NEW TRANSLATION: Vajrayogini’s ‘Extremely Concise Practice of the Great Compassionate One’ by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo

Introduction

Today on the full moon, I offer this first translation and publication of a practice text on Avalokiteśvara, Path of Blissful Union: Great Compassionate One. Extremely Concise Practice from Tsembu Tradition, by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (‘jam dbyangs mkhyen brtse’i dbang po, (1820-1892). It can be freely downloaded on request here.

Vajrayogini who gave the instructions to Tsembu. Image from 18th Century Sakya thangka. At the top center is King Indrabhuti. At the left is Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158), an early founder of the Sakya Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Seated at the right side is Tsarchen Losal Gyatso (1502-1566) founder of the Tsar sub-school of Sakya . Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/65631

As I wrote about before here[i], there are several traditions of Avalokiteśvara, and the Tsembu lineage comes directly from Vajrayogini who revealed the practice to Mahasiddha Tsembu (literally ‘the stitched-up one’).  The Karmapas are lineage holders of this practice, and the 8th Karmapa was a lineage holder who wrote instructions on the practice, which I published here[ii] (with recent commentary by 17th Karmapa).  Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo was also a lineage holder and wrote several works connected it[iii].

Foot and handprints of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo

The text I have translated here, Path of Blissful Union, is a short sadhana. It was published in a collection of practice texts for special teachings on Avalokiteśvara according to the Tsembu lineage of the Sakya tradition. Works in the collection are composed by various Sakya authors[iv], including a few by Khyentse Wangpo.  There is also an edition of the text in Collection of Sadhanas (sgrub thabs kun btus), compiled through the efforts of Jamyang Loter Wangpo (1847-1914) under the inspiration of his master Jamyang Kyentse Wangpo[v].It was written on the basis of previous texts by Khyentse Wangpo for the followers of Tsarchen Losal Gyatso (tshar chen yab sras)[vi], who was the founder of the Tsar branch of the Sakya tradition (see below).

Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo’s Tsembu Lineage – Jonang and Sakya masters

Mahasiddha Tsembupa

It has been incorrectly stated in some online sources that the Tsembupa lineage is only Sakya and Jonang. While it is correct to say that it is a main practice of both these traditions, the Karma Kagyu also hold the lineage of this practice.  The Karma Kagyu lineage of Tsembupa, according to the text by 8th Karmapa[vii], includes several great Jonang and Kālacakra masters from Kunpangpa onwards, such as Jamsem Gyelwa Yeshe, Yonten Gyamsto and Dolpopa[viii] branching off to Kagyu masters on to the Karmapas. 

Tsarchen Losal Gyatso, Tsembu lineage holder and founder of Tsar branch of Sakya

The lineage that came down via Tsembupa to Khyentse Wangpo is slightly different. According to a lineage supplication and instruction text Khyentse Wangpo wrote on the practice (in his Collected Works)[ix] the lineage is similarly one of Jonang and Sakya masters such as Kunpang Thugje Tsondru (founder of Jonang and first compiler of the seventeen lineages of Kalacakra and Six Vajra Yogas), Jamgsem Gyalwa Yeshe[x] (second Throne Holder of Jonang monastery) but branches off from there to Sakya masters such as Doringpa (founder of the Lamdre Lobshe tradition and teacher of Jonang master, Kunga Drolchog) and Tsarchen Losal Gyatso (founder of the Tsar branch of Sakya):

Avalokiteśvara, Vajrayogini, Mahasiddha Tsembupa, Jangchub Od (byang chub ‘od), Jangchub Tsultrim, (byang chub tshul khrims)[xi], Sonam Nyingpo (bsod nams  snying po), Tugje Tsondru Kunpangpa (1243-1313, kun spangs pa)[xii], Gyelwa Yeshe (1247-1320, rgyal ba ye shes),  Zhonnu Senge (1200-1266, gzhon nu seng ge) Sonam Gyaltsen Pal (bsod nams rgyal mtshan dpal), Thegchen Choje (Theg chen chos rje), Palden Legpa (dpal ldan legs pa), Dagchen Dorje Chang (bdag chen rdo rje ‘chang), Doringpa (1449-1524, rdo ring pa)[xiii], Tsarchen Losal Gyatso (1502-1566, tshar chen rje)[xiv].

As a karmic coincidence (which is always a great sign), I found out today (unbeknown to me when translating this text) that it is the Guru Anniversary of Doringpa! The sadhana is simple and short, but incorporates all elements of a tantric practice too, so should only be practiced by those with the empowerment in this tradition. It is ideal for a daily or regular tantric practice. These lineage masters are depicted in the 16th Century thangka below:

Rare 16th century thangka of Great Compassionate One, Avalokiteśvara from the Tsembu tradition see: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/86433)

Here is a photo of myself at the golden stupa of 2nd Jamyang Khyentse, Chokyi Lodro, at Tashi Ding, Sikkim this year on a pilgrimage, prior to attending the Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo transmission given by HE Schechen Rabjam Rinpoche in Siliguri, India.

At the golden stupa of Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro in Tashi Ding, Sikkim, India (2020).

Interestingly the world’s tallest statue of Chenrezig is in Sikkim too, see video here.

May this new translation of Vajrayogini’s lineage of Avalokiteśvara, be of benefit to beings, to the preservation of Khyentse Wangpo texts and to the generation of great compassion!

Written and translated by Adele Tomlin, 30th November 2020.


