Söntar Chönchok Rinpoché (19th-20th century) was a close dharma friend of Samten Gyatso. He was known as a great renunciant and meditator who spent most of his life in mountain hermitages. According to tradition he was the emanation of Namkhai Nyingpo, one of the twenty-five disciples of Guru Rinpoche. He was the root guru of Tsangsar Chimé Dorje.
Display of Namkhé Nyingpo, Venerable Dharma Ratna
This line refers to Söntar Chönchok Rinpoché, a great renunciant meditator who spent most of his life in mountain hermitages, focusing on nothing but meditation practice without the distractions of any mundane undertakings. He was an emanation of Namkhé Nyingpo, one of Padmasambhava’s twenty-five close disciples. Chönchok is the Tibetan equivalent of the Sanskrit name, Dharma Ratna.
Chönchok Rinpoché was a close dharma friend of Samten Gyatso, but at the same time they were also each other’s guru and disciple. When clearing up doubts regarding his own experiences, Samten Gyatso would turn to Chönchok Rinpoché. My own father, Chimé Dorjé, regarded Chönchok Rinpoché as his root guru, and it is due to Chimé Dorjé’s great kindness that he is included in this supplication to the golden garland of masters in the lineage of Chokling Tersar.
Söntar Chönchok spontaneously became a noteworthy realized master. During the latter part of his life, he attained perfection in his meditation training, reaching what is called “the collapse of delusion,” the last of the four visions, and he was said to have arrived at the stage of non-meditation. Samten Gyatso told me that Söntar Chönchok attained a level of realization that corresponds to the rainbow body. Although he didn’t exactly leave in a rainbow body, his body did shrink quite considerably after he died — he had definitely gone beyond delusion. Apparently, when he passed away, there were lights, sounds, relic pills and wondrous rainbow colors in the sky — just like the great Dzogchen scriptures describe. That’s why even Samten Gyatso was amazed.
After Chönchok passed away, my father had a vision of him giving many profound instructions. I can still remember my father’s respect and devotion upon merely hearing his name. His devotion was so deep that he would get all choked up if he had to say his name himself.Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche in The Great Tertön: The Life and Activities of Chokgyur Lingpa, Lhasey Lotsawa Translations, 2016, pp. 372-73.