string that caused a lack of protection for Jamgon Kongtrul in the car accident.”

I have been unable to confirm the truth of this statement with any other independent or verifiable sources.

Jamgon Kongtrul and Kālacakra

3rd Jamgon Kongtrul giving Kālacakra empowerment in Spain 1989

As my own simple offering for the life and time of the 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul, here is a previous article on the 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul’s connection to Kālacakra and the teachings and empowerment he gave in Spain 1989, shortly before he tragically passed away (see here). As I wrote:

“I was delighted to find out yesterday, that film-maker Valierio Albisetti had uploaded onto Vimeo for free download, his documentary film of a Kālacakra empowerment in the Spanish town of San Sebastian in August 1989, given  by Jamgon Kongtrul the 3rd, only three years before he tragically passed away in a car accident in April 1992 (although many suspect it was a politically motivated assassination).  It is not clear who gave the 3rd Kongtrul the Kālacakra empowerments and transmission, but it seems likely that it would have been from Kalu Rinpoche, himself a great Kālacakra lineage holder, as I have written about here.

Innate Kālacakra

The 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul was an accomplished Kālacakra lineage master who gave several great Kālacakra empowerments during his lifetime. As well as this one in Spain, afterwards, in 1990, he also gave the great Kālacakra empowerment to the monks and laypersons of Rumtek, Sikkim and donated funds to initiate the conducting of the Kālacakra puja there on an annual basis. In 1991, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche returned to Tibet and as part of his trip, journeyed to Palpung Monastery and gave the great Kalachakra initiation to about 550 tulkus and lamas of the area, including Sangye Tendzin of Japa Gonzhab Surmang Tentrul, Dodrak Tulku, before a crowd of about 10,000 laypeople. Next he travelled to Damkar Monastery in Nangchen where he again gave the Kālacakra empowerment to about 10,000 sangha members, including lamas and tulkus such as Shangu Tulku, Kyodrak Tendzin, Salga, Drukpa Tulku, and Deymon Tulku. (source http://www.jamgonkongtrul.org/)”

3rd Jamgon Kongtrul

For more on 1st Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye‘s (1813-1899) and his connection to Kālacakra, see here.

1st Jamgon Kongtrul with students

Images of Jamgon Kongtrul lineage, from left to right (3rd, 1st, 2nd and 4th)

May the Kālacakra teachings and lineage flourish in the Karma Kagyu and all lineages as before, and may all attain that state!

Originally written and compiled by Adele Tomlin, 6th May 2021.





  1. Thanks very much Adele, very inspiring. I was introduced to Jamgon Kongtrul after the Gyalwa Gyantso empowerment by Edward Henning; I remember his friendliness and his extremely good English. During his visit to the UK must have been in 1977 or thereabouts, he also gave the abhishekas of Karma Pakshi and red Manjushri/Sarasvati. Thanks again.

    1. You are very welcome, Perry! Thank you for sharing that information about the 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul, you are fortunate indeed. I met the 4th Jamgon Kongtrul in Bodh Gaya around 2006. Bumped into him at Vulture’s Peak there and then went with him and his attendants to Nalanda ruins nearby. A very auspicious karmic happening. I wonder if 3rd Kongtrul’s empowerments/teachings for Karma Pakshi or Saraswati are recorded at all, would love to hear them.

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