The Fourth Tongkhor, Dogyu Gyatso

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The Fourth Tongkhor, Dogyu Gyatso b.1640? - d.1683

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Dogyu Gyatso (mdo rgyud rgya mtsho) became the Fourth Tongkhor under extraordinary circumstances. According to biographies, using a technique known as powa drongjuk ('pho ba grong 'jug), the Third Tongkhor, Gyelwa Gyatso (rgyal ba rgya mtsho, 1588-1639), ejected his consciousness prior to his own death and transferred it into to the corpse of a recently deceased seventeen-year old boy in Drushu (gru shu), near Sukchu (sug chu). The young man was of mixed heritage, born of a Tibetan father and a Chinese mother. The young man sat up and declared that he was the rebirth of Gyelwa Gyatso. Initially taken to be a zombie, he proved impervious to weapons and thus gained the faith of the people around him, including a Chinese general whose troops were initially called in to destroy him.

His identity was affirmed by Namgyel Peljor Gyeltsen (rnam rgyal dpal 'byor rgyal mtshan, d.u), who was in Amdo teaching at Kumbum (sku 'bum) monastery at the request of the Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobzang Gyatso (ngag dbang blo bzang rgya mtsho, 1617-1682); they met at Gonlung (dgon lung).  

He received renunciation vows from the First Rongwo Drubchen, Kelden Gyatso (rong bo grub chen 01 skal ldan rgya mtsho, 1607-1677) who gave him the name Jamyang Gyatso ('jam dbyangs rgya mtsho). He also received empowerments and teachings from him as well.

Nine years later, at the age of twenty-seven, he went to Lhasa. There he met with the Fourth Paṇchen Lama, Lobzang Chokyi Gyeltsen (paN chen 04 blo bzang chos kyi rgyal mtshan, 1570-1662), who gave him full ordination, various empowerments and teachings, and the name Dogyu Gyatso. He visited Sera (se ra), Ganden (dga' ldan), and Drepung ('bras spungs), and met with the Fifth Dalai Lama, and with Sanggye Gyatso (sang rgyas rgya mtsho, 1653-1705), who later served as the Dalai Lama's regent, and possibly with Gushri Khan (b. 1582), the Mongolian leader who had recently conquered Tibet.

At the request of these men, in 1646 Dogyu Gyatso returned to Amdo and established Tongkhor Ganden Chokhor Ling (stong 'khor dgon dga' ldan chos 'khor gling). This became the second Tongkhor Monastery in the region, the first being Tashilhunpo in Kham established by the First Tongkhor, Dawa Gyeltsen (stong 'khor 01 zla ba rgyal mtshan, 1476-1556).

The following year, in 1647, he established Chorten Tang Tashi Dargye Ling (mchod rten thang bkra shis dar rgyas gling) monastery in Pari (dpa' ri) and initiated the teaching system there. The site had previously been occupied by monasteries with the name of Chorten Tang beginning in the ninth century Bon institution, which was converted to Sakya by Sakya Paṇḍita (sa skya paN Di ta kun dga' rgyal mtshan, 1182-1251) in 1274 and then to Karma Kagyu by the Fourth Karmapa, Rolpai Dorje (kar ma pa 04 rol pa'i rdo rje, 1340-1383) in 1360. The name Tashi Dargye Ling was provided by the Fifth Dalai Lama, who passed through on his way to China to meet with the Qing Emperor Shunzhi (順治r. 1643-1661).

In 1665 Dogyu Gyatso visited China at the invitation of the Kangxi Emperor (康熙, r. 1661-1722). Kangxi gave him the title of Chanshi (禪師, T: chen shri), although which of the five ranks is not clear.

He returned to Amdo via Wutaishan, and visited numerous monasteries along the way: Muge (dmu dge), Tsoka (mtsho kha), Pari (dpa' ris), and Rongwo.

Dogyu Gyatso passed away in 1683, the water-pig year of the eleventh sexagenary cycle. His relics were installed in a golden stupa at Tongkhor monastery.




Anon. 2005 (1930). Stong 'khor zhabs drung bzhi pa mdo rgyud rgya mtshor skyes pa'i rabs kyi le'u. In Stong 'khor zla ba rgyal mtshan sku phreng rim byon gyi rnam thar, pp. 193-220. Beijing: Krung go'i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang 2005. TBRC W2CZ7868.

Bsod nams rgya mtsho. 2000. Bstan rtsis ka phreng lag deb. Beijing: Mi rigs dpe skrun khang, p. 235. TBRC W20115.

Grags pa 'byung gnas and Rgyal ba blo bzang mkhas grub. 1992. Gangs can mkhas grub rim byon ming mdzod. Lanzhou: Kan su'u mi rigs dpe skrun khang, pp. 775-776. TBRC W19801.

See also Dan Martin's discussion of this instance of drongjuk in Tibeto-logic.


Sonam Dorje
September 2012