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Monday, November 14

  1. page The Life of the Madman of U edited ... THE LIFE OF THE MADMAN OF U Abstract ... cultural norms. Summary ... communal wives…
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    THE LIFE OF THE MADMAN OF U
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    cultural norms.
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    communal wives.
    As

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    Kunga Namgyel.
    Monk Life
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    Kagyu sect.
    After obtaining all the oral instructions, the master went on a hermitage, spending years meditating in seclusion and mastering Buddhist teachings. In this time, he gained “complete control over his bodily processes,” learning to control every physical action and reaction of his body, from holding a breath for days on end to mastering his tummo, an internal warmth which allowed him to survive on the snow-covered Tibet mountains with nothing more than a thin cloth sheet; often spending his days and nights fully nude where he “transparently saw his own nature in its nakedness.” Zangpo also masters yogic and tantric techniques such as perceiving the inseparability of the samsara and the nirvana, as well as the Mahamudra, “an understanding of reality in which phenomena are neither superimposed upon nor negated by conceptions of existence or emptiness.” Eventually, he was described as achieving awareness and arriving at full Buddhahood.
    Tantric Life
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    Kagyu buddhism.
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    the witnesses.
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    madman monk.
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    Monastery Life
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    the rock.
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    attack him.
    In

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    Conclusion
    In his life, Kunga Zangpo achieved great levels of buddhist enlightenment through traditional study as well as an extreme form of highly ascetic buddhism that earned the notoriety and respect of those around him by subverting societies values and norms. While Zangpo is not the only or even the most well-known madman in Tibet, he is influential nonetheless.
    DiValerio, David M. 2016. The Life of the Madman of U. New York, New York: Oxford University Press.
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  2. page The Life of the Madman of U edited THE LIFE OF THE MADMAN OF U Abstract In The Life of the Madman of U, David M. DiValerio transl…

    THE LIFE OF THE MADMAN OF U
    Abstract
    In The Life of the Madman of U, David M. DiValerio translates two partial biographies of Kunga Zangpo (1458-1532), a man who left a middle-class family to dedicate his life to religious pursuits, eventually finding notoriety as an extreme ascetic monk of the Kagyu sect. In his twenties, Zangpo adopted the extreme lifestyle of meditative retreat and ascetic wandering in which he took on the identity of a Heruka, wearing human bone ornaments and smearing his body with the ashes of a corpse, all while consuming rotting flesh and provoking the guards and inhabitants of towns to attack him. In this lifestyle, Zangpo acquired the title of madman as well as a legion of religious followers. Kunga Zangpo is remembered as one of a handful of holy madmen who sought enlightenment in the Tibetan Buddhism through a subversion of its cultural norms.
    Summary
    Kunga Zangpo, originally named Kyepo Dar, was born in 1458 in the Olkha region of U, Tibet. As land-owners, Zangpo’s family straddled the economic gap between the poor and the aristocratic populations of Tibet. They were part of a working middle class, known as “Tax People,” and were required to constantly pay taxes to more powerful families. As cultivating the arid land of the Tibetan plateau was difficult and laborious, many families entered their children into polyandrous relationships in which a generation of brothers would wed the same woman to keep the family’s capital and workforce intact. As a teenager, Zangpo and his four elder brothers brought two women into the family unit as communal wives.
    As a teenager, Zangpo was assaulted by a minor lord causing “the youngster to perceive a great unfairness in the standing social order.” Between this and the oppression which was constantly levied against his family as “Tax People,” Kunga Zangpo became disillusioned with Tibetan life, regarding suffering as the “common denominator of all beings, continuing from life to life with subsequent rebirths.” As Zangpo viewed the only escape from this cycle of suffering to be religious study, at the age of 16 he fled to Tsari where he met his first guru, Kunga Namgyel.
    Monk Life
    Once he arrived in Tsari, Zangpo began tutelage under Kunga Namgyel who initiated his pre-initiate vows and gave him the name Kunga Zangpo. For several years, Zangpo followed Namgyel “like his own shadow,” beginning his mastery of the Six Dharmas. At the age of 18, Zangpo began traveling Tibet, expanding his religious education. “Like a vase being filled to its brim,” Zangpo mastered all the oral instructions of the Kagyu sect.
    After obtaining all the oral instructions, the master went on a hermitage, spending years meditating in seclusion and mastering Buddhist teachings. In this time, he gained “complete control over his bodily processes,” learning to control every physical action and reaction of his body, from holding a breath for days on end to mastering his tummo, an internal warmth which allowed him to survive on the snow-covered Tibet mountains with nothing more than a thin cloth sheet; often spending his days and nights fully nude where he “transparently saw his own nature in its nakedness.” Zangpo also masters yogic and tantric techniques such as perceiving the inseparability of the samsara and the nirvana, as well as the Mahamudra, “an understanding of reality in which phenomena are neither superimposed upon nor negated by conceptions of existence or emptiness.” Eventually, he was described as achieving awareness and arriving at full Buddhahood.
    Tantric Life
    Having achieved high levels of mastery of various Buddhist and yogic studies and techniques, Zangpo chose to adopt an extreme ascetic lifestyle to continue his spiritual development. Renouncing all luxuries and cultural norms, Zangpo abandoned the indicators and attire of traditional Buddhist monkhood and adopted the extreme lifestyle of the “glorious blood-drinking Heruka.” The Heruka were fearsome and wrathful deities. Following the Laghusamvara Tantra and the Hevajra Tantra, Zangpo adorned the Six Accoutrements of the Heruka: a crown of hair, jewelry made from human bones, a tiger hide skirt, a human-skin shawl, hand drums made of skulls, and a trumpet made from human bone. He often covered his body with clumps of ash and drops of blood that he smeared over himself with grease made from human tissue. This appearance simultaneously branded him an exile from society and a devout practitioner of Kagyu buddhism.
    With this new uniform, Zangpo spent most of his time alternating between extreme isolation and trespassing upon civilization to provoke a violent response of the local authorities. This cycle of events first takes place in Ngari Dzongkar with Zangpo sneaking into the local palace only to be met by a highly frightened king’s guard. Fearing the unusual appearance of the madman, attacked him and beat him severely. Due to his enlightened state, Zangpo experienced no pain and “his entire body became pervaded by an unmitigated bliss.” Witnessing this miracle, the king and his followers were convinced of Zangpo’s siddhahood. This is the first of many scenarios in which Zangpo provokes attack only to be unharmed by swords, spears, boulders, fire and drowning, eventually converting the witnesses.
