In this photograph Kyabjé Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche wears the Dorje Zahorma hat of the Khordong tradition. This is the hat of Nuden Dorje Dro’phang Lingpa Tröllö-tsal of whom he was the lineal incarnation. He was also the incarnation of Khalden Lingpa (who was the teacher of ’a-Shul Pema Legden). Kyabjé Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche was the twin incarnation (with Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche) of Nuden Dorje, whose incarnations go back to Shariputra – the disciple of Shakyamuni Buddha. Other incarnations of this line have included: Hungkara & Gagasiddhi (both Mahasiddhas); Khyé-chung Lotsa (one of the 25 disciples of Padmasambhava & Yeshé Tsogyel); and Gyalwa Thöndrüp (the son of Ma-gÇig Labdrön). Rinpoche is wearing the vajra-emblazoned shawl of Nuden Dorje which was designed for him by Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche.
Khordong gTérchen Tulku Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche, the fourth incarnation of Nuden Dorje Dro’phang Lingpa Tröllö Tsal, and one of the greatest living Masters of the Nyingmapa School, was born on the full moon day of the fifth month of the Water-dog year. He was first recognised by the Tulku Tsurlo Rinpoche. He was later recognised by the following nine Lamas: Zhichen Ögyen Chemchog, gTértön Sogyal, Avam gTértön, DoKhyentsé, HH Sakya Trichen, Jogchen Pema Rig’dzin, HH Minling Trichen, Panchen Ertini, and the Thirteenth Dala’i Lama. Three tang-rils (divinations) were performed in which various names were written on paper and placed inside dough balls. At each of these tang-rils the only name to remain floating in the water bowls was the name of Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche. There was therefore no doubt that this was the authentic incarnation of Nuden Dorje Dro’phang Lingpa Tröllö Tsal. These Tang-rils were performed in three highly auspicious places to guarantee their complete efficacy: in front of the Jowo statue (the most ancient statue in Tibet), in the Jo-khang Temple in Lhasa, and before the assembly of Lamas engaged in Protector Rites at the Khordong Gompa.
When Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche was four years old, he was enthroned at Khordong Gompa as the Lineage Holder of the gTérmas of Nuden Dorje Dro’phang Lingpa Tröllö Tsal. Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche was also recognised as the incarnation of Kyé-chung Lotsa’s Body, Nanam Dorje Dud’jom’s Speech, and Padmasambhava’s Mind.
Nuden Dorje Dro’phang Lingpa built a number of important Gompas according to the Instruction of Guru Padmasambhava, and according to the predictions of both the Great Fifth Dala’i Lama and Rig’dzin Pema Thrin-lé. His pupils built twelve other Gompas in Eastern Tibet, and these were the charges given to the four-year-old Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche at his enthronement. It was a heavy responsibility for one so young, but he handled everything with ease and confidence.