H.H. Jetsun Dhampa
Jonang Jetsun Taranathas reincarnation His Holiness Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Jampal Namdol Choekyi Gyaltsen Pal Sangpo was born the son of Lobsang Jampal (who belonged to the Ralo clan) and Yangchen Lhamo, in 1932 (corresponding to the year of the Water-Monkey of the sixteenth Rabjung cycle) at Tromsik Gang, to the north of Lhasa Temple. His birth was marked by many amazing and auspicious omens. When he was still in his mothers womb, Trehor Jampa Chodrak Rinpoche, the ninetieth occupier of the Gaden Throne, prophesied him to be an extraordinary birth and conferred him the name Sonam Dargyal. Later, Kyabje Phabong Khaba Dechen Nyingpo (1878-1941) gave him an additional name Tenzin, thus his name became Sonam Tenzin Dargyal. Then Kharag Yongzin Rinpoche predicted him to be the reincarnation of Jamyang Choeje. Nechung Oracle (the state oracle of Tibet) also recognized him as the true reincarnation of Jamyang Choeje, saying, He is my Jamyang Namkhai Norbu...
When Sonam Dargyal was four years old Radreng Regent Rinpoche Thupten Jampal Yeshi Pal Sangpo, in compliance with the statements of the divination, recognized Sonam Dargyal as the true and unmistaken reincarnation of the eighth Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa. However, since it coincided with the bad situation in Tibet - the situation in which both Tibetan people and their culture were passing through a critical juncture - the Tibetan and Mongol governments could not hold a traditional enthronement ceremony.
His Eminence Sonam Tenzin Dargyal was the twenty-eighth in the lineage of Bodhisattva Tob Thame, twenty-first in the lineage of Pandita Barwa, fourteenth Jamyang Choeje, ninth from Rangjung Yeshi Dorjee and tenth from the first Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa, Jonang Jetsun Taranatha. At age eight, Sonam Tenzin took the vow of a novice monk in the presence of Radreng Regent Thupten Jampal Yeshi Pal Sangpo and received the name Jampal Namdrol Choekyi Gyaltsen Pal Sangpo. He then entered the Drepung Monastery as an ordinary monk. Under the tutorship of Geshe Ngawang Choden; Thupten Nyima, the abbot of Bhori Ti Dulwa; and Geshe Tashi Gyatso of Khalkha, he enthusiastically and successfully studied the Sutra texts, such as paramata (perfection) and madhyamika (middle way). When he reached the age of twenty, he received empowerments, reading transmissions and textual teachings of both common and uncommon traditions from Kunling Tatsak Rinpoche. Following that, he went to Chummig Gyatsa, where he practised on all the precepts he had received.
In 1952, when he was twenty-one years old, he set foot in the great Takten Monastery and assumed both the temporal and spiritual leadership of the Jonang School. At the same time, he amended the codes of monastic discipline and ruled against the consumption meat in the monastery. He reconstructed the whole monastery, including its outer and internal reliquaries, and sixteen new temples encircling the monastery. The old noble tradition of making religious offerings during auspicious days was revived and distinguished students were awarded certificates. He granted many discourses on topics, including Stages of Path for Enlightenment (lam-rim) and Mind Training (blo-byong) to people. Besides these activities, he engaged himself mainly in retreat and meditation. In 1959, at the age of twenty-eight, due to drastic change in the times, he secretly fled to India for asylum. Before he arrived in India, he stayed one year at Walung, a place between India and Nepal borders.
During that time, he studied traditional Tibetan sciences such as grammar and poetry, and a grammar text called Yangchen Drado (dByangs-can sgra-mdo) with Se Padma Choeling as his teacher. In 1960, when he was twenty-nine years of age, he came to India and stayed at indefinite places around Darjeeling and in south India. In 1981, he settled at Phendeling Tibetan Settlement at Mainpat in India.
In 1986, at the age of forty-three, he visited Tibet. In conformity with the policy of Tibet Autonomous Region, he took the charge of Takten Choede and recollected all the former monks of the monastery under the permission of the Chinese government. He restored the previous tradition of holding morning and evening prayers.
In 1990, when His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama visited the Tibetan Settlement at Mainpat, His Eminence Jetsun Dhampa, who was then fifty-nine years old, received audience from His Holiness, who told him that a grand official ceremony would to be held for Jetsun Dhampas enthronement.
In 1991, in the year of the Iron-Sheep, when Kalsang Yeshi, the minister for the Department of Religion and Culture of the Tibetan Government in Exile, visited Mongolia, he met with the Mongol President and other Mongol officials as well as many people. They emphatically told him that as the freedom of religion was improving, they would like to invite the reincarnations of the Jetsun Dhampa to Mongolia in near future. They also asked him whether the present reincarnation of Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa had been recognized by the Tibetan community in exile, especially by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Keeping this in view, the Department of Religion and Culture of Tibetan government in Exile, after conducting a thorough research on how the reincarnation of the Khalka Dhampa was searched and recognized, and submitted the report to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for comments. In return, his Holiness said,
"The reincarnation of Jetsun Dampa, Jampal Namdol Choekyi Gyaltsen, appears to be true. Aside from being remarkably kind to the Dharma and beings, he has already done a certain level of studies on the Sutra and Tantra. I, therefore, recognise him as the ninth reincarnation of Jetsun Dhampa. I pray for his long life and believe that he will generate compassion and strive for the promotion of happiness and prosperity in the great land of Mongolia." Signed. 20th September 1991.
