The Fifth Dalai Lama and his Reunification of Tibet

Feb 16, 2016 | Views: 5,730
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Dear friends around the world,

This is a very interesting article on His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama. He was the first Dalai Lama to take over complete secular rule of Tibet. There was much political intrigue, conflicts with other schools of Buddhism (Kagyu,etc) and murders of high lamas such as Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen by his regents to establish his rule. The Mongols played a huge role during this period. There is so much information here and good to read. I have placed this here for strictly educational purposes.

Tsem Rinpoche

 

The Fifth Dalai Lama and his Reunification of Tibet

by Samten G. Karmay

At the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama’s birth, Tibet was in a state of religious, social and political turmoil. Political power was shared among various factions supported by different religious schools who not only wished to propagate their teachings, but also to establish their economic power and political influence. In Tibet, religious, political and economic power have always been closely entwined. Tibetan political theory is based on the coalition of politics and religion in the form of Lamaism, finding its expression in chöyön, a “preceptor-patron” relationship in which both parties are considered equal – the preceptor giving the patron religious teachings and spiritual guidance in return for material and political protection. In addition, political protection allowed the religious schools to increase the number of their disciples and hence their wealth. The term chöyön was often used to designate, in particular, the relationship between a Tibetan lama and the leader of a foreign country, such as that between Phagpa Lodrö Gyeltsen (1235–1280), the head of the Sakya school, and Khubilai Khan, the Mongol emperor, in the 13th century. An understanding of the interdependence of politics and religion is essential for the study of Tibetan history.

The circumstances and strife surrounding the Fifth Dalai Lama’s birth are important to recall in order to understand the decisive role this exceptional man played in the reunification of Tibet.

 

A Country Torn Apart

In 1548, the aristocrat Zhingshag Tseten Dorje was appointed governor of Tsang province by the ruler of central Tibet, a Rinpung lord and a supporter of the Karma Kagyupa order. The newly appointed governor settled into the palace of Samdrubtse (also called Shigatse), situated near the Gelukpa monastery Tashilunpo. Shortly after, he rebelled against the Rinpung lords and proclaimed himself King of Tsang. Together with his nine sons he gradually expanded his kingdom and established control over both Ü and Tsang, the two main provinces of central Tibet. This was the first time since the collapse of the Tibetan empire in the 9th century that Tibet was ruled by a lay government.

The new government’s ambition was to revive the institutions of the imperial period and to bring peace and prosperity to the country by applying a five-point policy, the so-called “five great actions”. The plan was supported by various religious schools such as the Sakyapa, the Jonangpa, and, more particularly, by the great hierarchs of the Karma Kagyupa school. As the legitimate representative of authority, Zhingshag Tseten Dorje maintained equally good relations with the Gelukpa abbots of Tashilunpo who, however, remained suspicious of the new dynasty’s intentions.

The Third Dalai Lama, Sonam Gyatso (1543–1588) © Himalayan Art Resources

Moreover, during the same period the new Gelukpa school had founded a number of large monasteries in Ü province, namely Drepung, Sera and Ganden near Lhasa, the former imperial capital. The Gelukpa school, whose monasteries were supported by the laity and a number of nobles of Ü, had significant influence on the religious as well as on the political scene. In 1577–78 the conversion to Buddhism of Altan Khan, the leader of the Tumed Mongols, and all his subjects by Sonam Gyatso (1543–1588), the Abbot of Drepung (who received the title Dalai Lama from the Khan and was later recognized as the third to hold this title) was a spectacular success for the Gelukpa school. The secular government in Samdrubtse, however, viewed the event as a politico-religious alliance between the Gelukpa school and a foreign power. In fact, it was a strategic move in a struggle between two Buddhist religious schools – in this case the Gelukpa and the Karma Kagyupa – to secure the support of a patron without which neither could survive.

In 1589, the conflict was exacerbated when the Gelukpa recognized a child born that year to a Mongol family as the reincarnation of the Third Dalai Lama. The royal government took this as a clear indication of the Gelukpa school’s intentions to seek a foreign ally. After the child was installed in Ganden Phodrang at Drepung and enthroned as abbot, Mongol intervention in Gelukpa, and therefore in Tibetan, affairs increased. Moreover, the new Dalai Lama refused to bless the king of Tsang when they met. He came to be regarded as an expert in magic and was suspected of having performed a magic ritual against the king. However, he died shortly after at Drepung in 1616 at the age of twenty-eight, and the royal government forbade the search for his reincarnation.

In 1618, the Mongols and the Gelukpa monks began to attack the royal officials residing in Lhasa. This escalated into a general conflict between the government’s forces and the Gelukpa monks supported by the Mongols and several nobles of Ü. Fighting continued intermittently until 1621 and led to the establishment in the region of a great number of Mongols determined to protect Gelukpa interests. In 1621 near Lhasa, a battle that would have resulted in a great massacre on both sides was averted through the intervention of Panchen Lama Lobzang Chögyen (1567–1662), the Abbot of Tashilunpo (who was later regarded as the First Panchen Lama).

 

The New Dalai Lama

It was against this background of turmoil that in 1617 a son was born to the noble Zahor family. From about the 14th century the family resided in the Taktse castle, the former stronghold of the Yarlung kings. The officials of Ganden Phodrang at Drepung had not renounced the search for the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation despite the ban by the Tsang king and the war between Ü and Tsang.

They had secretly discovered and selected three children whom they thought likely to be the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation. The child born to the famous Zahor family seemed the most convincing candidate. The family’s status was evidently a determining factor since two other schools, the Drukpa Kagyupa and the Karma Kagyupa, sought to claim the child as the reincarnation of one of their lamas since a lama of each school had also died in 1616. The family had resisted their solicitations despite the father’s friendly relations with the Drukpa Kagyupa school. In addition, the mother was connected to the Jonangpa school through her family, which was established at the castle of Nakartse. The names of both the mother and the son, Kunga Lhadze and Kunga Minjur, betray this link. We may therefore assume that the Jonangpa school hoped just as strongly to win the child over to their cause. This, however, was not to be the case, as we shall see.

The first six years of the Fifth Dalai Lama’s life resemble a novel. In 1618, his father, Düdül Rabten, was involved in a plot against the royal government, which brought the king’s wrath upon him. Around the same period, the Gelukpa, as already mentioned, secretly chose his son as the reincarnation of the Fourth Dalai Lama after the three candidates drew lots before the holy image of Radreng monastery. In the meantime, Panchen Lama Lobzang Chögyen had convinced the king to lift the ban on the quest for the new incarnation.

Panchen Lama Lobzang Chögyen (1567–1662) © Himalayan Art Resources

Nevertheless, the king ordered the Zahor family to leave their castle at Taktse. Düdül Rabten had attempted to escape to eastern Tibet but was prevented by royal envoys and brought to court at Samdrubtse where he remained under arrest until his death in 1626, without ever seeing his son again. His wife and son (aged three) were forced to remain in Dekyiling, then in Lhazong. The king suggested they come to live at court in Samdrubtse because of the insecurity caused by the war. But the mother, suspicious of the king’s real intentions, preferred to ignore his request and return to her family at the Nakartse castle. As soon as the ban on the quest for the reincarnation was lifted, Ganden Phodrang sent envoys accompanied by Mongol delegates to the king’s court, under the pretext of a diplomatic mission sent by Panchen Lama Lobzang Chögyen, to request official recognition of the boy now living at Nakartse as the Fourth Dalai Lama’s reincarnation.

The child spent the first six years of his life in this castle and, in order to verify the authenticity of the reincarnation, he was subjected to the traditional “tests” bearing on his “memories” of his previous life. Among these “tests”, the best known is that of presenting the candidate with objects belonging to the previous incarnation along with other identical objects. If the child chooses the real objects he is proclaimed tulku, “reincarnate”. However, contrary to tradition, the boy belonging to the Zahor family had already been chosen by the drawing of lots before being submitted to the traditional tests.

One of the other two candidates, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen (1619–1656), was recognized as the reincarnation of another Gelukpa hierarch of Drepung. He was installed in the Zimkhang Gongma or “Upper Chamber”, and was to become a redoubtable rival of the Fifth Dalai Lama, as we shall see.

