Devotion to the Karmapa

The connection between the lives of Barway Dorje and the Karmapa dates back to Terchen Barway Dorje (the 1st Bardor Rinpoche) for whom the 14th Karmapa, Thegchog Dorje, was one of the principal teachers. It was Thegchog Dorje who predicted that Terchen Barway Dorje would discover treasures and who advised him to keep his first discovery (that of the terma of White Khechari) secret for twenty years.

17th Karmapa at KPL in 2011 being offered mandala by Bardor Rinpoche

17th Karmapa at KPL in 2011 being offered mandala by Bardor Rinpoche

The rebirth of Terchen Barway Dorje, the 2nd Bardor Rinpoche, was initially recognized by the 15th Karmapa, Khakhyab Dorje. However, due to circumstances later explained by the Karmapa, that life of Bardor Rinpoche was very short. The next rebirth, which came to be known as the 2nd Bardor Rinpoche, was recognized by the 11th Tai Situ Rinpoche, Padma Wangchok Gyalpo.

In his thirteenth year, the 2nd Bardor Rinpoche met the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje. The 2nd Bardor Rinpoche devoted most of his life to service for the 16th Karmapa and the two became very close. For more information about the 2nd Bardor Rinpoche, please refer to his short biography that has been translated into English.

16th Karmapa and Bardor Rinpoche

16th Karmapa and Bardor Rinpoche

His Holiness the 16th Karmapa recognized the 3rd Bardor Rinpoche at a very early age. When the political and social conditions in Tibet worsened as a result of the Chinese Communist occupation in Tibet, the young Bardor Tulku Rinpoche with his family set out on a journey on foot across the Himalayas toward India. At the border of Tibet and India, as a result of the arduous journey, all Rinpoche’s family members died. When Rinpoche’s father—the last member of his family—died, Rinpoche continued on with other refugees.

The 16th Karmapa found Bardor Tulku Rinpoche in Darjeeling and arranged for him to be brought to Rumtek, the Karmapa’s seat in Sikkim. Rinpoche was enthroned as a tulku at Rumtek Monastery when he was in his teens. It was also at Rumtek Monastery, under the tutelage of the 16th Karmapa, that Rinpoche’s formal training as a tulku took place. In the early 1970s, Bardor Tulku Rinpoche served as the 16th Karmapa’s attendant and accompanied him on his world tours. In 1977, His Holiness asked Rinpoche to remain in Woodstock, New York, and serve at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra (KTD), which was to become the seat of His Holiness in North America.

Before the 16th Karmapa passed away, he sent a note to Bardor Tulku Rinpoche saying:

Dear Bardor Rinpoche:

My prayer that the teaching of your dharma may fill Jambudvipa is always in my mind,
all day and night. Do not be timid about this; be earnest.
I pray that I see you soon.


Bardor Tulku Rinpoche saved this treasured note but he was uncertain about its meaning. In 1999, Rinpoche had a very vivid dream of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, in which the Karmapa told him to look after his own lineage, the lineage of Terchen Barway Dorje. In the waking state Rinpoche strongly felt the Karmapa’s presence to the extent that he could perceive the Karmapa’s smell. The dream of the 16th Karmapa helped Bardor Tulku Rinpoche decide that it was time to look after his lineage. In 2000, he founded Raktrul Foundation as a means to help rebuild and revitalize the Raktrul Monastery in Tibet. Two years later Rinpoche began laying ground for the dissemination of his lineage teachings in the West. In 2003, he established Kunzang Palchen Ling (KPL), a Buddhist center founded on non-sectarian principles and a venue for the preservation of the lineage of Terchen Barway Dorje.