Pakmodrupa Dorje Gyelpo
They died when he was a youngster of about seven years. His one younger brother, later known by the name Dampa Deshek (dam pa bde gshegs, 1122-1192), would found a very important early Nyingma monastery in Kham called Katok (kaH thog).
It is said that before he was three, Pakmodrupa could remember how he was once a monkey during the time of the past Buddha Kashyapa. He forgot about it when his parents fed him tainted meat, but recovered this past-life memory later in life.
When his parents died, Pakmodrupa was placed under the care of his paternal uncle, a monk who also had employment outside his small monastery, Chakyi Temple (bya khyi lha khang) as a household priest (mchod gnas). This uncle sponsored his noviciate, while he in turn helped his uncle by working on a number of things, such as illustrating manuscripts.
He had a natural talent for art and calligraphy, mastered reading and writing with no difficulty. He then acted as a record keeper for the monastery's abbot, Khenpo Tsultrim (mkhan po tshul khrims) for whom he also scribed in silver letters one volume of the One Hundred Thousand Perfection of Wisdom (Prajñāpāramitā).
There, after his full ordination, at age twenty-five, and following several years of study in various places — at first primarily Kadampa teachers, and later teachers of practically every tantric lineage that then existed — he found a teacher to whom he would devoted about twelve years of his life.
At first, when he went to Gampopa's seat, Daklha Gampo (dwags lha sgam po) together with Zhang Yudrakpa Tsondru Drakpa (zhang g.yu brag pa brtson 'grus grags pa, 1123-1193) Gampopa was indisposed and not receiving visitors, so he spent four days carrying earth and stone for building a chorten.
A hermit in an area to the east of city of Tsetang (rtses thang), a place called Pakmodru (phag mo gru) which means ‘Sow Crossing,' handed over to him his meditation hut. It was a place of great natural beauty, with plenty of juniper trees. Gradually other meditators came there and built their own huts, which formed the original nucleus for the Densa Til (gdan sa thil) Monastery.
This would become the ‘mother' monastery for hundreds of other monasteries, and in these early times it was often called simply Densa, “The Headquarters.” Densa Til may still be visited today, although it has lost almost all its former splendor.
On the other hand, the place where the simple grass with willow framework meditation hut of Pakmodrupa once stood — it survived until the middle of the twentieth century — is still considered the most holy site in the monastery.
It is from the place name Pakmodru that both Pakmodrupa and the later Pakmodru Dynasty received their names. When Pakmodrupa taught there, it is said that the monks would cover the ground of his route from his hut to his teaching chair with their hats, clothing and katak scarves.
The persons who rely [on these philosophies) may have achieved certainty through their own intellects in their various diverse views, but since they have neither understood nor realized these through meditation practice, theirs are views devoid of realization.
They may plow and hoe the winter ground, but come spring there will be no result.
Pakmodrupa viewed himself as a servant of all sentient beings, and whatever donations he received went to the welfare of the entire monastic community. He ate the same food as the others. He was very strict about his personal observance of the vinaya rules and expected the same from his community.
He did not consider any task too lowly, and was known to carry water and gather ashes. He went on begging rounds with the other monks, a practice well known in Theravada Buddhist countries, but exceptional in Tibet. He was in the habit of keeping in seclusion during the waning phase of the moon, but during the waxing phase he would give teachings every afternoon.
founder of the Martsang Kagyu;
'Jig rten mgon po. 2001. 'Gro mgon phag mo gru pa'i rnam thar nyam len rin chen mi zad pa rgya mtsho'i gter. In The collected works (bka' 'bum) of kham gsum chos kyi rgyal po thub dbang ratna sri (skyob-pa 'jig-rten-gsum-mgon). New Delhi: DrigungKagyu Ratna Shri Sungrab Nyamso Khang, vol. 3, p. 219-255.
Dan Martin August 2008