[i]https://dakinitranslations.com/2020/10/12/vajrayoginis-instructions-on-great-compassionate-avalokitesvara-tsembupas-lineage/

[ii] https://dakinitranslations.com/2020/09/05/vajrayogini-and-the-karmapas/

[iii] Texts in his Collected Works include: “thugs rje chen po’i dmar khrid tshem pu lugs kyi sa bcad/.” In gsung ‘bum/_mkhyen brtse’i dbang po/. TBRC W21807. 8: 139 – 153. gangtok: gonpo tseten, 1977-1980.

[iv]thugs rje chen po’i tshem bu lugs kyi nyams len shin tu bsdus pa zung ‘jug bde lam/.” In thugs rje chen po tshem bu lugs kyi chos skor/. TBRC W27297. : 117 – 122. [kathmandu?]: [s.n.], [2000?].

[v] A fourteen volume collection published by Dzongsar Institute for Advanced studies based on a reproduction of a xylograph in 1902. TBRC W23681:Volume 1.

[vi] The colophon reads: ‘ces pa’ang ‘dus pa stong phrag thal ba la lam ‘dis bskyed rdzogs thun mong tsam bshad pa’i skabs/ bla ma’i byin rlabs kyis bskyangs pa ‘jam dbyangs mkhyen brtse’i dbang pos blo dman rnams la phan pa’i bsam pas/ tshar chen rdo rje ‘chang yab sras kyi gsung ji lta ba bzhin mdor bsdus te bris pa’i dge bas ‘gro kun nub phyogs bde ba can gyi zhing khams su skye ba’i rgyur gyur cig//’

[vii] These names were not written in the English published summary of 17th Karmapa’s teachings on the text but they are in the 8th Karmapa text.

[viii] The Karma Kagyu lineage (according to 8th Karmapa) is: Avalokiteśvara, Vajrayogini, Mahasiddha Tsembupa, Chilhepa,  Tagte Dragmar (stag ste brag dmar ba)[viii], Lhatsun (lha btsun dgon gsar ba),Kunpangpa (1243-1313, kun spangs pa)[viii], Gyelwa Yeshe (1247-1320, rgyal ba ye shes),  Khetsun Yonten Gyamtso (1260-1327, mkhas btsun yon tan rgya mtsho)[viii], Choje Kunkhyen Chenpo [Dolpopa]  (1292-1361, chos rje kun mkhyen chen po),Ngagwon Kunga Pel (1285-1379, bsnyags dpon kun dga’ dpal), Ngagwon Sonam Zangpo[viii] (1341-1433, bsnyags dbon bsod nams bzang po), Kunkhyen Jampel Zangpo[viii] (15th Century, kun mkhyen ‘jam dpal bzang po), Mahasiddha Tashi Paljor (1457-1525, grub chen bkra shis dpal ‘byor) [1st Sangye Nyenpa].

[ix] “thugs rje chen po’i bla ma brgyud pa’i gsol ‘debs lam rim smon lam dang bcas pa byin rlabs mchog stsol.” In gsung ‘bum/_mkhyen brtse’i dbang po/. TBRC W21807. 8: 109 – 137. gangtok: gonpo tseten, 1977-1980.

[x] The Second Throne Holder of Jonang monastery, Jangsem Gyelwa Yeshe (byang sem rgyal ba ye shes) was born in 1247 in Dokham (mdo khams). As a child he was a monk among the followers of the second Karmapa, Karma Pakshi (karma pa 02 karma pak shi, 1204-1283). According to his biography: “Karma Pakshi was a fierce man, and Gyelwa Yeshe was said to have been very frightened of him. According to legend, Gyelwa Yeshe was once out gathering firewood and suddenly ran into Karma Pakshi alone in the middle of the forest. Gyelwa Yeshe was terrified and fled, but the Karmapa called him back, telling him that if he fled from his master now he would do so in the intermediate state between lives.” See: https://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Jangsem-Gyelwa-Yeshe-/P1511

[xi] A teacher in the transmission lineage of the rgyud bzhi the bka’ ma lineage.

[xi]  Kunpangpa (kun spangs thugs rje brtson ‘grus) was one of the main Jonang masters and founders of the ‘Dro Kālacakra tradition and compiled the seventeen lineage of Kālacakra for reference. https://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Kunpang-Tukje-Tsondru/TBRC_P858. See also my translation and article about him and the seventeen lineages here: https://dakinitranslations.com/kalacakra-2/the-seventeen-lineages-of-the-six-vajra-yogas-by-jetsun-taranatha/.

[xiii] Doringpa (rdo ring pa kun bzang chos kyi nyi ma/ (1449-1524)) aka Kunzang Chökyi Nyima, was one of the main holders of the Lamdré Lopshé (lam ‘bras slob bshad). He stayed at the hermitage of Kha’u Drak Dzong where many Sakya masters resided.

[xiv] Tsarchen Losel Gyatso (tshar chen blo gsal rgya mtsho, 1502-1566), the thirteenth abbot of Zhalu and the founder of the Tsarpa branch of the Sakya tradition and of its main monastery, Dar Drangmoche Monastery (‘dar grang mo che) in the province of Tsang. His biography was written by the Fifth Dalai Lama. Some of the original texts written by Tsarchen Losal Gyatso are said to have survived to this day, such as his compositions concerning Hevajra visualisation and the Vajrayoginī teachings. One of his most influential disciples was Jamyang Khyentse Wangchuk ( ‘jam dbyangs mkhyen brtse’i dbang phyug), who became an important Sakya master and distinguished himself as a revealer of Termas. Another influential pupil of Tsarchen Losal Gyatso was Mangtö Ludrup Gyatso (mang thos klu sgrub rgya mtsho), an important master of the Lamdre Lobshe tradition. His critique of the Mahāmudrā teachings of Pema Karpo (1527-1592) constitute important commentaries for Tibetan Buddhism. Both disciples also continued to cultivate the Tsharpa tradition.

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