    During his years of wandering, isolation, and piety, Zangpo is noted to have orchestrated many miracles, such as: curing a monk who is afflicted with the illness of an earth spirit, shooting an arrow halfway through a rock wall in the Gonpo gorge, and stopping a boulder from crushing his students with a snap of his fingers and a mere puff of air. In these travels, the master collected a large quantity of pupils and united many people, including the Jozang and Tsari yogins, with his teaching of the Mahamudra. In Nubcholung, he sensed the un-cremated corpse of a monk, exhumed it, and ate from its rotting flesh, simultaneously impressing and disgusting his followers. In 1488, he traveled to an enormous gathering of monks, geshes and yongins in the region of Zambulung. In Zambulung, Zangpo stood out as the greatest and most knowledgeable monk amongst thousands of Tibet’s most renowned practitioners. Upon leaving Zambulung, Zangpo converts Kuntu Zangpo, ruler of the Ringungpa Family and father to Dorje Tseten and Donyo Dorje. After several interactions, Zangpo converts Donyo Dorje at the Lhunpo fortress in Chushul, when Dorje’s guard believed him to be a fraud dressed as a holy madman. Surviving an attack “so disturbing that decent, conscious people could not bear to watch it,” everyone present is convinced that Zangpo is an actual buddha, and Donyo Dorje begins his patronage of the madman. The Ringungpa dynasty ruled central Tibet and, under the lead of Donyo Dorje, were patrons of the madman monk.
    By the age of 38, Zangpo achieved “perfection in experiential realization,” and was qualified to induce superior quality from his disciples. After this, Zangpo began the next stage of his journey, that of a teacher.
    Monastery Life
    In 1502, Kunga Zangpo founded the Tsimer Pel Monastery northeast of Lhasa, where he would remain for the last 30 years of his life, teaching students and dispatching his disciples all over Tibet and southern China to distribute his knowledge.Here, the master taught the Mahamudra, the Six Dharmas, the dohas, the Secret Practice of India and various other scriptures. Renowned for his abilities as a yogin and a teacher, Zangpo was said to teach his pupils and “with their minds melded together as one, the Master filled the vase of his student’s mind with a nectar that can never be surpassed.”While teaching his students, he was witnessed performing miracles such as manifesting multiple bodies simultaneously. On one occasion, Zangpo secretly went on a backcountry retreat where he found a boulder the size of a yak blocked his path. With excitement, the aging master carried the boulder to a better location, leaving his handprint in the rock.
    On top of his own students and disciples, Zangpo constantly received visitors hoping to partake of his erudite knowledge. This included Kunga Lekpa, the Madman of Drukpa, another devotee of ascetic worship. During a conflict between two Tibetan regions, the monastery as Tsimer Pel was attacked. Zangpo ordered his followers not to harm the attackers in any way. When they stormed his residence, the attackers found Zangpo dressed in his Heruka accouterments and were unable to attack him.
    In 1531, sensing his oncoming death, Zangpo names as his heir his nephew, Kunzang Nyida Pembar. Although he was knowledgeable and capable of performing the miracle of the rainbow body, he chose to leave his earthly body behind to aid his disciples in their religious growth and died in 1532 underneath a sky filled with rainbows.
    Conclusion
    In his life, Kunga Zangpo achieved great levels of buddhist enlightenment through traditional study as well as an extreme form of highly ascetic buddhism that earned the notoriety and respect of those around him by subverting societies values and norms. While Zangpo is not the only or even the most well-known madman in Tibet, he is influential nonetheless.

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    2:51 pm

Sunday, November 13

  1. page Life and Times of a Realized Tibetan Master, Khyentse Chökyi Wangchug edited ... Although Chökyi Wangchug ceaselessly dedicated himself to Buddhist practices since his young a…
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    Although Chökyi Wangchug ceaselessly dedicated himself to Buddhist practices since his young age, the invasion of the Chinese Communists in Derge in the late 1950s thoroughly changed his life. When the Communist army was approaching Derge in 1956, his nephew Namkhai Norbu requested he to escape to India and Sikkim through Central Tibet. Nevertheless, Chökyi Wangchug declined the suggestion of his nephew with the excuse of “remaining a state of equanimity” in his mind that might be interrupted by the long journey. (Namkhai Norbu, 92) Consequently, Chökyi Wangchug entrusted The Vajrapāṇi Terma to Namkhai Norbu and empowered him as a holder of that teaching.
    In 1957, Namkhai Norbu fled away to Lhasa and eventually arrived India in 1958. Since that point, Namkhai Norbu did not hear of Chökyi Wangchug until 1981, when he had the chance to revisit Lhasa to see his relatives in Central Tibet. Finally, Namkhai Norbu heard the story of Chökyi Wangchug’s last days of life from Jamyang Chökyi Drönma, Namkhai Norbu’ssister and a well-learned yoginī. According to Jamyang Chökyi Drönma, Chökyi Wangchug tried to escape from the Communist invasion at first; however, he was unfortunately captured and detained by the Communist revolutionists together with other tulkus and monks in 1959 and finally passed away in prison in 1960. Although he was forced to bear suffering humiliations, Chökyi Wangchug still kept his faith in Dharma. Jamyang Chökyi Drönma also witnessed and heard many tulkus and monks had been executed after being tortured by the Communists in the late 1950s. She also attested that some Tibetan people incriminated the others in order to save themselves during that time. Those people were called “Hurtsönpa” (Tb.hur brtson pa ཧུར་བརྩོན་པ་) that means “activists” (Ch. Ji ji fen zi 积极分子) supporting the Communist Party. (Namkhai Norbu, 97) The testimony of Jamyang Chökyi Drönma can be a very critical source for modern Tibetan and Chinese history, since this phenomenon in the late 1950s foreshadows the trend of political struggle sessions (Ch. Pi dou da hui 批斗大会) and the collapse of social trust in Tibetan society since the Cultural Revolution broke out in 1966.
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    Wangchug testifies to the significant
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    have also been changed in
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    to rethink about the influences
    {WechatIMG7.jpeg} Sources cited from (Namkhai Norbu, 17 & 31)
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  2. page Life and Times of a Realized Tibetan Master, Khyentse Chökyi Wangchug edited ... Ling-Wei Kung Abstract ... western China. In his At an early age, ... Buddhist masters…
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    Ling-Wei Kung
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    western China. In hisAt an early age,
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    Buddhist masters and in the
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    to Buddhism since hisfrom early in life. He
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    became a respectfulrespected lama. In addition toDerge,to Derge, his hometown,
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    biographer had precious chancesthe opportunity to stay
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    and therefore well knowsgaining access to both the
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    Lingpa as a bigan important tertön. Additionally,
    In 1909, Chökyi Wangchug was born in a noble family in Derge, a famous center of Tibetan Buddhist culture on the Sino-Tibetan borderlands. His father, Jamyang Trinle, was the private secretary of the king of Derge and his mother, Samdrub Drönma, was the sister of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Wangpo (1894-1908), the previous reincarnation of Chökyi Wangchug.
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    Chökyi Wangchug has beenwas recognized as
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    Sakya School since hisfrom a young age,
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    precious presents.
