BIRTHDAY PRAISE AND OFFERINGS TO THE GOSHRI GYELTSAB: Translation of ‘Praises to 12th Gyeltsab Rinpoche’ by 17th Karmapa and new biography of 2nd Gyeltsab Rinpoche, Tashi Namgyel

Stony-faced one without a fake smiling mask,

Straight-talker, not spouting phony praise

Master of Tantric discipline, who rarely talks

Victorious Gyeltsab, I praise you!

—excerpt from ‘Praises to 12th Gyeltsab Rinpoche’ by 17th Karmapa

New Translation: Praises to Goshri Gyeltsab by 17th Karmapa

Today, for the full moon, and the 12th Gyeltsab Rinpoche’s 68th birthday, I offer a new and first English language translation of a praise written for him (at the request of students from Rumtek Monastery shedra on 24th June 2014) by the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje.  I have not seen an English translation of this before and have included the Tibetan and phonetics. A song was uploaded on Youtube yesterday with these words as the lyrics, see below:

I have received several empowerments from the 12th Gyeltsab Rinpoche, at his Ralang Monastery seat, Sikkim, India, including the Knowing One Liberates All (chig she kun drol) which I wrote about here. A biography of his life is here.

New Biography: 2nd Gyeltsab, Tashi Namgyel (1487 – 1515 )

In addition, I recently completed the first edition of an in-depth biography of the 2nd Gyeltsab Rinpoche, Tashi Namgyel ( rgyal tshab 02 bkra shis rnam rgyal, 1487 – 1515 ).

Image of 2nd Goshri Gyeltsab, Tashi Namgyel

The 2nd Gyeltsab was extremely important in the Karma Kamtsang, not only as a student of the 7th Karmapa, but also in deciding the recognition of the 8th Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje, about which there was an intense conflict between two candidates (which at one point threatened to turn violent).  Shockingly, there is even a possibility that the 2nd Gyeltsab (who died suddenly at a young age) was murdered by poisoning.

This biography is part of my continuing work and research on the 8th Karmapa. The biography of the 2nd Gyeltsab is based on original Tibetan sources, as well as academic work by Dr. Jim Rheingans as well as transcripts I made of the recent teachings on the ‘Good Deeds’ of 8th Karmapa by the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje (March 2021).   The bio of the 1st Gyeltsab. Peljor Dondrub (on Treasury of Lives by Alex Gardner) can be read here. This new biography is published below the Praises and and a downloadable .pdf of it can be sent on request. It has also been published on Treasury of Lives, see here.

Images of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Goshri Gyeltsabs

On a lighter note, here is a funny video of the 12th Gyeltsab posted for his birthday a few years ago, not so stony-faced there!

May this new translation and publication bring a long life to the 12th Gyeltsab Rinpoche and may his teachings and example continue to shine like the golden sun in these dark and degenerate times! Apologies for any errors!

Written and compiled by Adele Tomlin, April 2021.

PRAISES TO 12TH GYELTSAB RINPOCHE
BY 17TH KARMAPA, ORGYEN TRINLEY DORJE
17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje with 12th Gyeltsab Rinpoche

བཅོས་མའི་འཛུམ་བག་མེད་པའི་ནག་རོག་པོ།།

chö mé dzum bak mé pé nak rok po/

ངོ་སྲུང་བསྟོད་ར་མི་བཤད་ཁ་ཐུག་པོ།

ngo sung tö ra mi shé kha tuk po/

ཕལ་ཆེར་མི་སྨྲའི་བརྟུལ་ཞུགས་འཛིན་པ་པོ།

pel cher mi mé tül zhuk dzin pa po/

རྒྱལ་བའི་རྒྱལ་ཚབ་ཁྱེད་ལ་བདག་བསྟོད་དོ།

gyelwé gyel tsap khyé la dak tö do

Stony-faced one without fake smiling mask,

Straight-talker, not spouting phony praise

Master of Tantric discipline, who rarely talks

Victorious Gyeltsab, I praise you!

ཞབས་ཕྱི་ཇི་ལྟར་ཞུས་ཀྱང་བཀུར་བདེ་པོ།

zhap chi ji tar zhü kyang kur dé po

རྒྱུད་སྡེའི་ཕྱག་ལེན་ཞིབ་པས་མི་འགྲིག་པོ།

gyü dé chak len zhip pé mi drik po

ཆོས་ལ་སླ་ཆོས་མེད་པའི་རུ་ངར་པོ།

chö la la chö mé pé ru ngar po

རྒྱལ་བའི་རྒྱལ་ཚབ་ཁྱེད་ལ་བདག་བསྟོད་དོ།

gyelwé gyel tsap khyé la dak tö do

Bearing respect well, however service is requested.

