Lobpon Gangri Kunsang Dorje (1919-1990) was born in 1919 in Dri Ji, the community that was under Drira Phug and Jiwu Gonpa, north of Mount Kailash, in Ngari region of Tibet. He was the 5th of the seven children born to Kardar and Sichoe Dolma.
At the age of 9 his father passed away and he took responsibility of the family till the age of 25 years. Then he renounced the worldly life and follow the sacred path of yogi of the Drukpa lineage. He studied rituals and practiced the path of Nyondro for more than five years in Drira Phug monastery, The sacred place of GYALWA GOTSANGPA of Drukpa lineage.
On his return to the monastery he met a Lama from Kham, eastern Tibet, who told him that going on pilgrimage is a virtuous deed at the mundane level but to realize the nature of the mind, one needed the guidance of a realized master. So he asked the Lama if such a master could be found in the region. The Lama replied, "Don't you know that Thripon Pema Chogyal, a disciple of Shakya Shri and the holder of all the Drukpa lineage teachings, is giving teachings at Tsibri Niu Teng?"
Just hearing the name of Thripon Rinpoche made him forget all the mundane feelings briefly. Making up his mind to pursue a genuine spiritual path, he left for Tsibri at the age of 27, without informing his siblings and relatives. He received teachings on the Drukpa tradition four foundations from Jampa Rinpoche and completed the practice twice. In 1947, at the age of 29 years he met Thripon Pema Chogyal Rinpoche and requested to be Thripon's disciple.
After receiving all the transmissions, empowerments and teachings of the Drukpa lineage from Thripon Rinpoche, Lobpon Gangri spent 14 years in retreat at Nirang retreat center. Though he wanted to spend his entire life in retreat, the 1959 upheavals in Tibet forced him to come out of retreat and escaped to India, carrying only scriptural texts with him.
After spending about two months in a cave in Walung, he came to Kalimpong to receive empowerments of the Nyingma tradition from H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche. There he met Dromo Kargyud Tulku who arranged Lobpon Gangri's stay at a log cabin in a remote forested area in Rinag, Sikkim. He did six years of solitary retreat and over thirty years of semi-retreat at the same place, resting in Mahamudra realisation with no mundane obscuration whatsoever. I daringly requested him to stay in the Naropa retreat centre in Darjeeling and lead all of us with his enlightenment, but obviously he did not accept our request which would have interrupted his retreat. Similarly, He denied the request of the 16th Karmapa to be the leading master of his retreat centre.
"I would like to have a very good shower early tomorrow morning and both of us should be celebrating a great morning after that," said my Guru to one of my Dharma friends, who was fortunate enough to be there serving him, and smiled for a while. On the morning of that next day, which was 20th August 1990, as soon as he had finished his morning session of formal meditation, he had a long shower and dressed up very clean and nice, sat down in the meditation posture and expressed 'AH' (The syllable of the Mahamudra) three times before dissolving himself into the Nirmanakaya. This meditative state of mind remained for about a week in his body that was totally in the meditation posture with gloriously smiling face. His meditation had united with the great compassion.
He was one of my Mahamudra masters; from him I had received all the unique teachings of meditation. Unlike us, he did not have a habit of using a text to teach. His teachings were purely the immediate manifestation of the realization. Unfortunately, not many beings in this world had the golden opportunity of seeking his teachings. What a loss! There must be many reasons, but the main reason that I can think of is that we are very busy looking for a famous Guru. Thanks to my own Karma and the precious advice of my first master, Thuksey Rinpoche, I had the mind to seek his teachings in this life.