Ratnabadra was born into the well-known family of Soksam-khar Drongbu Goshir, in Soksam. From a young age, he was ordained as a monastic. He received the higher training in Buddhist philosophy, logic, and other fields of knowledge at Palden Sangphu. He then went on a tour to great monastic institutions in Tibet, engaging in debate and discussion on four main topics – Madhyamaka, Prajnaparamita, Vinaya, and Abhidharma-Kosha. He became one of the greatest scholars of sutra and tantra and thus was called “Rikpe Raltri” (sword of philosophy and logic). He received the full transmission of the Kagyu lineage from the Fifth Karmapa Deshin Shekpa, through which he attained complete realization of the absolute reality and became one of the supreme meditation masters of the time.
Ratnabhadra passed on the full transmission of the Kagyu lineage to the Sixth Karmapa, Thongwa Dhönden.
Pawo Rinpoche said that the Sixth Karmapa Thongwa Dhonden wrote Ratnabhadra’s biography but it was not available at the time of Pawo Rinpoche. So, here is the brief version as recorded by Pawo Rinpoche. These details about Ratnabhadra are compiled from Pawo Tsuklak Trengwa’s Feast For Scholars (chos ‘byung mkhas pa’i dg’a ston), Beijing edition, vol. 2, pp. 1022-03. May this be virtuous!