Rigon Dhongak Shedrup Choekhorling Monastery
In 1668, in the earth-monkey year of the 11th Rabjung (a circle of sixty years) of the Tibetan lunar calendar, Ratna Sherab Choewang, a great Buddhist practitioner founded the Rigon Dhongak Shedrup Choekhorling monastery in a region called Traltso Drishigo in the Dege kingdom in eastern Tibet. Ratna Sherab Choewang was one of the three heart sons of Rinzin Kunzang Sherab, the first throne holder of Sha rGyalwa Palyul monastery, one of the six great Nyingma traditional monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism.
Later, a great monk named Lama Sangay Tenzin from Drukpa Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism came to a valley called Lhowolung, not so far from Rigon Dhongak Choekhorling monastery. He saw auspicious and holy signs in the Lhowolung Valley and founded a monastery on a small mountain range in the shape of a jewel-adorned elephant, following his root Guru’s instructions.
Lama Sangay Tenzin was the main disciple of the third incarnation, Gyalwa Dokhampa Ngawang Kunga, a great-incarnated head lama of Kampagar Monastery, one of the main seats of Drukpa Kagyu tradition.
Lama Sangay Tenzin had five main disciples known as the five eastern Yogis who were considered to be the emanations of five Sthavira (an elderly shravaka monk) and many others. The five eastern Yogis and a number of disciples, through high levels of Buddhist practices, were believed to be able to transform their bodies into any form and fly like birds.
Ratna Kuchen (a linage of Ratna incarnations), the head of the Rigon Dhongak Shedrup Choekhorling monastery in Traltso Drishigo region and Lama Sangay Tenzin’s monastery agreed to join their monasteries as one. Rigon Dhongak Shedrup Choekhorling monastery, which was founded in 1668 in Traltso Drishigon region, moved to the Lhowolung region and joined with Lama Sangay Tenzin’s monastery, and they have kept the name Rigon Dhongak Shedrup Choekorling monastery. Today it is known in its short form: Rigo Monastery.
Rigo Monastery developed so well in time and the number of monks increased greatly. Rigo Monastery had many important Tulkus, such as Ratna Tulku Narim, Ja Tulku, Achok Tulku and other incarnation lineages. There have also been many great accomplished, disciplined, pure-minded Abbots; Kunzang Loden, Karma Lodoe, Ah Kun, as well as other abbots and masters. There were many high level Tantric masters like Lama Tsering Bum, Ngawang Yonten Gyatso (previous incarnation of Rigo Tulku Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche), Yeshi Lha Gyal, Ped Chung, Samten Choedrak, Phelgyal, and many yogis like Serpa Jadral who spent their entire lives in meditation and attained the dharma state to be able to control even their death and rebirth. They all contributed greatly in maintaining, promoting, and developing the Lord Buddha’s doctrine.
Later, Rigon Dhongak Choekhorling Monastery was ruined very badly in the 1960’s. When the monasteries were allowed to rebuild again and reopen, H.H. Kathok Jamyang Tulku Rinpoche started the reconstruction of Rigon Dhongak Choekhorling Monastery with tireless effort. Venerable Rigo Tulku Rinpoche Sonam Tenzin who lives in India visited Rigon Dhongak Choekhorling Monastery in Tibet three times and generously gave financial support to rebuild the new monastery. Rigo Tulku Paljor and Abbot Palga took the main responsibilities in rebuilding the monastery with great effort by Rigo Tulku Kunsang Tenzin and other abbots and monks; they finally completed the reconstruction of Rigon Dhongak Choekhorling Monastery.
At present, under the guidance of H.H. Kathok Jamyang Tulku Rinpoche, Rigo monastery holds several great Pujas and prayers every year such as: the eight auspicious prayers at Tibetan New Year, Shitro and Netong pujas for the anniversary of the passing away of the Great Master Rinzin Kunzang Sherab for ten days in the fourth month of the Tibetan lunar calendar, a great worshiping puja in the Fifth month, the Vajrasattva puja for twelve days in the Ninth month, a Guru Rinpoche Puja in the eleventh month and a Guchung and Guchen puja in the eleventh and twelfth month.
Dozens of monks from Rigo Monastery have completed their Buddhist philosophy education from Kathok, Playul, Jorpu and Dzongsar institutes, a number of monks also studied and practiced Dharma in the great Serta and Yanchen monasteries. They all have been serving greatly in maintaining, propagating and developing the Lord Buddha’s Doctrine.