The Fifth Dalai Lama retained bitter memories of his childhood during which the philosophical and religious precepts relative to the notion of reincarnation served political purposes. In his writings he would often recall with irony the political manipulations of his own school, which involved the Mongols in all its affairs. Thus he wrote in his autobiography, the Dukula:

Since there was a large Mongol army in the country and the Tibetan leaders were forced to yield much of their land to them, it became customary to recognize the sons of Mongol leaders as reincarnations. It was said that I too was one (even though I was not a Mongol)!¹

As for his success at passing the traditional “tests”, he is equally straightforward: “The official Tsawa Kachu of Ganden Phodrang showed me statues and rosaries (that belonged to the Fourth Dalai Lama and other people), but I was unable to distinguish between them! When he left the room I heard him tell the people outside that I had successfully passed the tests. Later, when he became my tutor, he would often admonish me and say: ‘You must work hard, since you were unable to recognize the objects!’”²

The Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobzang Gyatso (1617–1682) © Rubin Museum of Art

The child was brought to Ganden Phodrang, also known as Zimkhang Wog, the “Lower Chamber”. He was enthroned as the Fifth Dalai Lama and received the name of Lobzang Gyatso from Panchen Lama Lobzang Chögyen, who became one of his spiritual masters. As soon as he was installed, the Mongols wanted him to go to Kokonor. His entourage considered him too young to undertake such a journey, but it soon became obvious that if they refused, the Mongols would take him by force. With the king’s permission, the officials of Ganden Phodrang therefore secretly transferred him to Rigo, in the south. This episode clearly shows that the alliance between the Gelukpa and the Mongols supported by the nobles of Ü was not without difficulties. The Fifth Dalai Lama was forced to remain in hiding in Rigo for a year. During that time he began to learn how to read and write.

From the age of six years, until he was twenty-four, his studies were devoted to traditional subjects such as Buddhist philosophy, Sanskrit and poetry. He developed a keen interest in Buddhist philosophy, the focus of study for the Gelukpa school, and was later to write a number of treatises on the subject. At the same time, he also had to perform his duty as abbot of Drepung monastery whose throne he occupied. In 1633, he met Konchok Lhundrub (1561–1637), a master of the Nyingmapa school, whose teachings were not always recognized by the Gelukpa school. This meeting was to be a turning point in his life: he received teachings and initiations into certain mystical practices and tantric rituals of which he hitherto had no knowledge. The young hierarch realized that his philosophical training at the monastery alone was not sufficient to attain spiritual enlightenment.

In the meantime, the “Upper Chamber” reincarnation, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, had won fame in both Tibet and Mongolia as a brilliant scholar and spiritually accomplished person. This aroused envy in the Dalai Lama’s entourage even though Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen had always proclaimed himself a disciple of the Fifth Dalai Lama. This situation was to have an unsettling effect on the harmony within the monastery.

Through the diplomacy of Panchen Lama Lobzang Chögyen, the king and his government had ceased hostilities against the Gelukpa from the moment of the Fifth Dalai Lama’s enthronement. The Gelukpa community of Tsang, however, felt threatened by the establishment of a Karma Kagyupa monastery near Tashilunpo. Because of this, Mongol intervention on the Tibetan political scene was again to endanger the precarious balance of Tibetan politics.

 

The Mongols Intervene

Sonam Chöphel (1595–1657), the treasurer of Ganden Phodrang, was the prime architect of the Gelukpa school’s rise to political power. Later he received the title of Zhelngo, “the Leader”, which we will use hereafter when referring to him. He sought the support of the Jungar from western Mongolia and inspired them with a military stratagem that consisted of successively attacking the other Mongol tribes sympathetic to the king of Tsang, then the south-eastern Tibetans of Kham – who were also partisans of the royal government – and finally, the king and his entourage in Tsang, giving rise to Gelukpa political and religious supremacy.

Gushri Khan (1582–1655), Fresco in Jokhang temple, Tibet. Photography: Brian J. McMorrow

The Jungar had been actively supporting the Gelukpa school in their own country. In 1636, one of their leaders, Gushri Khan of the Khoshut tribe, decided to attack the Mongol tribe of Chogthur, an ally of the king of Tsang. Originally from the Khalkha tribe, Chogthur’s tribe had been expelled from central Mongolia in 1634 and had set up their main camp in the Kokonor region in Amdo, in north-eastern Tibet. In 1637, after having defeated Chogthur and his 40,000 men in Kokonor, Gushri Khan, too, chose to make his camp in this territory of Tibetan nomads and soon became the sole leader of the Mongols in the region. He and several of his men travelled to central Tibet that year disguised as pilgrims. He was received in audience and it was at this time that the Fifth Dalai Lama bestowed on him the name of Tenzin Chögyel before the holy image of the Buddha in the Jokhang temple in Lhasa for having defended Gelukpa interests in the Kokonor region. The meeting was to have far-reaching historical consequences. As soon as he returned to the Kokonor region, the Mongol chief began to prepare his campaign against Donyö, king of Beri, in the province of Kham in south-eastern Tibet. Donyö was an ally of the king of Tsang, and, moreover, a Bön practitioner, which made him a staunch enemy of the Mongols who had just recently converted to Buddhism. In 1641, after a year of fighting, Gushri Khan defeated the king of Beri. His prestige as a warrior was now unequalled as much among Tibetans as among Mongols.

During the campaign against Beri, the Fifth Dalai Lama and the Zhelngo discussed the question of whether Gushri Khan and his men should return to Kokonor. They decided to send an emissary to Kham to contact the Mongol chief. In the presence of both the Dalai Lama and the emissary, the Zhelngo pretended to agree with the Dalai Lama that Gushri Khan should return to Kokonor after his campaign in south-eastern Tibet. However, just as the emissary was about to leave, the Zhelngo ordered him to tell Gushri Khan to lead his army against Tsang.

At the beginning of 1642, during the annual festival of the Great Prayer in Lhasa, presided over by the Fifth Dalai Lama, news of Gushri Khan’s victory in south-eastern Tibet and his army’s advance against Tsang reached the city. The news greatly surprised the Dalai Lama and the Zhelngo finally told him the truth: that in fact he himself had issued this order in the Dalai Lama’s name! Shortly after, Gushri Khan’s army confronted the king’s troops. It was to be a long and bloody war. After many months of battle, the king’s troops finally withdrew behind the walls of their stronghold at Samdrubtse. The Mongol troops, who had the advantage in open battle on the plain, now had to wait for the provisions of the king’s army to run out. The Zhelngo, more and more concerned over the course the events were taking, requested the Dalai Lama to go to Tsang as mediator. The Dalai Lama then displayed his true political stature by saying:

I have told you many times that I do not like this kind of thing (i.e., war). But you never listened to me. Now all know that the partisans of Ganden Phodrang have rebelled and that our man, Tardongpa, leads the Mongol army. Can there be any hope of mediation at present? The king and his entourage, being wise, might respond favourably to my approach. But the Mongols will never leave now. For my part, I am determined not to remain under the king’s rule.³

 

The Fifth Dalai Lama: Sovereign of Tibet

Towards the end of 1642, having resisted the Mongols for almost a year, the king and his two ministers finally surrendered. The Zhelngo and Gushri Khan then invited the Dalai Lama to Samdrubtse. Gushri Khan and the Zhelngo went to greet the hierarch and his entourage in Thobgyel. The next day he was received by a long procession consisting of the local population headed by six hundred horsemen. The Dalai Lama was then enthroned as King of Tibet at Samdrubtse and Gushri Khan offered him his conquests of central and eastern Tibet as a gift. The year 1642 was a crucial year and marked a turning point in Tibetan history because, for the first time, a Dalai Lama, previously merely the abbot of a monastery and leader of one religious school among several others, became the head of the country. The consequences of his rise to power were to be tremendous.

Although he had firmly established his power in central Tibet, the Dalai Lama still had to face various military conflicts in other regions, especially in Kongpo and the south, to which the leader of the Karma Kagyupa school had escaped and where the population, who for the most part belonged to this school, was determined to resist. In the following years, the Fifth Dalai Lama travelled extensively in order to ease the situation. During the same period, the Zhelngo took on the function of Desi, “regent”, and became responsible for governmental affairs, while Gushri Khan, who never claimed a political position, retained his role as the defender of the new government, always ready to intervene with his army if the need arose. The Fifth Dalai Lama continued to address him as “king” since he was the king of the Mongols of Kokonor (though he resided at Gongkar, about one hundred kilometres from Lhasa) and not “King of Tibet” as has often been falsely claimed.

The political structure of the new state began to take shape. The Dalai Lama was head of state. He was therefore placed above the chöyön structure, the “patron-preceptor” relationship. The Desi assumed the role of preceptor and Gushri Khan that of patron even though he was not really considered a foreigner since he had established himself in the Tibetan region of Kokonor and had placed himself entirely at the service of the Dalai Lama.

Ganden Phodrang, situated as it was within the monastic complex of Drepung, no longer befitted the purposes of the new state, since Drepung could not be considered the political capital of Tibet. This was equally true of Gonkar castle, Gushri Khan’s residence. Since the political situation in Kongpo – and even more so in southern Tibet – remained tense, the construction of a reliable stronghold that would also serve as the new seat of government was deemed necessary. Konchok Chöphel (d. 1646), who was a tutor of the Fifth Dalai Lama and, at the time, occupied the throne of Tsongkhapa (founder of the Gelukpa school), suggested Marpori, the Red Hill, as an ideal site, as it was situated between the monasteries of Drepung and Sera and the city of Lhasa. The construction of the Potala began in 1645 and its eastern section, Phodrang Karpo, the “White Palace”, was completed in 1649. That same year, the Fifth Dalai Lama and his government were installed there.

