The Tenth Dalai Lama, Tsultrim Gyatso

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The Tenth Dalai Lama, Tsultrim Gyatso b.1816 - d.1837

Name Variants: Dalai Lama 10 Tsultrim Gyatso; Ngawang Jampel Tsultrim Gyatso; Ngawang Lobzang Jampel Tsultrim Gyatso; Tsultrim Gyatso

The Tenth Dalai Lama, Tsultrim Gyatso (ta la'i bla ma 10 tshul khrims rgya mtsho) was born in Litang (li thang) in 1816, on the twenty-ninth day of the third month of the fire-mouse year of the fourteenth sexagenary cycle. His family was known as Drongto Norbutsang (grong stod nor bu tshang); his father was named Lobzang Nyendrak (blo bzang snyan grags) and his mother was named Namgyel Butri (rnam rgyal bu khrid). Following the identification, Lobzang Nyendrak was given a title and the Yutok estate, initiating an important Tibetan noble family.

The boy was one of six candidates for the reincarnation of the Ninth Dalai Lama, Lungtok Gyatso (ta la'i bla ma 09 lung rtogs rgya mtsho 1805-1815). He was chosen as the best candidate by oracles and government officials, including the regent, Demo Ngawang Lobzang Tubten Jigme Gyatso (de mo ngag dbang blo bzang thub bstan 'jigs med rgya mtsho, 1778-1819). Before the boy could be officially enthroned, however, the regent died. His  replacement was Ngawang Jampel Tsultrim Gyatso (ngag dbang 'jam dpal tshul khrims rgya mtsho, 1792-1862/64), the founder of Tsemonling (tshe smon gling) monastery and later the Seventy-third Ganden Tripa.

The Qing government insisted that the selection be confirmed by use of the Golden Urn, which was mandated by the Qianlong Emperor in 1793 as a way to both assert Qing authority in Tibet and to prevent Tibetan noble families from controlling the selection process. The Beijing government thus forced a delay in the confirmation process, and Tsultrim Gyatso, who had been brought to Lhasa in 1821, was not officially confirmed until 1822; whether or not the Urn was used remains a point of controversy in Tibetan history. According to Tibetan historians Tibetan officials allowed the amban announced that the Urn had been used to satisfy the Emperor, despite the reality that the Urn had not been employed. The enthronement took place on eighth day of the eighth month of the water-horse-year of the fourteenth sexagenary cycle, and was supervised by the regent.

During the first month of 1822 Tsultrim Gyatso was brought to Dewachen in Nyetang (snye thang bde ba chen) where the Seventh Paṇchen Lama, Lobzang Tenpai Nyima (paN chen bla ma 04 blo bzang dpal ldan bstan pa'i nyi ma, 1782-1853) cut his crown-hair and gave him the name Ngawang Lobzang Jampel Tsultrim Gyatso (ngag dbang blo bzang 'jam dpal tshul khrims rgya mtsho). The following month the Paṇchen Lama him gave the vows of novice monk (śrāmaṇera).

A number of prominent lamas were appointed as his tutors, including the Seventieth Ganden Tripa, Ngawang Chopel, (dga' ldan khri pa 70 ngag dbang chos 'phel, 1760-1839); Ngawang Nyendrak, who had served as the Sixty-sixth Ganden Tripa (dga' ldan khri pa 66 khri chen ngag dbang snyan grags 1746-1824); Lobzang Trinle Namgyel (blo bzang 'phrin las rnam rgyal, d.u.); and the Seventy-third Ganden Tripa, Trichen Ngawang Jampel Tsultrim Gyatso (dga' ldan khri pa 73 khri chen ngag dbang 'jam dpal tshul khrims rgya mtsho 1792-1855).

In 1825, at the age of ten, Tsultrim Gyatso matriculated in Drepung Monastery to study sutra and tantra according to the Geluk curriculum. He likely received teachings at Ganden and Sera as well.

The Tenth Dalai Lama was placed in charge of the Tibetan state in 1830. That year, an iron-tiger year, a seven-year governmental review of agriculture and tax policy was completed, with a report issued known as the "Iron-Tiger Report."

At the age of nineteen, in 1834, Tsultrim Gyatso met with the Fifth Kalkha Jetsun Dampa Lobzang Tsultrim Jigme Tenpai Gyeltsen (khal kha rje btsun dam pa 05 blo bzang tshul khrims 'jigs med bstan pa'i rgyal mtshan, 1815-1841) and the king of Torgo (thor rgod rgyal po) of Mongolia and gave them teachings. At request of the king the Dalai Lama sent some senior monks to Torgo to help them in establishing a Kālacakra practice center.

That year an epidemic broke out in Lhasa and the Dalai Lama was confined to the Potala; when the Paṇchen Lama came to Lhasa to give him final ordination, he was forced to stay at Norbulingka save for during the ceremony itself. Nevertheless, Tsultrim Gyatso fell ill, and passed away several years later, in 1837. His body was installed in a golden reliquary called “The Supreme Ornament of the Three Realms” (gser gdung khams gsum rgyan mchog) in the Potala.

Despite passing at the young age of twenty-two, the Tenth Dalai Lama was said to have several disciples. These included Oro Zhabdrung Lobzang Tenpai Gyeltsen (o rod zhabs drung blo bzang bstan pa'i rgyal mtshan, b.1819); Kure Khenchen Ngawang Yeshe Tubten (khu re mkhan chen ngag dbang ye shes thub bstan d.u.); the Ninth Tashak, Ngawang Lobzang Tenpai Gyeltsen (rta tshag 09 ngag dbang blo bzang bstan pa'i rgyal mtshan, 1811-1848), the Third Gyakar, Konchok Tenpai Gyeltsen (rgya dkar 03 dkon mchog bstan pa'i rgyal mtshan, 1794-1854); and the Seventh Peling Sungtrul of Bhutan, Pema Tendzin (pad gling gsung sprul 07 pad+ma bstan 'dzin, 1819-1842).





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Samten Chhosphel
November 2011