A sound person, with the finest practice of Tantra

Fastidiously accurate, not for the ‘easy way’ of Dharma

Victorious Gyeltsab, I praise you!

འཇིག་རྟེན་བྱ་བར་ཐུག་ཚེ་ཞེན་ལོག་པོ།

jik ten jawar tuk tsé zhen lok po

བསྟན་པའི་དོན་ལ་རང་སྲོག་འབེན་འཛུགས་པོ།

ten pé dön la rang sok ben dzuk po

རྟག་ཏུ་བླ་མ་དྲན་པའི་མོས་གུས་པོ།

tak tu la ma dren pé mö gü po

རྒྱལ་བའི་རྒྱལ་ཚབ་ཁྱེད་ལ་བདག་སྟོད་དོ།

gyelwé gyel tsap khyé la dak tö do

Repulsed and disgusted when meeting worldly activities

Whose life-force aim is penetrated by the teachings’ meaning

Devoted one who continually remembers the lama

Victorious Gyeltsab, I praise you!

སྣང་སྲིད་མགོ་མཇུག་ལོག་ཀྱང་ཁྱད་མེད་པོ།

nang si go juk lok kyang khyé mé po

རི་བོང་ཨ་བྲ་ཤི་དུས་ཐུགས་སྐྱོ་པོ།

ri bong a dra shi dü tuk kyo po

བསྟོད་སྨད་དགའ་སྡུག་བྲལ་བའི་གྲུབ་ཐོབ་པོ།

tö mé ga duk drelwé drup top po

རྒྱལ་བའི་རྒྱལ་ཚབ་ཁྱེད་ལ་བདག་བསྟོད་དོ།

gyelwé gyel tsap khyé la dak tö do

Making no distinctions, despite topsy-turvy existence-appearance,

Who grieves when a guinea pig or rabbit dies

Accomplished Siddha, free from praise, blame, joy and pain

Victorious Gyeltsab, I praise you!

ཨེ་མ་རྒྱལ་བའི་དོན་གྱི་གདུང་འཚོབ་པོ།

é ma gyelwé dön gyi dung tsop po

གདན་ས་ཡུན་རིང་བསྐྱངས་པའི་དྲིན་ཆེན་པོ།

den sa yün ring kyang pé drin chen po

དྲི་ལན་འཁོར་ཐབས་མེད་པའི་སྐྱབས་གཅིག་པོ།

dri len khor tap mé pé kyap chik po

ཞབས་པད་ཡུན་དུ་བརྟན་པའི་གསོལ་འདེབས་ཞུ།

zhap pé yün du ten pé söl dep zhu

Ema! Inheritor regent of the Victors’ purpose

Great, kind one; long-term protector of their seat

Sole refuge, absent from pointless discussions

I supplicate, may your lotus-feet remain long!

གསང་བའི་བདག་པོ་རྒྱལ་བའི་རྒྱལ་ཚབ་གོ་ཤྲི་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་མཆོག་དགུང་གྲངས་རེ་གཅིག་ཏུ་ཕེབས་པའི་འཁྲུངས་སྐར་གྱི་མཛད་སྒོ་དང་སྟབས་བསྟུན་བསྟོད་ཚོག་ཅིག་འབྲི་དགོས་གསུངས་པས། ཁོ་བོ་ཡུལ་རིང་རྩོམ་འབྲི་མ་བྱས་པས་ཡག་པོ་ཞིག་ཨེ་ཐོན་བལྟས་ཀྱང་མི་འོང་འདུག་མོད་རུམ་བཏེག་བཤད་གྲྭའི་སློབ་ཕྲུག་ཡོངས་ནས་ཨུ་ཚུགས་ཆེན་པོ་བྱས་དོན་ལྟར། གང་དྲན་ཤར་མར་འབྲི་ཁུལ་བྱས་པས་རྣམ་དཀར་གྱི་ཆ་ཕྲ་མོ་ལས་མེད་ཀྱང་སྐྱབས་མཆོག་གང་ཉིད་ཞབས་པད་སྲིད་མཐར་བརྟན་ཅིང་། མཛད་ཕྲིན་ཕྱོགས་ཀུན་ཏུ་རྒྱས་པའི་རྒྱུར་བསྔོ་བའོ། །ཕྱི་ལོ་༢༠༡༤ ཟླ་༠༦ ཚེས་༢༥ ལ་ཀརྨ་པ་ཨོ་རྒྱན་ཕྲིན་ལས་པས་ཕུལ།། །།

This was written for the Holder of Secrets, Varjapani, Victorious Gyeltsab Goshri, on the occasion of his birthday ceremony. As I did not spend a long time writing it, so  it is not that great to read, due to the great insistence of Rumtek Monastery Shedra students, I produced it like that, as whatever arose in my mind. Even though I do not have an atom of virtuous activity, I dedicate it that until liberation he remain long and his activities spread in all directions!

