H.H. Je Thrizur Tenzin Dhondup, was the 68th
Je Khenpo of Bhutan. The Je Khenpo formerly called the Dharma Raj
by orientalists, is the title given to the highest religious
official of Bhutan.
His primary duty is to lead the Central Monk
Body, the main monastic body of the country, and to arbitrate on
matters of doctrine. The Je Khenpo is also responsible for many
important liturgical and religious duties across the country. The
sitting Je Khenpo is also formally the leader of the Drukpa Kagyu
Lineage of the Kagyupa School of Tibetan Buddhism.
According to the dual system of government
established by the Shabdrung in the 17th century, the powers of the
government of Bhutan are ideally divided between the religious
branch, headed by the Je Khenpo, and the administrative branch,
headed by the Druk Desi. Since the establishment of the monarchy in
1907, the relative influence of the Je Khenpo has diminished.
Nonetheless, the position remains powerful and the Je Khenpo is
typically viewed as the closest and most powerful advisor to the
King of Bhutan.
The position of Je Khenpo is granted on merit,
and typically is given to the most respected monk in the Central
Monk Body. Thus, unlike reincarnation lineages such as the Dalai
Lama, Shabdrung, or Panchen Lama, the position of Je Khenpo is
never held by a child but always by a seasoned monk.
The 67th Je Khenpo, Ngawang Thinley Lhundup,
died at the age of 84 on June 10, 2005. He was noted as a strict
disciplinarian who would not compromise any rules in managing the
Central Monk Body. In addition to his position as Je Khenpo, he was
recognized as the trulku of Nyizergang, the seat of the terton
Woogpa Lingpa, in Wangdue Phodrang province.
The 70th and present Je Khenpo is Trulku Jigme
Chhoeda. He is believed to be the reincarnation of Maitreya, as
well as the mahasiddha Saraha, Hungchen Kara, Kheuchung Lotsawa,
and Pema Tsering.