The term khenpo, or khenmo is a degree for higher Buddhist studies given in Tibetan Buddhism. In the Nyingma, Kagyu, and Sakya traditions, the title is awarded usually after a period of 13 years of intensive study after secondary school. It may roughly translate to either a bachelor's degree, or nowadays more likely to a terminal degree in Buddhist Studies equivalent to a PhD or MPhil. The degree is awarded to students who can publicly defend their erudition and mastery in at least five subjects of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, namely Prajñāpāramitā, Madhyamaka, Pramāṇa, Abhidharma, and Vinaya. After successfully passing their examination they are entitled to serve as teachers of Buddhism.
Buddhist monasticism is an important part of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, all the major and minor schools maintain large monastic institutions based on the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya (monastic rule) and many religious leaders come from the monastic community.
There are also many religious leaders or teachers (called Lamas and Gurus) which are not celibate monastics and in some cases the lama is the leader of a spiritual community.
Some lamas gain their title through being .
The subject depicted in this thangka is called Guruparampara, a “Line of Teachers.”
It depicts the family tree of Nyingma lineage, as it were, and its function is to indicate a line of descent.
The meaning of this presentation is to show a refuge for believers. It creates a kind of structure with a number of deities and teachers in whom devotees take refuge, because they will help believers in the course of their spiritual development.
Gyurme Tenpa Gyaltsen aka the Fourth Katok Getse Rinpoche was one of the five ‘’Golden Throne’’ holders of the Katok Monastery lineage, a branch of the Nyingma tradition. At the Nyingma Monlam in Bodhgaya, January 2018, Rinpoche was appointed to be the supreme head of the Nyingma Tradition for three years.
At the same meeting of the representatives of the Nyingma schools, it was decided to appoint Kathok Getse Rinpoche and five other Nyingma lamas .
Thrangu Rinpoche was born in Kham in 1933. At the age of five, he was formally recognized by the Sixteenth Karmapa and the previous Situ Rinpoche as the incarnation of the great Thrangu tulku. Entering Thrangu monastery, from the ages of seven to sixteen he studied reading, writing, grammar, poetry, and astrology, memorized ritual texts, and completed two preliminary retreats. At sixteen under the direction of Khenpo Lodro Rabsel, he began the study of .