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    When he was
    After his enthronement, Chökyi Wangchug started to extensively study Buddhist teachings with many lamas in different monasteries. He successively stayed in the Dzongsar, Derge, Galing Monasteries in Derge of eastern Tibet when he was young, and later traveled to Amdo and Central Tibet. Although he first affiliated with the Nyingma School, he was open-minded to other Tibetan Buddhist traditions and also received the profound teachings of the Sakya School. Among his religious teachers, Chökyi Wangchug had special connections with Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö (1893-1959), who had also been recognized as a reincarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. Since Chökyi Lodrö and Chökyi Wangchug had been regarded as the “activity” and “quality” reincarnations of Khyentse respectively, Chökyi Wangchug had received the instructions from the elder reincarnation Chökyi Lodrö, who had already become one of the most influential religious leaders in Kham at that time.
    After he took retreatsentered into retreat for several
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    Lodrö to the Khathog Monastery
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    to leave the Khathog Monastery
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    a mountain locatinglocated in southeastern
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    reluctant to do that at
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    and administers processingholding grudges against
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    returned to the Derge Monastery. After studying outside with many
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    Wangchug’s religious idealideal, which is beyond
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    in Derge made a huge success;was hugely successful; however, Chökyi
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    (Namkhai Norbu, 92)Consequently,92) Consequently, Chökyi Wangchug
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    Namkhai Norbu had totally lost the informationdid not hear of Chökyi
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    Wangchug’s last days of life from
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    captured and retaineddetained by the
    To sum up, the life of Chökyi Wangchug testifies the significant transformation of modern Tibetan society, where its long-lasting religious traditions were severely damaged by Communist atheism during the 1950s to the 1970s. Additionally, the political and social institutions of eastern Tibet have also been changed in 1960, when Chökyi Wangchug died in jail under the control of the Chinese Communists. Before the fire of the Cultural Revolution was formally ignited in 1966, the Communist revolutionists had already commenced to “strike down” religious leaders under the Communist theory of “class conflict” and the Marxist statement of “religion is the opium of the people.” That is to say, the biography of Chökyi Wangchug can provide us not only a precious source to realize the Tibetan society before the Communist invasion but also critical evidence to rethink about the influences of Communism in Tibet in the late 1950s and their connections with the Cultural Revolution.
    {WechatIMG7.jpeg} Sources cited from (Namkhai Norbu, 17 & 31)
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Thursday, November 3

  1. page Tangtong Gyalpo, King of the Empty Plain edited Abstract King of the Empty Plain provides a translations of a biography of Tangtong Gyalpo (thang…
    Abstract
    King of the Empty Plain provides a translations of a biography of Tangtong Gyalpo (thang stong rgyal po), who lived from approximately 1361 to 1485 and was famed for his longevity, bridge-building, unconventional lifestyle reflecting a form of divine madness, and eclectic and influential religious teachings anchored in the Nyingma and Northern Treasure traditions. He is widely celebrated in Tibetan history for enriching Tibetan culture through these contributions and in addition to being the greatest engineer in Tibetan history, he was able to physically alter Tibet’s spiritual topography on a scale that remains unparalleled.
    Summary
    Cyrus Stearns’s King of the Empty Plain is a grand hagiography covering the life of the singularly influential Tangtong Gyalpo (thang stong rgyal po, 1361? -1485), whose contributions to Tibetan culture endure in physical structures he constructed that have survived to the present and in his diverse contributions to religious tradition. Tangtong was born at Ölpa Lhartse in upper Tsang circa 1361 as a mind emanation of Padmasambhava and reincarnation of Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen, though his extensive would take him throughout Tibet and into India, Bhutan, and Nepal. In King of the Empty Plain, Stearns describes and analyzes the most remarkable and controversial features of Thangtong’s life, which are treated here in turn.
    Longevity
    All of Tangtong’s biographies maintain that he lived an exceptionally long life, and many claim that he lived for 125 years. These reports have long been controversial and Stearns devotes a chapter titled “A Tibetan Methuselah” to evaluating the evidence for and against those claims. The issue was made significantly more challenging because Tangtong was often evasive when asked how old he was, saying, for example, “I can be old and I can be young. I haven’t counted the years since I was born to my mother. To display emanations that are old, young, or in the prime of life, it doesn’t matter how many years have passed.” After reviewing all of the Tibetan sources, Stearns concludes that “The tradition of his longevity should not be dismissed by using the argument that such a long life was attributed to him simply to instill confidence in practitioners of his longevity techniques… It is more probable that his teachings were treasured and passed down through the centuries in Tibet precisely because of his longevity.”
    Religious Practices and the Glorious Giver of Immorality
    Stearns also provides exhaustive analysis of the religious practices of Tangtong and his successors. Tangtong was said to have mastered the practices of all the religious systems in Tibet, and his teachings reflect this eclectic approach. His own blend of the traditions he inherited became known as the Chaksam, or “Iron-Bridge Tradition” (lcags zam lugs), which was centered at his main monasteries of Chuwori in Central, Riwoche in Tsang, and an independent school in Bhutan where it reached a level of influence comparable to the other major religious orders. While Tangtong’s efforts to ensure that his hereditary descendants would transmit his system of Dharma to new generations was unsuccessful and the reasons for that outcome are unclear, the teachings of the Iron-Bridge Tradition persist as currents found in virtually all of the major Buddhist schools in Tibet.
    Tangtong was extremely involved with Nyingma teachings and particularly influenced by the Northern Treasure tradition within the school. Two of his four masters conveyed all of the Nyingma teachings that had been passed down in sequential lineage to Tangtong and placed particular emphasis on the visionary Northern Treasure teachings. His involvement in both traditions was central to his religious identity and legacy. Tangtong was eventually recognized as an emanation of Padmasambhava, a founder of the Nyingma tradition who used the practice of the Iron Tree (Lcags kyi sdong po), a section of Gokyi Demtruchen’s hidden treasure teachings. The Iron Tree ultimately became central to Tangtong’s famous longevity – before he requested the Northern Treasures, it was prophesized that he would use the Iron Tree to extend his lifespan.
    Tangtong ultimately created the Glorious Giver of Immortality (‘Chi med dpal ster), a series of famous life-sustaining techniques thought to be based on both pure visionary revelation and hidden treasure teaching. Though the Northern Treasure tradition claims that Tangtong’s longevity was based on his meditation on the life-sustaining practices of its system, there do not seem to be direct links between the two sets of techniques. These teachings have survived into the 21st century primarily due to Tangtong’s special link with Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, who received and transmitted them in the 19th century. Khyentse Wangpo was regarded as an incarnation of Tangtong and the link was so close that some who met him believed that he appeared to actually be Tangtong.