Composed on the 24th June 2014 by HH Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje

Translated, compiled and edited by Adele Tomlin, 24th June 2021. Copyright. Please feel free to share and use but only with correct citation of the author/publisher.

BIOGRAPHY OF SECOND GYELTSAB, TASHI NAMGYEL      
Image from 17th Karmapa’s presentation on the 2nd Gyeltsab (March 2021)
Birth and Life with 7th Karmapa

The Second Gyeltsab, Tashi Namgyel (rgyal tshab 02 bkra shis rnam rgyal, 1490–1518) was born in central Tibet, in a valley called Nyewo (snye bo), in the fire-sheep year, 1487. An alternate birth year of 1490 is sometimes given.[1] Most of the available information about his life relates to his role in the identification of the Eighth Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje (P385 karma pa 08 mi bskyod rdo rje, 1507-1554).

In the water-pig year, 1503, the Seventh Karmapa, Chodrak Gyatso (P821 karma pa 07 chos grags rgya mtsho), recognized Tashi Namgyel as the reincarnation of his teacher, the First Gyeltsab, Peljor Dondrub (P1380 dpal ‘byor don grub, 1427-1489). Peljor Dondrub had been a student of the Sixth Karmapa, Tongwa Donden (P1006 karma pa 06 mthong ba don ldan, 1416-1453), who had given him the title Gyeltsab (rgyal tshab), meaning “regent.” The Ming Zhengtong Emperor 正統, r. 1435-1449 and 1457-1464), is said to have given him a golden seal with the title of National Preceptor (guoshi國師), which is written “goshri” in Tibetan. The lineage is thus commonly known as the Goshri Gyeltsab (go shri rgyal tshab). Peljor Dondrub, in accordance with an instruction letter given him by the Sixth Karmapa, identified and trained his reincarnation, the Seventh Karmapa. In turn, the Seventh Karmapa, oversaw Tashi Namgyel’s training, and gave him the title of Second Gyeltsab.

In honor of his elevated status, in the water-pig year, 1503, the Seventh Karmapa gave Tashi Namgyel a red crown with a golden emblem, which the Tsurpu Gyeltsab incarnations have henceforth worn.

At that time in Tibet, the Karmapas traveled via the institution of the Karma Kamtsang Garchen (karma kam tsang sgar chen), or Great Encampment. This was established by the Fourth Karmapa, Rolpai Dorje (P1400 karma pa 04 rol pa’i rdo rje, 1340–1383) in the fourteenth century, as a structured encampment to accommodate his staff and the sizable number of followers who accompanied him on his travels. The Great Encampment reached its peak during the time of the Seventh Karmapa, numbering in the thousands of people. The Kagyu Monlam Chenmo (smon lam chen mo), or Great Prayer Festival, begun by the Seventh Karmapa, was also held in the Encampment.

After the Seventh Karmapa passed away, leadership of the Garchen fell to the Second Gyeltsab. Thus, Tashi Namgyel served as regent of the Karmapa at Tsurpu Monastery and at the Garchen until the Eighth Karmapa was enthroned. At that time, the Great Encampment was located in Kongpo, and as it continued to be the main center of Karma Kagyu activity at the time, the search for his reincarnation was based there.

The Recognition of the Eighth Karmapa

The Seventh Karmapa left prediction letters for his future rebirth with the Second Gyeltsab and Third Tai Situ, Tashi Peljor (P3574 ta’i si tu 03 bkra shis dpal ‘byor, 1498-1541). Two children were initially brought forward for recognition as his reincarnation[2].

The first was Mikyo Dorje (mi skyod rdo rje), a boy born in the Ngom River (ngom chu) valley near Chamdo, Kham, on the fourth day of the eleventh lunar month, in the fire-hare year, 1507. According to Mikyo Dorje’s autobiography, his biological father was called Ser Chadrel Jampa Shenyen (gser bya bral byams pa bshes gnyen) and his mother’s name was Lama Drom (bla ma sgrom). She was said to be the grand-daughter of a disciple of the Fifth Karmapa, Dezhin Shekpa (P1410 karma pa 05 de bzhin gshegs pa, 1384-1415), named Khachopa Namkha Gyeltsen (mkha’ spyod pa nam mkha’ rgyal mtshan)[3]

Mikyo Dorje, referred to as the “eastern candidate,” became widely considered in that area to be the incarnation of the Seventh Karmapa. Many auspicious signs and dreams of his parents and the people of that area were reported prior to and during his conception, as well as after his birth.[4] It is said, for example, that he uttered the six syllable mantra of Avalokiteśvara, oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ, at the moment of his birth. Many people came to see him in Ngom. In the same month he was born, the Third Tai Situ, Tashi Peljor (P3574 ta’i si tu 03 bkra shis dpal ‘byor, 1498-1541) learned about the baby, consulted the Seventh Karmapa’s prediction letter and visited the area. Mikyo Dorje’s father told Situ that his newborn son had declared himself the Karmapa.

