The Sixth Tongkhor, Ngawang Jamyang Tendzin Gyatso

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The Sixth Tongkhor, Ngawang Jamyang Tendzin Gyatso b.1753 - d.1798

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Sixth Tongkhor, Ngawang Jamyang Tendzin Gyatso (stong 'khor 06 ngag dbang 'jam dbyangs bstan 'dzin rgya mtsho), was born in Rongwo (rong bo) in 1753, the water-bird year. He was recognized in his infancy as the reincarnation of the Fifth Tongkhor, Ngawang Sonam Gyatso (stong 'khor 05 ngag dbang bsod nams rgya mtsho, 1684-1752).

Another boy, Jampel Gendun Gyatso ('jam dpal dge 'dun rgya mtsho, 1754-1803), was also identified as the reincarnation of Ngawang Sonam Gyatso by the Second Lingtrul, Gendun Tenpai Gyeltsen (gling sprul 02 dge 'dun bstan pa'i rgyal mtshan, 1728-1790) and also given the title of Tongkhor. This boy was based at Kham Tongkhor Monastery, Tashilhunpo, and was supported by the Sixth Paṇchen Lama, Lobzang Pelden Yeshe (paN chen 06 blo bzang dpal ldan ye shes, 1738-1780).

The Third Chubzang, Tubten Wangchuk (chu bzang thub bstan dbang phyug, 1725-1796) gave him ordination in 1751, at the age of seven. He went to Labrang Tashikhyil (bla brang bkra shis 'khyil) where he studied with the Second Jamyang Zhepa, Konchok Jigme Wangpo ('jam dbyangs bzhad pa 02 dkon mchog 'jigs med dbang po, 1728-1791) and others. Presumably he also visited his nominal seat, Tongkhor Ganden Chokhor Ling (stong 'khor dgon dga' ldan chos 'khor gling), which had been established in 1646 by the Fourth Tongkhor, Dogyu Gyatso (stong 'khor 04 mdo rgyud rgya mtsho, d. 1683). 

At the age of eleven, in 1763, he went to Beijing to meet with the Qianlong Emperor (乾隆 r. 1735-1796). After returning to Amdo, he established Chunak Monastery (chu nag) in Trika (khri ska), southern Amdo. He then continued on to Lhasa where he enrolled in Sera Me (se ra smad) where he studied the traditional five-part monastic curriculum, Abhisamayālaṃkāra, Mādhyamaka, Abhidharmakośa, Pramāṇavārttika, and Vinaya. He remained there, briefly serving as abbot, until 1783 or 1784, when he was thirty-one.

He received complete ordination from the Sixth Paṇchen Lama, Lobzang Pelden Yeshe (paN chen 06 blo bzang dpal ldan ye shes, 1738-1780), who was at the same time a patron of the other Sixth Tongkhor.

At the order of Tsador Nominhan (tsha rdor no min han) he successfully occupied the abbacy of Sera Me, Chakpo Ri (lcags po ri) and Zhalu (zhwa lu) monasteries, posts he occupied only briefly as he returned to Amdo at the age of thirty-four, in 1786.

In 1787 he went again to Beijing, where the Qianlong Emperor gave him the titles Fuyin Lama福音 喇嘛 (hphu yin bla ma) and "draang yin tham ga bla ma 'ja' sa".

On his return to Amdo he served as abbot of Chorten Tang Monastery (mchod rten thang), which the Fourth Tongkhor, Dogyu Gyatso (mdo rgyud rgya mtsho, d.1683) established in 1647 in Pari (dpa' ris).

Among his main disciples included Jangtse Lobzang Gelek (byang rtse blo bzang dge legs, d.u.); Tawon Ngawang Lobzang (tA dbon ngag dbang blo bzang, d.u.); and Serme Lobzang Tukje (ser smad blo bzang thugs rje, c.1770-c.1835) and others.

He is said to have composed several works, such as Lekshe Nyingpo Yangdrel (legs bshad snying po yang 'grel), Kunzhi Drelwa (kun gzhi'i 'grel ba), Sengdong Chokor (seng gdong chos skor), and Tamdrin Chokor (rta mgrin chos skor), but they do not appear to be extant.

Ngawang Jamyang Tendzin Gyatso passed away in 1798.




Anon. 1999. Mtsho lho bod rigs rang skyong khul gyi dgon sde khag gi lo rgyus snying bsdus. Xining: Mtsho sngon mi rigs dpe skrun khang, p. 231. TBRC W20214.

Bsod nams rgya mtsho. 2000. Bstan rtsis ka phreng lag deb. Beijing: Mi rigs dpe skrun khang, p. 236. TBRC W20115.

Grags pa 'byung gnas and Rgyal ba blo bzang mkhas grub. 1992. Gangs can mkhas grub rim byon ming mdzod. Lanzhou: Kan su'u mi rigs dpe skrun khang, p. 770-772. TBRC W19801.


Alexander Gardner
September 2012