    Building Symbols of Liberation
    As indicated in the work’s title, Tangtong was renowned as a bridge-builder and had a distinguished career as a engineer, metallurgist, and architect. He built his first iron suspension bridge over the Kyichu River near Llasa in 1430, which established his reputation, earned him the epithet “Iron-Bridge Man” (lcags zam pa), and touched off an impressive career in construction. The biography says that he built 58 iron bridges, 60 wooden bridges, 120 temples, 11 stupas, and thousands of religious statues. In addition to their practical utility, Tibetans also invested these structures with religious meaning. They were intended to prevent natural disasters, protect against disease, and avert Mongol invasion and were also said to subdue demonic influences and bring Buddhism into barbarian regions.
    Stearns also provides a compelling account Tangtong’s motivations for taking on this novel preoccupation. The use of bridges as symbols for liberation is an old feature of Buddhist literature and Tangtong repeatedly insisted that his construction activities were motivated by his concern for the welfare of others. This altruism first found expression in connection with bridges during a meditation retreat in India; he had a vision in which he lowered long ladders into four puts and rescued many living beings trapped within them. His Indian master interpreted the vision by suggesting that the four pits represented the lower forms of existence in samsara and that Tangtong’s efforts to elevate those trapped within to higher forms of existence indicated that he would construct unprecedented iron bridges over (metaphoric) turbulent rivers. The bridges came to represent the liberation of sentient beings, a point that Tangtong emphasized by referring to them as “iron-bridge pathways to enlightenment” (byang chub kyi rgyu lam lcags zam).
    His consort explained that “As symbols of the liberation of all living beings from the ocean of existence, you cast a net of iron over the great rivers.” These bridges had lasting temporal power and many are still in use today. Chemical analysis of the chain link in one of his Bhutanese bridges indicated that it had an unusually high content of arsenic, which kept the chains from corroding for over 550 years. Because there were few, if any, iron bridges before Tangtong’s time and because he gained such renown as a bridge-builder, most iron bridges that have survived are customarily attributed to him, though several were certainly built after his time.
    A “Mad Yogin” Embodying Divine Madness
    In addition to these famed dimensions of his life, Tangtong was also known as one of the great “mad yogins” of Tibetan history and was known for a style of unconventional behavior sometimes referred to as divine madness or crazy wisdom. In the context of Tibetan tantric literature, the testing and enhancement of the realization of advanced practitioners was achieved though conduct known as deliberate behavior, which holds a wide variety of meanings that Stearns does not exhaustively explore but which included the use of feigned madness. In short, the eccentric acts of mad yogins serve to enhance the practitioners’ realization of equal taste, the view that all phenomena are of equal value (“taste the same”) because of their basic lack of self-nature. A lifestyle that disrupts conventions is also thought to disrupt the habitual functions of dualistic consciousness, illuminates the fragility of ordinary distinctions and value judgements, and helps to develop equanimity toward the eight wordly concerns.
    Tangtong and his contemporaries lived these principles in dramatic fashion. Representative acts included jumping on a king’s head, beating him, and then urinating on this head and riding horses through the main halls of a monastery (a repeated habit of Tangtong’s). In some cases, he was even mistaken for a demon and there reaction to this kind of behavior was predictably critical. But in the view of the mad yogins, it was ordinary people whose lives were deficient – they were in a sense sleepwalking or mad in their quest for ephemeral worldly pleasures. And Tangtong often arranged for his deliberate behavior to advance the common good; on one occasion, he and his disciples robbed a women of barley, was beaten and bound in retaliation, and induced the local chieftain to repay the women and for his disciples to give the stolen barley to common people to alleviate a famine. Tangtong lived in a social environment that was ultimately willing to accept the behavior of the mad yogins provided that they were convincing practitioners of tantric practice. Stearns believes that his overall legacy was much the same by invoking Emily Dickinson: “Much Madness is divinest Sense–To a discerning Eye.”

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Monday, October 31

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Sunday, October 30

Friday, October 28

  1. page A Summary of Becoming Indian- A Study of the Life of the 16-17th Century Tibetan Lama, Taranatha by David Templeman edited A Summary of Becoming Indian: A Study of the Life of the 16-17th Century Tibetan Lama, Taranatha b…
    A Summary of Becoming Indian: A Study of the Life of the 16-17th Century Tibetan Lama, Taranatha by David Templeman
    Yuchen Zhao
    Abstract:
    Taranatha (1575-1634), also known by his Tibetan name Kunga Nyingpo (Tib. Kun dga’ snying po), was a reincarnation of Kunga Drolchog (Tib. Kun dga’ grol chog) of the Jonang school, who spent his life in Tsang (Tib. gTsang), Tibet. David Templeman consults both the “open” autobiography of Taranatha, Liberation Accounts of the Wanderer, Taranatha, and the secret biography titled Secret Liberation Accounts. For Taranatha’s teachers, Templeman consults Taranatha’s writings such as Biography of Buddhaguptanatha and The Seven Instruction Lineages. Templeman focuses on Taranatha as an Indophile and explains what Taranatha’s vision of his Indian connection say about him and the Tibet that he lived in. More importantly, Templeman posits Taranatha in his historical time and space, and focuses on his relationships with his patrons, Indian teachers and Indian acaryas. Based on the Taranatha’s vision and imagination of himself, Templeman attempts to present to his readers a fuller image of the man Taranatha.
    Introduction
    Taranatha is a well-known figure in Tibetan history. He was a Jonang scholar and teacher, and a proponent of non-sectarianism, predating the later rime (Tib. ris-med) movement. In his book, Becoming Indian: A Study of the Life of the 16-17th Century Tibetan Lama, Taranatha, David Templeman takes a refreshing look at Taranatha. Through Taranatha connection to India, self-proclaimed and otherwise, Templeman presents Taranatha not as an esoteric tantric master, but as a historical man, who was concerned about his relationship with patrons, his authenticity and legitimacy, his image, and his legacy.
    The “Industry” of Taranatha
    In the first chapter, Templeman points out that Taranatha’s writing on the history of Indian Buddhism was heavily employed for the colonial project in British India. Colonial propagators would often cite Taranatha’s writings, such as Origins of the Dharma in India written in 1608. By “locating” the India’s authentic and glorious Buddhist past, the colonialists claim that only India’s British colonial present can restore India’s present. Templeman questions such narrative, as most colonialists who used Taranatha’s work did not understand historical writing in the Tibetan context or were proficient in classical Tibetan. More importantly, Templeman argues that in order to fully grasp Taranatha’s accounts, one has to also investigate who Taranatha was and what his concerns and ambitions might have been, which was integral in the underlining meaning of his works.
    The Loyal Priest
    In the second chapter, Templeman argues that Taranatha was deeply involved in the cho-yon (Tib. mchog yon)relationship. More importantly, Templeman points out that Taranatha was not only a manipulator and benefactor of his relations with powerful patrons such as the Tsang rulers, he was also a “partial victim” (Ch. 2) of such relationships. More specifically, although Taranatha benefited financially from the patronage of the Tsang rulers, he had to reconcile with their military practices that resulted in the deaths of many. In his biographies, Taranatha does not mention his patrons as frequently as he could have.
