The Third Purchok, Jampa Gyatso

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The Third Purchok, Jampa Gyatso b.1825 - d.1901

Name Variants: Jampa Gyatso; Lobzang Tsultrim Jampa Gyatso; Purbuchok Lobzang Jampa Gyatso

The Third Purchok Jampa Gyatso (pur bu lcog 03 byams pa rgya mtsho) was born in the pasture land of Dzachu Aurtok in Kham (khams rdza chu a'or tog) in 1825, the wood-bird year of fourteenth sexagenary cycle. His father was called Jamcho (byams chos, d.u.) and his mother was named Tsering Dolkar (tshe ring sgrol dkar, d.u.).

At the age of five, having been identified as the reincarnation of the Second Purchok, Lobzang Jampa (pur bu lcog 02 blo bzang byams pa, 1763-1825), Jampa Gyatso was escorted to U and installed in the Purchog Hermitage (pur bu lcog ri khrod) above Sera Monastery outside of Lhasa. He began his basic education in reading and writing, and memorization of daily prayer-texts under Ne Lama (gnas bla ma d.u.), the master of the hermitage at that time.

At the age of ten, Jampa Gyatso matriculated in the Sera Je College of Sera Monastic University for his further studies. The Tenth Dalai Lama, Tsultrim Gyatso (ta la'i bla ma 10 tshul khrims rgya mtsho, 1816-1837) cut his crown-hair and gave him the name Jampa Tsultrim Gyatso (byams pa tshul khrims rgya mtsho) in 1734. Subsequently the Seventh Paṇchen Lama Lobzang Tenpai Nyima Chole Namgyel (paN chen bla ma 07 blo bzang bstan pa'i nyi ma phyogs las rnam rgyal, 1781-1854) granted him the vows of novice monk.

Jampa Gyatso studied Abhisamayālaṃkāra, Madhyamaka, Abhidharmakośa, Pramāṇavārttika and Vinaya, the major subjects of the Geluk monastic curriculum, under a number of masters, including Geshe Drakpa Tsondu (dge bshes grags pa brtson 'grus, d.u.) who served as his principal tutor. He took the first traditional exam on Prajñāpāramitā in 1739, followed by three more exams. In the meantime, at the age of twenty, he received the vows of full ordination from the Seventh Paṇchen Lama. He became a competent scholar, and earned his Geshe Lharampa degree at the examinations during the Lhasa Monlam when he was twenty-one.

At the age of thirty-seven, Purchok Jampa Gyatso served as the tutor to the Twelfth Dalai Lama, Trinle Gyatso (ta la'i bla ma 12 'phrin las rgya mtsho, 1857-1875). Nearly two decades later, at the age of fifty-three, he served as the tutor to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama Tubten Gyatso (tA la'i bla ma 13 thub bstan rgya mtsho, 1876-1933). Purchok gave teachings, empowerments and initiations, transmissions and instructions on various important topics of both sutra and tantra to the two Dalai Lamas. He also gave the vows of full ordination to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama.

Because of his close connections to the Tibetan government Jampa Gyatso was able to enlarge his hermitage, which had been initially established by Drubkhang Gelek Gyatso (sgrub khang dge legs rgya mtsho, 1641-1713) and the First Purchok, Ngawang Jampa (phur lcog 01 ngag dbang byams pa, 1682-1762) in the first few years of the eighteenth century. The Thirteenth Dalai Lama visited the hermitage, significantly elevating its status. Major renovations began in 1882 and continued for some years.

Purchok Jampa Gyatso passed into nirvana in 1901, the iron-ox year of the fifteenth sexagenary cycle, at the age of seventy-seven. The Thirteenth Dalai Lama supervised the funeral. One source has it that he lived at the age of seventy and passed in 1894, the wood-horse year in the fifteenth sexagenary cycle, but this is in error.

The works of Purchok Jampa Gyatso were collected into two volumes containing forty-four texts covering subjects such as commentary on logics, rituals, and biography.




Cabezón, José Ignacio. 2006. The Hermitages of Sera. Charlottesville: The Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library, pp. 103-104.

Grags pa 'byungs gnas and Blo bzang mkhas grub. 1992. Gangs can mkhas sgrub rim byon ming mdzod, Kan su'u mi rigs dpe skrun khang, pp. 1056-1058.

Don rdor and bstan 'dzin chos grags. 1993. Gangs ljongs lo rgyus thog gig rags can mi sna. Lhasa: Bod ljongs mi dmangs dpe skrun khang, pp. 224-296.

Thub bstan rgya mtsho. 1981. Mkhan chen yongs 'dzin rdo rje 'chang blo bzang tshul khrims byams pa rgya mtsho dpal bzang po'i rnam thar mkhas mang mdzes par byed pa'i don bzang me tog gi mgul rgyan gsar pa. Delhi: International Academy of Indian Culture, vol. 1, pp. 11-324.

A biography of Jampa Gyatso by Rgyal ba tshul khrims rgya mtsho is listed in Sonam Dondrub's catalog of Tibetan biographies, no. 1367. See: Bsod nams don grub. 2000. Bod kyi lo rgyus dpe tho. Lhasa: Bod ljongs Mi dmangs Dpe skrun khang.


Samten Chhosphel
August 2010