The Twenty-Fifth Ganden Tripa, Peljor Gyatso

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The Twenty-Fifth Ganden Tripa, Peljor Gyatso b.1526 - d.1599

Name Variants: Choje Gyalkhang Tsepa ; Ganden Trichen 25 Peljor Gyatso; Ganden Tripa 25 Peljor Gyatso; Gyalkhang Tsepa Peljor Gyatso; Peljor Gyatso; Tolungwa Peljor Gyatso; Trichen 25

The Twenty-fifth Ganden Tripa, Peljor Gyatso (dga' ldan khri pa 25 dpal 'byor rgya mtsho) was born into a noble family of Depa Gepa Kapa (sde pa gad pa kha pa) in Tolung Rampa (stod lung ram pa) in 1526, in the fire-dog year of the ninth sexagenary cycle. He was later said to be the reincarnation of a Kuton Rinpoche (khu ston rin po che) whose details are not known.

Peljor Gyatso was granted novice vows and full ordination by the Twenty-first Ganden Tripa, Trichen Dewa Chenpa (dga' ldan tripa 21 khri chen bde ba chen pa, 1505-1567). He started his education and training at a very young age and later studied the traditional courses in the major subjects of studies in the Geluk monastic curriculum at Kyormolung (skyor mo lung), Rato (ra stod), and Gyuto College (rgyud stod grwa tshang).

According to the sources some of the known teachers of Trichen Peljor Gyatso included the Fifteenth Ganden Tripa, Paṇchen Sonam Drakpa (dga' ldan khri pa 15 paN chen bsod nams grags pa, 1478-1554); Lhawang Peljor (lha dbang dpal 'byor, d.u.), who was known as a teacher in the transmission lineage of the Abhidharmakośa; the Twenty-first Ganden Tripa, Trichen Gelek Pelzang (dga' ldan khri pa 21 khri chen dge legs dpal bzang, 1505-1567); Lobzang Evam (blo bzang e wam, d.u.), who was also called Tatsakpa Lobzang Evam (ra tshag pa blo bzang e wam); and Chokyi Drakpa (chos kyi grags pa, d.u.) who was also called Zhal-ngane Chokyi Drakpa (zhal snga nas chos kyi grags pa, d.u.).

Peljor Gyatso served as the educator (’chad nyan pa) of Rato and as the lama of Gyuto, and at one point travelled with his retinue to Wolga ('ol dga'). He thereafter served as the common lama of Shartse College of Ganden Monastic University (dga' ldan shar rtse grwa tshang) and Gyuto College.

In 1582, at the age of fifty-seven, Tolungwa Peljor Gyatso was enthroned as the Twenty-fifth Ganden Tripa, and served for eight years, until 1589. During his tenure he gave many teachings on the topics of sutra and tantra and renovated the residence of Ganden Tripas, sponsoring new wall murals. Trichen Peljor Gyatso attended Lhasa Monlam Chenmo (the Great Prayer Festival of Lhasa) regularly to lead the sessions. According to sources, it was Trichen Peljor Gyatso who gave the name Yonten Gyatso (yon tan rgya mtsho) to the Fourth Dalai Lama, presumably after giving him his monastic vows.

Trichen Peljor Gyatso was sixty-four when he retired from the post of Tripa, and he settled in Gyelkhangtse (rgyal khang rtse). There, because of his fame, he was called Choje Gyalkhang Tsepa (chos rje rgyal khang rtse pa). After his retirement he also travelled to Mongolia and gave extensive teachings.

Trichen Peljor Gyatso served as the patron-lama (zhal ’dzin) of a number of monasteries, including Kyormolung (skyor mo lung), Pakmo Chode (phag mo chos sde), Bartsak Chode ('bar tshag chos sde), Pelbar (dpal 'bar), Tangkya (thang skya), and Rinchenling (rin chen gling). He was a major teacher in the transmission lineage in the teaching of Abhidharmakośa.

Among his disciples were the Thirtieth Ganden Tripa, Choje Lodro Gyatso (dga' ldan khri pa 30 chos rje blo gros rgya mtsho, 1532-1607); Gomdewa Namkha Gyeltsen (sgom sde ba nam mkha' rgyal mtshan, 1532-1592), who served as an abbot of Gyuto Tantric College; and Konchok Chopel (dkon mchog chos 'phel, d.u.) who was also called Zhabdrung Konchok Chopel (zhabs drung dkon mchog chos 'phel).

At the age of seventy-four, in 1599, the earth-pig year in the tenth sexagenary cycle, Trichen Peljor Gyatso passed into nirvana. A silver stupa of descent from Tuṣita (lha babs mchod rten) was built in his memory and installed at the beginning of the rows of the main objects of faith on the east of Lima Lhakang in Ganden Monastery. Occasional offering-prayers were also being held there.




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Samten Chhosphel
September 2010