His Eminence Chogye Trichen Rinpoche, Ngawang Khyenrab Thupten Lekshe Gyatso (1920-2007) was, during his time, the most senior lama of the Sakya Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, and the supreme head of the Tsharpa branch of this lineage. His Eminence was an unsurpassable tantric master and a supremely accomplished scholar. He counted as his disciples the throne holders of most of the lineages of Tibetan Buddhism, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Holiness the Sakya Trizin, His Eminence Ratna Vajra Rinpoche, and His Eminence Gyana Vajra Rinpoche. He was revered as an extraordinary teacher and realized practitioner by his numerous disciples and by masters of all traditions, and held in the highest regard by anyone who had ever been blessed by his presence.He was awarded the title “Gorkha Dakshin Babu” by King Birendra of Nepal, the only Buddhist monk ever to receive this tribute.His Eminence was born in 1920 in Tsang, Central Tibet, and the occasion was marked by many auspicious signs. He belonged to the Shalu Kushang family of the Che clan, which descends directly from the Clear Light Gods. The name “Kushang”, means “royal maternal uncle”, and the family bore it because so many of its daughters had been married to Sakya throne holders. The family was also unique in that every one of its generations had produced a minimum of four sons, several of whom had become throne holders of Sakya monasteries.His Eminence was recognized by the 13th Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the previous Chogye Rinpoche of Nalendra Monastery. As such, His Eminence became the 26th patriarch of Phenpo Nalendra Monastery, near Lhasa in Tibet. Nalendra, founded in 1439 by Rongton Sheja Kunrig (1367-1449), was, until its destruction at the time of the Chinese takeover, one of the most important Sakya monasteries in Tibet. When he was twelve, His Eminence was enthroned at Nalendra, where he assiduously studied all the major texts and rituals of the monastery. From his root Gurus, the 4th Zimwog Rinpoche Kunga Tenzin and Dampa Rinpoche Shenphen Nyingpo, he received all the major Sakya teachings and transmissions, principally the precious Lamdre, the Thirteen Golden Dharmas, the Greater and Lesser Mahakalas, and many more. His Eminence was an accomplished scholar, poet, historian and he excelled in Buddhist metaphysics.When the Chinese entered Tibet, His Eminence fled to Mustang, where his sister was married to the King. Then, in 1962, he was asked by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to act as Secretary General of the Council for Religious and Cultural Affairs of the Tibetan Government in Exile in Dharamsala, India. He left for India, and carried out this duty until 1969, when he went to Lumbini, in Nepal, in order to fulfill a vow which he and the King of Mustang had made six years earlier while on a pilgrimage there: to build a monastery in the birthplace of the Buddha. In May 1975, Tashi Rabten Ling Monastery was inaugurated and has since then become a place of pilgrimage for all Buddhists who visit Lumbini. A newer and larger monastery was later built nearby. Since its inauguration in 2004, the latter has hosted the Great Sakya Annual Monlam Aspirational Prayer Festival.His Eminence also built the Jamchen Lhakhang 4 Melody of Dharma • 2010 • NO. 3monastery in Boudanath, Nepal, where he lived until his passing into paranirvana in January of 2007. Thus, His Eminence established the new seat of the Tshar lineage in exile, perpetuating the tradition of the old Nalendra monastery in Tibet. His Eminence also established retreat centres in Nepal, Mustang, as well as dharma centres in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Taiwan. During his lifetime, His Eminence spent many years in retreat, and dedicated most of his waking time practicing. He was said to sleep only one hour, and this he always did sitting up. The degree of his realization became clear when, at age 87, he passed into Paranirvana. His Eminence remained in the state of Tukdam – resting in the clear light of death – during all of 15 days. His body was cremated at Jamchen Lakhang, and many auspicious signs accompanied the ceremony. He remains the heart master of numberless disciples, who eagerly await his return in rupakaya form.