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Zurmang History

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A history of His Eminence The Twelfth Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche, Karma Choekyong Tenpa Gyaltsen, the brilliant upholder of the doctrine of Pal Tashi Zurmang Shedup Ling In Kham.

Distributed by Lingdum Gompa
31 July, 2003

Section 1:
An account of Dupgyud Karma Tsang


An account of Dupgyud Karma Tsang followed by a short history of how the great monastery was built as a spiritual institution by Trung Mase Lodro Rinchen, the manifestation of Tilopa.

Of the numerous brilliant spiritual students bestowed with extensive knowledge of the great pandit Naropa, as prophesied by Tilopa, were saint Maitripa, equivalent to him both in knowledge and realizations, Pandit Tipupa, the upholder and undisputed propagator of the lineage of secret teachings, Atisha and Tsona Agura, the great masters who possessed the divine eye.

Pandit Naropa’s other great followers were Padampa, Marpa, the great translator who was prophesied and appointed as a regent to master over the untamed beings of North and who was an unparalleled highly realized spiritual master in Tibet, being the most outstanding ancestral spiritual figure among thousands of masters of Kagyudpa sect.

While he guided numerous spiritual followers endowed with extensive knowledge and high realizations such as Nyogthon Dorje Tingwa Dungyud (Nyogthon Chodor) and many great masters of the Tsur and Mai clan, the most intimate spiritual son was Jetsun Milarepa who was said to be the manifestation of Heruka, the ornament amongst numerous highly realized spiritual masters in Tibet.

As a result, he was venerated with respect and admiration by the great Pandit Naropa and Dharma Bodhi. The great master Milarepa nourished numerous renowned spiritual sons with the inexhaustible spiritual food of Dharma, thus thirteen prominent spiritual sons were born. Among them, four saints.

Another seven great followers achieved beautitude. Lord Gampopa, among these outstanding masters was likened to the bright sun while Rechungpa was like the illuminating moon and Bodhi Raza who had attained the rainbow body was like a shinning star. However, the most prominent saint was Gampopa whose benevolent deeds were vast and boundless as the sky.

This great saint had four spiritual sons where three were Khampas who were the manifestations of the three classes of Bodhisattvas. They had accumulated immeasurable merits through offerings and paying homage to thousands of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

Furthermore, Gampopa had various other well-known followers such as the four close and outstanding spiritual sons, while another four spiritual sons and four attendants were highly realized saints of the Kargyudpa. They were highly inspired by the Buddha Dharma and felt disillusioned with the worldly dharma.

Enriched by streams of boundless and indiscriminating compassion towards all sentient beings, they attained two kinds of knowledge and wisdom, achieving power of the figurative designation of soul. All of them dedicated themselves to the preservation and propagation of the doctrine of the second Buddha Urygen and so had caused numerous followers to adopt the yogic white robes(lay practitioners) and way of life in the snow land Tibet.

The supreme guide of the Great four major and eight lesser branches of the Kagyudpa lineage is H.H. the Karmapa, who was foretold in the Sutra by Lord Buddha to be the manifestation of the sixth Buddha and also the founder of the Karma Kamtsang lineage known by all with the name of Dusum Kyenpa.

Deshing Shegpa, the fifth incarnation of the Karmapa , was extremely learned and knowledgeable in both the studies of Sutras and Tantras . As such, he became the root spiritual guru of the Chinese Emperor; Daming Yunglo.

Karmapa through his boundless compassion was able to tame all hostile beings leading to their conversion and eventual salvation.

Karmapa Deshing Shegpa was foretold by Pandit Naropa to be the thirteenth lineage upholder of the secret teaching among the three whispered lineages. (Minlam Yidzhin Norbu, Gyudpa Yidzhin Norbu & Nelug Yidzhin Norbu.

Karmapa Deshing Shegpa later transmitted the secret teachings of the three lineages along with vital oral instructions to Trung Mase Lodro Rinchen who was the earthly embodiment of the great Siddha Tilopa.

As the great master (Trung Mase) himself had asserted as follows:
"due to the unstained purity of my strong aspiration, I was privileged to be able to see nineteen famous masters such as, Choje Deshing Shegpa, who was matchless in knowledge. He gave me the transmission of the secret teachings out of boundless compassion, foretelling that I will be the upholder of this unique teaching. I too was also fully devoted to it without the tiniest doubts."

Karmapa Deshing Shegpa himself instructed him in person as follows:
"When an upholder of this teaching appears, it is like the returning of property to the original owner. It is extremely auspicious that you, my spiritual son, should do Sadya and being able to comprehend the real essence of the teachings without arising any opposing views, you would be able to play a central role in benefiting sentient beings from here and until the region of Kham indiscriminately. You should establish your monastery in the area that resembles the corpse of a horse for that is the abode of the Buddha Yiddam. Ekajati, the protector of the Tantra had vowed to protect the monastery from any evil forces as long as you build the monastery on the site".

