Lama Pema Dorje was born in 1942 on the banks of the Ganges river in Rishikesh, India, into a family of yogis whose ancestors can be traced back to Milerapa’s paternal line. His first speech as an infant was Sanskrit and mantric sounds. At four, he was recognized as a reincarnation of an accomplished Indian master and started his Buddhist education. Later, Kyabje Chatrul Rinpoche recognized him as an incarnation of the Indian Mahasiddha, Padampa Sangye.
At seventeen, Lama Pema Dorje met his root guru, Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche, who gave him the entire transmission of the Dudjom lineage, as well as other Nyingma teachings. From the Bhutanese master, Pema Wangchen Rinpoche, he received teachings on tsalung and tumo, including the five branches and six yogas, covering all aspects of outer, inner, and secret teachings.
From Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, he received the Nyingma Treasures,
as well as advice and personal instruction. From Kyabje Thinley Norbu Rinpoche, he received Three Roots empowerment, and Dzogchen instruction on Dudjom Lingpa’s Buddhahood without Meditation and other Ati texts. He also received transmissions from the Sixteenth Karmapa, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Kyabje Sakya Trinzen, Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche, and Sakya Chogyed Rinpoche.
In 1991, Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse authorized and encouraged him to spread the Dharma, and afterwards he accepted the invitation of Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche to teach in the United States. Since then he has taught students from Brazil, Taiwan, Japan, Tibet, and elsewhere.