Zhonnu Drup was born in a farmer's house at Nyang in Tibet, his father was Gyalpo Tsepel and his mother was Gyamo Kedren. He became a monk at the age of ten before the abbot Chimpa Yidshin Norbu and took full ordination at the age of twenty. Under the guidance of the teacher Lokyawa he excelled in learning. At the age of twenty-one he stopped his intellectual studies and approached the Sakya Lamas to get Tantric teachings for actual attainments and considered both the words and the meaning that those teachers expressed.
As the unfavorable condition developed within the Sakya community Zhonnu Drup paid his final visit to Jangsem Kungzhon. Leaving Sakya, he proceeded to meet great ascetic master Dampala from whom he got several ascetic practices such as Cutting the Thread, which can overcome all obstacles. Zhonnu Drup received several cycles of teachings from Lama Lopon Gelong Zhonnu Drup learned about Sangye Tonpa from Lama Kamchenpa and great faith and devotion arose in him. With strong feelings Zhonnu Drum set out for Central Tibet to meet Sangye Tonpa and requested him to grant the empowerment of Illusory Body Yoga. Sangye Tonpa gave the complete instructions on the Six Yoga's because Zhonnu Drup was very special and worthy of receiving these profound teachings, which were not taught to ordinary students. Sangye Tonpa gave all the instructions of the lineage including the Five Tantric deities, the Six Yoga's of Niguma, Mind Deathlessness and Non-Deviation, Mahamudra, oral instructions of the Dakpo Kagyu, Drikung Kagyu, Drukpa Kagyu, Tselpa Kagyu and Sakya school as well as the teachings of Machik Lapdron, to the worthy Zhonnu who diligently and steadily practiced and mastered all the teachings he received from Sangye Tonpa and so many other teachers of different lineages. Before Zhonnu Drum passed he gave away all of his possessions and went into retreat, at his death all kinds of miraculous omens appeared near and far Then Dakinis could be herd singing in the sky.