Thus, as instructed and predicted by the great master, Karma Deshing Shegpa. Trung Mase Lodro Rinchen, at the age of thirty-eight laid the foundation for the Gon Kang (Mahakala Retreat Centre) and Tayarma (Main Puja Hall) in the fourteenth century. It was said that he was overwhelmed with immeasurable pleasure at the sight of the predicted grounds, covered with flowers that filled with great bliss and virtues for anyone residing there.

Further information about it’s landscape and the auspicious signs that had manifested during the time of the monastery’s construction and how it was established could be found in the page number 570 of the compiled book of history, entitled "Rinchen Domgya Jepe Thapthar Sargi Melong" where various histories of numerous monasteries of Kham, Nangchen were recorded. The history of the monastery was titled "History of Pal Tashi Zurmang Lhundup Ling" and reader is requested to read it carefully if further information is desired.


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Section 2:
Active roles played by a series of great reincarnations


A history of the active roles played by a series of great reincarnations to preserve and promote the doctrine of the monastery. Prosperous up till now, the great Lamas of Pal Tashi Zurmang Shedup Ling, a branch of Dupgyud Karma Kamtsang, are Gharwang Rinpoche, Tenga Rinpoche and Trungpa Rinpoche whose fame and reputation spread to every corner of the world like the beaming rays of an illuminating moon.

They together with actively committed realized masters, great teachers, students, Sangha community and devout leaders governed their subjects justly, thus were able to contribute tremendously to the propagation and preservation of Buddhism. However due to turbulence, it suffered declination like many other Buddhist sects in Tibet. It was rehabilitated better than it was before under the combined efforts of those Khenpo, monks, devotees and many other people during the time when the restoration of Buddhism was taking place.

Now, the main focus to be mentioned here is about the great deeds of the Eleventh Zurmang Gharwang in the field of construction of numerous spiritually oriented buildings and rooms. Shouldering the heavy responsibility of propagating Buddhism, he built the Zurmang Tayarma, filling it with precious statues of Buddhas and deities and further reconstructed the shrine of protectors Dupung Zil Nyon.

To preserve and promote Buddhism, he built a Monastic Institute and a Dupda(Retreat Centre), to accomodate the increased Sangha community. The sacred Zurmang ritual dance and many other ceremonies and acts of offerings were also improved. He worked tiredlessly and painstakingly towards the successful preservation of the doctrine.

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Section 3:
A history of His Eminence The Twelfth Zurmang Gharwang


A history of His Eminence The Twelfth Zurmang Gharwang, Karma Choekyong Tenpa Gyaltsen, born into an aristocratic family in Sikkim, India and his contribution to the promotion of tradition of Zurmang Kagyud.

The present incarnate 12th Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche, in the glorious line of the Gharwang reincarnations, was mentioned in the treasure of Rigzen Thaksher Dorje by Woggen Nyipa as follows, “Zurmang Rinzen and name of Dharma, related to it appeared to be meaningful and authentic with non-stopping eternal beaming light".

The foretold Dharma pointedly refers to the present Gharwang Rinpoche. Rigpa Zinpa Dorjee Tsewang Norbu further asserted Bearing no distinctions from the great saint of India, Birwapa, and later the reincarnation named Urgyen who was born in Tibet. The Zurmang Gharwangs are the indisputable manifestations of the two so on and so forth.

Furthermore, Terton Rolpe Dorjee declared this, our Gharwang Rinpoche is the manifestation of Gyalwa Shang and Khadup Urgyenpa. Rig Kun Kyab Dak Gyal Wa Ghar Gyi Wang(meaning-ruler of all yidam families) was a name given him in praise and honor.

Jea ThemDhrin Gonpo, perceived Gharwang Rinpoche as the real Vajra holder and called him Gharwang Dorje Chang. In the Lhungchang of the seven profoundness of Chodak by Terton Chokgyur Lingpa (a terma containing the teachings known as Zabdun, the Sevenfold Profundity. These 7 sets of teachings contain most of the important yidam practices Manjushri Body, Lotus Speech, Vishuddha Mind, Nectar Quality, Kilaya Activity, and so forth).

It was mentioned that the master of activities endowed with speech and deeds solely dedicated to the service of the Dharma is Gharkyi Wangchuck Wangchen Sungkyi Drake.Thus was Gharwang Karma Choekyong Nyathon Dargyal foretold in the Zabdun Thadinki Chodak.