Tai Situ, with the prediction letter left by the Seventh Karmapa, asked the father about his family, such as their names and details about their house and its location. The father’s answers concurred with the  prediction letter in every way, save for a slight variation in the names of the parents..

The astrological signs around the child’s birth year indicated that there would be obstacles to his life, for which Situ Rinpoche gave instructions to overcome. Moreover, he told the father to record anything the child might say that seemed significant. Afterwards Mikyo Dorje is said to have  announced, “E Ma Ho! Do not have any doubts about me. I am called the Karmapa.” Situ Rinpoche sent one of his patrons, a man named Tsokye (mtsho skyes), to examine him, during which Mikyo Dorje said the six-syllable Avalokiteśvara mantra seven times. Another group from a local Kagyu monastery visited him, and Mikyo Dorje spoke again, stating that he was happy to see them. Word of these miracles spread, engendering faith in the people of the region.[5] 

The Second Gyeltsab is said to have first received news of the eastern candidate in 1508, at the same moment the rising sun shone on his tent and a servant poured his tea. He took the confluence of the three events to be an auspicious sign.[6] These above events, and the almost identical details in the prediction letter left by the Seventh Karmapa, led him to believe Mikyo Dorje was the Eighth Karmapa.

The Second Candidate from Kongpo

The second candidate, a boy known as the “western candidate,” was the son of a man named Lama Amdowa (bla ma a mdo ba) of Kongpo Draksum (kong po brags gsum),  south of Lhasa. Believing his child to be the reincarnation of the Seventh Karmapa, Lama Amdowa brought him to the Great Encampment. The Second Pawo, Tsukla Trengwa (P319 dpa’ bo gtsug lag phreng ba, 1504–1566), who was only nine years old at the time, reported in his famous history, Scholars’ Feast (khas pa’i dga’ ston) that Lama Amdowa curried favor with the population there by providing them with food and drink,[7] and requested disciples of the Seventh Karmapa to investigate his claim. Tsukla Trengwa’s account of the events also portrays Lama Amdowa as scheming to have his son selected. Including a conversation he had at Tuchen Monastery (mthu chen dgon) with the head disciplinarian, Denma Goshri (ldan ma go shri), who reported that the father of the western candidate was quite crafty, who had even admitted rehearsing certain lines with his son, in the belief that it was easy to make a tulku if the child spoke the right sentences.[8]

One source, by Sanggye Peldrub (sangs rgyas dpal grub), explicitly mentions that the western candidate appeared to have had the political support of two powerful families that had long been patrons of the Karmapas. The first of these was the Pakmodru family (phag mo gru), then the political rulers of Tibet following the end of Sakya rule, and which was then led by Ngawang Tashi Namgyel (P3589 ngag dbang bkra shis grags pa, 1488–1564). The second was the Rinpung (rin spungs) family based in Shigatse, then led by Donyo Dorje (P375 don yod rdo rje, 1464/65-1512)[9]. It has been suggested that this support by the latter, who was close patron of the the Fourth Zhamarpa, Chodrak Yeshe Pal Zangpo (zhwa dmar pa 04 chos grags ye shes dpal bzang po, 1453-1524), was the reason that the Zhamarpa, who would have been the most suitable principal tutor for the Eighth Karmapa, assumed a relatively low-key role in the recognition process and did not meet him.[10] 

With the Pakmodru and Rinpung families backing the western Kongpo candidate, the Second Gyeltsab traveled to Kongpo Draksum to investigate the child. On meeting, he gave the boy three white scarves, which the child reportedly simply returned each one as they were given. This was taken as a negative sign by Gyelstab; in such formal encounters the recipient of the scarf should have offered a different one in return. To return the offered scarf was a sign of disrespect.[11]

Despite this inauspicious start, the Second Gyeltsab, invited the child to Kongpo Tse Lhakhang (kong po rtse lha khang),where treasured items from the Karmapas were then stored, and suggested the boy do a brief retreat there.

