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Senior Tibetan Lama the Third Bardor Tulku Rinpoche Dies Aged 71

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The Third Bardor Tulku Rinpoche, 1949–2021. From kunzang.org
The Third Bardor Tulku Rinpoche, 1949–2021. From kunzang.org

The esteemed Tibetan lama and Dharma teacher Bardor Tulku Rinpoche passed into parinirvana after a long illness in the afternoon of 1 April, at the age of 71. Rinpoche was reported to have passed peacefully at his home in Bearsville, New York, and is survived by his wife, Sonam Chotso Lama, and their three daughters, Karma, Chime, and Rigdzin. 

Kunzang Palchen Ling, the Tibetan Buddhist center of which Rinpoche was the founder and spiritual director, announced that pujas would be performed and live-streamed daily over the next seven weeks from 5 April for Bardor Rinpoche’s swift, obstacle-free rebirth. Full details and links can be found here.

News of Bardor Tulku Rinpoche’s passing was shared widely among Buddhist communities on social media. The Kunzang Palchen Ling Facebook page shared a message of condolence from the Tsurphu Labrang, the office of His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa:

Bardor Tulku Rinpoche, a peerless light of the teachings, passed into peace on April 1, 2021. Saddened by this, we of the Tsurphu Labrang offer our sincerest condolences to all of Rinpoche’s disciples and especially to his consort, daughters, and other relatives. In accordance with the command and wishes of His Holiness The Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa, the entire sangha of Rumtek Monastery are presenting offering clouds and making vast aspirations for both the fulfillment of Rinpoche’s intentions and his unceasing continued benefit of the teachings and beings. (Kunzang Palchen Ling Facebook) 

The Third Bardor Tulku Rinpoche, holder of the Terchen Barway Dorje lineage, was born 1 May 1949 in the traditional Tibetan region of Kham in eastern Tibet. He was recognized at a very young age as the third incarnation of Terchen Barway Dorje, a terton, or treasure revealer, who lived at the turn of 19th and 20th centuries, by His Holiness the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa.

Following the invasion of Tibet in 1959, Rinpoche traveled overland to India, an arduous journey that resulted in the deaths of his family members. In India, Rinpoche continued his training at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim under the tutelage of the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa. During his teens, Bardor Tulku Rinpoche was enthroned as a tulku at Rumtek Monastery.

After many years of study and practice, Bardor Tulku Rinpoche accompanied the 16th Karmapa on international teaching tours and public appearances in 1974 and 1976. In 1977, His Holiness asked Rinpoche to remain in Woodstock, New York, where he helped to establish and teach at His Holiness’ first monastery and seat in North America, Karma Triyana Dharmachakra.

Bardor Tulku Rinpoche served Karma Triyana Dharmachakra for more than 30 years, teaching the Dharma extensively across the US and internationally. With the blessing of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa and His Eminence the 12th Tai Situ Rinpoche, Rinpoche established Raktrul Foundation in 2000 to help fund the reconstruction of Raktrul Monastery in Tibet and to provide for the educational needs of the monastics and the lay community.


In 2003, Rinpoche established the Tibetan Buddhist center Kunzang Palchen Ling in Red Hook, New York, to offer Dharma teachings from all traditions of Tibetan Buddhism and to serve as a base for preserving and propagating in the West the terma teachings of Terchen Barway Dorje. In October 2008, Bardor Tulku Rinpoche resigned from all his responsibilities at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra to focus fully on directing the activities of Kunzang Palchen Ling.

Samsara is just emptiness experienced by a mind that is in state of delusion. Nirvana is just emptiness experienced by a mind that is free of delusion. — The Third Bardor Tulku Rinpoche

See more

Bardor Tulku Rinpoche Passed Away (Tara Dhatu)
Biography of the 3rd Bardor Rinpoche (Kunzang Palchen Ling)
49 Days Offering Kudung Pujas for Terchen Barway Dorje (Kunzang Palchen Ling)
Kunzang Palchen Ling
Kunzang Palchen Ling (Facebook)

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