Tibetan Buddhism first entered Tibet during the time of the 28th King Lhatho Thori Nyentsen (433 – 553). Under King Songtsen Gampo (617 – 697) Buddhism was systemised and during the time of King Trisong Detson (790 – 858) Buddhism prospered. It was the latter who invited the great Khenpo Santaraksita and the great Guru Padmasambhava to Tibet. Collectively, these three, are regarded as responsible for the flourishing of the early translations which are the foundation of the Nyingma tradition. Of Padmasambhava’s twenty-five main disciples, one was Karchu Palkyi Wangchug, who reincarnated as Rigdyin Yangri Bumpa, and later Be Sangye Tashi.
The origin of the name “Azom” is said to be as follows: An ancestor of Be Sangye Tashi had five sons and they all bore the name Tashi. All five were tulkus. Observing this, one servant named Khagey said one day, “How amazing! (Atsarmo!)” Then remarked, “What are successful gathering! (Azompo!) They are all named Tashi and are all tulkus!” From then on, the household was given the excellent name of Azom, in accordance with what the servant Khagey had exclaimed. Thus the household became know as the Azom household.
A later reincarnation of Be Sangye Tashi was the first Azom lineage holder, Azom Drubwang Rigdzin Chenpo (1756 – 1839), who was born of Mongolian descent. He was diligent from a young age and dedicated himself to the enlightened activities of listening, contemplating and explaining the dharma.
Throughout his life, Azom Rigdzin Chenpo revealed several termas and treasures and established several monasteries including in Tromkhog, where he was commissioned to establish a monastery for the great dharma king of Derge. This monastery, renowned as Azom monastery, became famous throughout the region, and preserved the Nyingma rituals, teachings, practices and altruistic activities.
Subsequent lineage holder were
- Drodul Pawo Dorje (1842 – 1924)
- Gyalse Gyurme Dorje (1896 – 1959)
- Thubten Pema Trinlay (1926 – 2001)
The current and fifth lineage holder of Azom, is Jamyang Chokyi Nyima (1950 – ) born in the Kham region of Tibet. As a child he had strong compassion and as he stayed with the fourth lineage holder, Thubten Pema Trinlay, he had the special opportunity to receive great instructions, transmissions and empowerments from a young age. In particular, he learned Pema Ngingtic Ngodro, tsarlung and Dzogchen as from the fourth lineage holder, and became a great practitioner of these, in particular regarding the channel lineage holder andbecoming a great practitioner of this practice, in particular the tsarlung practices regarding the the flow of energy through the channels of the body. With great humility and dedication, he chose to remain in solitary practice for many years. Eventually, he was enthrowned by Thubten Pema Trinlay after which time he gained many students, visited many monasteries and worked diligently to teach and spread the dharma.
The reincarnation of the forth lineage holder is Yangsi Druglha Yeshe Dorje (2002 -). May he flourish in the dharma and continue the virtuous activities of his predecessors. We look to him as to a great light of the Buddha’s teachings and are sure that he will maintain the reverence of the Azom lineage into the future.