His Holiness Drubwang Pema Norbu Rinpoche passed away today, March 27th, in India. His Holiness was the head of the Nyingma lineage, and a prominent and well-loved spiritual master for the Tibetan and worldwide Buddhist communities.
Although it was bitterly cold at the time of Pema Norbu’s birth in 1932, it is said that sweetly scented flowers bloomed all around his village. The young Penor Rinpoche was invited to the Palyul monastery where he took refuge with the great and learned Khenpo Ngaga. The Khenpo performed the traditional hair cutting ceremony and gave him the name Dhongag Shedrup Tenzin.
Pema Norbu was formally enthroned by his master Thubten Chökyi Dawa (1894-1959) the second Choktrul Rinpoche, and Karma Thekchok Nyingpo (1908-1958) the fourth Karma Kuchen Rinpoche. In time, Penor Rinpoche became the eleventh throne holder of Palyul Monastery with its more than four hundred branch monasteries. He spent many years at Palyul, studying and receiving teachings from numerous masters and scholars, including Karma Kuchen, the tenth throneholder, who carefully prepared him as his successor.
In the mid-1990s, His Holiness recognized Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche as the incarnation of the great 19th century scholar and spiritual master Mipham the Great; and in 1995, His Holiness enthroned Sakyong Mipham as the Sakyong in a ceremony in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Sakyong has studied extensively with His Holiness and his khenpos at Namdroling, the largest Nyingma teaching centre in the world. In 2008, Penor Rinpoche conferred the Sakyong Wangmo Empowerment on Khandro Tseyang in a ceremony in Halifax.
Buddhist centers around the world, including His Holiness’s Palyul Centers, and the Shambhala Community, are focusing on practices in honor of His Holiness at this time.