Kyabjé Chatral Sang-gyé Dorje Rinpoche was born in 1913 into the Ab-sé Clan of the Nyarong region of Kham, and then journeyed to Amdo to live. This is the same Clan to which Kyabjé Künzang Dorje Rinpoche belongs.
Chatral Rinpoche is a holder of the Düd’jom gTér lineage, having received transmission from Trülku Dorje Drag’dül Rinpoche, a son of the gTértön Ga’wang Düd’jom Lingpa. He also received transmission from Khandro Sé-ra Dewa’i Dorje Rinpoche – the Sangyum of Dri’mèd ö-Zér, another son of gTértön Ga’wang Düd’jom Lingpa.
Chatral Rinpoche’s Tsawa’i Lama was Kathog Khenpo Ngawang Palzang Rinpoche. From him Kyabjé Chatral Rinpoche received the Longchen Nying-thig. He received teachings from Dzongsar Khyentsé Chökyi Lödrö Rinpoche. He was one of the heart disciples of Kyabjé Düd’jom Jig’drèl Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche (the incarnation of the gTértön Ga’wang Düd’jom Lingpa).
Kyabjé Chatral Rinpoche left his family at the age of fifteen and travelled extensively in order to practise and receive teachings. He spent many years in solitary retreat in caves and is renowned as a realised ngakpa. He always travelled by foot – declining to avail himself of horses when they were offered. He took shelter in tents rather than accepting the hospitality of wealthy patrons. Today he lives in his own small dwelling in Yang-lé-shöd in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal – close to the retreat caves sacred to the memory of Padmasambhava and Yeshé Tsogyel. He continues to eschew—as has always been his conviction—involvement with politics and bureaucratic monastic institutions and lives as a simple hermit. Nonetheless, he has many disciples throughout the Trans-Himalayan regions and in the West. Even in his nineties Kyabjé Chatral Rinpoche travelled widely in the Himalayas in order to give transmission and teaching.
met Chatral Rinpoche in 1990 when he was granted an audience with him in the
company of his friend Gyaltsen Rinpoche.
Ngak’chang Rinpoche recounts of this meeting:
Chatral Rinpoche was most kind in expressing appreciation of the work in which
Khandro Déchen and I are engaged with regard to establishing
the gö kar chang
lo’i dé (gos dKar lCang lo’i sDe) in the West and working to support and propagate it in
the East. We talked of my connection with Khordong gTérchen Tulku Chhi’mèd
Rig’dzin Rinpoche and of my studies with him. Being in the presence of this profound Nyingma
Master was a wonderful opportunity for me – and I hope to meet with him again
one day. Chatral Rinpoche was evidentially concerned with nothing apart from
practice and those who practised. Whenever anyone’s name was mentioned by
Gyaltsen Rinpoche – his responses were always couched as appreciation for their
seriousness of practice rather than for works they had accomplished.
Kyabjé Chatral Rinpoche lived with his Sangyum, Kha’ma La, and his two daughters Dra-wang Lhamo (sGra dByangs lha mo – Celestial Melody – Saraswati) and Drölma Lhamo (sGrol ma lha mo – Celestial Liberated Lady - Tara Devi).