The Sixth Zhiwa Lha, Ngawang Jigme Khenrab Tendzin Trinle

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The Sixth Zhiwa Lha, Ngawang Jigme Khenrab Tendzin Trinle b.1864 - d.1923

Name Variants: Ngawang Jigme Khenrab Tendzin Trinle; Sixth Zhiwa Lha Ngawang Jigme Khenrab Tendzin Trinle; Zizang Drugpa

The Sixth Zhiwa Lha, Ngawang Jigme Khenrab Tendzin Trinle (zhi ba lha 06 ngag dbang 'jigs med mkhyen rab bstan 'dzin 'phrin las) was born in 1864, the wood-mouse year of the fourteenth sexagenary cycle, in Gazi Wangkar in Drayab (brag gyab ga zi wang dkar). His identification as the Sixth Zhiwa Lha was confirmed in 1865 through use of the Golden Urn in front of the Jowo statue in the Jokhang in Lhasa by the Twelfth Dalai Lama, Trinle Gyatso (ta la'i bla ma 12 'phrin las rgya mtsho, 1857-1875) together with the amban, the representative of Qing Emperor in Lhasa.

The tulku was escorted to Chamdo Jampa Ling and enthroned to the seat of abbot of the monastery with an elaborative function on the twenty-second day of the ninth month of Tibetan calendar, an auspicious day that marks Śākyamuni Buddha's return from Tuṣita Heaven where he had gone to teach the dharma to his mother.

The tulku was given basic education in reading and writing, and memorization of daily prayer-texts and so forth, in Chamdo, and was subsequently escorted to Lhasa to enrol at the Monastic University of Sera for further training. There he studied the traditional texts of philosophy and also received general teachings, instructions, commentaries, initiations, and empowerments on various tantric subjects. After the completion of his studies, he returned to Chamdo.

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), who was serving as the twenty-seventh abbot of Chamdo Jampa Ling, passed away suddenly at the age of fifty-two, while on pilgrimage at Samye Monastery. Consequently, in 1901, the Sixth Zhiwa Lha was appointed to the abbacy of Chamdo by the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, Tubten Gyatso (ta la'i bla ma 13 rgyal ba thub bstan rgya mtsho, 1876-1933), becoming the twenty-eighth abbot of the monastery, a post he held officially until 1919. As with his predecessors, the post was not limited to the responsibilities of the abbot but also included the religious and political affairs of the Chamdo region.

Chamdo Jampa Ling was completely burnt down to ashes 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). This great seat of learning that was founded in 1437 and that had been developed over the previous 475 years by a number of abbots and lamas was reduced to ruins. This attack was so traumatic that the phrase Chuji Gyamak (chu byi rgya dmags), meaing "the Chinese attack of the water-mouse year" is still common among Tibetan people.

In the face of the chaos the young Tenth Pakpa Lha, Lobzang Tubten Mipam Tsultrim Gyeltsen ('phags pa lha 10 blob bzang thub bstan mi pham tshul khrims rgyal mtshan, 1901-1937) fled to Lhasa; it is not clear whether the Sixth Zhiwa Lha accompanied him. In the meantime, there was nothing at the monastery but the reconstruction work. Reconstruction of the main monastery with the residences of monks was carried out gradually with material support from the Lhasa government. In 1919 the Tenth Pakpa Lha returned from Lhasa to Chamdo with permission of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama in order to supervise the reconstruction work and perform as abbot of the monastery. In 1920 the Pakpa Lha unexpectedly openly broke his novice vows by accepting a wife. The Dalai Lama stripped him of his post and sent him to a hermitage, and the Sixth Zhiwa Lha returned to the abbot's chair, appointed by the Dalai Lama to the role of Acting Religious and Political Head of Chamdo. The Zhiwa Lha performed his duties for about three years, until he passed away at the age of sixty, in 1932, the water-pig year of the fifteenth sexagenary cycle.

A nirvana-prayer was arranged for his funeral and his reliquary was placed in the restored Mahākāla Temple of the monastery.




Anonymous. 1986. Bod kyi lo rgyus rig gnas dpyad gzhi'i rgyu cha gdams bsgrigs. Beijing: Mi rigs dpe skrun khang. Vol. 9, pp 199.

Byams pa chos grags. N.d. Chab mdo byams pa gling gi gdan rabs. Chamdo: Chab mdo par 'debs bzo grwa par btab, pp. 376-377, 521.


Samten Chhosphel
July 2010