At that time, the Second Gyeltsab had two prophetic dreams regarding the two candidates. In the first, which he had during an earlier retreat in a hermitage called Nyewo Sapuk (snye bo sa phug), he saw a tiger who was unable to roar. To the west of the tiger was a lion who also could not roar. Suddenly from the east a dragon’s roar pervaded all directions. At the sound of the roar, the lion immediately became a white dog and vanished.

In a second dream, which seems to have occurred shortly after placing the western candidate in retreat at Tse Lhakhang, he saw that all the western areas were black and unpleasant and all eastern regions were beautiful and filled with light.

When, later that day, the Gyeltsab examined both these dreams, he concluded that in the first, the tiger was him, the lion was the western candidate and the dragon was the eastern candidate, Mikyo Dorje.[12]The second dream was similarly evocative of the certainty that the eastern candidate, Mikyo Dorje, was the reincarnation of the Seventh Karmapa.[13]

Invitation and First Meeting of Mikyo Dorje and the Second Gyeltsab

While the Second Gyeltsab was investigating the candidacy of the western candidate, the inhabitants of Ngom sent a letter to the Great Encampment declaring that Mikyo Dorje was the rebirth of the Seventh Karmapa. In response, in the tenth lunar month of the monkey year, 1512, almost five years after the boy’s birth, the Second Gyeltsab sent a delegation to bring Mikyo Dorje to the encampment, sending two monks, Lama Ripa (bla ma ri pa) and Dezhin ShekpaiWonpo (bde bzhin gshegs pa’i dbon po).[14]

Mikyo Dorje explains in his autobiography at the age of nine months he had been brought to Lhorong Dzong Monastery (lho rong dzong dgon). However due to the issue with the other candidate he stayed in the area around Lhorong until he was six years old, shuttled between Dzongsar, Lhorong Dzongsar and Riwoche Monastery (G70 ri bo che).[15] The messengers found him at Lhorong, and presented two letters wrapped in similar fashion. One contained “words of truth” (bden thob) and the other one was empty. The young child chose the correct envelope, to the delight of the messengers, who are said to have developed strong confidence in him as a result.[16]

In the twelfth lunar month of the same year, early 1513, Mikyo Dorje traveled to the Encampment via Wolung (‘o lung), Drangra (‘brang ra), Rusho (ru shod), and Tsangrak Sumdo (tshang rag gsum mdo) in the direction of Kongpo. Lama Ripa met him on the road with offerings. The inhabitants of the Encampment, wary of a second candidate, had decided to greet and invite the Lhorong Goshri (lhorong go shri), who was travelling with Mikyo Dorje as attendant, but to hold off on inviting the boy for the moment.[17]As it was not yet decided whether he was the actual Karmapa, a rule was laid down that no one should offer silk scarves, tea invitations or prostrations to the arriving boy. However, on meeting the boy, still then not yet at the Encampment, it is said that members of the welcoming party, forgetting their self-imposed rule, spontaneously prostrated to him, offered white scarves, and wept with devotion. Mikyo Dorje is said to have recognized almost all those who had served the previous Karmapa and called them by their name.[18]

On the first day of the first lunar month of the bird year, in early 1513, before the sun set, Mikyo Dorje arrived at the Great Encampment and met the Second Gyeltsab for the first time. Gyeltsab asked Mikyo Dorje if he knew who he was, if the tents and the arrangements of the encampment were the same as in the past, and who the master of the encampment was. Mikyo Dorje replied that he recognized Gyeltsab as Goshri but that he had let his hair grow longer than before. He told him not to be anxious, as the arrangement of the tents is just like before, and that Gyeltsab was the master.[19]

At that time, the Seventh Karmapa’s throne and canopy were still set up. When Mikyo Dorje attempted to sit on the throne, panicked members of the Encampment tried to stop him.[20] At this point, Mikyo Dorje, despite being only around six years old, is said to have scolded Akhu Atra Jangchub Zangpo (P8024 akhu akhra byang chub bzang po), a student of the Seventh Karmapa, and Jangchub Rinchen (P? byang chub rin chen), the Secretary of the Encampment, telling them that none of the teachers and students in the Encampment knew what they were supposed to do. He asserted that he had shown numerous signs, that he remembered past lives, and that there had been multiple omens pointing to his identity, and yet none of them understood anything.

Both Candidates Publicly Examined

As there were now two viable candidates and no single authority to decide between them, the two rivals were brought together to be examined. Students of the Seventh Karmapa brought them various personal objects that had belonged to him, and they were asked to identify statues and paintings of the previous Karmapa. Tibetan histories, which are all written from the perspective of the winning candidate, depict the western candidate, who was seven years old, as having only known the names of his father and mother and some words for food and clothing, and as having wept in confusion. The examiners are said to have attempted to frighten the boys, and the western candidate’s father reportedly employed bodyguards and tantrikas to further unnerve Mikyo Dorje.

