The Second Tsemonling, Ngawang Jampel Tsultrim Gyatso

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The Second Tsemonling, Ngawang Jampel Tsultrim Gyatso b.1792 - d.1862/1864

Name Variants: Chone Ngawang Jampel Tsultrim Gyatso ; Ganden Trichen 73 Ngawang Jampel Tsultrim Gyatso; Ganden Tripa 73 Ngawang Jampel Tsultrim Gyatso; Tsador Ngawang Jampel Tsultrim Gyatso ; Tsemonling Ngawang Jampel Tsultrim Gyatso

The Seventy-third Ganden Tripa, Ngawang Jampel Tsultrim Gyatso (dga' ldan khri pa 73 ngag dbang 'jam dpal tshul khrims rgya mtsho) was born in Chone, Amdo (mdo smad co ne) in 1792, the water-mouse year of the thirteenth sexagenary cycle. Details of his parents are not known. At a young age he was identified as reincarnation of the Sixty-first Ganden Tripa Trichen Ngawang Tsultrim (dga' ldan khri pa 61 khri chen ngag dbang tshul khrims, 1721-1791).

Ngawang Jampel Tsultrim Gyatso matriculated in Tsador House of Sera Me College of the Sera Monastic University (se ra smad tsha rdor khang tshan) from where his title Tsador derived. There he studied Abhisamayālaṃkāra, Madhyamaka, Abhidharmakośa, Pramāṇavārttika and Vinaya, the five major subjects of the Geluk monastic curriculum. After satisfactorily completing his studies he enrolled in Gyuto College in Lhasa for studies in Tantra, where he later served as the chant leader (bla ma dbu mdzad), the educational-head of the College.

At the age of twenty-nine, in 1820, the year of iron-dragon in the fourteenth sexagenary cycle, Ngawang Jampel Tsultrim Gyatso was appointed to the Sikyong (srid skyong), or political administrator. The post is a Geluk lama-regent who rules during the minority of the Dalai Lamas and heads the Lhasa government, the Kashag (bka' shag), the Tibetan Cabinet. Some sources have 1819 as the year of his appointment to Sikyong. Soon after his appointment he organized the coronation ceremony (gser khri mnga' gsol) of the Tenth Dalai Lama, Tsultrim Gyatso (ta la'i bla ma 10 tshul khrims rgya mtsho, 1816-1837), whom he tutored until the young man passed away at the age of twenty-two.

In the year of water-sheep, in 1823, he started an investigation into the agricultural products in U and Tsang that was completed in 1830, the year of iron-tiger. A detail report was prepared called “The Review of the Iron-Tiger” (lcags stag zhib gzhung) that was later published.

In the year of fire-bird in 1837, he was enthroned to the seat of the Seventy-third Ganden Tripa, at the age of about forty-six. Thus he was the active head of both political and religious administration in Lhasa. He established the Tsemonling College (tshe smon gling grwa tshang) at Ganden Khangsar in Lhasa (lha sa dga' ldan khang gsar), the palace that had previously been the residence of the Mongolian Khans while they were in Lhasa and later the residence of Polhane Sonam Tobgye (pho lha nas bsod nams stobs rgyal, 1689-1747). The Sixty-first Ganden Tripa, who was also the sixth Regent of Tibet, had previously established it as a residence, first giving it the name Tsemonling, thus earning him the title of the First Tsemonling Lama.

In the 1830s the Kingdom of Ladakh fell to the expansionist Sikh Kingdom in the Punjab, and, under the command of the Sikh General Zorawar Singh, a mixed Dogra and Ladakhi army invaded Western Tibet. After a quick victory brought him to the banks of Manasarovar, Zorawar spent a difficult winter, and his army was crushed by a Tibetan counter-offensive with some 10,000 men, Zorawar being among the dead. It was against this background that Ngawang Jampel Tsultrim Gyatso hastily organized the coronation of the Eleventh Dalai Lama, Khedrub Gyatso (ta la'i bla ma 11 mkhas grub rgya mtsho, 1838-1856) at the age of five in 1842, having led the search for the boy in 1840.

Soon after Ngawang Jampel Tsultrim Gyatso, after serving the Kashag for about twenty-four years, found himself without the support of the nobility and the Qing representatives, the amban. According to the Tibetan historian Shakabpa Wangchuk Deden (zhwa sgab pa, dbang phyug bde ldan, 1908-1989) it appears that he fell afoul with the Seventh Paṇchen Lama Tenpai Nyima (paN chen bla ma 07 bstan pa'i nyi ma, 1781-1854) for appointing a rebellious attendant of the Paṇchen's to an official post in Lhasa, and that he was in a dispute with the Fourth Changkya, Yeshe Tenpai Gyeltsen (lcang skya 04 ye shes bstan pa'i rgyal mtshan, 1787-1846) over Drepung monastic estates. Charges of financial corruption (gzhung rgyu sger 'dzin) were leveled against him, and in Autumn of 1844 he was deposed from the post of regent, his aristocratic estates (sger gzhis) and personal properties were seized.

Although there is no clear record of his stepping down from the Golden Throne, it would appear that he did so around that time, the customary seven year term having expired the year before. Lobzang Lhundrub (dga' ldan khri chen 74 blo bzang lhun grub, 1782-1847) succeeded him in 1843.

He lived another twenty years, returning, at the age of fifty-nine, in 1850, to his hometown Chone, settling there in the Chone Monastery (co ne dgon), and passing into nirvana there at the age of seventy-two in 1864, the wood-hare year of the fourteenth sexagenary cycle. An alternate date for his death is 1862.

{C}{C}Ngawang Lobzang Tenpai Gyeltsen (nga dbang blo bzang bstan pa'i rgyal mtshan, 1844-1919/1920), who was born in Chone and who served as the Eighty-seventh Ganden Tripa, was identified as his reincarnation.




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Samten Chhosphel
February 2011