The Treasury of Lives

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

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Namgyel Gonpo

b.1399 - d.1424
TBRC P10100

Namgyel Gonpo was the short-lived son and heir of Rigdzin Godemchen, the primary treasure revealer of the Northern Treasure Tradition. The majority of his life from birth to death unfolded in the vicinity of Se Trazang in Jang Ngamring, which had been established as the seat of the tradition by his father. He received the empowerments and guidance instructions for the primary treasure cycle of the Northern Treasure Tradition directly from his father at the age of six and is said to have quickly mastered the teachings and thus proven his potential as a future patriarch. Before his death in 1409, Rigdzin Godemchen had transmitted all of his knowledge and authority to Namgyel Gonpo and had designated him as the highest patriarch of the lineage. The young master continued to train under Dorje Pel, who was his cousin and one of his father's most senior disciples. Although he did marry a woman named Wonmo Khandro at the age of eighteen, their union did not produce any children. It is said that he excelled at wrathful tantric practices and set many students on the path toward liberation before his death at the age of twenty-five in 1424.

Lungtok Tenpai Nyima, the Thirty-third Menri Trizin, trained at Kyangtsang Monastery in Sharkhok, Amdo and received his geshe degree at the age of twenty-five. He had to leave his studies and teaching at Drepung behind and escape to exile in India in 1959. He spent a large part of his career studying, researching and teaching in the west, where he was brought by David Snellgrove through a Rockefeller Foundation grant. Lungtok Tenpai Nyima reestablished Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India and he ceaselessly worked to preserve and publish Bonpo texts.

Ara Drubtob Tarpai Gyeltsen was one of the most important Geluk scholar-saints of the sixteenth century. He began his studies at an early age at Sera Monastery and became known as both a highly learned scholar and advanced practitioner. Ara Khamtsen, a residential house of Sera Me where he lived, houses a small statue of Tarpai Gyeltsen within a larger image of another Sera master. This site remains a popular attraction for pilgrims to this day. Ara Drubtob spent his final years in the Lhatok region of Kham, where he engaged in retreat and gathered many disciples.


Tsonawa Sherab Zangpo

b.early 13th cent. - d.late 13th cent.
TBRC P1500

Tsonawa Sherab Zangpo was an important early Tibetan Vinaya scholar as well as a lineage holder of the Lamrim tradition. Two of his Vinaya texts are considered the most complete and lucid works on the Vinaya written in Tibet and are still studied in all traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. He is the first incarnation in the line of Mon Tsona Tulkus.

Dungkar Lobzang Trinle was one of the so-called "Three Great Scholars" in the second half of the twentieth century, together with Tseten Zhabdrung and Muge Samten, credited with reinstituting scholastic Buddhism  and Tibetology as an academic discipline in China. Trained in Lhasa in the 1940s and 1950s, he survived the Cultural Revolution to serve at high levels of the Chinese government in the service of Buddhist learning and Tibetan cultural history more generally. His most famous publication is the Dungkar Encyclopedia.