Tulku Sang Ngag
B. Alan Wallace
At the very moment that Dorje Dechen Lingpa’s incarnation was born in Sikkim, the sky thundered the details of his location. He was discovered exactly as described, born into the Yangthang family, which is why Rinpoche is known as Yangthang Tulku. A second emanation was born in Sikkim and was brought up together with his older counterpart. When Yangthang Rinpoche was invited back to his monastery in Tibet, the younger emanation also insisted upon joining him. The two young boys departed with their party, playing and performing many miracles along the journey.
Upon returning to Dhomang Monastery both tulkus were put in the hands of Sogtrul Rinpoche and many other lamas at Dhomang. They were given the finest and best education, with Khenpo Pema from the Palyul Mother Monastery as their personal instructor. Thus, both tulkus were able to fully complete all their studies. In Tibet, before the Cultural Revolution, Yangthang Rinpoche gave the entire Kangyur transmission and many other great empowerments. He became the head of Dhomang Monastery and carried out all the administrative duties personally.
In 1958, the Communist Chinese captured and killed Sogtrul Rinpoche and the younger tulku. Yangthang Rinpoche escaped to the region of Dodrupchen Monastery where, later, he was also captured and imprisoned for twenty-two years. During this time he was repeatedly tortured and endured horrible treatment from the Communists. Yet he remained optimistic and dedicated to the Buddhadharma. He encouraged his fellow prisoners to secretly continue their practice and prayers, since one day they would be freed. And, in fact, following the death of Mao Tse Tung, they were released from prison.
Among the tertöns, exceptional manifestations have been given the title “Lingpa” in acknowledgment of their remarkable qualities. Like Ratna Lingpa, Karma Lingpa, Chokgyur Lingpa, and others, Dorje Dechen Lingpa revealed many volumes of treasures and was an undisputed realized master, a manifestation of the wisdom and compassion of all the buddhas. As his reincarnation, Yangthang Tulku Rinpoche does have the power and blessing to give the entire Rinchen Terzöd cycle of empowerments, as so few lamas are qualified to do. Moreover, he is of course also an emanation of Vimalamitra, just as Kyabje Penor Rinpoche was. Vimalamitra's wisdom is inseparable from Guru Rinpoche’s, the source of the blessings of all the revealed treasures.
Biographical information provided by the Venerable Gyatrul Rinpoche, taken from An Interview with Venerable Gyatrul Rinpoche by His Students, published by Orgyen Dorje Den.