Patrül Rinpoche (1808-1887) was born in the Dzachuka valley of Eastern Tibet. Although he is generally considered to have been the speech incarnation of the great tertön Jikme Lingpa, Patrül Rinpoche was originally recognized as an incarnation of Palgé Tülku, a lama from Dzogchen Monastery. The first Dodrupchen Rinpoche, one of Jigme Lingpa’s two main disciples, entrusted young Patrül with the Longchen Nyingthik lineage shortly after the recognition. He practiced, studied, and taught this lineage throughout his life.
Patrül Rinpoche studied with many different masters. His two main teachers, however, were Jigme Lingpa’s second main disciple, Jigme Gyalwe Nyugu, and the great tantric yogi Do Khyentse Yeshe Dorje, the mind incarnation of Jigme Lingpa. Under these and other important lamas, he studied a vast array of topics, from the foundational teachings of the Hinayana up to the most profound and secret oral instructions of the Great Perfection.
At the age of twenty, Patrül Rinpoche left the residence of his predecessor and took up the life of a wandering hermit. For the rest of his days, Patrül wandered from mountain retreats to large monasteries, practicing the teachings, instructing students, and composing commentaries on important texts and practices. Though he was master of the Great Perfection teachings, he had a passion for teaching the Mahayana as well. He taught Shantideva’s Bodhicaryavatara over a hundred times. Throughout his life, Patrül Rinpoche demonstrated the impeccable life of a true siddha-scholar; he kept few possessions, had no fixed abode, and was often mistaken for a beggar due to his humble appearance.
Patrül Rinpoche’s heart disciple was Lungtok Tenpé Nyima, who lived with him for twenty-eight years. His other disciples include some of the 19th century’s most outstanding masters. Among them were Mipham Rinpoche, Khenpo Künpal, the 3rd Dodrupchen Rinpoche, the famed tertön and teacher of the 13th Dalai Lama, Lerab Lingpa, and Adzom Drukpa. Patrül Rinpoche died at the age of 80.