The Tenth Pakpa Lha, Lobzang Tubten Mipam Tsultrim Gyeltsen

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The Tenth Pakpa Lha, Lobzang Tubten Mipam Tsultrim Gyeltsen b.1901 - d.1939

The Tenth Pakpa Lha, Lobzang Tubten Mipam Tsultrim Gyeltsen ('phags pa lha 10 blo bzang thub bstan mi pham tshul khrim rgyal mtshan) was born in 1901, the iron-ox year of the fifteenth sexagenary cycle, in Dobum Gang in Markham (smar khams rdo 'bum sgang). Yeshe Chopel (ye shes chos 'phel) was his father and Tsultrim Dolkar (tshul khrims sgrol dkar) was his mother. He was identified when he was a young boy as the reincarnation of the Ninth Pakpa Lha, Ngawang Lobzang Jigme Tenpai Gyeltsen ('phags pa lha 09 ngag dbang blo bzang 'jigs med bstan pa'i rgyal mtshan, 1849-1900), which was confirmed in 1912 by the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, Tubten Gyatso, (ta la'i bla ma 13 thub bstan rgya mtsho, 1876 -1933) and the Qing representative in Lhasa, the amban, by use of the Golden Urn in front of the Jowo statue in the Jokhang in Lhasa. He was then brought to Chamdo where he began his education.

In 1912, amidst the chaos that accompanied the collapse of the Qing Dynasty, the forces of "Phin Thung Lin" (?), followers of "Kra'o Er Phung" (Zhao Erfeng 赵尔丰, 1845-1911) destroyed Chamdo Jampa Ling, setting the entire monastery ablaze; the great assembly hall built by the Seventh Pakpa Lha Jigme Tenpai Gonpo ('phags pa lha 07 'jigs med bstan pa'i mgon po, 1755-1794) in the eighteenth century and other majestic buildings were reduced to ruins.

The Pakpa Lha fled to Lhasa in where he continued his studies. There, in 1918, he was granted the vows of novice monk (dge tshul) and given the name Lobzang Tubten Mipam Tsultrim Gyeltsen (blo bzang thub bstan mi pham tshul khrim rgyal mtshan) by the Thirteenth Dalai Lama. He then matriculated in the Khenyin House of Sera Je Monastic College (se ra byes mkhas snyan grwa tshang) and studied traditional subjects under a number of eminent masters including the Seventh Gyara Tulku, Jigme Chokyi Wangchuk (rgya ra sprul sku 07 'phags mchog thub bstan 'jigs med chos kyi dbang phyug, 1842-1913) who later became his principal tutor. He was financially supported by the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and the government of Tibet during his stay in Sera Monastery.

In 1918, following Tibetan reconquest of Chamdo, the Tenth Pakpa Lha applied for permission from the Dalai Lama to return to Chamdo to begin the reconstruction of Gaden Jampa Ling Monastery. He travelled to Chamdo in the next year and began the rebuilding. In 1920 Pakpa Lha openly took a wife; the Dalai Lama was informed and responded by punishing him, stripping him of honorific titles and ranks and removing him from the abbot's throne. The Dalai Lama ordered him to move to a remote hermitage. In his place the Sixth Zhiwa Lha, Ngawang Jigme Khenrab Tendzin Trinle (zhi ba lha 06 ngag dbang 'jigs med mkhen rab bstan 'dzin 'phrin las, b. 1864-1923), was placed on the abbot's throne, serving for three years until he passed away.

The Pakpa Lha's violation of his monastic vows and the Dalai Lama's punishment apparently had little effect on Chamdo's monastic and lay population, however. They continued to look to him as a leader of the community, and he continued to give teachings and empowerments at various places including Pashod (dpa' shod) and Kada (ka mda'). He also continued to work towards the reconstruction, renovation, and reestablishment of the monastery and its religious objects. Despite being removed from the abbot's throne, he was instrumental in reestablishing the educational system and restoring normal monastic operations.

As a result, local clerical and lay leaders appealed to the Dalai Lama and the Lhasa government for the restoration of official designation and formal titles of Pakpa Lha, arguing that failure to do so would badly effect the continuation of the incarnation line. In 1933, after several years of deliberation, representatives were sent to Lhasa to submit the appeal. Although the Thirteen Dalai Lama passed away before making any decision, the regent, the Fifth Reting Rinpoche, (srid skyong rwa sgreng 05 thub bstan 'jam dpal ye shes bstan pa'i rgyal mtshan, 1912-1947) accepted the proposal and the Fifth Kondor Tulku Lobzang Namgyel Tendzin Lhundrub (dkon rdor sprul sku 05 blo bzang 'rnam rgyal bstan 'dzin lhun grub, 1894-1950) was instructed to re-ordain Pakpa Lha. Thus, in 1934, on the twenty-second day of the ninth month in the wood-dog year, the Tenth Pakpa Lha was re-enthroned as the abbot of Ganden Jampa Ling Monastery in Chamdo with a special elaborative function. A great number of local and regional leaders, and government officials including the Dhochi, the Governor-General of Kham, attended the function.

Soon after, the Chief Treasurer, Rinchen Dondrub (rin chen don grub), resigned and handed over the seal of his office to Pakpa Lha, making the Pakpa Lha responsible for both religious and political administration of Chamdo and its sub-regions. The Lhasa government gave financial aid for the reconstruction, but the resulting construction still compared poorly with the prior buildings, and many annual rites had still not been reestablished. A special team of messengers was sent to Lhasa to invite the influential scholar Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo (pha bong kha bde chen snying po, 1878-1941) to Chamdo.

Papongkha visited more than fifty monasteries and gave vast teachings on his way from Lhasa to Chamdo. He arrived in Chamdo in 1935. He gave teachings on Lamrim Chenmo (lam rim chen mo) and other versions of lamrim, lojong, and empowerments on Cakrasaṃvara according to the tradition of Drilpupa (dril bu pa), and also on Yamāntaka, Guhyasamāja, Vajrayogini and other tantric systems. He also gave extensive teachings on philosophical texts and sutras including partial commentary on Lankavatara Sutra emphasizing on the avoidance of consumption of meat.  Subsequently he gave more teachings on sutras and also covered most of the trantric deities in terms of initiation and empowerment on them. He also gave advanced teachings to some selected lamas including the Fifth Kondor Tulku and Drakom Tulku (grwa sgom sprul sku). Pakpa Lha attended as many teachings as he can besides his duties and busy programs.

Pakpa Lha was invited to the monastery of Kyungpo (khyung po) while Pabongkha was there, and the two exchanged teachings. After spending several months at the monastery he returned to Chamdo in 1937. That year he fell ill and passed away on the twenty-eighth day of the ninth month of the fire-ox year, at the age of thirty-seven. An extensive nirvana-prayer was done throughout the region by monks as well as lay people. Extensive prayers were also arranged and substantial offerings were made to Geluk monasteries in U and Tsang.

The funeral was arranged in the middle of the ten month of the year; relics and preserved organs were taken from the ashes of the cremation and placed in a reliquary stupa and distributed to his disciples and fellow lamas.




Anonymous. 1986. Bod kyi lo rgyus rig gnas dpyad gzhi'i rgyu cha gdams bsgrigs. Beijing: Mi rigs dpe skrun khang. Vol. 9, pp. 153-165

Byams pa chos grags. N.d. Chab mdo byams pa gling gi gdan rabs. Chamdo: Chab mdo par 'debs bzo grwa par btab, pp. 385-397, 522


Samten Chhosphel
June 2010