Pawo Tsoglag Gawa too asserted that Zurmang is a pure religious lineage with, a successive series of prominent masters. Among these teachers, Kunga Namgyal, Sungrab Gyaltso and Gharwang Rinpoche in particular are the three foremost spiritual masters of the lineage.

The twelfth Gharwang, Choekyong Tenpa Namgyal, was born to his father the late Trateng Kazi Sonam Gyatso and his mother the late princess of King Tashi Namgyal of Sikkim, Sonam Palden on the 30th of June, 1965.

His Holiness The Sixteenth Karmapa Rigpe Dorje recognized him as the reincarnation of the previous eleventh Gharwang Rinpoche even when he was in the womb of his mother. He disclosed to her that the child in her womb was a unique being and is the reincarnation of the previous Zurmang Gharwang.

And so, amidst auspicious omens, the destined child was born. At the age of eleven he was enthroned on the seat as the reincarnation of Zurmang Gharwang, in Rumtek by Sixteenth Karmapa and was named Gharwang Chochung Tenpa Nyamgyal Thinley Kunkhyab Pal Zangpo.

Under the perfect and unique guidance of the H. H the Karmapa, he studied Tantras and Sutras, while also learning the Tibetan language starting from basics of reading and writing in Rumtek monastery. He studied various other languages to perfection, allowing him to speak in eloquence, many languages.

Furthermore, he received teachings from H. H Karmapa and other learned masters. He received ordination from H.H Karmapa and learnt both old and new teachings with main focus on the teachings of Zurmang Tradition. Especially he received Rinchen Tharzoe(one of the 5 Great Treasuries) initiation from Kalu Rinpoche and scriptural authorization or agama of it from Banche Tenga.

And he also received both initiation and scriptural authorization of new treasure from Tulku Urgyen together with Gyalwa Yabsai.( H.H. Karmapa & the 4 Regents) He was ordained in the presence of numerous monks and Arig Khenpo Pema Tsewang.

He became the top beholder of the three trainings (Tripitaka). Arig Khenpo was invited by Rinpoche later to his monastery in Sikkim, with the purpose of receiving further knowledge and instructions on the Buddhist teachings.

At the request of devotees, Rinpoche began the propagation of Dharma in foreign countries, preaching the teachings incessantly to countless devotees and disciples in the hope that inner peace and happiness can be achieved by all sentient beings who are fortunate enough to receive it.

Due to Rinpoche’s selfless compassion and commitment to the great cause, he had set up Buddhist centers in many Asian countries. And through those centers, he is able to bring and transmit the unparallel teachings of Lord Buddha and the message of peace all over the world.

In March 1992, an auspicious day was chosen for laying the foundation for Pal Karmae Zurmang Shedup Cho’khorling, the second seat of Zurmang monastery. The chosen site being in a blessed area in Lingdum, Sikkim, a consecration ceremony was held and preceded by Situ Rinpoche with offerings of golden drinks and incense on the first day.

On the second day, Sharmar Rinpoche, Gyaltsab Rinpoche, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and Beru Kyentse Rinpoche were invited to perform the ceremony of appeasing and blessing the site.

With active support from Rinpoche’s family, Zso Dong Pa Sherab Gyaltsen, Won Jimpa Nyamthak Ga Tsedor together with the help of monks and many others, the monastery was completed within the span of less than seven years, built thoroughly with steels and cement. The statues of Buddhas and highly realized masters were also built and enshrined respectively and more than two hundred and fifty monks were continuously provided with food and robes in abundance.

In this way the foundation was laid for preserving and promoting the ritual dance and religious ceremonies of the Zurmang Tradition, which have since then been performed annually on auspicious occasions. In 1999, delegates of the of Indian Government, the Prince of Sikkim King, Chief Minister of Sikkim, delegates of Rumtek Monastery and various other monasteries were invited to attend the auspicious inauguration of it.

More than ten thousand guests from abroad and from Sikkim itself attended the inauguration ceremony. As His Holiness Sakya Trizin has a very pure sincere spiritual link as well as blood bondage with Rinpoche, he and his immediates were invited too on that auspicious occasion.

During the welcoming ceremony, many monks were lined in a procession, playing the majestic sound of the reed instruments and ritual objects were held to honor his arrival. Gharwang Rinpoche presided over the ceremony and an estimated ten thousand guests comprised of both lay people and the ordained came and sought audience and blessings from His Holiness Sakya Trizin.

His Holiness Sakya Trizin spent three days in the newly constructed Zurmang monastery, bestowing the initiation of Dorje Phurpa (Vajrakilaya) to all those who were present on the first day of his sojourn.

H.H. Sakya Trizin and his son, together with Gharwang Rinpoche and Kunsang Dorje Rinpoche, and all the monks concerned, consecrated the images of the Buddha, scriptures and main temple with blessed nectar on the morning of the second day.