    Taranatha had to cope with violence and death that ran contradictory to his training as a Buddhist monk. According to Templeman, the Tsang rulers were expansive and conquered territories as far as Ngari (Tib. mnga’ ris). Taranatha lived in civil war between 28 and 43 years old. As a prominent Buddhist figure, Taranatha was troubled by the destruction caused by his Tsang patrons, and since he was constrained by his priest-patron relationship with the Tsang rulers, he did not openly criticize them. It is most noteworthy that Taranatha was building his monastery, Tagten Phuntsokling (Tib. rTag brtan phun tshok gling) Monastery, which required resources and protection from the Tsang rulers. In his autobiographies, instead of directly criticizing their actions, Taranatha discusses the “moral duties of good leaders” and offers “soft opposition” (Ch. 2) to Tsang rulers’ military campaigns.
    The True Holder of Indian Buddhist Knowledge
    Consequently, in the third chapter, Templeman points out that Suptigupta, the teacher of Taranatha’s Indian teacher, Buddhaguptatha, served as the model of patronage for Taranatha. Taranatha believed that the Bhagela Rajas were responsible for revitalizing Buddhism in India and attracted Buddhist monks from South India, Indonesia and Burma to its court. Although, as Templeman points out, the influence of Bhagela Rajas and the extent of their support for Buddhism were not historically founded. Taranatha posits himself in a great Indian lineage in which the priest serves the patron, and the patron supports the priest and Buddhism.
    Moreover, in the third and fourth chapter, Templeman continues to discuss how Taranatha uses his self-proclaimed Indian connections and knowledge to grant himself legitimacy and henceforth to secure his position and privilege amid the turbulent times of political uncertainty and armed conflicts. Among Taranatha’s teachers is Buddhaguptanatha, who was a student of Santigupta. Taranatha affords both of these two teachers ample attention. He describes and pays tribute to Buddhaguptanatha in Biography of Buddhaguptanatha written in 1601and Santigupta in The Seven Lineage Instructions in 1602. Although Templeman acknowledges that such works might not contain conventional historical data, he stresses that these writings are critical in understanding how Taranantha presented and envisioned himself, especially to the Tsang rulers (Ch. 3). Meanwhile, by describing Santigupta’s travels, Taranatha engages in detailed description of Indian geography. In the same manner, Buddhaguptanatha’s travels and the initiation and teachings that he received in different locations in India also serves as a device for Taranatha to claim legitimacy from archaic Indian wisdom.
    Therefore, Templeman points out that Taranatha asserts as disciple of direct Indian knowledge. It is noteworthy that Taranatha, like his contemporary and fellow Indophile, the Third Panchen Lama (1505-1568), never set food in India. However, as Templeman points out, Taranatha claims that he had various previous lives that were born in India, apart from the lineage of Indian masters that he was a part of. Moreover, Santigupta and Buddhaguptanatha both traveled extensively, especially the latter. The description of their travels suggests that Taranatha somehow obtained the geographical knowledge as well. In the end, as Templeman stresses, it is most important that the Indian knowledge that was transmitted to Taranatha from Santigupta and the other teachers in his lineage through Buddhaguptanatha.
    Taranatha’s Indian Connection and His Vision for the Future
    In the fifth chapter, Templeman delves deeper into Taranatha’s contacts with individuals from India. Like other Tibetan aristocrats and high-ranking lamas, Taranatha established his authenticity through propagating his lineage. However, unlike other dignitaries of his time, Taranatha did it by emphasizing his Indian heritage. Taranatha had contacts with many Indian personalities throughout his life. As Taranatha records, Indian ascetics started visiting him when he was still an infant (Ch. 5). However, Templeman notices that when Taranatha changed his recollections of whether or not he received teachinsg from two Indian acaryas at 27 and 58 years old respectively. In addition to suggest that Taranatha manipulated memory for his own benefit, Templeman argues that it is also possible the supposed revision reflects Taranatha’s evolving vision of himself. Also importantly, Taranatha claims to have received new Buddhist knowledge from India. Taranatha’s contemporary, the Third Panchen Lama, who was also fascinated with Buddhism in India, challenged Taranatha’s claim as an exclusive master and disciple relationship with Buddhagupta. Both the Third Panchen Lama and Taranatha falsely believed that Buddhism was flourishing in India and they were becoming the authority in Tibet representing the new Buddhist knowledge from India.
    In the sixth and final chapter, Templeman suggests that Taranatha not only describes the past but he also illustrates the possibility of his future. Taranatha wrote his autobiography, the Liberation Account of the Wanderer, Taranatha in 1633 and his secret biography, the Secret Liberation Accounts in 1599. Echoing Janet Gyatso’s Apparition of the Self: the Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary, Templeman mentions that Taranatha writes about himself in a detached manner. In other words, Templeman recognizes that the Buddhist concept of emptiness and a lack of intrinsic “self” affect Taranatha’s presentation of himself in his autobiographies. Moreover, Taranatha engages in frank self-reflection and even self-criticism, supposedly in response to negative opinions about him. In all, as Templeman argues, such self-reflection is to “ensure ongoing patronage from the next generations of Tsang rulers after his death.” (Ch. 6)
    Unfortunately, Taranatha’s construction of his future and legacy did not run unopposed. Templeman notes that others who compiled Taranatha’s work, such as Jaya pandita, selected works concentrated on Buddhism in India almost exclusively. As Templeman argues, Jaya pandita did so to re-create Taranatha as a figure that was less of a threat to the hegemonic Gelugpa. Furthermore, the Fifth Dalai Lama (r. 1642-1682)’s Sanskrit tutor, Möndrowa Jamyang Wangyal Dorje (Tib. Smon ‘gro ba ‘jam dbyang dbang rgyal rdo rje) challenged Taranatha’s status as the true reincarnation. Such allegations are not uncommon in Tibetan history. In 1616, Ngawang Namgyel (1594-1616) (Tib. Ngag bdang rnam rgyal) fled from Tsang to Bhutan after his conflict his claims to be the reincarnation of Kunkyen Padma Karpo (1527-1592) (Tib. Kun mkhyen pad ma dkar po) was disputed by a Tsang ruler-supported candidate[1]. In response to Möndrowa’s attack, Taranatha posits him in line with others who Taranatha claims to be practitioners of black magic and lack moral compass. As Templeman argues, by doing so, Taranatha proves that he is the true reincartion of Kunga Drolpa, while maintaining a “moral high ground” (Ch. 6).
