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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.