The Treasury of Lives

A Biographical Encyclopedia of Tibet, Inner Asia, and the Himalaya

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Jetsunma Kunga Trinle Wangmo was a yoginī, author, and lineage-holder of the Jonang order of Tibetan Buddhism. As a woman of the Jonang order in seventeenth-century central Tibet, she lived a contemplative life immersed in yogic practice while she wrestled with the real-time political and social unrest of her time. She was a close disciple and secret consort to Tāranātha and a key figure in the transmission of the Zhentong philosophy of emptiness. During the latter period of her life, she was a mentor to the generation of masters who were instrumental in transplanting the Jonangpas from Tsang in central Tibet to Dzamtang on the far eastern frontiers of the plateau after the confiscation of Takten Puntsok Ling Monastery by the Ganden Podrang government.

Doring Sonam Tenzin Peljor Tsering was a Tibetan aristocrat, politician and literatus. He served the Ganden Podrang government as tax collector, cabinet minister, and negotiator in the Tibet-Gorkha wars (1788–1792). During his most important political assignment, the negotiations with the Gorkha representatives, he was captured and taken to Kathmandu. Although the Qing imperial army was sent to free him and settle the Tibet-Gorkha conflict, he was accused of plotting with the Tenth Zhamarpa against the Tibetan government and brought to Beijing for trial. Besides his career in government service, Tenzin Peljor is also credited with the invention of Nangma and Tozhe genres of music as well as the introduction of the Chinese instruments to Tibetan culture. He authored a number of literary works including a novel in Indian kāvya style and his voluminous autobiography The History of the House of Gazhi, Music of Candid Speech.

Pelgon Trinle Rabten was the last king of the Meu kingdom in Ngawa, ruling from about 1930 to 1950. During his tenure Ngawa was prosperous and peaceful, trading widely across western China and the Tibetan Plateau. He participated in the communist administration of Tibet until he was denounced during the Cultural Revolution, after which it appears he committed suicide.

Known by the titles of monk, great scholar, and statesman, the Nineteenth Bakula Rinpoche, Ngawang Lobzang Tubsten Choknor was arguably the most important Ladakhi of the twentieth century. In 1959, when the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and tens of thousands of Tibetans fled to India, Bakula Rinpoche played a critical role in helping to reestablish Tibet's Buddhist institutions in exile. A close associate of Prime Minister Nehru, Bakula served in numerous official capacities. In 1988, he received the Padma Bhushan, one of the highest civilian awards bestowed by the Republic of India. He was instrumental in revitalizing Buddhism in Russia during the last decade of the USSR, and in Mongolia in the later decades of the twentieth century while he served there as ambassador from India; in 1999, the Government of Mongolia awarded him the Polar Star, one of the highest honors presented to non-Mongolian citizens.

Kunga Pelden

b.1878 - d.1944
BDRC P6963

Kunga Pelden was a twentieth-century yogin who resided around Dzogchen Monastery. He was a heart student of Orgyen Tendzin Norbu, himself a disciple of Patrul Rinpoche. He mostly spent his life in retreat and was a proponent of The Guru's Inner Essence, or Lama Yangtik, and the practices of the channels, vital energies, vital essences, and physical yogas of the Heart Essence of the Great Expanse, or Longchen Nyingtik. Kunga Pelden received Lama Yangtik, Longchen Nyingtik, and the physical yogas from Orgyen Tendzin Norbu and the practice of the channels, vital energies, and vital essences from Pema Tekchok Loden.