Ma Rinchen Chok

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Ma Rinchen Chok 8th cent.

Name Variants: Matok Rinchen

Rinchen Chok (rin chen mchog) was born in Penyul ('phan yul), in U (dbus), into the Ma (rma) clan. He was ordained by Śāntarakṣita together with six other Tibetans, a group collectively known as the “seven men who were tested,” the Semi Midun (sad mi mi bdun).

Rinchen Chok was among the party who traveled to India to invite Vimalamitra to Tibet, becoming a close disciple of the master. Vimalamitra gave him the transmission of the root tantras of the Mahāyoga, the Māyājāla and the Guhyagarbha, and together they translated them into Tibetan. He is said to have written over two hundred commentaries on the works of Padmasambhava, Vimalamitra, and Buddhaguhya, although only a few works are preserved.

By practicing Padmasambhava's teachings, mostly at Chimpu (mchims phu), he demonstrated his realization by cutting rocks into pieces as if they were dough, and then eating them as if they were food. He is credited with assisting Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyel conceal treasure.

Having fully comprehended the Madhyamaka teachings of Nāgārjuna, Rinchen Chok is said to have participated in the famous Samye debate, assisting Kamalashila in defeat of the Chinese master Hvashang Mahāyāna.

Some sources record that Rinchen Chok was murdered in retaliation for the assassination of Langdarma (glang dar ma), but most have it that he lived out his life in retreat, making his way to Kham where he transmitted the Mahāyoga teachings to Rinchen Zhonnu (rin chen gzhon nu) and Kyere Chokyong (kye re mchog skyong), who's students, Darje Pelgyi Drakpa (dar rje dpal gyi grags pa) and Zhang Gyelwai Yonten (zhang rgyal ba'i yon tan), were teachers of Nubchen Sanggye Yeshe (gnubs chen sangs rgyas ye shes, c.832-c.662). This tradition came to be known as the Kham lineage of the Māyājāla.

Among later Tibetans said to have been his reincarnations were Longsel Nyingpo (klong gsal snying po, 1625-1692) and the First Adzom Drukpa Drodul Pawo Dorje (a 'dzom 'brug pa 01 'gro 'dul dpa' bo rdo rje, 1842-1924)




Bradburn, Leslie, ed. 1995. Masters of the Nyingma Lineage. Cazadero: Dharma Publications, 1995, pp. 55-56.

Roerich, George, trans. 1996. The Blue Annals. 2nd ed. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, p. 167; 191. 

Tarthang Tulku. 1975. Bringing the Teachings Alive. Cazadero, CA: Dharma Publishing, pp. 79-80.

'Jam mgon kong sprul blo gros mtha' yas. 2007. Gter ston brgya rtsa. In Rin chen gter mdzod chen mo. New Delhi: Shechen, v.1 pp. 393-394.


Arthur Mandelbaum
August 2007