At the time when Buddha was living his life as Prince Siddhartha in the palace of his father he made a request to tour his kingdom. On three occasions the king arranged visits for his son to various destinations in Magada, carefully preparing in advance every detail to make sure that his son would not encounter any unpleasant sights. Nevertheless on these three occasions Prince Siddhartha was confronted with sickness, old age and death. He asked his friend and charioteer, Channa, about the meaning of these unexpected sights and each time Channa replied with the appropriate answer, leading the Prince to a complete realisation of suffering. Filled with renunciation, the Prince secretly fled from the palace, leaving all his attendants and friends behind, with the exception of Channa and his horse who were the only ones allowed to accompany him.
After Buddha’s enlightenment Channa became his disciple and attained the state of an Arhat. This closest friend of Buddha Shakyamuni continued to serve the Buddha’s teachings in innumerable incarnations, repeatedly appearing as a key master for the pure continuation of the teachings.
In India he emanated as the Arhat Madhughosha, as Master Vimala Shri, as Chandrakirti, as Shanta Rakshita, who founded Buddhism in Tibet and as Master Atisha, whose appearance in the year 1100 caused the faultless teachings of the Buddha to again be installed in Tibet.
Channa appeared in Tibet as the Kadampa Master Langri Tangpa and as the Sakya Master Jampel Dorje. As Je Tsongkhapa, known as the “Jewel Ornament of the Sages of the Land of Snow”, he was the founder of the Gelug tradition or New Kadam lineage. The Eighth Karmapa Mikyö Dorje is known as one of his incarnations as well as the Nyingma Master Sur Chöying Rangdröl. As the sixty-fourth successor of Je Tsongkhapa’s throne he was known as Tri Jangchub Choephel, whose name in short form is Trijang and has remained with the line of the Trijang Rinpoches until this day.
At the turn of this century he took birth as the 3rd Trijang Rinpoche, known as Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang, the second tutor of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. As it is well known, His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang was the foremost Tibetan Buddhist master of our time. Passing away in 1981 at the age of eighty-one, he followed in age as well as activities the exact example of the Enlightened Buddha. With his extraordinary method and capacity of teaching he fulfilled the purpose of countless beings through the teachings of the Buddha, particularly the lineage of Master Atisha and Je Tsongkhapa. All the great masters and followers of this tradition were brought up under his compassionate spiritual guidance. Most outstanding persons are amongst his disciples, like His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Yongzin Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, and the founder of the Rabten monasteries, Kyabje Geshe Rabten Rinpoche.