Ernst Schäfer Expedition to Tibet, Potala (1938) Photographer: Krause, Ernst / Licence CC-BY-SA 3.0 © Bundesarchiv: Bild 135-KA-07-002

Shortly after moving to the Potala, the Fifth Dalai Lama had to deal with political issues beyond Tibet, especially concerning relations with the Manchu empire, relations that were to have great consequence on the future of Tibet.

 

The Journey to Beijing

The Manchus had recently emerged as a new power in the east. They had conquered China and established their capital in Beijing. Mongolia represented a serious threat for the new empire. Fearing Mongol attacks, the Manchus desperately needed peace to be maintained, and here the Dalai Lama played an essential role. He had considerable religious and political influence in Mongolia, whose population had for the most part converted to the Gelukpa school of Buddhism, and in the Kokonor region.

After having received several invitations from the Manchu Emperor Shunzi to make a state visit to Beijing, the Dalai Lama finally accepted in 1652. He set out with an entourage of three thousand men, and the journey took nine months. When the Dalai Lama reached the Sino-Tibetan border in Amdo, he sent a message asking the Emperor to meet him at the border. This request provoked divergent reactions between the Manchu and Chinese officials of the imperial court. While the Manchus were willing to comply, the Chinese officials were not. Finally, the Tibetan and imperial officials reached a compromise to solve this problem of protocol. Since the Dalai Lama was a guest he would travel into Chinese territory, to Kirutaka where the Manchu government had erected a residence to accommodate him. Because of the poor harvest and an epidemic in China that year, it was agreed that the Dalai Lama would proceed from there with only three hundred men. The Emperor would await the Dalai Lama at Ridak Khoto, a place where he often went hunting.

As soon as the Dalai Lama entered Chinese territory, the Emperor sent emissaries, mostly members of the imperial family, to greet him all along his way. The Fifth Dalai Lama himself recounts in his writings his meeting with the Emperor and all the intricacies of protocol surrounding it:

The 16th of the twelfth month, I met the king. We entered a place surrounded by walls, and the seven royal emblems, symbols of the Universal King, unravelled before us. They were all impressive and comparable to the glory of Indra. When the throne became visible, those near me dismounted and continued on foot. I proceeded some forty metres further and then dismounted, while the king also descended from his throne and walked approximately ten metres towards me. He took my hands and welcomed me with interpreters. He then returned to his throne whose height reached a man’s hip. On the throne stood a low stool on which he sat. A metre away another throne had been erected for me. It was slightly lower (due to the small stool on the other). When tea was served, the king asked me to drink first. I replied that this would not be proper. So he suggested we drink at the same time. He showed much respect (to his guest).⁴

During his sojourn in Beijing, the Dalai Lama resided in the Yellow Palace specially built near Beijing for the state visit. His stay there lasted two months and was marked by two grand imperial receptions given in his honour and by various other official receptions that the two heads of state gave one another. He left Beijing at the beginning of 1653 for Kirutaka where he remained three months to prepare his return journey to Lhasa.

Just a few days before his departure for Tibet, a gold seal and a gold plaque engraved with a decree were hastily sent to him from Beijing. The imperial functionaries had not dared present the seal to the Dalai Lama in front of the Emperor while the Dalai Lama was officially visiting Beijing as head of state of a foreign country. Since the seal was given to the Dalai Lama with no particular form of protocol, he attached little importance to it. He simply remarks in his autobiography that the Tibetan translation of the title engraved on the seal was very poor.⁵ The seal, however, is currently exploited by the Chinese authorities for propaganda purposes to justify their policy towards Tibet.

 

Politics and Intrigues

For having successfully achieved this long and hazardous journey, the Dalai Lama was welcomed with great pomp by the whole population of Lhasa and representatives of all the other regions of Tibet, who organized a triumphant march in his honour. The number of gifts he received from the Amdo Tibetans, Mongols, Manchus and Chinese for the Buddhist teachings he had dispensed throughout his journey was impressive: thousands of horses, camels and precious objects.

Upon his return, the Dalai Lama was again faced with internal political problems that put his abilities as a negotiator to the test. He took the opportunity while visiting Samdrubtse in 1654 to resolve a politico-religious problem that had been hindering his rule for a long time. In 1621, the king of Tsang entrusted the organization of the annual festival of the Great Prayer in Lhasa to Panchen Lama Lobzang Chögyen and his monastery, Tashilunpo, in order to thank him for his mediation between the royal forces and the Gelukpa monks of Lhasa, supported by the Mongols. The Desi, always primarily concerned with the interests of Drepung, reclaimed the duty of organizing the yearly festival for his own monastery, as had always been the case prior to 1621. In 1632, Tashilunpo was forced to return this function to Drepung, but relations between Panchen Lama Lobzang Chögyen and the Desi remained strained. They were finally reconciled by the Dalai Lama when he visited Samdrubtse in 1654.

Furthermore, in 1674, the Dalai Lama received the Karmapa hierarch at the Potala with all the respect due to his rank, a reconciliation welcomed by both parties after the many conflicts and misunderstandings that had lasted from 1612 to 1642. But he was not so lenient towards the other schools. For instance, the Jonangpa school, which had hoped to obtain him, when he was a child, as one of their own reincarnations, did not survive in Central Tibet.* As for the Bönpo monasteries, several were forced to convert to the Gelukpa tradition.** The new government’s attitude, however, was in fact determined by political rather than religious considerations.

Two other incidents during the rule of the Fifth Dalai Lama provide an interesting insight into the court intrigues at the time, and more specifically into the relations between religion and politics and their effects, which can still be felt today.

In 1656, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, the reincarnation who was installed in the “Upper Chamber” at Drepung, died. It should be recalled that he had been one of the candidates for the reincarnation of the Fourth Dalai Lama. As a result, he was always seen as a rival of the Fifth Dalai Lama even though he invariably proclaimed himself a disciple of the latter. He came to be despised by a number of officials and especially the Desi. The circumstances of his death, whether natural or not, were contested and part of the Gelukpa school believed that the official Norbu, acting under the Desi’s orders, had assassinated him. Whatever the truth, the search for his reincarnation was banned, which suggests that the affair must have been quite serious indeed. In 1658, the actual building of the “Upper Chamber” was destroyed and the stupa containing the remains of the Lama was supposedly thrown into the Kyichu river. It was then believed that the spirit of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen had returned and he was subsequently deified as a sort of “protector of the Buddhist religion”. This marked the beginning of his cult as a protective deity, later named Dorje Shukden by the fundamentalist faction of the Gelukpa. This cult however has always been a controversial issue and was recently banned by the Fourteenth Dalai Lama in India. The mystery surrounding Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen’s death thus remains one of the most enigmatic aspects of the Fifth Dalai Lama’s rule. Indeed, in 1659, the official Norbu, who had settled at Gekha Sapa, a residence belonging to Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen’s family, fomented a rebellion against the Fifth Dalai Lama’s government. He was suspected of conspiring with the Drukpa Kagyupa power in Bhutan, a great enemy of the Gelukpa. The conflict was resolved through the intervention of Panchen Lama Lobzang Chögyen.

In 1662, Panchen Lama Lobzang Chögyen died at the age of 93. The Fifth Dalai Lama immediately decided to establish the system of his reincarnation. He ordered the monks of the great monasteries to recite a prayer he composed himself, requesting the master “to return”. The reincarnation was discovered in 1667 in the Dru family, one of the five great lineages of the Bön tradition, probably in a gesture of reconciliation with this particular religious tradition, which, in a 1679 edict, the Fifth Dalai Lama recognized as one of the official religions in Tibet. The consequences of the official establishment of this system of reincarnation have not always been favourable to the political unity of the Gelukpa, and therefore to Tibetan unity as a whole. The lamas of this series of reincarnation later became known as the Panchen Lama and were often considered spiritually eminent, but on the political level their relations with the Dalai Lamas were often difficult despite the spiritual master-disciple relationship they were supposed to maintain with one another. The Panchen Lama was often the object of manipulation against the Dalai Lama, first by the Manchus, then the British in India, and finally, by both the Kuomintang and communist Chinese.

 

Head of a Powerful State

The Fifth Dalai Lama’s ever increasing diplomatic activities, often dictated by the circumstances of the day, covered not only the whole of the Tibetan world – Mongolia, Ladakh and Bhutan – but also extended as far as China. The danger of conflicts breaking out was ever present, and the Dalai Lama not only had to ensure the survival of his own government but also act as a mediator between the various rising political powers that were always threatening to disrupt the established order.