Although the western candidate is said to have failed the first test, which occurred on the twenty-ninth day of the first lunar month, at the second test, on the first day of the second lunar month, he is said to have managed to recognize a painting with the seal of a previous Karmapa. Mikyo Dorje is said to have remained unperturbed; and even a little bored and indifferent. So, the supporters of the Eastern candidate presumed they had won and  immediately proclaimed him the Karmapa, and celebrated with horse races and rituals.[21]

Threats of Violence and War

Although the Second Gyeltsab is depicted in the sources as being certain that Mikyo Dorje was the correct Karmapa, his authority was undermined by some criticism of his stewardship of the Encampment. During the time of the Seventh Karmapa very strict rules had been put in place: alcohol and meat were forbidden, and women could only enter during the daytime. These regulations went unenforced following the Seventh Karmpa’s death, for which Gyeltsab was blamed. He was further accused of causing the death by poisoning of a monk who had suddenly died, a man called Tashi Dondrub (bkra shis don grub) from Karma Gon Monastery (G35 karma dgon).[22]

In the face of opposition at the Encampment, Gyeltsab suggested to the religious and political heads of the powerful provinces of Lhorong (lhorong) and Gyaton (rgya ston) that they return with Mikyo Dorje back to their region, Kham.[23] Mikyo Dorje’s supporters were incensed by the failure to secure his recognition. They threatened that if he was not enthroned they would drive out ,with physical force, the other candidate and his party from the Encampment. Fearful that there might be bloodshed and war, the Encampment inhabitants backed down.[24] Although one source suggests they may have also backed down due to their powerful political ally, Donyo Dodrub just passing away in 1512.[25]

Gyeltsab Rinpoche’s Dream of Two Women

The Second Gyeltsab thus remained in the Encampment, as did Mikyo Dorje. Continuing to press for Mikyo Dorje to be identified as the Eighth Karmapa, on the last day of the first lunar month of that year, the Second Gyeltsab prayed to the yidam deities to reveal the genuine rebirth of the Seventh Karmapa. The prayers resulted in a significant dream in which the eastern candidate, Mikyo Dorje, came and stood before him in a slightly offended manner and scolded him for not concluding the matter. Gyeltsab offered Mikyo Dorje a cushion, but he refused to sit. The dream continued with Gyeltsab looking for a better cushion for the boy and inviting him again to sit. Instead, the boy left and went to his own tent.

A white woman with matted locks, wearing robes of white silk, then came in front of the Gyeltsab, resting a huge white conch on her left shoulder, a conch so large that two ordinary people would not be able to carry it. She told Gyeltsab that even though she had blown this conch in every land, and that its sound had been heard , he was not taking notice of it. She further told him that she would no longer be able to blow the conch and left, with conch on her shoulder, going in the direction that the eastern tulku had gone.

Finally, a woman with reddish skin, brown hair, big blood-shot eyes, and a wrathful appearance, told him not to listen to lies, and that if he did he would fall ill and lose strength. The sources indicate that this dream further confirmed for the Second Gyeltsab that Mikyo Dorje was the unmistaken incarnation of Karmapa.[26]

Enthronement of Mikyo Dorje as Eighth Karmapa

The Second Gyeltsab declared that the time was now right to finally conclude the examination in favor of Mikyo Dorje. Thus, in the morning of the eleventh day of the second lunar month of that year, 1513, Mikyo Dorje was enthroned as the Eighth Karmapa. He received the black hat, symbol of the Karmapas, and the title Victorious Great Karmapa (rgyal ba karma pa chen po). The sources state that at dawn the Second Gyeltsab saw the face of the late Seventh Karmapa in the sun, and that the whole encampment woke up as if from a bad dream to a great trust in the Karmapa. The elaborate ceremony was celebrated by thousands of members of the Encampment and locals. The Chinese Emperor Zhengde (正德, r.1505-1521) is said to have sent gifts.

Gyeltsab Rinpoche’s Advice to the Father of the Western Candidate

As Mikyo Dorje had previously declared (prior to his enthronement) that the son of Lama Amdowa was a tulku of Zurmang,[27] he offered him  the title of Zurmang Chetsang Tulku (zur mang che tshang sprul sku). His father, Lama Amdowa, refused to remain at the Encampment, however, despite the Gyeltsab’s and Karmapa’s assurances that he and his son would be treated well and with respect if they remained. After leaving, they were apparently captured and imprisoned, and their supporters fled.[28]

