Gompo Tsultrim Nyingpo

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Gompo Tsultrim Nyingpo b.1116 - d.1169

Name Variants: Dak Gom; Dakgom Tsultrim Nyingpo; Dakpo Gomtsul; Dzamling Drakpa; Gampo Tsultrim Nyingpo; Tsultrim Nyingpo; Won Gomtsul

Gompo Tsultrim Nyingpo (sgom po tshul khrims snying po), popularly known as Gomtsul, was born at Nyel Bongnyi (gnyal bong snyi) in 1116. He was the eldest of the three sons and one daughter born to Gyawa Sere (rgya ba se re), elder brother of Gampopa Sonam Rinchen (sgam po pa bsod nams rin chen, 1079-1153), and his wife Tsecham (tshe lcam). Their second son Drakdze (grags mdzes) died young, while the third, Rokchung (rog chung) would later become famous under the name Gomchung Sherab Jangchub (sgom chung shes rab byang chub, 1130-1173)

When still a child of ten, Gomtsul’s parents took him to meet his uncle Gampopa. Gampopa immediately recognized his potentials and exclaimed, "He is a great Indian Paṇḍita!" and gave him the name Dzamling Drakpa ('dzam gling grags pa). According to Tsukla Trengwa (gtsug lag 'phreng ba) Gomtsul met his uncle for the first time at age five.

When he was sixteen Gomtsul took his novice vows and at the same time received initiations from Gampopa, performing all the associated meditation practices. By his twentieth year there were already signs of his success in the completion stage, such as the ability to generate internal heat to withstand very cold temperatures. He could perform amazing feats of breath control. It is said he could exhale air through his fingertips. Also in his twentieth year, he took complete monastic vows, receiving the name Tsultrim Nyingpo.

In 1150 Gomtsul was made abbot of Daklha Gampo (dwags lha sgam po) the 'headquarters' (gdan sa) at Daklha Gampo (dwags lha sgam po), a position he held for nineteen years. In 1160, fighting broke out between the supporters of the monastic factions known as the Ba (sba) and Dring ('bring). Fighting continued for a few years resulting in much destruction to the temples in Lhasa. To quote the words of Zhang Yudrakpa Tsondru Drakpa (zhang g.yu brag pa brtson 'grus grags pa) who was witness to some of these events, "In the northern snowy land, at the center of Tibet, is the temple that represents the high aspiration of King Songtsen Gampo (srong btsan sgam po) with its statue crafted while the Buddha was still living, consecrated by the Buddha himself... It is the mother foundation of all the temples of Tibet, the grandmother of all the Buddhist teachings... Because the world had descended into the dregs of time, many vicious spirits arose and the whole monastic community was embroiled in disputes. Burnt by fire, all that was left were scattered ruins and smoke..." The marks of the fire are still visible today on the main beams and pillars of the Jokhang.

By about 1166, when the temples of Lhasa had been repaired, Gomtsul handed over responsibility for their protection to his chief disciple Zhang Yudrakpa. It is said that when Gomtsul died a few years later, his funeral was accompanied by numerous prodigies: sounds from space, rainbow lights, and a rain of flowers. When his cremation ashes were examined, his heart and tongue were found unburned and whole.

The abbacy of the headquarters was handed on to his younger brother Gomchung (sgom chung), about whom little is known.




Roerich, George, trans. 1996. The Blue Annals. 2nd ed. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, pp. 463-465.

Tshe dbang rgyal. 1994. Lho rong chos ’byung. Lhasa: Bod ljongs bod yig dpe rnying dpe skrun khang, pp. 177-80.

Padma dkar po. 1992. Chos ’byung bstan pa’i padma rgyas pa’i nyin byed. Lhasa: Bod ljongs bod yig dpe rnying dpe skrun khang, p. 524 ff.

Zhang g.yu brag pa. 2004. Bla ma dwags po sgom pa’i rnam thar. In Dpal ldan tshal pa bka’ brgyud kyi bstan pa’i mnga’ bdag zhang g.yu brag pa brtson ’grus grags pa’i gsung ’bum rin po che (The Collected Works of Zhang brtson ’grus grags pa), Khenpo Shedup Tenzin and Lama Thinley Namgyel, eds. Kathmandu 2004, vol. 1, pp. 170-81.  

Gtsug lag ’phreng ba. 1986. Chos ’byung mkhas pa’i dga’ ston. Beijing: Mi rigs dpe skrun khang, p. 800


Dan Martin
August 2008