    In the end, the Gelugpa took control of Taranatha’s legacy. Templeman points out that Taranatha’s carefully sketched “illustrious previous lives and exemplary present life” were a prelude to his future life. In fact, Taranatha states that he would be reborn both as a military governor and a scholar. During the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama, effectively all Jonang monasteries were either converted or destroyed. The Fifth Dalai Lama recognized the First Jetsundampa (Tib. Rje btsun dam pa), a Gelugpa lama, among the Khalka Mongols. It is difficult to know for certain how Taranatha would react to being reborn as a Mongol Gelugpa monk, which was what his patrons vehemently opposed. We could nonetheless speculate as to what purpose his vision for his present and future serves. As Templeman concludes the sixth chapter, “Perhaps the most important [purpose] was that it located him in the rich Indian Buddhist world through a variety of births, some of them of considerable significance in the development of Buddhism itself.” (Ch. 6)
    Final Thoughts
    As we read Tibetan autobiographies, it is often difficult to discern reality from fantasy. Maybe, in the world of rangnam (Tib. rang rnam), such duality is sometimes irrelevant. As Templeman has demonstrated, Taranatha’s visions of himself served a real purpose and played a significant role of how he envisioned himself during the turbulent time that he lived in. It is therefore telling, what a man like Taranatha cared about, such as legitimacy and authenticity, patronage, and his future and legacy.
    [1] John Ardussi, “The Rapprochement Between Bhutan and Tibet under the Enlightened Rule of Sde-Srid XIII Shes-Rab-Bdang-Phyug (R.1744-63)”, Proceedings of the 7th Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Graz 1995, Volume 1: Tibetan Studies, Oesterreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien 1997, 64-65.

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  2. msg Play of the Omniscient: Life and works of Jamgon Ngawang Gyaltshen, an eminent 17th-18th century Drukpa master message posted Play of the Omniscient: Life and works of Jamgon Ngawang Gyaltshen, an eminent 17th-18th century Dr… Abstract: Jamgon Ngawang Gyaltshen was a Drukpa master in seventeenth and eighteenth-century Bhutan…
    Play of the Omniscient: Life and works of Jamgon Ngawang Gyaltshen, an eminent 17th-18th century Drukpa master
    Abstract: Jamgon Ngawang Gyaltshen was a Drukpa master in seventeenth and eighteenth-century Bhutan. Jamgon was born to Ngawang Rabten and Jam Buthrid in 1647. He belonged to the aristocratic lineage Obtshen choje and many of his ancestors made significant contributions to the history of Bhutan. Jamgon himself became a towering figure in Bhutanese religious and social life towards the later part of seventeenth-century. He was the root lama of Sakya Rinchen, who later penned Jamgon's biography. In this new reading and translation of Jamgon's biography three authors - Yonten Dargye, Per K. Sorensen and Gyonpo Tshering - collaborate in producing a historical record of a great life and its trajectory as they get involved in the fate of an emergent nation. This is not a straightforward translation but a creative reworking of Rinchen's text in what appears to be a major contribution towards recording Drukpa and Bhutanese past.
    Written by Samyak Ghosh, October 2016
    The making of a young monk
    Jamgon (Byams-mgon) was born in the Female-Fire-Pig year that corresponds to 1647, in the seat of the powerful aristocratic Obtsho family at Sharidrak of Gon Amorimu. His father, Ngawang Rabten was the nephew of the first Desi of Bhutan, umze Tenzin Drukgye. The Obtsho lineage is believed to have descended from Terkhungpa who was one of the most prominent disciples of Tsanpa Gyare, the founder of the Drukpa Kagyupa order. Jamgon (Byams-mgon) was unlike most other children of his age and possessed qualities that were considered as marks of a legendary future that awaited him. His birth was kept secret for a considerable period time by his parents. However, soon after Jamgon (Byams-mgon) was born his parents took him to visit the zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in order to receive his blessings. The zhabdrung who is considered as the founder of Buddhism in Bhutan was pleased to meet the child and made predictions about the prodigious child.
    When Jamgon (Byams-mgon) was five years old his parents again took him to the zhabdrung at Punakha Dzong. The journey to Punakha was not easy as the country was reeling from the recent Tibeto-Mongol invasions which had destroyed much of Thimpu, Paro and Punakha valley by 1652. The zhabdrung presented the child with sacred-pills and protection threads and bestowed on him the empowerment of longevity. In a few years from then his parents arranged for a ritual for the future betrothal of the young Jamgon (Byams-mgon) to a girl from a noble family in order to secure the family line. This as can already be guessed was bound to fail as Jamgon (Byams-mgon) had no attachment to worldly affairs and wanted to live the life of a monk.
    At the age of ten his parents, Ngawang Rabten and Jam Buthrid took him a lopon in Punakha by the name of Sangye Linpa. Under the lopon Jamgon (Byams-mgon) began his learning of the preliminary ritual prayers. Sangye Linpa also taught him read and write and it is said that the boy soon won the hearts of his teacher and the other monks by his unmatched intelligence and learning skills. In the year 1656 the first Desi of Bhutan passed away and Jamgon (Byams-mgon) got a chance to witness the funeral rites that were performed at Cheri. Soon after he was imparted the knowledge of calligraphy and writing skills in lantsa and wartula scripts by drunyig Zimsche (lopon gZims-chen-pa) who was also known as Gewa Gyamtsho and lopon Tshewang Dorje respectively. It is said that the second Desi La-ngon Tenzin Drukdra kept a close eye on the child and his initial education in Punakha.
    In 1662 Tenzin Drukdra asked Ngawang Rabten to send one of his sons to the monastic order. Jamgon (Byams-mgon) had two brothers by then and his father was keen on sending his younger son Ngawang Phuntsho. However, the second Desi held a secret meeting with Jamgon (Byams-mgon) and expressed his desire to have him join the monastic order. Jamgon (Byams-mgon) by then had already expressed his wish to his parents who were unyielding to grant him permission. The Desi soon ordered Ngawang Rabten to allow his eldest son to join the Drukpa Kagyupa order and the dejected father had to let his favorite child leave the comforts of home. In the very same year he was ceremoniously accompanied to Punakha Dzong by his parents. The young Jamgon (Byams-mgon) received a haircut which was central to the monk initiation ceremonial rituals and his ordination outside the chamber where the zhabdrung (zhabs drung rin po che) was in retreat. It is said that he was last to have the fortune to receiving ordination in the vicinity of the zhabs drung rin po che (zhabs dun rin po che' i sku tshams dgag nas dbu skra'i gtsug phud phul).
    After entering the monastic order Jamgon (Byams-mgon) began his training in ecclesiastical studies under the care and guidance of the relative of the first Je Khenpo, kudrung Chokyi Gyamtsho. Thus he began a life of learning and memorizing the brief rituals and esoteric texts. In 1667 when Jamgon (Byams-mgon) was twenty two years old choje Minyur Tenpa (Chos rje Mi-'gyur brtan-pa) became the third Desi of Bhutan. Three years later, in 1670, Jamgon (Byams-mgon) completed the task of building eight Sugata chortens with a three-storeyed Tashi Gromtang in Punakha Dzong with the third Desi in order to house the images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas - a project that was begun by second Desi. Upon completion of the task a huge consecration ceremony was organized that lasted for five days. The ceremony was presided over by second Je Khenpo Sonam Yozer (rJe mKhan-po bSod-nams' od-zer) and gyalse Tenzin Rabgye (rGyal sras bsTan-'dzin rab-gyas) for which Jamgon (Byams-gnon) prepared brocade thangkas depicting the incarnate lamas of the Drukpa Kagyu order.
