The Sixth Pakpa Lha, Jigme Tenpai Gyatso

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The Sixth Pakpa Lha, Jigme Tenpai Gyatso b.1714 - d.1754

Name Variants: Jigme Tenpai Gyatso; Pakpa Yeshe Tenpai Gonpo

The Sixth Pakpa Lha, Jigme Tenpai Gyatso ('phags pa lha 06 'jigs med bstan pa'i rgya mtsho) was born in 1714, on the twenty-seventh day of the second month of the wood-horse year of the twelfth sexagenary cycle, in a small place called Gowo Pukgi Lhashol Putok (go bo phug gi lha zhol spu thog) in the Zagyud area of Chamdo region (chab mdo rdza rgyud). His father was Wangtse Norbu (dbang tshe nor bu) and Tsering Kyi (tshe ring skyid) was his mother.

The authorities of Chamdo Jampa Ling (chab mdo byam pa gling), then seeking the reincarnation of the Fifth Pakpa Lha, Gyelwa Gyatso ('phags pa lha 05 rgyal ba rgya mtsho, 1644-1713), heard tell of auspicious circumstances surrounding the boy's birth and began the process of identifying him as the rebirth in question, submitting the results of their tests to the Seventh Dalai Lama, Gyelwa Kelzang Gyatso (ta la'i bla ma 07 rgyal ba bskal bzang rgya mtsho, 1708-1757), and to the Fifth Paṇchen Lama, Lobzang Yeshe (paN chen bla ma 05 blo bzang ye shes, 1663-1737). Upon their confirmation of the identification, the child was escorted to the manor house of the Pakpa Lha incarnations in Chamdo.

There, Lobpon Lhawang Peljor of Lingme College (gling smad slob dpon lha dbang dpal 'byor) was appointed the boy's special attendant and the Fifth Chaktra Tulku, Ngawang Tendzin Lhundrub (lcags sprul 05 ngag dbang bstan 'dzin lhun grub, 1671-1727), the twentieth abbot of the monastery, helped the boy with his basic education. The Paṇchen Lama sent a message with the name “Pakpa Yeshe Tenpai Gonpo ('phags pa ye shes bstan pa'i mgon po)” and also a long-life prayer. He also received message from the Kangxi Emperor, with a name-board for the monastery written “Ganden Jampa Ling” in gold.

In 1723, at the age of nine, Jigme Tenpai Gyatso travelled to Lhasa. Upon his arrival in Lhasa, he took lay vows with the Seventh Dalai Lama, who gave him the name “Pakpa Jigme Tenpai Gyatso.” He also travelled to Tashilhunpo (bkra shis lhun po) in Zhigatse where he had an audience with the Paṇchen Lama, who administered his novice vows. The Paṇchen Lama also gave him the initiation and empowerment of Yamāntaka. The Dalai Lama later gave him the initiation of the six Kadampa deities, and he received empowerments, transmissions, and instructions on Yamāntaka, Cakrasaṃvara and Guhyasamāja from Ngawang Chokden (nga dbang mchog ldan), the abbot of the Tantric College in Lhasa.

Jigme Tenpai Gyatso returned to Chamdo via Tashi Cholung (bkra shis chos lung), one of the seats of his predecessors. He began to give teachings at the age of twelve, and to engage in other activities such as the consecration of paintings, statues, and stupas.  He also began his studies of logic and philosophy with help of Rabjampa Lobzang Dondrub (rab 'byams pa blo bzang don grub) as his assistant tutor. Following the death of Ngawang Tendzin Lhundrub, in 1727, he visited Chakra Monastery (lcags ra dgon) for prayers. in 1729 he went to Gatak (sga thags) to arrange for the reception to the Seventh Dalai Lama, with whom he had audience. While at Gatak he received teachings from the abbot of the Gyume Tantric College (rgyud smad mkhan rin po che) for about a month, and, in the following summer he received teachings on the Lamrim Chenmo (lam rim chen mo) from a Geshe Jampa (dge bshes byams pa) that took about a year.

In 1733 Jigme Tenpai Gyatso arranged the construction of a Maitreya temple, and in the travelled to Lhasa, visiting multiple temples and monasteries in the region. He visited Tashilhunpo and made offerings and received teachings and initiations from the Paṇchen Lama. He returned to Lhasa and received empowerments from Lobpon Yonten Dargye (slob dpon yon tan dar rgyas) He joined Sera Je (se ra byes) Monastery and received teachings from a number of eminent masters including the Fifty-Third Ganden Tripa, Gyeltsen Sengge (dga ldan khri pa 53 rgyal mtshan seng ge, 1678-1756). He also stayed at Ganden Monastery and studied for a short time before returning to Sera. While studying at the monasteries, he gave empowerments to a number of ministers and other high government officials in Lhasa at their request.

Jigme Tenpai Gyatso returned to Chamdo in time for the 1736 New Year celebrations. He also commissioned nineteen paintings depicting the life of Tsongkhapa that took five artists five years to complete. He arranged for the creation of one hundred small images of the Vajramala-maṇḍala and other tantric subjects, as well as several statues.

Following the New Year celebrations of 1737 Jigme Tenpai Gyatso went to the Lhuntse hermitage (lhun rtse ri khrod) for retreat, sitting for seven months. He then returned to Chamdo and supervised further painting and printing projects, including an edition of the Tangyur (bstan 'gyur). He also arranged traditional cloth covers with decorative wooden boards for the Kagyur printed by his predecessor.

Jigme Tenpai Gyatso initiated the tradition of sending greetings and tribute to the Chinese Emperor establishing a firm relationship between his monastery and the Chinese court. In return, from the Yongzhen Emperor, he received the title of Namenhan (那門漢), a title derived from the Mongolian nomon/nomun han/khan, meaning "king of dharma," along with bronze seal.

Among students, the Fourth Zhiwa Lha, Pakpa Gelek Gyeltsen (zhi ba lha 04 'phags pa dge legs rgyal mtshan, 1720-1799), who became his successor, was his chief disciple.

After occupying the abbot's throne of Chamdo Jampa Ling for thirty-seven years, in 1754, the wood-dog year of the thirteenth sexagenary cycle, Jigme Tenpai Gyatso passed away, at the age of forty-one.




Anonymous. 1986. Bod kyi lo rgyus rig gnas dpyad gzhi'i rgyu cha gdams bsgrigs. Beijing: Mi rigs dpe skrun khang. Vol. 9, pp. 52-69.

Byams pa chos grags. N.d. Chab mdo byams pa gling gi gdan rabs. Chamdo: Chab mdo par 'debs bzo grwa par btab, pp. 330-349, 520


Samten Chhosphel
June 2010