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Lama Kunzang Dorjee (1974 - )

Lama Kunzang Dorjee heads the oldest Buthanese monastery, Jangsa Gompa in Kalimpong, India.* He also heads two monasteries in Kurteo Lhuentse , Eastern Bhutan , and one in Gelephu in Southern Bhutan. Decidedly vegetarian and tsethar practitioner (practise of saving lives), Lama Kunzang Dorje set up the Jangsa Animal Saving Trust and saved more than 650 bulls and other similarly ill-fated animals from being killed in slaughter houses by buying them.

Lama Kunzang Dorjee was born in the Nyo lineage of Gyalwa Lhanangpa. At the age of 13, he began studying under his father, Lama Pema Longdrol** and Kyabje Tashi Tsering, also known as Somdrang Rinpoche. He received guidance in the preliminary practices for three years following the Phowa, Bardo and Samadhi practices. At the age of 19, he met H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche who had come to Tashigang, Bhutan, to give the Empowerment of Rinchen Terzod.

Lama Kunzang Dorjee started education in a modern Roman Catholic school, St. Augustine school in Kalimpong, but at the age of 14, he joined H.H. Kyabje Dodrupchen Rinpoche's monastery in Gangtok that follows the Nyingthig lineage of Nyingma School. This change was his own decision, which his father was happy to support. As both his parents were disciples of H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche, Lama-la received the Empowerment and transmission of the Great Terton Dudjom Lingpa and H.H. Dudjom Rinpoches's Sungbum before he joined the monastry in Gangtok where he stayed for 13 years receiving the empowerments of Kama, Terma, Yabshi, Jigling Tsapoe etc and various other Trilung from H.H. Kyabje Dodrupchen Rinpoche. He also studied some Sutra teachings and Tantra teachings from Venerable Lopon Thekchog and Khenpo Tsundru Singye of the same monastery and from Lama Gyalwang Nima and Khenpo Dazer. His monk ordination and many teachings he took from Khen Rinpoche Mewa Thukten.

Lama Pema Longdrol, gave him many teachings and transmissions, including the detailed instructions on the tantric deity of Vajrakilaya. Lama Kunzang Dorje has been blessed to receive Dzogchen and other teachings from Kyabje Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche. From Kyabje Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche he received Dzongchen teachings and Kagyur transmission. Lama Kunzang Dorjee has been blessed to get some teachings from Kyabje Dungse Rinpoche as well. He did his three-year retreat at Helembu, Nepal, under the guidance of H.H. Kyabje Chatral Rinpoche. Lama-la is following the path set by H.H. Chatral Rinpoche in the practice of "tsethar" (saving lives by buying animals who otherwise would be killed).

Saving cows and stray dogs
Lama Kunzang Dorj stated that his compassion was kindled when, in late 2000, five bulls which had escaped from a slaughter house in Kalimpong, forced their way into his monastery and refused to leave. When the five bulls returned to the monastery for the third time the same day, Lama Kunzang Dorjee gave them water and fresh grass, but they refused to eat. That moment was a turning point: he had started to save these beings. He bought them for RPS 45,000, built a shed and appointed a caretaker to look after them. Lama-la, who is also in the process of establishing a sanctuary in Thimphu, Bhutan for animals that are going to be slaughtered in and around the capital, also hopes that meat consumption will slowly decrease as more people become aware of tsethar.

In 2008 together with the Buthanese Royal Society for Protection and Care of Animals (RSPCA) lama-la started a project to save stray dogs. See the article of Sonam Pelden (PDF) of the Bhutanese newspaper Kuensel.
In 2009, he has visited England , where he contributed to a university project on tantric longevity rituals, and also visited South-east Asia, as well as Hong Kong , where he is starting a Buddhist centre.

* Kalimpong has been part of Sikimese and Buthanese rulers, but since 1815 this hill station at 1250 meter is part of West Bengal, India. Kalimpong is surrounded by Nepal, Sikkim and Buthan.

** The father of Lama Kunzang Dorjee, Lama Pema Longdrol, followed H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche to Tibet after the Empowerment of Rinchen Terzod and served H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche in Tibet for almost 15 years after which they came to Kalimpong in West Bengal, India. Lama Pema Longdrol continued to serve H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche until Rinpoche left for Kathmandu and then on to France and received all the teachings including the Dzogchen instructions directly from H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche. While H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche was his Root Guru, he also received teachings from other high Rinpoches like Jamyang Khentse Choki Lodre, Kyabje Chatrel Rinpoche, Kyabje Dodrubchen Rinpoche, Kyabje Dilgo Khentse Rinpoche and others. Lama Pema Logndrol was appointed the Abbott of Jangsa Gompa (Kalimpong) by H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche and the late Rani Chuni Wangmo, the Mother of present grand Queen Mother of Bhutan. H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche and Lama Pema Longdrol started the first Vajra Kilaya, Tshedrub Chimed Sokthig, and later Kama Drubchen was performed under the guidance of H.H. Dilgo Khenste Rinpoche and H.H. Minling Thrichen Rinpoche in Jangsa Gompa in Kalimpong. Lama Pema Longdrol's Paranirvana was in Kalimpong and he stayed in tukdam (in meditative state) for many days. After his cremation many ringsels (relics) were found of which were of five different colours, an example of a realized being and a hidden yogi.

Source: Jangsa Animal Saving Trust
and Lama Kunzang Dorjee. See also Tsem Rinpoche.

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