BIOGRAPHY OF VEN. MARATIKA LAMA NGAWANG CHOPHEL GYATSO RINPOCHE
Founder of Maratika monastery: Chimey Takten Choling
Venerable Ngawang Chophel Gyatso was born in the Water Dog year of the fourteen cycle 1922, on the tenth day of the fourth month, to Tsering Dorje from the Salaka Clan of the Thimipa Lineage in Solokhumbu, Nepal.
He entered Buddhism from childhood and studied with many great masters including Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, The 16th Gyalwang Karmapa, Kyabje Rongphu Sangye Rinpoche, Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche, Kyabje Dilgo Khentse Rinpoche, and Kyabje Dungse Thin Lhen Norbu Rinpoche.
He spent more than twenty one years in solitary retreats in Nepal, Tibet and India. He became one of the great practitioners of Buddhism of this century and later was one of the main disciples of Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche.
He additionally did retreat at the following places:
- six years at Bemkar
- three years at Dza-Rongphu
- six months at Tengpoche
- six months at Pangboche
- six months at Menche Hermitage
- one year in Akar Cave above Khumjung
- one year at Laudo
- one month at Thame
- one month at Bhigu
- one month at Kirong
- one month at Khenpalung
- one month at Jalsa
- five years in Sengdong Cave
- three years in Thongtrol Cave
- three years in Ngishar Cemetery
- one year in Drolo Cave
- six months in Tsering Cave
- one year in Rasadingma
Lama Ngawang Chophel Gyatso spent the majority of his time in Maratika. He has done Chod Practice in many cemeteries including Laknau and Tsari in Tibet. He has done many kinds of Chulen Practice, Dark Retreat and once did a specific retreat in which he offered his body in charity to the insects for one week.
Lawudo Lama, Kunsang Yeshge, was one of the teachers of Lama Ngawang Chophel Gyatso. Lama Ngawang Chophel Gyatso was with Lama Kunsang Yeshe during his passing. During this time the two Lamas were conversing with each other. After the passing Lama Ngawang Chophel Gyatso went to Tibet to consult with qualified venerable lamas, specifically with Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche, and asked them for confirmation of the tulku.. It was agreed that Venerable Lama Zopa Rinpoche was the first reincarnation of Lawudo Lama Kunsang Yeshe. All of this happened due to the great efforts of Lama Ngawang Chophel Gyatso.
He made great efforts towards helping all beings during his life. He made many Mani Mebums, built bridges over large rivers, fixed paths and from hunters and butchers he extracted the oath to refrain from killing. Further he benefited people by bringing rain when needed and by preventing hail storms. Many times he went to Bhutan for service to Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche and Kyabje Dilgo Khentse Rinpoche. Numerous times he traveled throughout Asia teaching the Dharma.
Under the guidance of the three 20th Century Masters: Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche, Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche and Kyabje Dilgo Khentse Rinpoche, he founded the first Buddhist Monastery at Maratika. He also reconstructed the Tsemothang Stupa in Sikkim, India.
In brief, Lama Ngawang Chophel Gyatso re-established Buddhism in Maratika.
He passed away in 1996 at Maratika with many auspicious signs.
More details about Lama Ngawang Chophel Gyatso Rinpoche can be found in his Autobiography translated by Katia Buffetrille, or (ma ra ti ka-i gne yig rig azin aja lus grub pa-i gsang lam) Pilgrims’ Guide to the Rocky cave of Maratika The Supreme Holy place of Immortality, written by Ven. Ngawang Jigdral Chokyi Wangchuk.