The 5th Dalai Lama Ngagwang Lobzang Gyatso © Himalayan Art Resources

Under the Fifth Dalai Lama’s rule, as under the ancient Tibetan empire, Kokonor in Amdo became one of the most strategically important regions. The hierarch was quick to realize this as he travelled through the region, first in 1652 and then in 1653. Eight of Gushri Khan’s ten sons with their respective tribes had settled there in 1638 after their arrival from western Mongolia. The brothers were constantly engaged in territorial quarrels. In 1656 and in 1659, the Dalai Lama sent a number of governors to Kokonor. One of them divided the local populations in accordance with different territories and called them the right and left “horns” following the example of central Tibet at the time of the imperial period. The Mongols of this region were later completely Tibetanized but continued to enjoy considerable prestige among the Tibetans as descendants of Gushri Khan. They clearly played a significant role in the expansion of the Gelukpa school in Amdo. On several occasions in 1667, 1674 and 1675, at the request of the Manchu Emperor, the Dalai Lama played an important diplomatic role as a mediator in the military conflicts between Manchus and Mongols, and between the Manchu Emperor and a minister of his predecessor. These mediations clearly show the importance of the Dalai Lama’s political and religious influence over the Mongol, Manchu, Chinese and Tibetan populations.

Two other important diplomatic events also marked his reign. Under the rule of the king of Tsang, relations between Tibet and Bhutan, then simply designated as Mön or Lho Mön, entered a difficult phase. Again the issue concerned a reincarnation. There were two candidates for the reincarnation of Pema Karpo (1527–1592), the great scholar of the Drukpa Kagyupa school. Around 1615, the candidacy of Ngawang Namgyel (1594–1651) for the reincarnation was supported by his own family of Ralung, the seat of the school, while the other candidate, Pagsam Wangpo (1593–1641), a cousin of the Fifth Dalai Lama, was supported by the king of Tsang. Ngawang Namgyel had defied the king’s order to bring to the court the holy bone image of Khasarpani, obtained from the cremation of Tsangpa Gyare (1161–1211), founder of the Drukpa Kagyupa school. It was kept by the family of Ralung. Indeed, this would have meant that Ngawang Namgyel renounced his claim as the reincarnation of Pema Karpo. His refusal angered the king and he was finally forced to flee to Mön taking the relic with him. There he established his own politico-religious power and administration over a great part of the local population, thus unifying what has become known as Bhutan. The constitution of a Drukpa Kagyupa state headed by a religious and political enemy did not greatly appeal to the Lhasa government. Following territorial skirmishes, in 1647 the Desi decided to launch a military campaign against Bhutan; however, this ended in a humiliating defeat for the Gelukpa and their Mongol allies.

On the other hand, the campaign against Ladakh in 1679 was crowned with success and the regions of Ngari in Western Tibet, which the kings of Ladakh had annexed, were taken back. Thus, under the Fifth Dalai Lama, Tibet, from Ngari in the west to Dartsedo, Kham, in the south-east and to Kokonor in Amdo in the north-east was reunified for the first time since the collapse of the Tibetan empire in the 9th century A.D.

 

Writer and Mystic

Over and above his political achievements, the Fifth Dalai Lama was far more concerned with spiritual matters. Writing was his favourite occupation and he never interrupted it whatever the circumstances, whether he was travelling or in retreat. His works fill twenty-seven volumes. Besides writing a number of treatises on various subjects, he also related his visionary experiences, which he kept secret because of his own religious school’s disapproval of such matters. He wrote in a very free and personal style that allowed him to express his own feelings, which were at once both frank and ironic. His autobiography is characterized by his spontaneity, his sarcasm and his humorous remarks concerning his own status as a reincarnation and the fundamentalist attitude of his own school, the Gelukpa. Very often, unlike other traditional Gelukpa authors, he gives his own independent interpretation, which he never attempts to impose. Concerning two of his treatises, he writes: “When I finished the Jampel Zhelung, I had to leave the ranks of the Gelukpa. Today, having completed the Rigzin Zhelung, I think I will probably have to leave the Nyingmapa ranks as well!”⁶ In fact, both texts later came to be considered masterpieces and works of reference by all the Tibetan Buddhist schools. His approach to the various religious and philosophical traditions was indeed universal, which helped his rule, which in turn was marked by great tolerance towards the other schools. The Bönpo, followers of the Bön religion, the only non-Buddhist religion of Tibet, were, after certain difficulties at the beginning of his rule, respected both at the doctrinal and political levels.

The Fifth Dalai Lama continued to write until a few months before his death in 1682, at the age of 65. His exceptional personality, both complex and engaging, made him undeniably one of the most important figures in Tibetan history. His legacy was to have a profound effect on almost every aspect of the country’s culture, notably architecture, poetry, historiography, civil administration, painting and, of course, philosophy and Buddhist meditation. He was both a remarkable statesman and Buddhist monk, thus embodying the Buddhist ideal of a “great being”. Tibetan tradition still venerates him as the “Great Fifth”. His strict monastic discipline concealed yet another facet of his spiritual life: his great interest for tantric, more or less magical rituals, and, above all, his inclination for mystic meditation, which provided him with a series of visionary experiences throughout his life. These he revealed only in his writings, which remained little known in his time and which show his never ceasing concern for the welfare of his country and people. ■

 


 

Bibliographical sources

Ngag-dbang blo-bzang rgya-mtsho, the Fifth Dalai Lama

rJe btsun thams cad mkhyen pa bsod nams rgya mtsho’i rnam thar dngos grub rgya mtsho’i shing rta, The Collected Works of the Vth Dalai Lama, Gangtok: Sikkim Research Institute of Tibetology, 1991, Vol. 8 (Nya), 31-245.

Ngag-dbang blo-bzang rgya-mtsho, the Fifth Dalai Lama

’Jig rten dbang phyug thams cad mkhyen pa yon tan rgya mtsho dpal bzang po’i rnam par thar pa nor bu’i ’pheng ba, ditto, 247-349.

Ngag-dbang blo-bzang rgya-mtsho, the Fifth Dalai Lama

Khyab bdag ’khor lo’i dbang phyug dpal ’byor lhub grub kyi rnam thar skal bzang dad pa’i shing rta, ditto, 610-696.

Ngag-dbang blo-bzang rgya-mtsho, the Fifth Dalai Lama Byang bdag rig ’dzin ngag gi dbang po’i rnam thar ngo mtshar bkod pa rgya mtsho, ditto, 687-823.

Ngag-dbang blo-bzang rgya-mtsho, the Fifth Dalai Lama

Dukula, Za hor gyi ban de ngag dbang blo bzang rgya mtsho’i ’di snang ’khrul ba’i rol rtsed rtogs brjod kyi tshul du bkod pa dukula’i gos bzang, (Lhasa): Bod-ljongs midmangs dpe-skrun khang, Vols. I-III, 1989.

 


 

Footnotes

¹ Dukula, Vol I, 48.

² Dukula, Vol I, 55.

³ Dukula, Vol I, 204.

⁴ Dukula, Vol I, 393.

⁵ Dukula, Vol I, 415–16.

⁶ Dukula, Vol II, 380.

* This sentence is revised by me, the author Samten Karmay. (Feb. 24, 2016)

** The conversion of the monasteries was actually carried out by Desi Sangye Gyatso (1658-1705) in 1686 in Khyungpo, Kham, cf. Samten Karmay, The Arrow and the Spindle, Vol.II, 2005, p.164. (Feb. 24, 2016)

 

Source: http://www.info-buddhism.com/The_Great_5th-Dalai_Lama-Ngagwang_Lobzang_Gyatso_Samten_Karmay.html

 

The renowned and spiritually attained Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen who was a great Drepung hierarch. His Ladrang (residence) was called Zimkhang Gongma. Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen's only 'crime' was to be highly learned, an erudite scholar and be spiritually achieved. Because of this, he was seen as a threat to the 5th Dalai Lama in gaining more students and support. For this he was murdered by Desi Sangye Gyatso, the regent and main assistant to the 5th Dalai Lama. After his murder, his residence Zimkhang Gongma was destroyed and banned. His voluminous writings were burned, the remains of his body were thrown into the Kyichu River and all of his future incarnations were banned. Having said that, his future incarnations still returned because on a government level they were able to 'ban' his recinarnation to cover their crime. On a spiritual level however, he continued to reincarnate to benefit others, as is believed within the Gelugpa school.

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3 Responses to The Fifth Dalai Lama and his Reunification of Tibet

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  1. Stella Cheang on Sep 24, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    It is fascinating to read about the story of Dalai Lama especially His Holiness’ 5th reincarnation. 1642 marked a significant year for the 5th Dalai Lama was installed as the king of Tibet and it changed history forever. 1649 is the year when the famous Potala palace was completed and it is still standing tall today. It is notable that the 5th Dalai Lama visited Beijing in the year 1652 at the beginning of the Qing dynasty. During the early years that the 5th Dalai Lama was in power, his attendants were jealous of the renowned Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen and assassinated him in the year 1656. Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen arose as the Dharma Protector in the form of Dorje Shugden. Some years later, in 1662, Panchen Lama entered clear light.

