The present Bardor Tulku Rinpoche was born in 1950 in Kham, East Tibet. The third incarnation of Barway Dorje, he was recognized by His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa at a very early age. Rinpoche was quite young when he and his family left East Tibet on a journey that took them first to Lhasa, then Tsurphu, and onward to Drikung, the home of Rinpoche's grandparents.
With the Chinese communist occupation of Tibet, the political and social conditions worsened, so Rinpoche's family, a party of thirteen, set out toward India. They traveled through Kong Po and crossed the Himalayan mountain range, over 17,000-foot passes, and then descended into the jungles of Assam, India. It was there, when Rinpoche was still only nine years old, that one after another of his family members died. Rinpoche set out with a twelve-year-old friend and a group of other Tibetans.
At the township of Bomdila, where the borders of Tibet, Bhutan, and Assam meet, a bombing raid dispersed the group. Rinpoche and his friend fled the attack and traveled westward to Darjeeling. His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa arranged for Rinpoche to be brought to Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, where he began his formal training as a tulku.
After completing many years of study and practice, Bardor Tulku Rinpoche accompanied the Sixteenth Karmapa on his world tours from 1974 to 1976. In 1976 His Holiness requested that Rinpoche remain in New York. Until the Mead Mountain House, in Woodstock, New York, was purchased in early 1978, Rinpoche stayed in New York City and in Putnam County. The Woodstock property was purchased to establish His Holiness Karmapa's seat in North America. After the groundbreaking ceremony in May 1982, Bardor Rinpoche directed the construction plans and activities, working every day to build the monastery.
The first Barway Dorje, born in 1836, was the ninth incarnation of Nupchen Sangye Yeshe, one of the twenty-five great disciples of Guru Padmasambhava. Throughout his life, the first Barway Dorje was guided by Guru Rinpoche. As a young man, he had a vision in which he received empowerment from Guru Rinpoche and the name "Great Bliss Blazing Dorje." He is thereafter known as Barway Dorje (Bardor).
In the year 2000, Rinpoche founded the Raktrul Foundation, independent of KTD, to preserve the lineage of the Barway Dorje practices and to establish the Institute of Buddhist Studies at Raktrul Monastery in Nangchen, Tibet.
Rinpoche lives with his wife, Sonam Chotso, and their three daughters, Karma, Chime, and Rigdzin, near KTD in Woodstock, New York, USA.
Bardor Tulku Ripoche has four publications, Teaching on the Tashi Prayer, The Kagyu Lineage and the Activity of the Karmapas, The Practice of Green Tara, and Living in Compassion.
Precious Essence, The Inner Autobiography of the First Barway Dorje, translated by Lama Yeshe Gyamtso.