The Fourth Ling Rinpoche, Ngawang Lungtok Yonten Gyatso

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The Fourth Ling Rinpoche, Ngawang Lungtok Yonten Gyatso b.1811? - d.1853

Name Variants: Ganden Trichen 75 Ngawang Lungtok Yonten Gyatso; Ganden Tripa 75 Ngawang Lungtok Yonten Gyatso; Ling Rinpoche 04 Ngawang Lungtok Yonten Gyatso; Lingpa Ngawang Lungtok Yonten Gyatso ; Ngawang Lungtok Yonten Gyatso

The Seventy-fifth Ganden Tripa, Ngawang Lungtok Yonten Gyatso (dga' ldan khri pa 75 ngag dbang lung rtogs yon tan rgya mtsho) was born in Lingtsang, (gling tshang) in Derge, in 1811, the year of iron-sheep in the fourteenth sexagenary cycle. His father was named Tashi (bkra shis) and his mother was called Dolma (grol ma).

At a young age he was identified as the reincarnation of the Third Ling Rinpoche, Lobzang Tenpai Gyeltsen (gling rin po che 03 blo bzang bstan pa'i rgyal mtshan, 1791-1810). Sources have it that the Ninth Dalai Lama Lungtok Gyatso (ta la'i bla ma 09 lung rtogs rgya mtsho, 1805-1815) officiated over the identification and named him Ngawang Lungtok Yonten Gyatso, but this would have had to have been merely ceremonial, given the Dalai Lama's youth. Reportedly the identification was done though use of the Golden Urn, a technique that was mandated in 1792 by the Qing Emperor Qianlong for prominent incarnation lines.

In his youth Ngawang Lungtok Yonten Gyatso travelled to Lhasa and matriculated in the Ling Kangtsen of the Loseling College of the Drepung Monastic University. Some sources have it that he enrolled in Sera Me Monastery (se ra smad) rather than Drepung Loseling ('bras spung blo gsal gling) but this seems incorrect. Ling House, or Kangtsen, was established in the fifteenth century to house monks from the Derge Lingtsang area during their studies at Drepung Loseling. At Drepung he studied Abhisamayālaṃkāra, Madhyamaka, Abhidharmakośa, Pramāṇavārttika and Vinaya, the five major subjects of the Geluk monastic curriculum and stood for the traditional examination for Geshe Lharampa (dge bshes lha ram pa) title in the Lhasa Monlam Chenmo. He then joined Gyuto College to pursue studies in advanced Tantra and trained in all the four classes of Tantra (rgyud sde bzhi) according to the Geluk tradition.

Ngawang Lungtok Yonten Gyatso became Sharpa Choje (shar pa chos rje), one of two officers preparing to become Ganden Tripa, and ascended the Golden Throne, either in 1847 or 1850, as the Seventy-fifth Ganden Tripa, at the age of either forty or forty-three. He seems to have served until 1853, suggesting that the year of his enthronement was probably 1847, as the customary length of service is seven years. Trichen Lobzang Khyenrab Wangchuk (dga' ldan khri chen 76 blo bzang mkhyen rab dbang phyug, d.u.) who was born in Kham succeeded him.

During his tenure he served as tutor to the Eleventh Dalai Lama Kedrub Gyatso (ta la'i bla ma mkhas grub rgya mtsho, 1838-1856) from around 1847 till his nirvana, and he gave teachings to his disciples and followers in Tibet, China and Mongolia.

In 1855, the wood-hare year of the fourteenth sexagenary cycle, Ngawang Lungtok Yonten Gyatso passed into nirvana. Traditional cremation with rites and rituals and extensive nirvana-prayers were performed.

Lobzang Lungtok Tendzin Trinle (gling rin po che 05 blo bzang lung rtogs bstan 'dzin 'phrin las 1856-1902) born in 1856 was identified as his reincarnation and the Fifth Ling Rinpoche.




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, pp. 166-167.

Bstan pa bstan 'dzin. 1992. 'Jam mgon rgyal wa'i rgyal tshab gser khri rim byon rnams kyi khri rabs yongs 'du'i ljon bzang. Mundgod: Drepung Gomang Library, pp. 107-108.

Grong khyer lha sa srid gros lo rgyus rig gnas dpyad yig rgyu cha rtsom 'bri au yon lhan khang. 1994. Dga' ldan dgon pa dang brag yer pa'i lo rgyus, grong khyer lha sa'i lo rgyus rig gnas deb 02. Lhasa: Bod ljongs shin hwa par 'debs bzo grwa khang, p.76.


Samten Chhosphel
February 2011