Terdag Lingpa and the Family Lineage of Mindrolling
The great Mindrolling lineage is also known as Palden Nyörig. Popular Tibetan legend says that this lineage descended from the celestial devas. It is thus one of the Lha-rig (deva-family) lineages of Tibet. Many great masters of Tibet such as Khedrub Don-Nga Tenzin and Sangdak Thrinley Lhundrub were born in this lineage which later became renowned as Mindrolling when Chögyal Terdag Lingpa established the Og Min Ogyen Mindrolling monastery in 1676. He set up a family lineage for the continuation of his lineage.
Traditionally there are three types of lineages in Tibetan Buddhism:
sKu rGyud – reincarnation lineage such as that of tulkus
sLob rGyud – disciple lineage such as that of Tilpoa, Naropa, Marpa and Milarepa.
gDung rGyud – family lineage
The family or the blood lineage is one in which the next head of a lineage is the child of the lineage holder. In Tibetan Buddhism, there are two lineages that follow this system—the Sakya lineage of the Sakya Trizins and the Mindrolling lineage. Thus, the Mindrolling lineage continues to this day through the direct descendants of Terdag Lingpa to the 11th Mindrolling Trichen.
Terdag Lingpa’s Descendants Further His Vision
The Mindrolling lineage continued as Terdag Lingpa’s descendants furthered his vision. His sons, Pema Jurme Gyatso and Gyalsay Drinchen Rinchen Namgyal, and his daughter, Jetsün Mingyur Paldrön maintained and expanded Mindrolling, spreading the teachings widely. All members of the Mindrolling lineage have been known for their contributions in establishing and propagating the Dharma. Some of the most exceptional individuals amongst them were Gyalsay Drinchen Rinchen Namgyal, Trichen Pema Wangyal, Trichen Sangye Kunga, Do-Nga Tenzin Norbu, Jampal Dewei Nyima, Jetsün Thrinley Chödron, Minling Khenchen Rinpoche and Minling Chung Rinpoche.
The Tri Rab and the Khen Rab
Although each individual of Mindrolling contributed in many ways, the lineage has passed down through two main branches: the Trichen lineage known as Tri Rab, or throne holder, and the Khen Rab, or vinaya holder. The eldest son assumes the title of Trichen (throne holder) and a younger brother becomes the Khenchen and holds the vinaya line.
Photo Credit: The Lineage Shrine Room at Mindrolling Monastery in India ©2015 Mindrolling International