In the past when people asked Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche who his teacher is, he would reply without hesitation: Khenpo Khenchen Appey Rinpoche. Khenpo Appey, also one of the main teachers of H.H. Sakya Trizin and many other lamas and rinpoches, passed away in Kathmandu on December 28, 2010.

Khenpo Khenchen Appey founded  and served as abbot of Sakya College in Dheradun, India in the early 1980s when it was just a small colonial house with very few resources. Rinpoche often recalls his days as a student there with fondness and a bit of awe for the meagre way it all began. But Khenpo Appey’s influence as a teacher and philosopher was incalculable and Sakya College soon flourished. Later in life, seeing the amazing potential of the reemergence of Buddhadharma in Southeast Asia and the introduction of Dharma to the western world, in 2001 Khenpo Appey founded the International Buddhist Academy (IBA) in Kathmandu.

In the words of his student Lama Choedak Rinpoche, “When you meet him, it is obvious that he is not your average monk with a mere title of ‘Khenpo.’ In fact, even the title ‘Khenpo’ did not adequately reflect Appey Rinpoche’s stature. Appey Rinpoche shone like a beacon of all the Arhats in the assembly of ordained sanghas. [He] avoided the attention of admirers and was not easy to acquire as a teacher. He was probably the most venerable of all Khenpos that all Tibetan traditions have had, yet he was reluctant to teach on. … He commanded unsolicited respect and faith from all.”

After Khenpo’s passing, many pujas were held in Kathmandu and India. On February 7, 2011, H.H. Sakya Trizin presided over an elaborate cremation ceremony in the courtyard of IBA, attended by all the senior leaders of Sakyapa order and thousands of students and devotees.

“The main objective of sentient beings in this universe is to avoid suffering and obtain happiness. This objective can only be partially and temporarily realized through worldly methods. Only the Dharma can eradicate all suffering and accomplish permanent happiness. So it is essential to practice Dharma. For this, it is important to first study and contemplate. Since many people in this age are interested in Tibetan Buddhism, I founded the IBA with the hope that they can study the Dharma and that it will flourish worldwide.”

—   Khenpo Khenchen Appey Rinpoche

Read the full tribute to Khenpo Appey Rinpoche by Lama Choedak Rinpoche at http://www.sakya.com.au/