In the afternoon, Gharwang Rinpoche was then offered statues of Buddha from Sakya Trizin’s monastery and other monasteries which are related to the Zurmang monastery as an auspicious emblem for the inauguration. Numerous scarves also were offered by the laity and ordained alike to Rinpoche. The unique ritual dance of Zurmang monastery was performed too on that magnificent day.

During Gharwang Rinpoche’ sojourn in Rumtek Karmae Cho’khorling from the age of twelve until he was twenty seven, he tiled the floor of the Ghon khang ( shrine of protector ) with Kamaru stones and also had the rug of Kudung Lhakang changed prior to his enthronement.

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Section 4:
His glorious deeds in Pal Tashi Zurmang Shedup Chokorling


His glorious deeds in Pal Tashi Zurmang Shedup Chokorling, the seat of Dhokham Karma Zurmang Kagyud.

In 1991, Rinpoche returned for the first time to Tashi Zurmang Shedup Lhunkyi Duppae Ling, the seat of the former Gharwang Rinpoche in Tibet. He was received with due respect and honor in a welcoming ceremony by Zurmang 11th Tenga Rinpoche and a huge retinue of monks bearing Buddhist banners, armorial flags and incense, playing melodious music with ritual musical instruments.

Once seated on the lion throne of the Zurmang Tayerma, he was offered ceremonial scarves by Tulkus, Khenpos and an estimated ten thousand devotees comprising both the lay and the ordained seeking blessings from him.

To those fortunate devotees of Zurmang Geru Yutok, they got the rare yet precious opportunity to seek the audience of Gharwang Rinpoche and various Tulkus like Tenzin Trulpay Ku, Tharchen Chokgyur Lingpa, Tulku Shaptang Rinpoche Tulku Kunsang Dorje Kunsan Rinpoche) and Tulku Drugpa (Drugpa Rinpoche) during their meeting.

H.E. preached to all with a voice so melodious that it resembles that of Tara with compassion and non-discrimination. The devotees who gathered there were immensely moved by his speech with a strong respect. Their dedicated hearts were infused with joy and pleasure to be able to get a rare and precious chance to see a great lama before their departure from this physical world.

Zurmang 11th Tenga Rinpoche, individual Lamas, Tulkus from other monasteries made extensive offerings for the enthronement symbolic of Mandala offerings.

Highly appreciating the auspicious and glorious occasion, the devotees including Lama Lor Kunsang made offerings to Gharwang Rinpoche to accumulate merits.

Rinpoche actively committed himself in building Ser Tu Kang Tsek Se and beautified the assembly hall (dukang) Dak Yar Pa with spectacular decoration of animals of chase. He was so generous and kind that he rewarded all those involved with the construction of the monastery with presents in accordance with the extent of their contribution to the project.

Gharwang Rinpoche paid a glorious visit to Gandan Thupten Nyalig as invited and returned the offerings he received back to the devotees without slightest pang of attachment. This was the first time such an event ever took place.

Apart from that, Rinpoche made extensive spiritual tours visiting Zurmang Dudtsi Thil, Jakhi Gon, Dogon Phuntsok Ling, Tharthon Gon, Kyarong Gon and Palmea Gon respectively, donating different amounts of money respectively.

With unflinching sincere commitment in the efforts of promoting the precious doctrine of Lord Buddha he provided salaries to those three Dupkang retreat center, of upper and lower shrine of protector for seven years with generosity and ever since then he had paid series of visits there.

Among the numerous visits he had made there, the second visit was in conformity with death anniversary of Zurmang 11th Tenga Rinpoche in 1993 bearing purest motivation to relieve the grief of devotees and the mother of Tenga Rinpoche, who had departed the world in 1992 owing to the exhaustion of the merit of the devotees.

With boundless affection and infinite compassion for the living and welfare of the monks who came to both the upper and lower monasteries from various places with pure purpose of spiritual pursuit, Gharwang Rinpoche gave 300 Yuans to each of them as a warm gesture of encouragement to retain their soaring spiritual commitment forever.

He also donated more than 100000 Yuans to two groups of Zurmang Yu Dok. With deepest sympathy towards the mother and sons of late Tenga Rinpoche over his physical departure, he bestowed presents upon them symbolizing his solidarity.

His third visit there was during the ceremonial enthronement of the reincarnation of Tenga Rinpoche in 1996. Rinpoche’s benevolent deeds in Tibet were met with great success and later he returned to Sikkim, India.

Marked by a character of unshakable determination and altruism in both previous lives and the present, Rinpoche has made unsurpassed efforts to propagate and preserve Buddhism. He has compassionately been running and providing all required facilities for two monastic institutions of the Zurmang tradition, one in Tibet and another in Sikkim, India.

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