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Tai Situpa

The Tai Situpa (Tibetan: ཏའི་སི་ཏུ་པ་Wylie: ta'i si tu pa, from Chinese: 大司徒; pinyin: Dàsītú "Great Preceptor"[1]) is one of the oldest lineages of tulkus (reincarnated lamas) in the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism[2] According to tradition, the Tai Situpa is an emanation of Maitreya, the bodhisattva who will become the next Buddha and who has been incarnated as numerous Indian and Tibetan yogis since the time of the historical Buddha.[2]


The Tai Situpa is one of the highest-ranking lamas of the Karma Kagyu lineage.[2] Chokyi Gyaltsen was the first to bear the title "Grand Situ" (Chinese: 大司徒; pinyin: Dà Sītú), conferred upon him in 1407 by the Yongle Emperor of Ming China. He was a close disciple of Deshin Shekpa, 5th Karmapa Lama, who appointed him abbot of Karma Goen, the Karmapa's principal monastery at the time. The full title bestowed was Kenting Naya Tang Nyontse Geshetse Tai Situpa which is shortened to Kenting Tai Situ. The full title means "far reaching, unshakable, great master, holder of the command".[3]

The current, 12th Tai Situpa, Pema Tönyö Nyinje, was born in a farming family named Liyultsang in 1954 in the village of Palmey, which is part of Palyul (Wylie: dpal yul) or Baiyü County, Sichuan, China that was formerly part of the Kingdom of Derge.

At the age of twenty-two, Tai Situ founded his own new monastic seat, Palpung Monastery, Himachal Pradesh, in Northeast India. He traveled widely, making his first visit to the West in 1981 to Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery and Tibetan Centre in Scotland.[4]

The 12th Tai Situpa was instrumental in recognizing Ogyen Trinley Dorje, one of two claimants to the title of 17th Karmapa, whom he coronated at Tsurphu Monastery outside Lhasa in August 1992. He also recognized Choseng Trungpa, born on February 6, 1989 in Chamdo County, Tibet Autonomous Region, as the reincarnation of Chögyam Trungpa.

Lineage of the Tai Situpas

  1. Chokyi Gyaltsen (1377–1448)
  2. Tashi Namgyal (1450–1497)
  3. Tashi Paljor (1498–1541)
  4. Mitrug Gocha (1542–1585)
  5. Chokyi Gyaltsen Gelek Palzang (1586–1657)
  6. Mipham Trinlay Rabten (1658–1682)
  7. Lekshe Mawe Nyima (1683–1698)
  8. Situ Panchen (1700–1774)
  9. Pema Nyingche Wangpo (1774–1853)
  10. Pema Kunzang Chogyal (1854–1885)
  11. Pema Wangchuk Gyalpo (1886–1952)
  12. Pema Tönyö Nyinje (1954-)


  1. ^ Kuijp, Leonard van der. "The Tibetan Expression "bod wooden door" (bod shing sgo) and its probable Mongol Antecedent". 西域历史语言研究集刊 (Historical and Philological Studies of China's Western Regions) (Beijing: Science Press) 3: 89. 
  2. ^ a b c History of the Tai Situpas
  3. ^ History of Tibet – A Few Chapters (Part 3)
  4. ^ Biography of 12th Tai Situpa

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