The high-ranking Tibetan lama Wangdor Rinpoche, the senior khenpo at Zigar Monastery in Tso Pema (Lotus Lake) in far northern India, passed away last week at the age of 94. His disciples say the remains of their teacher may be mummified once the last rites have been observed, according to tantric tradition.
Wangdor Rinpoche is reported to have died at 2:15am on 18 September at his residence in Tso Pema in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. For the past week, his body has lain in the “sleeping Buddha” posture, and his followers say the lack of physical decomposition indicates that the lama is in a state of deep samadhi, in the intermediate state between life and death.
“The master is in high meditative stage of trance. Other teachers in the monastery will take the final decision to preserve the body which will be mummified later,” said a disciple identified as Hara Zigar. “His body temperature is almost normal.”
A decision on the last rites for the lama is expected to be taken after 49 days.
“The death rites will only be held after the body indicates it so, something that the other lamas here are closely monitoring,” the secretary of Zigar Monastery, near Tso Pema, was quoted as saying. (Hill Post)
In a message on her website dated 20 September, Rinpoche’s student and disciple of 50 years, Lama Lena Yeshe Kaytup, who will oversee the last rites for her teacher, wrote:
With great sadness, I must tell you all that Wangdor Rimpoche has departed his Venerable body at last. He passed away in Tso Pema Wednesday morning (India time). As I write this I am already en route to Tso Pema myself and will be able to provide more details once I am there.
Even in grief let me remind you that Venerable Wangdor Rimpoche will always remain present in the lineage, resting beyond the limits of time and space. Practice joyfully. Look at your mind. “Mind mind looking.”
Wangdor Rinpoche was born in 1925 in the traditional region of Kham in eastern Tibet, where he studied at the renowned Zigar Monastery. He was very close to the first Thuksey Rinpoche, to whom he was highly devoted.
After fleeing the Chinese occupation of Tibet, Rinpoche settle near Tso Pema, a sacred lake in Himachal Pradesh. He became the senior lama and khenpo at Zigar Orgyen Choekorling Monastery, and there initiated the construction of a 42-meter statue of the eighth century Tibetan master Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, overlooking the lake. The image was consecrated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2012.
Holding both Nyingma and Kagyu Dzogchen/Chagchen lineages, Rinpoche reportedly spent decades meditating and practicing in caves first used by the Guru Rinpoche, above Tsol Pema, earning renown and respect as a venerable teacher and a master of Dzogchen meditation.
94-year-old Buddhist master Rinpoche to be mummified in Rewalsar (Hindustan Times)
Rinpoche ‘meditating’, call on last rites later (The Tribune)
Tibetan Lama Dead For A Week, Pilgrims Throng Rewalsar (Hill Post)
The Passing of Venerable Wangdor Rimpoche (The Lama Lena Teaching Archive)
Venerable Wangdor Rimpoche (CustomJuju.com)