The child is said to have told the Second Gyeltsab,

“From when I died in the tiger year (stag lo, 1506) until my rebirth in the hare year (yos lo, 1507) I stayed in the pure realm of Tuṣita with Maitreya and in the pure realm of Sukhāvatī and was happy. Then, because people had broken their faith,I thought it would be pointless to come here for the time being. When [thinking so] the protector Maitreya and the wisdom-ḍākinīs said, ‘you have to take rebirth in the world (jambudvīpa).’ Having taken rebirth, until this year I have stayed in Lhorong.”[29]

Vows Bestowed and Teachings Given

On the third day of the fourth lunar month of that year, 1513, the Second Gyeltsab gave Mikyo Dorje the eight precepts of daily fasting, the upavāsatha vows, and the name Chokyab Drakpa Pel Zangpo  (chos skyabs grags pa dpal bzang po).[30]

A few months later, in Wolung Yangon (‘o lung yang dgon), on the third day of the eighth lunar month, Gyeltsab performed a hair cutting ceremony together with bestowing the ‘going forth into homelessness,’ or novice vows (rab byung, pravrajyā).

The Second Gyeltsab served as the seven-year-old Mikyo Dorje’s first teacher. He taught him to read and write and bestowed the empowerments of Hayagrīva and Vajravārāhī, as well as instructions on Jinasāgara, Vajrayoginī, and Mahākāla. In the Eighth Karmapa’s autobiography, Past Deeds of Mikyo Dorje, it describes his training under the Gyeltsab:

I met the great being, the Nyewo Goshri Tulku Tashi Namgyel, an emanation of Milarepa’s disciple Zhiwa Wo (zhi ba ‘od)and of the bodhisattva Peljor Dondrub. He gave me the Mahāyāna fasting vows and empowerments, blessings, and pith instructions including Avalokiteśvara Ocean of Victors (rgyal ba rgya mtsho), Vajravarāhi, and Mahākāla Bernakchen. I esteemed him highly with unbreakable respect and made him the object for gathering merit and confessing negative actions.”[31]

The Eighth Karmapa’s devotion to the Second Gyeltsab was such that he considered his Third reincarnation to be his teacher and not his student or inferior.[32] 

After the Seventh Karmapa passed away in 1506, following his cremation an image of Avalokiteśvara appeared in each of his thirty-five vertebrae. The Garchen leaders put them inside stūpa, but afterwards, Mikyo Dorje scolded them, stating that as the relics were amazing they should have been placed where everyone could see them, and complained that people were not taking proper care of all the sacred objects and relics, or making offerings to them. Thus, when the Second Gyeltsab returned from Jang, he built a stūpa to house the relics.[33]

Passing Away at Young Age

In the wood-pig year, 1515, the Second Gyeltsab suddenly fell ill and passed away at only twenty-nine years old. There were rumors that he was poisoned, and some think that       his body was not carefully looked after and buried in sand without honors to hide the suspected murder[34]. Nevertheless, tiny relics are said to have appeared in the sand where he had been buried.  These events were written about in a letter by the Eighth Karmapa criticizing and scolding the people in the encampment. This letter is no longer extant but it is cited in Six Kamtsang Gurus and Students written by Ne Gowa Karma Shenpen Gyatso (Wylie?) at the time of theThirteenth Karmapa, Dudul Dorje (P375 karma pa 13 bdud ‘dul rdo rje, 1733-1797). Likewise, the Fifth Dalai Lama’s autobiography briefly mentions that such     events happened.  Sanggye Peldrub also describes many similar events in his commentary on the Eighth Karmapa’s text Good Deeds.[35]

The Eighth Karmapa identified his reincarnation, the Third Tsurpu Gyeltsab, Drakpa Peljor (P1441 mtshur phu rgyal tshab 03 grags pa dpal ‘byor, 1519-1549).

Sources

A khu A khra, dge slong byang chub bzang po. 2004. Rgyal ba kun gyi dbang po dpal ldan karma pa mi bskyod rdo rje’izhabs kyi dgung lo bdunphangyi rnam par thar pa nor bu’i phreng ba. In Collected Works of the Eighth Karmapa, vol. 1, pp. 33–106. Lhasa. W8039.

Chos kyi ‘byung gnas. 1990. Rgyal tshab gnyis pa bkra shis rnam rgyal (1490-1518). In Gsung ‘bum/ chos kyi ‘byung gnas, vol. 11, pp.  695 – 695. Sansal: Palpung Sungrab Nyamso Khang. W26630.

Mi bskyod rdo rje, Karmapa VIII. 2004. Mibskyod rdo rje’ispyad pa’i rabs. In Collected Works of the Eighth Karmapa, vol. 1, pp. 350–387. Lhasa. W8039.

