The Rinpoches were born and raised in the Dhoshul region of Kham in eastern Tibet near the sacred mountain Jowo Zegyal. Their family was steeped in Vajrayana Buddhism for generations, and among their ancestors were many great scholars and practitioners. Their father's family inherited the responsibility of administering the local monastery, Gochen Monastery, and their grandfather was chant master in charge of ritual ceremonies. The Khenpo Rinpoches have said that as children, should they awaken at anytime during the night, they could always hear their devoted father reciting his prayers or chanting his mantras.
Ven. Khenchen Palden Rinpoche, the eldest of the two, is among the last generation of Tibetans fully educated in the monastic system of old Tibet. When he speaks of his life in Tibet, he refers to it as "ancient times." It is astonishing that these two men raised in a system of ancient esoteric principles based on love, compassion and wisdom now find themselves in contemporary United States of America. The brothers now make their home in New York.
Ven. Khenchen Palden Rinpoche (1942-2010) began his intensive monastic training at the age of six at Gochen Monastery. So strong was his desire to study and learn that he would sneak outdoors after curfew and into the shrubberies to read his books under the moonlight. At age 12, he entered Riwoche Monastery, one of the oldest and largest monastic institutes in eastern Tibet and famous for its philosophers and logicians. There he was trained to become the next Abbot of Gochen. He completed his studies just as the Chinese invasion reached the area.
Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche was born in the same mountain region as his brother. Soon after his birth he was recognized as a Tulku, the reincarnation of the Venerable Sherab Khyentse Rinpoche, a renowned Abbot of Gochen Monastery. Beginning his education at the age of five, Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche entered Gochen Monastery; however, his studies were interrupted by the occupation and he escaped to India with his family.
After the escape and having continued his studies and writings in eastern India for a few years, Ven. Khenchen Palden Rinpoche, was asked by His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, the supreme head of the Nyingma Lineage, to join a group of the most eminent scholars and leaders of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism for a one-year conference. This conference was to be overseen by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Their purpose was to discuss ways to maintain the culture and spiritual heritage of Tibet, and to amass the sacred Buddhist texts containing Lord Buddha's teachings which lay scattered about India in varying communities due to the tumultuous exodus of the refugees. Even in their turmoil to escape, it was the wish of individuals, merchants, and families to preserve the sacred teachings and texts. The larger collections were primarily secured and carried out by the monks and high Lamas, but even children helped, and altogether the holy books numbered in the thousands. Each person attempted to save as many scriptures as they could by physically carrying them out or hiding them in the mountains for future retrieval. Some scriptures were personal practices or family treasures; others were brought from the libraries of the local monasteries. It was through the Tibetan people's infallible devotion that the complete cycle of teachings were salvaged. This unique conference of senior monastic leaders led to the formation of a university, the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, India. In 1967, Ven. Khenchen Palden Rinpoche was appointed head of the Nyingmapa Department of this institute by His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, and remained in charge there for over 18 years.
Meanwhile in the early 1960s, Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche traveled to northern India to attend Tso Pema, Rewalsar, a Nyingma monastic school close to one of the holy lakes of Guru Padmasambhava. In 1967, he went to Sanskrit University where he received BA and MA degrees in Buddhist studies. Then in 1978, he was enthroned by His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche as Abbot of the Wishfulfilling Nyingmapa Institute of Kathmandu, Nepal. He was later appointed Head Abbott of the Institute's Department of Dharma Studies.
The two scholarly brothers (also known as the Khenpo Rinpoches) made their first trip to America in 1980, and in 1982 moved to New York to work closely with His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche. In 1985, the Khenpos founded Dharma Samudra, a non-profit publishing organization which began by publishing a Tibetan edition of 11 volumes of the hidden treasure teachings revealed by the great terton Tsasum Lingpa in the 17th century. Collectively they are the authors of several learned works: Tibetan language books, poetry, grammar texts, Buddhist philosophy and practice, logic and tantra, and historical perspectives. Many of their books dealing with Tibetan Buddhism are available in English.
In 1989, the Khenpos founded Padmasambhava Buddhist Center (PBC), a non-profit organization to teach the authentic word and practices of Tibetan Nyingma Buddhism and established the first center in New York. PBC now has chapters in over 20 cities in the USA, Russia, Canada, and Puerto Rico, plus monasteries in India and at their main stateside monastery and retreat center in upstate New York. Since that time, the Khenpo Rinpoches have served as the directors and spiritual leaders at the various PBC centers and monasteries. They maintain active travel and teaching schedules that include annual visits to their centers where they give talks, teachings, and individual meditation instruction to their devoted sangha (community) of students. In fact, the Khenpo Rinpoches' dynamic teachings and skillful insights make the simplest to the most complex teachings of Buddhism applicable to every aspect of our busy Western lives. Their vibrant personalities and humorous wit have delighted students, while their example of devotion to Tibetan Buddhist practice have inspired and attracted a multitude of practitioners.
Having taught worldwide, His Eminence Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche and Venerable Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche are among the most highly qualified teachers and esteemed scholars of Tibetan Buddhism. The Rinpoches are fully versed in the Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana Schools, and are considered masters of Dzogchen, the most advanced tradition of meditation practice in Tibetan Buddhism. The Khenpo Rinpoches hold the transmissions of the Nyingma Kama, and Terma Lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. So highly respected are the brothers that they have received many honors, appointments, and recognition from His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche and other significant Tibetan leaders, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama.