Chatral Rinpoche, Sangye Dorje(born June 18, 1913) is a Dzogchen master and reclusive yogi of the Nyingma tradition. Known for his strict moral discipline and vegetarianism, as well as his great realization and strict discipline, he is also a fierce critic of Shugden practice.
In his late 20s the Dalai Lama’s then regent Reting Rinpoche, a master of the Gelug tradition, requested Dzogchen teachings from him: Dzogchen lies at the very pinnacle of the teachings of the Nyingma tradition. It is said that Chatral Rinpoche had to be smuggled into and out of the Potala Palace in disguise in order to transmit these teachings to the regent, for fear of his being assasinated by Shugden devotees. Reting was later to die under mysterious circumstances in a jail beneath the Potala. Zimey, author of the Yellow Book, and his teacher Trijang Rinpoche attributed his agonizing death to the ‘enlightened’ activity of their preferred deity, Dolgyal Shugden. Trijang was also the principle master of NKT founder, Kelsang Gyatso.
In the early 1970s, under the tutelage of Trijang Rinpoche, Zimey published ‘The Yellow Book’, the pro Shugden polemic which caused the Shugden controversy to erupt once more, though now for the first time, in the exiled community. Chatral Rinpoche responded in 1978 with his ‘Rain of Adamantine Fire’, a refutation of Zimey’s divisive work which discusses, inter alia, the faults of sectarianism and the distortions that arose in the Gelug tradition in recent decades as a result of Shugden devotees activities.
While in his early 90s and after publication of ‘The Rain’, Chatral Rinpoche was the victim of an assasination attempt at the hands of a deranged young Westerner and Shugden devotee. Claiming to be possessed by the spirit, the would-be assassin attempted to strangle the aged practitioner in clear retaliation for his staunch, anti Shugden views. Fortunately for the Rinpoche and his students, the attempt was unsuccessful.
Chatral Rinpoche’s autobiography, ‘Compassionate Action’, edited by Zach Larson and published by Snow Lion, is available from Amazon local sites.
Readers of Tibetan should click the link below to go to the Tibetan text of Chatral Sangye Dorje’s ‘Rain of Adamantine Fire: A Holy Discourse Based on Scripture and Reason, Annihilating the Poisonous Seeds of the Speech of Dzeme Tulku Lobsang Palden [author of “The Yellow Book”] to read his work. Unfortumately, thus far a reliable English translation of the work has not been produced. Extracts from Zimey’s work are also available on this site.