Sangs rgyas dpal grub. 2004. Rgyal ba spyan ras gzigs dbang brgyad pa’i rnam thar legs spyad ma’i don ‘grel gsal ba’i sgron me. In Collected Works of the Eighth Karmapa, vol. 1, pp. 150–329. Lhasa. W8039.

Rheingans, Jim. 2017. Eighth Karmapa’s Life and His Interpretation of the Great Seal. A Religious Life and Instructional Texts in Historical and Doctrinal Contexts. Hamburg: Numata Buddhist Studies.

Seventeenth Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje. 15 February – 17 March 2021. Teaching on Two Autobiographical Praises by Eighth Karmapa. Based on video recordings in Tibetan and English oral translation. Online video links on http://www.youtube.com/Karmapa.

Gtsug lag phreng ba. 1986. Chos ‘byung mkhas pa’i dga’ ston. Beijing: Mi rigs dpe skrun khang. W7499.

Written and compiled by Adele Tomlin, April 2021.

Copyright. Use and share with correct citations and/or permission of the author/publisher.


Endnotes

[1] Seventeenth Karmapa (2021, Day 6); Rheingans (2017, 74).

[2] Rheingans (2017: 75-83) also gives a brief account of this dispute.

[3] Seventeenth Karmapa (2021: Day 3).

[4] Seventeenth Karmapa (2021: Day 3).

[5] Seventeenth Karmapa (2021: Day 3).

[6] A khu A khra, fol. 13a (p. 57); mKhas pa’i dga’ ston (p. 1215).

[7]Seventeenth Karmapa (2021: Day 3). Rheingans (2017: 75).

[8]Seventeenth Karmapa (2021: Day 3).

[9] Rheingans (2017: 75-76).

[10] Rheingans (2017: 76).

[11]Seventeenth Karmapa (2021: Day 3). Rheingans (2017) says Gyeltsab offered ‘three gifts.’

[12]mKhas pa’i dga’ ston, p. 1216; A khu A khra, fol. 14a /p. 59.

[13] Seventeenth Karmapa (2021: Day 3). Rheingans (2017: 76). A khu A khra, fol. 13bf. (p. 58f.).  mKhas pa’i dga’ ston (p. 1216).

[14]Rheingans (2017: 79: fn.35), A khu A khra, fol. 18b (p. 68).

[15]Rheingans (2017: 77). Karma pa mi bskyod rdo rje’i rnam thar, fol. 2b (p. 333).

[16]Rheingans (2017: 79: fn 36). A khu A khra, fol. 18b (p. 68).

[17]Rheingans (2017: 79).

[18]Rheingans (2017: 80). A khu A khra, fol. 19b (p. 70). Seventeenth Karmapa (2021: Day 3).

[19]Seventeenth Karmapa (2021: Day 3).

[20]Rheingans (2017: 80), A khu A khra, fol. 20a (p. 71); mKhas pa’i dga’ ston, p. 122.

[21]Seventeenth Karmapa (2021: Day 3). Rheingans (2017: 80). See Sangs rgyas dpal grub, fol. 11b (p. 171); mKhas pa’i dga’ ston, p. 1223.

[22] Seventeenth Karmapa (2021: Day 5).

[23] Sangs rgyas dpal grub, fol. 11b (p. 171).

[24] Seventeenth Karmapa (2021: Day 5). Rheingans (2017:81). mKhas pa’i dga’ ston, p. 1223; Sangs rgyas dpal grub, fol. 12a (p. 172).

[25] Rheingans (2017:81: fn 47).

[26] Seventeenth Karmapa (2021: Day 3). Rheingans (2017:81).

[27] Rheingans (2017:79). A khu A khra, fol. 17a (p. 65).

[28] Seventeenth Karmapa (2021: Day 5). Rheingans (2017:83).  A khu A khra, fol. 23a (p. 77)).

[29] Rheingans (2017:83).  A khu A khra, fol. 25b, (p. 82).

[30] Seventeenth Karmapa (2021: Day 6). Rheingans (2017: 84). A khu A khra, fol. 24a (p. 78).

[31] Seventeenth Karmapa (2021: Day 6).

[32]Seventeenth Karmapa (2021: Day 6). Chos ’byung mkhas pa’i dga’ ston, page?.

[33] Seventeenth Karmapa (2021: Day 5).

[34] Seventeenth Karmapa (2021: Day 5). Seventeenth Karmapa suggests this may be the reason.

[35] Seventeenth Karmapa (2021: Day 5).


 

2 thoughts on “BIRTHDAY PRAISE AND OFFERINGS TO THE GOSHRI GYELTSAB: Translation of ‘Praises to 12th Gyeltsab Rinpoche’ by 17th Karmapa and new biography of 2nd Gyeltsab Rinpoche, Tashi Namgyel

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