Acharya Dawa Chhodak Rinpoche was born into the Jova family, a lineage of yogis (ngakpas) which traces back to the time of Milarepa. He was born on Guru Rinpoche’s day near Mukhti Narayan, a sacred pilgrimage spot in Northern Nepal. After his birth, he was taken to the great Mahasiddha, Golok Sert’hong Rinpoche, who recognized him as the reincarnation of Nakchu Gelong Konchok, a siddha who left handprints in the caves of Mount Kailash. Golok Sert’hong Rinpoche made many auspicious predictions and named him Dawa Chhodak, in honor of the great Buddhist Masters,
Chandrakirti and Dharmakirti. Dawa Chhodak Rinpoche was raised in his father’s monastery in Dolpo, a remote region on the border of Tibet and Nepal. His father, Kathak Rigzin Dorje Rinpoche, a yogi from the Taklung Kagyu lineage, began Lama Dawa’s religious education at an early age in the traditional manner.
In 1960 he and his family relocated to Northern India where they met His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche. From the age of thirteen, he began his studies, training and practices in the Dudjom New Treasures lineage under HH Dudjom Rinpoche. From Dudjom Rinpoche, he received the empowerments and transmissions of the Rinchen Terzod, the Nyingma rGyud Bum, Nyingma bKa’ma, as well as the Dudjom Tersar. Lama Dawa completed many retreats under the guidance of Dudjom Rinpoche and became one of Dudjom Rinpoche’s heart disciples, receiving all the outer, inner and sacred transmissions and oral instructions.
Lama Dawa’s root guru HH Dudjom Rinpoche sent him to Sanskrit University in Varanasi, India, to receive his formal education. After nine years of study in Buddhist Philosophy and Sanskrit language, he received the Acharya degree, graduating at the top of his class.
Upon HH Dudjom Rinpoche’s order, Lama Dawa studied with HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and received complete teachings and transmissions of a rare Red Saraswati (Dorje Yangchenma) terma discovered by the terton Chokyi Gocha. He completed all the retreats and practices under Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s guidance. Through this practice, and through HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s strong encouragement, Lama Dawa perfected the siddhis to do the Divine Mirror Divination (Ta) practice. Since that time, he has benefited countless individuals with his abilities to see the past, present and future.
In order to receive the complete teachings and lineage transmissions of the sacred rTsa Lung course of the Northern Treasure’s Rigzin Sogdrup, his root guru, HH Dudjom Rinpoche, sent him to study with Kunzang Dorje Rinpoche (Lama Karma Gyalpo), a great accomplished Nyingma master of the TsaLung practices, and lineage holder of the Rigdzin Sogdrup, the sacred transmissions from the Northern Terma Treasures (Jang Ter). Over the course of ten years, he made many trips to Sikkhim, Darjeeling and Nepal in order to complete the practices under Kunzang Dorje Rinpoche’s direct guidance. In 1985, upon the successful completion of the Tummo practices, Rinpoche bestowed the most sacred Me Wang (Fire empowerment) of Vajravarahi on Dawa Chhodak Rinpoche and passed on all the instruments of the Tsa Lung Master, thus bestowing the authority of the lineage holder.
From his Gurus HH Dudjom Rinpoche, HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Kyabje Kunzang Dorje Rinpoche, Acharya Dawa Chhodak Rinpoche has received full authority to teach and transmit these rare and precious lineages to fortunate disciples worldwide. As an experienced yogi and erudite scholar, who speaks and teaches in English, Tibetan, Hindi, Nepalese and Sanskrit; Dawa Chhodak Rinpoche is fully capable of guiding students according to their individual capacities. Since 1989, he has been traveling and teaching in North America to small groups of serious students who are committed to traversing the entire path.
In 2007 Lama Dawa Rinpoche and his wife, Khandro Kunzang, founded Saraswati Bhawan, a non-profit religious organization in the state of Iowa, which purchased land on the bluffs overlooking the Upper Mississippi River Valley. There they are endeavoring to build a full scale three-dimensional mandala of Vajrakilaya, dedicated to world peace, and have created the Phurba Peace Mandala Project International. In addition, Lama Dawa Rinpoche established the retreat center, P’hurba Thinley Ling and leads annual retreats every summer. Lama Dawa Rinpoche has also established two centers in Mexico; Rigzin Osel Ling, in Ensenada, and Duddul Namgyal Ling, in Cholula. He travels throughout North America, India and Nepal, giving teachings, empowerments and retreats to fortunate students worldwide.