    In the next few years Jamgon (Byams-mgon) now in his twenties received a range of training. From lopon Ugyen Tshering he received training in bodily gestures and choreography associated with the ritual sacred dance – ‘bag ‘chams and zor ‘chams. From lopon Tenzin Chopel he learned the arts of drawing mandalas which include the four lines – tshangs thig, zur thig, rtsa thig and las thig. Along with these rituals he learned the arts of ritual chanting with the variations in tonalities for different chants associated with two main protector deities – Mahakala (Ye-shes mgon-po) and Sri Devi (dPal-ldan lha-mo). During this stage of his career as a young monk Jamgon (Byams-mgon) mastered the root verses of ceremonies, the root texts, arrangement of altars, the arts of decoration and all other aspects of ritual and liturgical practices that form the core of the monastic life. Alongside he continued with his training under the second Je Khenpo Sonam Yozer (rJe mKhan-po bSod-nams’ od-zer). During this period he went for his first retreat at the Cheri monastery and upon his return the Je Khenpo (rJe mKhan-po bSod-Nams’ od-zer) gave him the complete set of precepts and instructions associated with the Drukpa Kagyu order known as the gdangs mnag sdong po gsum drill.
    A travelling court priest of Bhutan
    In 1680 civil unrest broke out in Bhutan and Jamgon (Byams-mgon) witnessed the destiny of his family getting entangled in this moment of misfortune. There was coup declared by Dzongpon Gedun Chopel in order to overthrow his adversary the third Desi, Mingyur Tenpa. Ngawang Rabten (Ngag-dbang rab-brtan) and his younger son Ngawang Dondrub got involved in the political turmoil and were captured and imprisoned by the men of Dzongpon Gedun Chopel. He also sent a group of men to house of Ngawang Rabten (Ngag-dbang rab-brtan) in order to arrest his wife and his daughters who were later captured following a trick and treachery. Jamgon (Byams-mgon) was at Punakha Dzong all this time and it was in front of his eyes that his family was undergoing this terrible misfortune.
    Around the same time a monk named Tenpa Gyamtsho from the Gyaljed Tshal monastery in the Tsang province of Tibet came to Bhutan. He was put under Jamgon (Byams-mgon) for learning tantric rituals. Jamgon (Byams gnon) began training many more young monks along with Tenpa Gyamtsho in the various fields of ritual practices. During this time he was also involved in the installation of a tendo in Punakha following the orders of Gyalse Rinpoche and the fourth Desi Tenzin Rabgye (bsTan-‘dzin rab gyas). There was a moment of stability in Bhutan under the rule of Gyalse Rinpoche and Jamgon (Byams gnon) was about to embark on his first journey across the borders in order to spread knowledge on the Drukpa Kagyu order and to bolster diplomatic relationship between Bhutan and its neighbors.
    Jamgon’s (Byams-mgon) first diplomatic journey was to the semi-independent kingdom of Derge in the Dokham region of eastern Tibet ruled by Sangye Tenpa. The kingdom of Derge was the seat of the Sakya order and it is believed that the multiple invitations that the envoys of Sangye Tenpa communicated to the fourth Desi was due to the influence of the zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in the trans-regional monastic geography. Apart from this there was an emerging relationship marked by goodwill among the Sakya and the Drukpa Kagyu orders in eighteenth century connecting the Eastern Himalayan regions of Bhutan and Eastern Tibet. After three such invites sent from Derge the fourth Desi agreed to send a Drukpa monk to Tibet. But this was to remain a secret diplomatic mission owing to the tension between the Bhutanese and the Tibetan-Mongol polity that ruled in much of central Tibet. The fourth Desi thought Jamgon (Byams-mgon) as most suited to represent the Drukpa Kagyu order and Bhutan in this diplomatic visit both in terms of intellect and his noble background. He thus informed Jamgon (Byams-mgon) of the letter and instructed him to undertake the journey.
    Jamgon (Byams-mgon) gladly followed the Desi’s instruction but he first went on a pilgrimage to the various Drukpa Kagyud sites in Bhutan before leaving for Derge. On the twenty-fifth day of the seventh lunar month of the Early-Male-Dragon year which corresponds to 1688 Jamgon (Byams-mgon) and his party consisting of nineteen attendants and eighteen horses left for Kham. On his way to Derge Jamgon (Byams-mgon) and his team waited at Samthang and Yulchung in order to take rest and prepare themselves for the long road ahead. The party soon crossed Chamdo and from there all the places that they went to were under the administration of the King of Derge. They received a warm welcome within the territory of the Derge ruler and went to Rigo, Yen Dzong and Rabten Gonpa. After spending a few days at these locations they arrived at Changragon (lCags-ra-dgon) which was the seat of the Derge ruler, Sangye Tenpa.
    Upon reaching Changragon (lCags-ra-dgon) the party was immediately taken to the King’s court where the Derge ruler honored Jamgon (Byams-mgon). Jamgon (Byams-mgon) met with the king’s nephew Sonam Phuntshog who gave him advice on the local people and their ways. In the next few years Jamgon (Byams-mgon) travelled through Kham visiting various gonpas sometimes with Sanye Tenpa but mostly with his team of attendants. Seven years had passed by then and Jamgon (Byams-mgon) started to feel homesick and wanted to return to Bhutan. The King however was unyielding to his wishes and tried to convince him to stay back in the Derge kingdom. Jamgon (Byams-mgon) was little interested and wrote to the fiftn Desi. At last the king had to give in to the orders of the fifth Desi and Jamgon’s (Byams-mgon) wishes and bid him farewell.
    Mission to the kingdom of Ladakh
    After returning from Derge Jamgon (Byams-mgon) found his family facing a new set of troubles. This time it was a local feud where the Desi Gendun Chopel played tricks and got his brother Ngawang Phuntsok and his involved. This snowballed into a massive affair involving the infamous Gendun Chopel who again took revenge on the family. His brothers along with their mother and sister were now banished to the Dagana region. Jamgon (Byams-mgon) did not speak up fearing the dangers to his life. By this time he was given a new position. He became the head of the meditation seat of Dolung (rDo lung) in Khodang (Kho-thang-kha). This was the site where his root-lama Sonam Yozer had resided for a long time. The family problem was solved by the fourth Je Khenpo jetsun Damcho Pekar who ordered the seventh Desi of Bhutan Samten Tenzin to let Jamgon’s (Byams-mgon) mother and siblings return to their home in Amorimu.
