Recently, I wrote about the 15th Karmapa and how his incarnation was predicted by Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) as revealed to terton Chogyur Lingpa (1829-1870). Although there are a few online accounts of this revelation and what Guru Rinpoche prophesised, I had not see the original 19th Century Tibetan script of it. So, here today, am happy to share with you the Tibetan from the woodblock prints (see images below). Then, I give some background on Chogyur Lingpa and the revelation of this prophecy, followed by what it says about the 15th to 17th Karmapas.
Chogyur Lingpa, Jamgon Kongtrul and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
Chogyur Lingpa was a very close collaborator and friend of both Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, two of the most eminent Tibetan Buddhist masters of the 19th Century and founders of the Non-Sectarian (Rimey) movement in Tibet. In particular, in early 1860s was a period of great activity by the famous triumvirate, still known today as the the ‘Three Supreme Expert Crucibles ‘ (mkhyen kong mchog sde gsum)”. The three worked together to reveal, decipher, and record treasure, and they traveled throughout the Derge kingdom in the service of the royal family, performing rituals to pacify and empower the landscape.
”At the first encounter [with Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo] he gave Chokgyur Lingpa an empowerment from the Purba Yangsang Putri (phur pa yang gsang spu gri). It is not clear whether this meeting was in fact a personal audience or was part of a public empowerment. Either way, Chokgyur Lingpa’s first private meeting with Khyentse Wangpo was facilitated by Jamgon Kongtrul, who had dispatched Chokgyur Lingpa to the area to perform rituals for a patron. In a curious letter of introduction to Khyentse Wangpo that is preserved in several sources, Jamgon Kongtrul wrote that while the would-be treasure revealer had presented what he claimed were his revelations, he was leaving the matter of their authenticity to Khyentse Wangpo to decide.
Roughly a year later, in the beginning of 1855, Chokgyur Lingpa stayed with Khyentse Wangpo for a month, receiving further empowerments and teachings. Khyentse Wangpo recorded experiencing visions while performing the empowerments, notably of the Dzogchen protector Ekajaṭī, who predicted that the two would soon reveal their mutual treasure, the Dzogchen De Sum (rdzogs chen sde gsum). A third meeting occurred in late 1855; Khyentse Wangpo reported that during an empowerment ceremony at that time he loosened the knots in Chokgyur Lingpa’s subtle body and bestowed on him his treasure name: Orgyen Drodul Chokgyur Dechen Zhikpo Lingpa (o rgyan ‘gro ‘dul mchog gyur bde chen zhig po gling pa).
He later met the 14th Karmapa, Thegchog Dorje:
”In 1856 Chokgyur Lingpa returned to Nangchen, stopping over at Pelpung to visit with Jamgon Kongtrul. There he cured Jamgon Kongtrul of an eye disease that Chokgyur Lingpa linked to Jamgon Kongtrul previous incarnation of the imperial era translator Vimalamitra, an identification Chokgyur Lingpa might have been the first to assert. Dabzang Tulku accompanied Chokgyur Lingpa from there, acting as a sponsor when he reached the famous Kagyu monastery Karma Gon (karma dgon) and encountered the Fourteenth Karmapa, Tekchog Dorje (karma pa 14 theg mchog rdo rje, c.1798-c.1868). Over the course of the fire dragon year (early February 1856 to late February 1857) Chokgyur Lingpa visited three sites he would become closely linked to: Okmin Karma (‘og min karma) above Karma Gon; Namkhadzod in his home valley, near where he would later found Neten (gnas brtan) monastery; and Danyin Khala Rongo in the upper Dzachu (rdza chu) Valley, revealing treasure in the presence of witnesses at each site, including the Karmapa. These were the main treasure and supplementary material for the Zabpa Kor Dun (zab pa skor bdun), and additional revelations related to the Barche Kunsel, which are listed as caskets six, seven, and eight in Khyentse Wangpo’s enumeration.”
For more details of his extraordinary life and abilities, read the short biography here.
The 15th Karmapa’s Collected Works contain many texts connected to Chogyur Lingpa, and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo wrote a short supplication to him (translated and published for the first time here, details of the original source are in the Further Reading section below]:
ས་བཅུའི་དབང་ཕྱུག་ཡེ་ཤེས་རོལ་བ་རྩལ༎ བསམས་བཞིན་བསྟན་འགྲོའི་མགོན་དུ་སྤྲུལ་པའི་སྐུ༎ ཟབ་གཏེར་རྒྱ་མཚོའི་བཀའ་བབས་རིག་པ་འཛིན༎ མཆོག་གྱུར་བདེ་ཆེན་གླིང་པ་ཞབས་བརྟན་གསོལ༎
Lord of the tenth bhumi, energetic display of primordial-wisdom
Nirmanakaya protector of beings and teachings according to their wishes
Vidyadhara of the deep treasure ocean of transmissions
Chogyur Dechen Lingpa, may you remain long!
