Parpuwa Lodro Sengge

ISSN 2332-077X

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Parpuwa Lodro Sengge 12th cent.

Name Variants: Lodro Sengge

Little is known about Parpuwa Lodro Sengge's (par phu ba blo gros seng+ge) youth aside from that he was born at Dra (gra) in Yoru (g.yo ru), a child of the Ngen (rngan) clan, and that he was a prodigious student. He spent a long period of time studying with Chapa Chokyi Sengge (phya pa chos kyi seng+ge, 1109-1169) at the most prestigious center for philosophical study in Tibet of the times, Sangpu Neutog (gsang phu ne'u thog). He not only composed commentaries on the main texts by Nāgārjuna, he also gave lectures on them to the assembly of student monks. But at some point he met a teacher named Drushulwa (gru shul ba, gro shol ba) who passed on teachings he had received from Newari Asu (bal po a su) on the Doha songs. Parpuwa's Doha expertise brought Yelpa Yeshe Tsek (yel pa ye shes brtsegs, 1134-1194) to study with him, but before long Yelpa came to the conclusion that he was incapable of giving more than the barest of explanations. So Yelpa persuaded Parpuwa to go to hear Pakmodrupa at Pagmodru.

At first the exacting scholar was not very impressed by Pakmodrupa, thinking him to be a follower of the Yogacara philosophy (sems tsam pa). Feeling he already knew all these things about Buddha's teachings, only in more detail, he returned from Pagmodru after attending only a few teaching assemblies. Yelpa begged him to go once more to Pagmodru, and accompanied him there. Pakmodrupa looked into the interdependent connections and saw that Parpuwa was blocked by his pride in his intellectual understanding. So he imprinted a piece of brown sugar with a beautiful lotus design and gave it to Parpuwa. After receiving the sweet morsel he laid it aside to admire the design. Seeing this, Yerpa jumped up and broke it in two shouting at him, “Eat it!” Then Pakmodrupa said, “The Buddha's teachings in all their variety were given for no other purpose than to supply methods for realizing the true nature of mind. This knowledge may only be achieved through meditation. Meditate!” Still Parpuwa was resistant, thinking to himself, “Well what is this now? He just tells me I have to meditate without teaching any precepts at all?” but after further reflection the implicit meaning became clear to him. He even composed a devotional song in praise of his teacher entitled Wish Fulfilling Cow ('dod 'jo'i ba mo).

Later in life Parpuwa founded the monastery at Parpu that gave him his name. He beheld the visages of many divine forms of Buddha and was regarded as an accomplished one, a siddha. About five hundred students gathered for his assembly teachings. He developed a special view called the Non-generation of Realization (rtogs pa skyed med), reasoning that in their actual substance one's own realization and the realization of a buddha are indistinguishable. This involved an explanation of the four yogas of the Mahāmudrā as levels of experience rather than as levels of realization. He is said to have had one hundred and twelve students, the best known among them being Lingrepa Pema Dorje (gling ras pa pad+ma rdo rje, 1128-1188), Nyenre Gendun Bum (gnyan ras dge 'dun 'bum, d.u.), and of course, Yelpa, who is credited with establishing the Yelpa Kagyu tradition (yel pa bka' brgyud).




Roerich, George, trans. 1996. The Blue Annals. 2nd ed. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, pp. 566-8.

Schaeffer, Kurtis R. 2005. Dreaming the Great Brahmin. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Dan Martin
August 2008