  2. Wan Wai Meng on Jul 24, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, 5th Dalai Lama wrote a praise to Dorje Shugden, when he realized the true nature of the Dharmapala.

    This is a insightful look into the workings of the 5th Dalai Lama and also 4th Panchen Lama. It is clearly seen that Sonam Gyatso’s works to bring buddhism to the Mongols was no mere coincidence and that perhaps it was to lay the foundation of later events.

    I felt the 5th Dalai Lama, was many a times forced to act, based on situations to make things less explosive than it already is. He was sometimes put into such situations by his regent Desi Sangye. The 5th Dalai Lama was not just a simple monk and scholar, having survived so many conflicts and difficult situations, with Tibetans, Manchus and Mongolian factions. He wrote profusely through his career and his writings were very insightful. He wasn’t a man who would be easily manipulated to do just about anyone’s bidding and when he needed to act he would take action, if needed to reconcile he would also do that. His actions towards the suppression of Bon and Jonangpas are clear indication of his ability to take decisive action. His reconciliationary gestures towards the Karmapa hiearchy due to much misunderstandings and miscommunications from 1612-1642.

    The Panchen Lama who are the reincarnations of Amitabha, always brought warring and conflicting factions together. Something I have did really come across before. Refreshing outlook on the Panchen Lama’s role. The Panchen Lama besides being a defender of the Tibetans was also very much a scholar and writer.

  3. Pema Thinley on Feb 20, 2016 at 2:06 am

    Dear Rinpoche,

    This is very very informative. I am surprised to know that the fleeing of Ngawang Namgyel to Bhutan and the assassination of Tulku Dragpa Gyeltshen happened during the reign of same conflicts in Tibet. I could clearly relate to the part of History I read during my school days about Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. The protector arose from such conflicts. These make whole lot of sense that Dharmapala have the strong and true lineage who stemmed from Tulku dragpa Gyeltshen _()_. How auspicious to read such authentic history and the stories presented here made me trust more as the piece of history I read in Bhutan are fitting in it so well. _()_ thank you so much Rinpoche

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  • Samfoonheei
    Sunday, Mar 26. 2017 04:15 PM
    Very clear explanation of what is Vajrayogini’s left foot stepping on. Each time when i have a look at the beautiful statue of Vajrayogini this question will comes back to me. i am glad came across these blog by chance, i saw and read to understand better.A clear explanation ..stampling left and right foot significant of desire ,hatred and ignorance that cause us to be in samsara and she she able to control.Vajrayogni’s practices is so powerful in heliping us and that is the reason Rinpoche always ask us to start now.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing these short explanation in the video and the interesting story of Mahadeva.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/facebook-question-what-is-vajra-yoginis-left-foot-stepping-on.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Sunday, Mar 26. 2017 02:44 PM
    Rejoice to all the families who had setup a Buddhist altar at home and conducted a house blessing puja. There are diverse benefits of conducting the house blessing puja, which ranges from bringing well-being on all levels – in one’s health, relationships, business, and family – to purifying the home. The puja ceremonies will purify the environment which helps the people who live there and people who are visiting there to experience general well-being. The puja can be personalised based on the request or need of the individual. Thank you for sharing with us the many photos of the beautiful altar of these families, it is very heartwarming to know that they will always be blessed by the Three Jewels.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/10-amazing-house-blessings-by-kechara-pastors.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Sunday, Mar 26. 2017 02:24 PM
    Thank you for sharing this mindfully planned itinerary for everyone who is interested in visiting Kechara Forest Retreat. Kechara Forest Retreat has different facets that showcase different elements of spirituality and Tibetan Buddhism in this wholesale venue. One can enjoy the flora and fauna of Mother Nature, or embrace the contemporary architectures that feature many magnificent Buddha statues and authentic Himalayan decorations. Not forgetting to mention, in Kechara Forest Retreat sits the largest Dorje Shugden statue in the world! This is a holy place we must never miss to pay homage for blessings from the Three Jewels.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/kechara-13-depts/go-bentong.html
  • Pastor Shin Tan
    Sunday, Mar 26. 2017 01:07 PM
    金泽“财王”护法殿

    在禅修林的入口处的左边有一间小佛堂,是全天候二十四小时开放给大众的。这间佛堂的一砖一瓦都是由不同善心人士捐增的。也因为他们过后发了一笔小财,所以在大马文东,金泽护法一般被简称为“财王“。

    根据佛陀教诲,五蕴是组成众生的五个方面,分别是色、受、想、行、识。证悟者如多杰雄登能将五蕴分别化现成不同的本尊。金泽是多杰雄登“受”蕴的化现,作用是协助我们增长世俗和修行上的财富。“受”蕴是我们对愉悦或不悦感受的认知。我们执着于愉悦,避免不悦,而这正是导致我们受困和造下各种业,继而产生痛苦的因(此段原文: http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_6d7edf5f0102x1n6.html)

    来到这里,我们首先要上香。做生意的朋友可要趁此机会拜拜,供养一个大的莲花蜡烛,上三根大香,祈求今年一帆风顺哦。

    摘自“GO BENTONG!与菩萨有约”
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=120808
  • Lin Mun
    Saturday, Mar 25. 2017 11:02 PM
    Can’t imagine that a priest actually stabbed Pope John Paul. How can he do this when he as a priest is suppose to be compassion and love everyone but kill the religion leader. he should remember that he carries the name priest and hence must show good example and behaviour to others but instead took another person’s life.

    I respected Pope John who continued his trip even though he was injured. That shows the determination he had to teach so it can benefit others. Always put others first more than our own needs.

    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing this article.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/pope-john-paul-stabbed-by-priest.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Saturday, Mar 25. 2017 08:13 PM
    It is admirable for Sine Lindholm & Mads Ulrik Husum to place their design as open source for everyone to download and copy to manufacture. This shows how farsighted they are in propelling self-sustainability. The first step is always the hardest, and I believe what Sine and Mads had done is towards the right direction. In this way, people from all the around the world who genuinely are passionate and interested in growing own vegetables will be able to start on their own. Without needing to rely on middleman or manufacturer who might end up making the brilliant idea a commercial white elephant. Thank you, Rinpoche for this sharing.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/build-your-own-growroom.html
  • Alice Tay
    Friday, Mar 24. 2017 10:05 PM
    Many companies especially in overseas are very considerate and allow their employees to bring their dogs to work. I personally think that this is a very good practice where the employees no longer have to worry about leaving pets at home alone. The work environments that cultivate loving kindness, caring and compassion create a much more positive and productive place to work. Besides, it may influence everyone especially those who do not have pet to be more kind to the animals.

    Nevertheless, the employer and employees may have to work together to maintain the safe and cleanliness work place such as reduce odour, provide clean air and many others.

    Thank you for this interesting article as a reminder to us to love and be kind to animals no matter where we are.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/inside-the-worlds-most-dog-friendly-office.html
  • Lin Mun
    Friday, Mar 24. 2017 07:06 PM
    Superb idea and very creative. Home farming in the cities ! Appreciate all the hardwork and ideas to produce Growroom. It’s just like putting a big puzzle and making the whole process so much easier to plant in cities where we always have limited spaces.

    We should support more people to come up with such ideas so we can eat our own food and cultivate self sustainability.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/build-your-own-growroom.html
  • Pastor Shin Tan
    Friday, Mar 24. 2017 01:40 PM
    When on the hospital bed nearing our last breath, nothing matters except for the practice and transformation we have done in dharma in our lifetime.

    Our money, wishes, houses, clothes, jewelry, reputation, spouses, desires, dreams, greed, anger, possessions, explanations will be of no use at all. It will in fact even be a hindrance scratching at our mind’s energy to let go and we cannot.

