The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Je Yabse Sum
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Je Tsongkhapa (or Lama Tsongkhapa) founded Gaden Monastery in 1410, with which he laid down the basis for what was later named the Geluk (or Gelug) tradition that eventually became a predominant Buddhist school in Tibet since the end of 16th century.
Je Tsongkhapa was renowned and highly esteemed for his profound and extensive knowledge, practice and teachings on both sutra and tantra. He was praised by many great scholars and masters in Tibet as a remarkable master without parallel.
After Je Tsongkhapa’s passing, his teachings were held and spread by Gyaltsab Rinpoche and Khedrub Rinpoche who were his successors as the abbots of Gaden Monastery, a lineage that is still held by the Gaden Tripas, the throne-holders of Gaden Monastery.
Je Tsongkhapa Lobzang Drakpa (Wylie: rje tsong kha pa blo bzang grags pa, 1357-1419), also known as Lama Tsongkhapa or by the honorific title Je Rinpoche (rje rin po che, “Precious Lord”) was born in 1357 at Tsongkha valley, Amdo region of northeastern Tibet.
Je Tsongkhapa is said to have been so sharp that he easily understood and memorized even the most complicated texts.
Je Tshongkhapa continued studying with Choje Dondrub Rinchen until the age of sixteen when he left Amdo to pursue his quest for philosophical knowledge and trainings in central and southern Tibet, where he received teachings from more than fifty prominent teachers.
Je Tsongkhapa’s studies were mainly focused on the existing scholarly traditions of the time, of which the most significant being the Sakya tradition and the tradition of Sangphu, an important Kadam monastery.
With a determination of combining scholarship with the practice of both tantra and sutra, Je Tsongkhapa also continuously received tantric teachings and initiations from, in addition to Choje Dondrub Rinchen while in Amdo,
Being able to have pure visions of Mañjuśrī, Lama Umapa became the intermediary of Je Tshonkhapa in communicating with this Bodhisattva who would provide advices and responses to Je Tsongkhapa’s numerous questions concerning the correct understanding of the reality.
It is believed that many of Je Tshongkhapa’s works were composed through the instructions and inspiration of deities and masters appearing in thepure visions, particularly Mañjuśrī, as described in his secret biography.
Tsongkhapa combined studies with practice from a very early age.
doing an extensive retreat on Mañjuśrī with Lama Umapa, and, as advised by Mañjuśrī, going into a long, extensive retreat with his eight disciples at Chadrel Hermitage and Wölkha Cholung from 1392 to1398.
Meanwhile, he simultaneously continued to study the most important texts dealing with the nature of reality.
Je Tsongkhapa began to teach in his 20s. He also started composing essays and treatises in these early years, including his most major early work, the Golden Garlandof Eloquence (Legs bshad gser phreng), a commentary on Maitreya’s Ornament for Clear Realization, completed at the age of 32.
In 1402, at the age of forty-six, he composed the Lamrim Chenmo (The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment), undoubtedly his most famous masterpiece.
Following the composition of the Lamrim Chenmo, he wrote several other works around 1407 and 1408, specifically The Ocean of Reasoning (rigs pa’i rgya mtsho), a commentary on Nāgārjuna’s Fundamental Treatise on the Middle Way (Mūlamadhyamakakārikā ),and The Essence of Eloquence (legs bshad snying po).
In 1415 he composed the Lamrim Dring (The Medium Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment), a condensed version of the Lamrim Chenmo, and in 1418, one year before his death, the Elucidation of the Intention (dGongs pa Rab gSal)on Candrakīrti’s Entry to the Middle Way.
As a companion volume to the Lamrim Chenmo, he wrote in 1405 the Ngagrim Chenmo (The Great Exposition of Tantra), covering all the four classes of tantra according to the sarma (new traditions)], with a detailed explanation of the two stages of Anuttarayoga (Highest Yoga tantra.
Other important tantric works include his works on Guhyasamāja, especially his Commentary on the Vajrajñānasamuccayanāma Tantraye shes rdo rje kun las btus pa zhes bya ba’i rgyud) in 1401 and Lamp Illuminating the Five Stages of Guhyasamāja (gsang ‘dus rim lnga gsal sgron) in 1411.
Texts on the Guhyasamāja Tantra feature prominently in Je Tsongkhapa’s collected works, making up the majority of his eighteen volumes of writings. During his last years, Je Tsongkhapa devoted much of his time to giving extensive teachings.
The second deed was an extensive teaching on the vinaya (code of monastic discipline)for the ordained that he, Jetsun Redawa and Kyabchok Pal Zangpo gave for several months at Namtse Deng (gNam rtse Ideng) in 1402, which is said to have revitalized the tradition of monasticism in Tibet.
The third deed was his establishment of the annual Great Prayer Festival (Monlam Chenmo) for universal well-being during the Tibetan new year in Lhasa in 1409, a tradition that is still performing to this day.
And the fourth deed was the founding of Gaden Monastery (dGa’ Idan) in 1410 near Lhasa, which became his main seat, and the construction of the maṇḍalas of his main three Anuttarayoga tantra deities:Guhyasamāja, Yamāntaka and Cakrasaṃvara.
He is perhaps best known for other amazing deeds, however.
PASSING AWAY :
His eighteen volumes of collected works contain hundreds of titles relating to all aspects of Buddhist teachings and explicitly clarify some of the most difficult topics and points in both sutra and tantra.