—Supplication to Chogyur Lingpa, by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
Padmasambhava’s Vision of the Karmapas
”During a visit to Karma Monastery, Guru Rinpoche appeared to Chogyur Lingpa in a vision. In the vision, Guru Rinpoche was surrounded by twenty-one manifestations of the Karmapa. In addition to the traditional appearance of each of the fourteen incarnations who had taken birth through the period up to the time of Chogyur Lingpa, seven future incarnations appeared. The settings for their appearance were prophetic indications about the circumstances and manifestation of their activity in the future. In the center, seated on a white snow lion, Guru Rinpoche appeared and taught on the different manifestations of the Buddha.
Chogyur Dechen Lingpa explicitly described his vision of the prophecy to Karmai Khenchen Rinchen Tarjay, Supreme Abbot of Karma Monastery, who instructed artists to render the vision in painted murals. Chogyur Lingpa’s oral explanation of his vision was recorded in a text called Sounding the Tones of the Melody of Auspiciousness. Since Chogyur Lingpa was a contemporary of the 14th Karmapa, the visionary details about the 15th through 21st Karmapas were prophecies.
Though the statement in the predictions are brief, he spoke the following prophecy about the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth Gyalwa Karmapas[vii]:
On the left, in a rock cave in a snow mountain, is the Fifteenth Karmapa, together with his attendant and disciples, exerting themselves in sacred tantric yoga practices. By the virtue of his realization, born through practicing the Six Yogas of Naropa, his activity will extend throughout the Land of Snows.
On the right, in a sacred temple with a golden pinnacle and turquoise pagoda roof, the Sixteenth Karmapa discusses the Dharma with his tutor. On the upper floor is the Lord Buddha Shakyamuni. These images signify that he will attain universal renown as the indisputable lord of the doctrine of the sutras and tantras.
Nearby, at the foot of a lush tree on a rock mountain, is the Seventeenth incarnation together with Khentin Tai Situpa. This image symbolizes that, through the unity of their minds, the tree of the Buddha’s doctrine will flourish, laden with the ripe fruit which is the essence of the teachings of the lineage of Gampopa.
Chogyur Lingpa foresaw that the 15th Karmapa would achieve great accomplishment in his yoga practice of meditating on the bindus. The life of the 15th Karmapa, Khakyab Dorje bore out this prediction. The prediction on the 16th Karmapa was also strikingly accurate. The vision saw the 16th Karmapa residing in a two-story building. On the lower floor was seated the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje. On the upper floor was a statue of Sakyamuni Buddha. This illustration foretold that the 16th Karmapa would be a very pure monk with many pure disciples.
In the accompanying painting, the Seventeenth Karmapa, named Pal Khyabdak Ogyen Gyalway Nyugu Drodul Trinley Dorje Tsal Chokle Nampar Gyalway De by Padmasambhava in the vision, is depicted on a verdant outcropping surrounded by flowers, under a leafy tree in discussion with Tai Situ Rinpoche.
Thus the prophecy in words and in the thangka depiction indicated that the 17th Karmapa would be together with Tai Situ Rinpoche on a mountain with verdant trees. This scenery simply does not depict the barren valley in which Tsurphu monastery sits. It does, however, bear a striking resemblance to the landscape to which His Holiness Karmapa escaped at end of 1999.” [Source: Kagyuoffice.org]
On this new moon today, may seeing and reading these images spread blessings and harmony for the Karmapas and their activities.
Written and compiled by Adele Tomlin, 19th August 2020. Copyright.
Collected Treasure Revelations by Chogyur Lingpa (1829-1870). He was active in Dege and collaborated with Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye and Khyentse Wangpo in editing these treasures. Expanded edition.39 volumes; 39 v.. W22642. lama pema tashi, paro. 1982-1986.
Praise to Ogyan Chogyur Lingpa and Ngor Khenchen 51 (o rgyan mchog gyur bde chen zhig po gling pa dang / ngor mkhan chen 51 ‘jam dpal bzang po la gstod pa/) in Collected Works of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (gsung ‘bum/_mkhyen brtse’i dbang po/ Volume 1 Pages 480 – 481.)
English Language Sources
Karmapa, The Sacred Prophecy (Kagyu Thubten Choling, 1999)
Translated into English for the first time in this book, the prophecy of Chogyur Lingpa is cherished by the Kagyu lineage as a sacred document indicating the qualities and activities of the future Karmapas. Photographs of the nineteenth century woodblock text, as well as the silk painting by Karmai Khenchen, accompany the translation. This book contains 60 full color photos of extremely rare Tibetan religious paintings, as well as a number of previously unpublished candid photos of contemporary Tibetan masters.
4 thoughts on “Tibetan script of Guru Padmasambhava’s prophecy on 15th to 21st Karmapas, as revealed by Chogyur Lingpa”
Have you read Dzalendra and Sakarchupa, recounting the previous lives by 15th and 16th Karmapa !
No I have not, although someone else mentioned this to me before too.
It would be wonderful if you can write a combined article about Karmapa and various emanations in his rosary of lives! Like 21 by Chokgyur Lingpa, 25 by 5th Karmapa n so on!
Thanks for the suggestion. It is a good idea. If I have time I will do so!