    Since they are no use at that momentous event, we should continue that thought now and understand what we should truly cultivate now. This thought must translate into action not just scholastic thoughts and meanderings of the mind for self deception or imitation spiritual satisfaction. This is what I think daily and everyday as part of my meditations on death and impermanence according to first chapter of Lam Rim.
    ~H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche

    Learn more here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/the-dying-process.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Friday, Mar 24. 2017 12:11 PM
    Amazing and very creative architecture designed space for our home grown foods.It is a good idea for those living in the cities.The Growroom is beautifully produced made it convenience which enables people to connect with nature surrounding with plants. The smell of herbs and plants makes cities dwellers to live in happiness and healthy.
    Its takes alot of effort and determination for anyone to build a growroom.Well they can do it,if they have the will power….hoping someday KFR will have one too.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/build-your-own-growroom.html
  • nut
    Friday, Mar 24. 2017 01:39 AM
    Lazynnes ,negative karma!and mends samajas …ITS very very , inderdependent motivations lewwels of awareness Teacher’Quality &sangha quantity ,first when samajas ARE pure Empowerment full blessings later?so give less Empowerment ITS OK.ccTR IS Wise.
    [no sender]
  • nut
    Friday, Mar 24. 2017 01:32 AM
    http://www.aikidosydneycity.com/interview-with-takeda-shihan-by-aikikai-hombu-dojo/ yes yes sumikiri!i m sure HE practice martial arts in many previous lives AS well AS have family’karma conected with ai!ki flow,,,so NEUTRAL his re:for attacks ARE.,above normal fighter skills!___and i m skull in maya astro,fine and wanth share:#####paranormalTSEMsection on:::: antarctica aliens& JFK ,Peru as egg skulls.________________have a good day&nice PRactICE.____THE LIGHT be?or just show options that can be used.
    [no sender]
  • nut
    Friday, Mar 24. 2017 01:23 AM
    For example B_LOCK can be neutral karma ,butRE_PLAY reactions can make diferent results in second person?
    [no sender]
  • nut
    Friday, Mar 24. 2017 01:22 AM
    NEUTRAL karma not make good ,not bad result!but ITS STill karma so IS not done from lewwels of acomplishment where IS NO NEW karma acumulations.
    [no sender]
  • nut
    Friday, Mar 24. 2017 01:16 AM

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We are always trying to get somewhere, try something new, find some friends, get some entertainment and in the end we end up in the same place. Time to really practice Dharma seriously and stop wasting time we don't have. ~Tsem Rinpoche
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More and more people inviting Lord Dorje Shugden home to connect with on their shrines. I am so happy to see this as it will benefit them and their families so much. That is the purpose to be alive which is to benefit others as much as possible. Tsem Rinpoche
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His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
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This sacred statue of Buddha is in Nepal brought originally from Tibet and has spoken on many occasions. Very blessed to see this holy image and keep a picture...bless you always. Tsem Rinpoche
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1 week ago
I love Mumu boy tremendously. We went through so much together for so many years. You are a great being to be with. Tsem Rinpoche
Dear everyone, I am sharing this beautiful and modern altar to Dorje Shugden in Malaysia. I am glad to see more and more people creating sacred spaces. Tsem Rinpoche
1 week ago
Dear everyone, I am sharing this beautiful and modern altar to Dorje Shugden in Malaysia. I am glad to see more and more people creating sacred spaces. Tsem Rinpoche
Lhamo Karmo, a female buddha form visualized above the crown of one\'s head at the time of death, to encourage consciousness to leave the body via the crown aperture. From my book \"The Female Buddhas.\"- Glenn Mullin
2 weeks ago
Lhamo Karmo, a female buddha form visualized above the crown of one's head at the time of death, to encourage consciousness to leave the body via the crown aperture. From my book "The Female Buddhas."- Glenn Mullin
The Tibetan female tulku Dorje Pakmo, from a fresco on the wall of the Dorje Pakmo monastery (Samding) in Tibet, near the Turquoise Lake. In Tibet the Dorje Pakmo was ranked with the Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama and Sakya Trizin as the four highest lamas in the country.-from Glenn Mullin
2 weeks ago
The Tibetan female tulku Dorje Pakmo, from a fresco on the wall of the Dorje Pakmo monastery (Samding) in Tibet, near the Turquoise Lake. In Tibet the Dorje Pakmo was ranked with the Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama and Sakya Trizin as the four highest lamas in the country.-from Glenn Mullin
Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl checking out the scene..cute
4 weeks ago
Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl checking out the scene..cute
My Dharma boy has such a cute expression here. He is a good boy!
4 weeks ago
My Dharma boy has such a cute expression here. He is a good boy!
February 9,2017-My Mumu boy and Oser girl are just relaxing together..super cute
2 months ago
February 9,2017-My Mumu boy and Oser girl are just relaxing together..super cute
Click on the picture to enlarge and see what Suzy from Hawaii commented on the Dorje Shugden issue after much research. She is very candid and honest. Refreshing. Original is posted here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl-4lIwxph4
2 months ago
Click on the picture to enlarge and see what Suzy from Hawaii commented on the Dorje Shugden issue after much research. She is very candid and honest. Refreshing. Original is posted here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl-4lIwxph4
This is a good one to read
2 months ago
This is a good one to read
Mumu is silly and cute and funny
2 months ago
Mumu is silly and cute and funny
Mumu\'s hair is messy and he looks funny
2 months ago
Mumu's hair is messy and he looks funny
I am in the process of creating beautiful Dorje Shugden and Kechara Forest Retreat watches at this time. So we can take precious protector and Kechara Forest Retreat wherever we go and be blessed everytime we see what time it is. 
I am perfecting the designs with a great team and will update when done but these are just some samples that arrived. 
Feast your eyes! 

