Venerable Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche and Venerable Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche

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Topanga, United States

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Venerable Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche and Venerable Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche at the deer park in Sarnath, in Uttar Pradesh, India in December 2006.
The Rinpoches were born and raised in the Dhoshul region of Kham in eastern Tibet near the sacred mountain Jowo Zegyal. Their family was steeped in Vajrayana Buddhism for generations, and among their ancestors were many great scholars and practitioners. Their father’s family inherited the responsibility of administering the local monastery, Gochen Monastery, and their grandfather was chant master in charge of ritual ceremonies. The Khenpo Rinpoches have said that as children, should they awaken at anytime during the night, they could always hear their devoted father reciting his prayers or chanting his mantras.
Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche have built a reputation for their vast knowledge of the Nyingma tradition and their pragmatic and lucid style of teaching.
Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche are founders and directors of Padmasambhava Buddhist Center, based at Padma Samye Ling in western upstate New York. PBC includes over twenty centers in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Russia, as well as retreat centers and monastic institutions in the United States and India.
Sarnath, located just 12 km from the Hindu holy city of Varanasi, is the site of the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma after his enlightenment. Sarnath is one of four holy Buddhist sites sanctioned by the Buddha himself for pilgrimage. The other three sites are: Lumbini (birth); Bodh Gaya (enlightenment); and Kushinagar (death).
Sarnath has previously been known as Mrigadava, “deer park,” and Isipatana, meaning the place where holy men fell to earth. The latter name is based in the legend that when the Buddha was born, devas came down to announce it to 500 holy men. The holy men all rose into the air and disappeared and their relics fell to the ground.
The current name Sarnath, from Saranganath, means “Lord of the Deer” and relates to another old Buddhist story in which the Bodhisattva is a deer and offers his life to a king instead of the doe he is planning to kill. The king is so moved that he creates the park as a sanctuary for deer.
© Djamilla Cochran | DC Photos

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