    During early eighteenth-century Jamgon (Byams-mgon) found yet another new responsibility thrusted upon him. In 1706 the court of Ladakh sent envoys and letters requesting the visit of a lama to their kingdom. The seventh Desi of Bhutan and his court unanimously nominated Jamgon (Byams-mgon) for this owing to his previous experiences in Kham and his status as the most learned lama of the Drukpa Kagyu order. This visit was yet another diplomatic mission whereby the long standing relationship between Bhutan and Ladakh was acknowledged made stronger. This time he did not visit his mother prior to the journey nor did he venture out on a pilgrimage. In Ladakh the King Nima Namgyal and his ministers welcomed Jamgon (Byams-mgon) and his team and bestowed many gifts on them. He was nominated the as the court priest of the Hemis Dung and was invited to the Hemis monastery. As the court priest he met with the princely Dung brothers exchanged scarves with them. The Hemis Dungs became devoted to Jamgon (Byams-mgon) and he gave the empowerment ceremonies of the Drukpa Kagyu teachings. During his stay in Ladakh Jamgon (Byams-mgon) visited many pilgrimage sites in the Garhza area and then proceeded towards Kashmir and Phullahari. During his visit to Kashmir Jamgon (Byams-mgon) met with the local kings and shared courtesies with them. He visited the Panchpura chortens where he met with two Hindu Brahmins who were moved by his knowledge and soon became devoted to him. Before returning to the palace of Leh in Ladakh Jamgon (Byams-mgon) stayed for a few days at Takna Gonpa. Upon returning Jamgon (Byams-mgon) went to Shelkar palace and performed sadhana for royal hosts and their family, all according to the king’s wishes.
    Gradually Jamgon (Byams-mgon) became renowned in the kingdom of Ladakh and imparted Drukpa Kagyud teachings to many people who came to him. He next went to a pilgrimage in the Zangskar valley and also visited Patumkhar where the King of Zangskar had his palace. After completing his pilgrimage Jamgon (Byams-mgon) returned to Hemis and then to Leh and finally made preparations to travel back home. Their journey back to Bhutan was however spoiled by the Tibetan authorities. Jamgon’s (Byams-mgon) party was stopped from moving ahead at Phagri under the order of the Tibetan authorities who were reported of the court priest of Ladakh passing through their territory by an Oirad Mongol. Jamgon (Byams-mgon) was imprisoned for eight months and underwent many hardships in Phagri. Meanwhile his mother passed away in Amorimu and the Great Treasurer (phyag mdzod) of Sakya intervened in the matters and got Jamgon (Byams-mgon) released. He along with his team arrived at Rinpun Dzong in Paro in the third month of the Water-Dragon year which corresponded to 1712.
    The monk as the administrator
    After returning from Ladakh Jamgon (Byams-mgon) found him in the face of new governmental responsibilities. The Desi of Bhutan asked Jamgon (Byams-mgon) to take the duty of the Chila of Paro. At first Jamgon (Byams-mgon) was unsure of an administrative position but the Desi was did not seem to give in to his wishes. Therefore he had to go towards Paro and take over as the new Chila. This was difficult time as the treasuries of Paro was fast depleting owing to the conflicts with the Tibetans. Jamgon (Byams-mgon) proved to be an honest and an able administrator. He made every effort at running the province without any case of theft or embezzlement. During this time Jamgon (Byams-mgon) revised and introduced a law of monastic conduct (sgrigs rnam gzhag) for the Drukpa Kagyu order in Bhutan. The code of conduct was distributed throughout Bhutan in the Female-Wood Dragon year which corresponded to 1724.
    Shortly after this Jamgon (Byams-mgon) withdrew himself from all administrative affairs and returned to Rinpun Dzong. Thus began his long later life of spiritual powers when he received a number of reading transmissions – one of which was of the biography of the zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. During this period he met with Sakya Rinchen who was thirteen years of age. Following this he went on a retreat to Chokhor Dorjeden. He performed many miracles in the Punakha region and offered key Drukpa teachings such as the Grand Service of Samvara (bde mchog bsnyen chen). Following this he went into a meditation retreat at the Punakha Dzong. The monk community now was headed by lochen choje Ngawang Sonam (Lo-chen Ngag-dbang bsod-nams) who was Jamgon’s (Byams-mgon) chief disciple and they made prayers for his long life.
    The popularity of Jamgon (Byams-mgon) by now reached new heights. Disciples from Trashochodzong and Punakha came to his hermitage at Seula in order to seek learning. Jamgon (Byams-mgon) offered teachings in the preliminary as well as the pith instructions, precepts and initiations of the Drukpa Kagyu order. As more people started flocking to Seula it became very difficult to accommodate them. A very practical problem arose and the necessity for a new seat of the Drukpa Kagyu order at Seula seemed imminent. Jamgon (Byams-mgon) owing to his frail health was not sure of such a thing. But after the persistence and assurance from his disciples he finally consented. Thus a new residence-cum-monastery was set up in Seula in 1715 and it was called Seula Chokor Dorjeden or the Vajra seat for the turning of the Wheel of Dharma. In the next few years Jamgon (Byams-mgon) travelled between Seula and Punakha delivering initiations, performing rituals and spreading the Drukpa Kagyu teachings.
    The Drukpa luminary in his last years
    The final years of Jamgon (Byams-mgon) were mostly spent in Punakha and Thimpu. It is recorded that during this time envoys from Ladakh came to visit Jamgon (Byams-mgon) and payed him their respects in the manner of gifts presented by the royal family. Jamgon (Byams-mgon) also received many gifts from Tenpa Tshering (bsTan-pa Tshe-ring) who was now the ruler of Derge in Kham. During this moment in his life Jamgon (Byams-mgon) was accompanied by Sakya Rinchen who took care of his master. Bhutan was again invaded by the Tibetans and the Gyalse Trulku along with his followers led by Je Khenpo Ngawang left for the winter residence in Punakha. Jamgon (Byams-mgon) now was in Thimpu where the Tibetans carried out great carnage destroying chortens, temples, monasteries and meditation centers. Jamgon (Byams-mgon) staying back in Thimpu performed dedication prayers for the deceased and the destroyed. It was in Thimpu that he received his news of his younger brother Ngawang Pekar’s death and he conducted the dedication and aspiration prayers according to the custom.
    One of the significant events from Jamgon’s (Byams-mgon) final years was the ordination of Gyalse Trulku Jigme Norbu. On the fifteenth day of the first month of Iron-Female Pig year that corresponded to 1731 Jamgong (Byams-mgon) delivered full ordination to Gyalse Trulku Jigme Norbu. Following this he attained the highest post as the Gyaltshab of Bhutan. Jamgon’s (Byams-mgon) health started to deteriorate rapidly in the next few months and he arrived for rest at Chokor Dorjeden. It was on the fourth day of the sixth month of the Water-Male Mouse year that corresponded to 1732 that Jamgon Ngawang Gyantshel surrounded by his disciples had a vision of the mandala and entered nirvana at his residence and monastery at Chokor Dorjeden.
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