Tsem Rinpoche
2 months ago
I am in the process of creating beautiful Dorje Shugden and Kechara Forest Retreat watches at this time. So we can take precious protector and Kechara Forest Retreat wherever we go and be blessed everytime we see what time it is. I am perfecting the designs with a great team and will update when done but these are just some samples that arrived. Feast your eyes! Tsem Rinpoche
                        Pick the practice, devotion and precepts of Vajra Yogini\'s path over everything and anything in samsara. Samsara has nothing of value and nothing lasting to offer. You are born in suffering, live in suffering, die in suffering and enter bardo and future lives expecting more sufferings. This is not a negative way of looking at things but the truth. If the truth is negative, so it is the truth. Devote oneself to the guru, dharma work, dharma practice and bringing dharma to others compassionately. Choose to practice Vajra Yogini now with the preliminaries. You can start right now: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/starting-on-vajra-yogini-now.html  Much care, Tsem Rinpoche
3 months ago
Pick the practice, devotion and precepts of Vajra Yogini's path over everything and anything in samsara. Samsara has nothing of value and nothing lasting to offer. You are born in suffering, live in suffering, die in suffering and enter bardo and future lives expecting more sufferings. This is not a negative way of looking at things but the truth. If the truth is negative, so it is the truth. Devote oneself to the guru, dharma work, dharma practice and bringing dharma to others compassionately. Choose to practice Vajra Yogini now with the preliminaries. You can start right now: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/starting-on-vajra-yogini-now.html Much care, Tsem Rinpoche
Message to Tibetans in English
3 months ago
Message to Tibetans in English
Message to the Tibetans
3 months ago
Message to the Tibetans
Left to right: Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche, Sharpa Choeje Jetsun Lobsang Nyima, Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, Kyabje Lati Rinpoche, 101st Gaden Tripa Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal. Great lamas of Gaden Shartse Monastery
3 months ago
Left to right: Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche, Sharpa Choeje Jetsun Lobsang Nyima, Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, Kyabje Lati Rinpoche, 101st Gaden Tripa Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal. Great lamas of Gaden Shartse Monastery
A beautiful Indian rendition of Gyenze Dorje Shugden manifesting in wealth form
3 months ago
A beautiful Indian rendition of Gyenze Dorje Shugden manifesting in wealth form
This is my thoughts and determination to share with you. Please open and read. Thank you for your time. Tsem Rinpoche
3 months ago
This is my thoughts and determination to share with you. Please open and read. Thank you for your time. Tsem Rinpoche
Nepalese King Birendra receives His Holiness Panchen Rinpoche in Nepal
3 months ago
Nepalese King Birendra receives His Holiness Panchen Rinpoche in Nepal
Guess what Zava Damdin Rinpoche did in Mongolia recently with 7,800 people??? Very interesting and it is a must read:  http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=116206
3 months ago
Guess what Zava Damdin Rinpoche did in Mongolia recently with 7,800 people??? Very interesting and it is a must read:  http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=116206
This huge Buddha in Korea is magnificent
4 months ago
This huge Buddha in Korea is magnificent
The very first oracle of Dorje Shugden in trance statue. I have commissioned this.
4 months ago
The very first oracle of Dorje Shugden in trance statue. I have commissioned this.
Such a old and ancient thangka painting of Dorje Shugden. He has been around in Tibet practiced for hundreds of years.
4 months ago
Such a old and ancient thangka painting of Dorje Shugden. He has been around in Tibet practiced for hundreds of years.
One of the "Four Exalted Brothers" Avalokiteshvara statues, Phagpa Wati of Kyirong, which is now with H.H. the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala.
4 months ago
One of the "Four Exalted Brothers" Avalokiteshvara statues, Phagpa Wati of Kyirong, which is now with H.H. the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala.
Kyabje Zemey, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche and Kyabje Pabongka Choktrul Rinpoche
4 months ago
Kyabje Zemey, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche and Kyabje Pabongka Choktrul Rinpoche
My Oser girl and Mumu boy are so adorable
4 months ago
My Oser girl and Mumu boy are so adorable
Wow this meditator in his cave in front of a painting of Yamantaka draped with a white khata of respect. He sits among bones to remind him of impermanence and our future. The bones inspire him strongly to let go of all attachments in this life and focus on dharma, meditation and liberation and he is doing so. Very beautiful and inspirational. Tsem Rinpoche
4 months ago
Wow this meditator in his cave in front of a painting of Yamantaka draped with a white khata of respect. He sits among bones to remind him of impermanence and our future. The bones inspire him strongly to let go of all attachments in this life and focus on dharma, meditation and liberation and he is doing so. Very beautiful and inspirational. Tsem Rinpoche
Tenzing Norgay found this in Nepal. Guess what it is?
5 months ago
Tenzing Norgay found this in Nepal. Guess what it is?
Sir Edmund Hillary
5 months ago
Sir Edmund Hillary
Halloween is my favorite holiday. Wild natural plants and flowers are my favorite offering. Buddha\'s teachings on meditation and Yidam practice bring the ultimate results and happiness. ~Tsem Rinpoche
5 months ago
Halloween is my favorite holiday. Wild natural plants and flowers are my favorite offering. Buddha's teachings on meditation and Yidam practice bring the ultimate results and happiness. ~Tsem Rinpoche
Previous lives do resemble current lives especially if they are a recognized incarnation. If notice how similar the previous and current Trijang Rinpoche looks. The eyes, bone structure, expression, long neck, thin and overall look. Beautiful. I\'ve seen this phenomena over and over in many Rinpoche incarnations. Especially when you compare them with pictures of previous and current lives at around the same ages. Something powerfully karmic about this. Tsem Rinpoche
6 months ago
Previous lives do resemble current lives especially if they are a recognized incarnation. If notice how similar the previous and current Trijang Rinpoche looks. The eyes, bone structure, expression, long neck, thin and overall look. Beautiful. I've seen this phenomena over and over in many Rinpoche incarnations. Especially when you compare them with pictures of previous and current lives at around the same ages. Something powerfully karmic about this. Tsem Rinpoche
It\'s nice to have monks visitors and resident monks in Kechara
6 months ago
It's nice to have monks visitors and resident monks in Kechara
                         Taken in Lake Champlain in Canada. A huge water monster...neat...
6 months ago
Taken in Lake Champlain in Canada. A huge water monster...neat...
Beautiful! His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang has always been good friends with His Holiness Karmapa. No wonder H.H. Karmapa never spoke against Dorje Shugden. Two reasons perhaps: One is he knows the qualities of Trijang Rinpoche who is a attained being. And Karmapa himself has clairvoyance to perceive the true nature of Dorje Shugden directly. I love to see great beings like this manifesting closeness. When I see, I just want to prostrate to them and thank them for sharing such good examples to someone like me. Praise to the ego-less mind! Tsem Rinpoche
6 months ago
Beautiful! His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang has always been good friends with His Holiness Karmapa. No wonder H.H. Karmapa never spoke against Dorje Shugden. Two reasons perhaps: One is he knows the qualities of Trijang Rinpoche who is a attained being. And Karmapa himself has clairvoyance to perceive the true nature of Dorje Shugden directly. I love to see great beings like this manifesting closeness. When I see, I just want to prostrate to them and thank them for sharing such good examples to someone like me. Praise to the ego-less mind! Tsem Rinpoche
Serkong Dorje Chang on the left and his son Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche on the right.
6 months ago
Serkong Dorje Chang on the left and his son Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche on the right.
High lamas in France September 2016
6 months ago
High lamas in France September 2016
༧གོང་ས་ཆེན་པོ་སྐུ་འཕྲེང་བཅུ་བཞི་པ་མཆོག་དང་རྡོ་རྗེ་ཤུགས་ལྡན། - Interesting relationship between 14th Dalai Lama and Dorje Shugden:   http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=109757
6 months ago
༧གོང་ས་ཆེན་པོ་སྐུ་འཕྲེང་བཅུ་བཞི་པ་མཆོག་དང་རྡོ་རྗེ་ཤུགས་ལྡན། - Interesting relationship between 14th Dalai Lama and Dorje Shugden: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=109757
Dalai Lama Says We Can Practise Dorje Shugden Finally! Read more on this development--- http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=109777
6 months ago
Dalai Lama Says We Can Practise Dorje Shugden Finally! Read more on this development--- http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=109777
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    ཁྱེད་ཀྱི་བཀའ་སློབ་དོན་སྙིང་དེ།།གང་གི་རྣ་བར་བདུད་རྩི་མོད།།འོན་ཀྱང་འགའ་ཡི་རྣ་ལམ་དུ།། བྲག་ཆ་བཞིན་དུ་འགྱུར་སྲིད་མོད།། ཚང་མས་ཚར་རེ་གཟིགས་རོགས།། Kyabje Denma Gonsa Rinpoche telling people that it is important to have guru samaya. It use to be that way in the great monasteries. We should not create problems and schisms. If we want to practice a protector, then do so, if not it's okay, but don't make trouble. One should just practice the Buddha Dharma well. To do good practice. If you have faith in Dorje Shugden and trust all the way, he will definitely help you. But most important is to practice the dharma. This is his advice in short here. It's good to let more Tibetans hear this holy speech and appeal by this very senior Rinpoche. TR

ASK A PASTOR


Ask the Pastors

A section for you to clarify your Dharma questions with Kechara’s esteemed pastors.

Just post your name and your question below and one of our pastors will provide you with an answer.

Scroll down and click on "View All Questions" to view archived questions.