The Department of Culture and Religion of the Tibetan Government in Exile offered the report on the search of the reincarnation and the recommendation letter from H.H. the Dalai Lama to Jetun Dhampa. At the same time, his recognition was publically announced. At the age of sixty-one, in 1992 (which corresponded to the year of the Water-Monkey) Jetsun Dhampa, accompanied by his retinues, was invited to Dharamsala, and a grand enthronement ceremony was organized on the 13th of January of the same year at the Temple of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dharamsala. The ceremony was graced by lamas and trulkus of all the Tibetan Buddhist schools, the minister and the secretary of the Department of Religion and Culture of the Tibetan government, and many other dignitaries, as well as large number of lay and ordained people. Since then he stayed permanently in Dharamsala, and received the teachings of profound Dharma from His Holiness in the manner of filling an empty vase to the brim. Then, in pursuance of the instruction of the His Holiness, after having recited the Kalachakra for the required number, he performed various Tantric meditations and the one pointed meditation on two stages of yoga for one pointed.
In 1994, at age sixty-three, in accordance with the instruction of H.H. the Dalai Lama, he went to Domey in Tibet in order to receive rare empowerments, including that of the Jonangpa tradition. However, when he arrived in Tibet, he was detained at Hrintu for more than a month by the Chinese government, and was strictly prevented from meeting with anyone from the outside. After that, he was deported to Lhasa, because of which he could not materialise his wish to meet with masters of Jonang School. During his stay at Lhasa, as prophesied by His Holiness the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, he painted the face of the two images of Buddha Shakyamuni (Jowos) at Lhasa and other images with gold paint, aiming exclusively for the long life of His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and for the benefit of the Dharma and politics of the Tibetan people. He also served tea and meals to the people gathered at the temple. He made offerings of thousands of torma, and performed propitiation of Palden Lhamo deity and Mamo Trukhang for seven days. After that, having received permission from the Chinese government, he went to central Tibet at the invitation of Thupten Dorjee, and presided over the ceremony of recitation of one hundred million mantras (dung-sgrub).
Then he visited Rinchen Pungney which lay in the proximity of Lhasa, and there he organized a three-day ceremony of one hundred thousand offerings (bum-tshogs) to Guru Padmasambhava. Including these, he performed many religious activities in Tibet. However, out of suspiciousness, the Chinese Government grilled him several times, and he replied them, I did all these religious activities for the promotion of the worlds peace. In 1995, at the age of sixty-four, for the preservation of the Buddhist religion in general and the Practice Precept of the dakini meditation in particular, he founded the Takten Labrang in Dharamsala after making due search for the appropriate site. The building of the labrang has four stories, and at the top is a prayer hall, which houses a golden image of Machik Labdronma (1031-1129) and Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1419) amongst others. His Holiness of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, suggesting to him that it would be good to establish a monastery for the preservation of Jonang tradition, offered the Sangye Choeling Monastery in Shimla, including the monastic properties, to Jetsun Dhampa. At the same time, His Holiness appointed him as the overall head of the Jongang School. Following that, Jetsun Dhampa collected more than forty monks of Jonang tradition as its students and named the monastery as Jonang Magon Takten Phuntsok Choeling.
In 1999, at the age of sixty-eight, he travelled to Mongolia for the benefit of beings there. The devotees installed him to the throne of the successive former reincarnations of Jetsun Dhampa. Since His Holiness had already recognized Jetsun Dhampa in 1991 in conformity with the resolution passed during the meeting presided over by Gaden Abbot and attended by abbots and lamas of various Buddhist schools, they conferred the title The Protector of Beings of the North and Leader of all the Buddhist Schools to Jetsun Dhampa. On 4 August 1999, at the Ertini Jowo Monastery, the first monastery of Mongolia, which was blessed by the successive former reincarnations of Jetsun Dhampa, he was enthroned as the eighth reincarnation of Jetsun Dhampa, amidst a grand ceremony. He was given an official recognition letter bearing the seals of seventeen different monasteries, the title Kyabgon Jetsun Dhampa, the Leader of the Dharma of the North and offerings. He not only left seeds in tens of thousands devout followers to nurture their minds, but also instituted a Bogto Fund aiming at the preservation and promotion of Buddhist religion and culture and economy in Mongolia. Thus, he had made great services.
He visited many foreign countries, including USA, Moscow, Kalmyk, Buriyat, Canada, Singapore, Taiwan and Switzerland, where he gave teachings according to the needs and mental dispositions of peoples. When he arrived at the age of seventy-one, on 12th June 2002 (corresponding to the second Non-month of the Water-Horse yearof the seventh Rabjung cycle) Jetsun Dhampa invited His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Jonang Magon Takten Phunstok Choeling with grand welcome ceremony. His Holiness granted the teachings of the eight former lamas of Jonang, and Innate of Kalachakra (Dus-khor-lhan-skyes) and empowerment rDor-shugs. As a thanksgiving to His Holiness for granting kind teachings, the Jonang community offered him a long life prayer based on the secret practice of Hayagriva. Some students of the monastery debated upon the madhyamika (dbu-ma), paramita (phar-phyin) and Commentary on Valid Cognition (rNam-'grel) in a dignified manner before him in the form of clouds of offerings. Overjoyed by this, His Holiness praised highly of them.
His Holiness Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa passed away on March 1st 2012 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Jonang Takten Phuntsok Chosling Cultural Society
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