In Tibetan Buddhism the Tai Situpa is one of the oldest lineages of tulkus (said to be reincarnated lamas) in the Kagyu school. According to tradition, the Tai Situpa is an emanation of the bodhisattva Maitreya, who will become the next Buddha, and who has been incarnated as numerous Indian and Tibetan yogins since the time of the historical Buddha.
The Tai Situpa is considered to be one of the highest ranking lamas of the Karma Kagyu lineage.
Chokyi Gyaltsen was the first incarnation to bear the title Tai Situ, conferred upon him in 1407 by the Yongle Emperor of China in the Ming Dynasty. He was a close disciple of the 5th Karmapa who appointed him as abbot of Karma Goen, the Karmapa's principal monastery at the time. The full title bestowed was Kenting Naya Tang Nyontse Geshetse Tai Situpa which is shortened to Kuang Ting Tai Situ. The full title means "far reaching, unshakable, great master, holder of the command".
The current and 12th Tai Situpa, Pema Tönyö Nyinje, was born in a farming family named Liyultsang in 1954 in the village of Palmey, which is part of Palyul (dpal yul) or Baiyü County, in Sichuan Province, China that was formerly part of the old principality of Dege (Tibetan: སྡེ་དགེ, Wylie: sde dge, ZYPY: Dêgê).
At the age of twenty-two, Situ Rinpoche founded his own new monastic seat, Palpung Sherab Ling in Himachal Pradesh, in Northern India. He traveled widely making his first visit to the West in 1981 to Samyé Ling Monastery in Scotland.
The 12th Tai Situpa was instrumental in recognizing Ogyen Trinley Dorje, one of the two candidates claimed to be the 17th Karmapa, whom he coronated at Tsurphu Monastery outside Lhasa in August 1992. He also recognized Choseng Trungpa, born on February 6, 1989 in eastern Tibet, as the reincarnation of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
Read more about Tai Situpa: Lineage of The Tai Situpas