  • March 27, 2017 04:19
    Dongho asked: I have been reading on the tunes of certain sects and would like to ask on this. From what I've read, there are certain tunes to each sect and school of certain chants. Exactly where can I find the sheet music for these percussion and horns with the chants, such as to the one for invoking Kache Marpo or Dorje Shugden? Would it be possible to use school instruments for this?
    No reply yet
  • March 26, 2017 02:14
    Kunga asked: Does the Gelug have Begtse a protector? If so, could you please provide a sadhana for him here?
    pastor answered: Dear Kunga, Yes the Dharma protector Begtse exists within the Gelug tradition. He is also known as Chamsing. Begtse’s practice stems from India and was introduced to Tibet and therefore Tibetan Buddhism by the translator Nyen Lotsawa. Marpa Lotsawa also practiced Begtse, and so the practice exists in the Kagyu traditions. This practice was eventually transmitted to Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, the first of the five patriarchs of the Sakya tradition, who were the founding fathers of that tradition. Over time the practice of Begtse was incorporated into the Gelug tradition, founded by Lama Tsongkhapa, and was notably practiced by the 1st and 2nd Dalai Lamas. Over time the practice gained popularity within the lineage, especially when it spread to Mongolia. There the practice became an important one within the lineage as upheld there. Begtse is also affectionately known as the Dharma protector of Mongolia, because his practice is so popular there. If I am not mistaken, there is an oracle of Begtse in Mongolia as well. There is a mistaken account that the practice originated around the time of the 3rd Dalai Lama, with the subjugation of a Mongolian war god, but Begtse was definitely practiced before that time in the Gelug, Kagyu and Sakya traditions. While the practice of Begtse is very effective, I have not come across the practice of Begtse in my personal practice, therefore I do not have access to the Begtse sadhana to provide to you. Instead Begtse is propitiated in prayers that incorporate many other Dharma protectors, and Begtse is also considered one of the nine protectors of the Hayagriva (Tamdrin) cycle of tantric teachings. Therefore Begtse is included in the Dharma protector sections of the Hayagriva tantras. Surrounding Begtse are his sister, Sing Ma, and his main minister, Le Khan Mar Po. His inner retinue comprises of eight butchers who wield copper swords in their right hands and skull-cups full of blood in their left hands. They are portrayed as naked and are very ugly. His outer retinue comprises a further twenty-one butchers, who hold copper swords in their right hands, and this time, the entrails of butchered enemies. They wear the skins humans and oxen as clothes, with ornaments made from human bone. While this may seem violent, Begtse is actually a very powerful and beneficial protector, who helps practitioners clear their obstacles and create conducive conditions for their spiritual evolution. I hope this helps. Thank you.
  • March 24, 2017 20:12
    Azair asked: Venerable Rinpoche, I am doing a study in Kalachakra Tantra and I've heard from most of the lama's too that if you practice the Kalachakra Tantra, you'll be able to take control of your next rebirth. Ofcourse, it has been said that we will get our rebirth according to our Karma and desires but whether those dreams will get fulfilled will depend upon the actions that we take in this life. Thus, practicing the Kalachakra(till the end) after initiation will give you the opportunity to take rebirth anywhere you desire regardless of your Karma. My question is that, is there some truth in this statement.? Does this statement hold true for other tantra practices, such as Vajrayogini Tantra, Ghuyasamaja Tantra, Heruka Tantra, etc. I would really really like to know. Thankyou in anticipation, regards, Azair
    pastor answered: Dear Azair, Thank you for your question. Yes there is truth to this statement, both from a scriptural perspective and also by example, as the great masters have shown us. This is a unique feature of all Anuttarayoga Tantras or Highest Yoga Tantras, which Kalachakra, Vajrayogini, Guhyasama and Heruka are all examples of. This category of tantric practice can actually lead a practitioner to full enlightenment in this very lifetime. Even if enlightenment is not reached, very high levels of attainment can be reached nonetheless. This includes the ability to take control over your next rebirth. This is primarily engaged in so that the practitioner is born in an environment where they can eventually pick up their practice and further their spiritual path to enlightenment, or in order to be born in a place where they can benefit sentient beings the most, as part of the spiritual journey over many lifetimes. One of the reasons such an ability is very necessary on the spiritual path, is that usual death and rebirth occurs at the mercy of ones karma, specifically what is known as the ‘throwing karma’ or the karma that dictates what sort of rebirth a person is going to take. This opens up at the time of ordinary death, which most people have no control over. During the death process, many of our disturbing emotions will arise. Whichever of these is the strongest at the point of death triggers open a latent karmic potential, which becomes the ‘throwing karma’ and dictates where we are going to take rebirth and if that life will generally be full of suffering or not. Within Anuttarayoga Tantra, one of the key points of practice is to prepare for one’s death. This is done by simulating the dying process during one’s meditations, so that one becomes familiar with it. At the most pivotal part of this process, one practices achieving either the rainbow body or great bliss (in the case of the father tantras); or clear light (in the case of mother tantras). The tantras themselves are not defined in terms of the gender of the central deity, but by the method used to gain enlightenment. This is either the rainbow body/great bliss (classified as male, therefore labelled ‘father’) or clear light (classified as female, therefore labelled ‘mother’). Non-dual tantras such as the Kalachakra tantra can employ either of the two methods, a mixture of both, or alternate methods. In the case of superior practitioners, due to the power of their practice, they can achieve either of these two methods in their current body. Since they have familiarised themselves with the dying process, and a particular method of practice, they can also achieve enlightenment during their physical death. The great Lama Tsongkhapa is said to have achieved enlightenment at the moment of physical death, using the second of these. For other practitioners, they may not be able to achieve this either in their meditations while they are alive, or during the death process. However because they have familiarised themselves with the dying process, they remain in complete concentration at the time of death, not allowing any disturbing emotions to arise. Due to this level of concentration, meditation and awareness during the dying process, they are able to control where they next take rebirth. This is evident in the tantric scriptures themselves, and the life stories of many masters, who can state exactly where, when and to whom they will take their next rebirth, as they are in full control of the dying and rebirth process. There is a type of meditation called ‘thukdam’ which has been translated into ‘death meditation’. This is a final meditation some masters choose to engage in. During this meditation, the master themselves consciously begin the physical dying process themselves, engage in the meditation of dissolving the winds into the heart centre and remain in the most pivotal part of the death process, the mind of clear light of death. During this point they engage in meditations, either the methods of the father or mother tantras as mentioned previously, and or consciously choose where they are to next take rebirth. They can remain in this death meditation for long periods of time, days at an end, in which their consciousness has not yet left their body, although for all intents and purposes they are dead according to medical science, e.g. they have no heartbeat. At the end of their meditation, a drop of blood will be emitted from their nostril, and their head will slump over a little. Masters who engage in this meditation usually sit in full meditation posture, and their body remain supple and soft even though they have passed away from a medical point of view. I hope this brief explanation helps. Thank you.
  • March 23, 2017 23:01
    Brad asked: What is the significance of offering the Seven precious emblems of royalty to the Buddhas and enlightened Dharma Protectors? What are we symbolically offering up?
    pastor answered: Dear Brad, Thank you for your question. The ‘saptaratna’ or seven precious emblems represent on the one hand the ultimate state of temporal power, and on the other hand the ultimate spiritual attainments that we can achieve. By offering these to the Buddhas, we are actually creating the causes to achieve what they represent. Therefore it is good to know the meaning of each, so we can understand what we are creating the causes for by offering them up: Please see below for an explanation of the seven royal emblems: 1. The Precious Wheel: a thousand spoked wheel, representing the universal power of the Buddhas, as well as the teachings of the thousand Buddhas of our aeon. It is represented by the Dharmachakra, symbolising the ‘turning of the wheel’ or teaching of the Noble Eightfold Path. It is a symbol of a universal emperor’s spiritual and temporal power. It is also represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect mindfulness, especially that of our own mind, thoughts, delusions and afflictions. 2. The Precious Jewel: an eight sided wish-granting gem, which fulfils all the needs of a universal emperor. This jewel has eight special qualities: it illuminates the night sky for hundreds of leagues; it is cooling when the temperature is hot and warming when the temperature is cold; it makes manifest whatever the holder wants; when thirsty it causes a fresh-water spring to appear; it has the ability to control the nagas, and other supernatural beings, as well as preventing natural disasters such as storms, floods, etc.; it gives off multi-coloured lighted which heals the various mental and emotional afflictions; it cures all illnesses; and it ensures that one dies a natural death, not an untimely one. It is a symbol of a universal emperor’s spiritual and temporal power. It is also represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect mindfulness, or perfect discrimination, so one knows what to abandon and what to keep in the mindstream during the spiritual journey to enlightenment. 3. The Precious Queen: the most beautiful and virtuous of all women. She is described as a goddess who is the epitome of someone: with devotion; without jealousy; who is the embodiment of fertility; who works for the welfare of all beings; who possess feminine wisdom; speaks the truth; not attract to sensual pleasures or material possessions; and does not have false views. She is adored by all. She also represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect effort. This is necessary to keep meditating until one gains spiritual attainments. 4. The Precious Minister: who has sharp intelligence, patience, and the ability to give wise counsel to the emperor. He is so attuned to the emperor that even before the emperor has spoken, the minister is already carrying out his command. He only wishes to support the Dharma, help sentient beings, and is an excellent strategist. He also represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect joy. This is also akin to the attainment of the first bodhisattva level, because you have come to an understanding of your own mind, which is like pouring ice-cold water into boiling water. The water stops boiling, as does the thoughts, projections, and delusions in the mind. He represents the path of the bodhisattva. 5. The Precious Elephant: who has the strength of a thousand normal elephants. He is white, with the perfect features that an elephant could have. He is majestic, graceful, and gentle, but in battle is fearsome, fearless and unyielding. He communicates with the emperor through a telepathic link. He represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect adaptability. This is important, as one needs to be able to adapt to the various mental afflictions as they arise, and suitably counter them. 6. The Precious Horse: who has all the marks of a celestial horse. Known as wind-horse, he is able to travel extremely fast, and can circumambulate the entire universe three time in just a single day. He is never fearful or startled, never makes a sound when galloping, and has extremely soft hairs on his body. He represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is single-pointed concentration. This is important because without this form of concentration, once cannot engage in the analytical meditations that lead to an understanding of emptiness, and therefore enlightenment. 7. The Precious General: who has mastered the arts of war and always wins in battle. He wears battle armour and holds many different weapons. He tries to avoid battle, but when necessary fights, and never gives up until he has won. He is fearless, and courageous in carrying out the emperors commands and ensures the emperors army carries out their duties. He represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect equanimity. This is because he overcomes all warfare, which is akin to the battle between things were are attached to and things we have an aversion for in our minds. In short, what you are offering up is the highest of all temporal treasures and abilities, as well as the entire path of the Dharma. Doing so creates the causes for you to receive all of this on your spiritual journey towards enlightenment. I hope this helps. Thank you.
  • March 20, 2017 10:16
    Grigoris asked: Excuse me, but I would like to ask, what does the prayer to Shangmo Dorje Putri say exactly? I can't read Tibetan, but would like to see the description that the prayer gives. I am not planning to say the prayer or make interaction(as it would be very dangerous), but would like to see what it actually says from the Tibetan text. Here's the link: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/shangmo-dorje-putri-the-bamo-of-sakya.html
    pastor answered: Dear Grigoris, Thank you for your question. Shangmo Dorje Putri is indeed a fascinating unenlightened Dharma protector. Unfortunately at the moment, we do not have a translated copy of the text in English that we can provide. The usual format for such texts, would include an invocation, making offerings to appease them, and then exhortations for them to perform their activities, possibly followed by thanking them for their help. One thing is for certain, due to the nature of Shangmo Dorje Putri her prayer is sure to include violent imagery, just like many other Dharma protectors, such as Achi Chokyi Drolma (who even though has a peaceful appearance, has a lot of violent imagery in her prayers). The reason behind the violent imagery is explained in the post about Achi Chokyi Drolma here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/achi-chokyi-drolma-chief-protectress-of-the-drikung-kagyu.html
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