Ngak’chang Rinpoche wearing the takdröl

Wearing a Takdröl

accounts of how a takdröl comes to be worn in the hair

Ralzhig Pema Legden continues the account of Ngak’chang Rinpoche receiving back the takdröl:
During the week Ngak’chang Rinpoche announced that Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche had granted his request to give a number of empowerments. Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche, the manifestation of Dorje Tröllö, was going to give transmission of three yidams of the violently wrathful class – Tröma Nakmo, Seng-gé Dong-ma and Dorje Tröllö – all in one evening. When the day of the empowerment arrived, the house suddenly filled up with people. Others of Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche’s British sangha appeared for the dBang, as well as disciples of other Lamas.

Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche appeared in extraordinary garb, a mixture of maroon robes and an orange silk professorial gown from Shantiniketan university. He added to this a part-set of bone ornaments, and the aforementioned takdröl. I never knew Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche to require the participants to prepare in any special way for a dBang; nor private time for his own preparation in the gompa. Whatever he required for his own purposes was inscrutable, a matter he might have taken care of before appearing at an event. As a Speech Incarnation of Padmasambhava, it would seem impossible to conceive and presumptuous to speculate, what kind of ‘preparation’ he might require. He would launch directly into his invocation, as he did now. After the empowerment one lady revealed that she had practised twenty years waiting for the chance to attend a wrathful wang (dBang) like this, given in the direct sadhana style of inner Tantra, typical of the gö kar chang lo’i dé (gos dKar lCang lo’i sDe). Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche’s directness frequently meant freedom from expected kinds of relative decorum; particularly of speech.

We sat as a mandala in the aftermath of the dBang, in the fallout of Tantra’s inverse neutron bomb, which transfigures sentience while destroying, like Guru Nang-srid Zil-ngön, the appearance of phenomena. Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche removed his black crown. He beckoned Ngak’chang Rinpoche up to his throne table. Untying the takdröl, he indicated to Ngak’chang Rinpoche to lean forwards, and tied it to his topknot – from his hair directly to Ngak’chang Rinpoche’s. Most of us apprentices of Ngak’chang Rinpoche, we found afterwards, had tears in our eyes. It meant so much to us, to witness Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche’s endorsement of our Lama’s integrity. Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche looked around the room in a severely stern manner. He looked seriously wrathful and we wondered what had happened. After almost a minute of high tension he announced in a ferociously loud voice: ‘Everyone here has seen me do this! No one here can say I did not do this! No one can say that he must not wear this takdröl!’

A few years after this episode Ngak’chang Rinpoche dumbfounded me one day by presenting me with this same takdröl. He said: ‘I would like you to keep this for the time being.’ Nowadays Ngak’chang Rinpoche has another takdröl, a gift from Kyabjé Künzang Dorje Rinpoche, but he wears that on his gom-tag. He also possesses a splendid gold one, a replica of that worn by Yeshé Tsogyel in her Aro gTér root form, topped with a flaming skull. At a later date, Ngak’chang Rinpoche told me I should wear his former takdröl whenever I wore robes, as Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche had suggested that he should pass his old takdröl on to me when the time came for me to give empowerments. At a later date again Ngak’chang Rinpoche instructed me to attach a skull to the takdröl – again on the advice of Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche.