‘EVERY SIX DAYS LEAVING THE MONASTERY TO PRACTICE SECRET MANTRA’: THE STUDIES AND MAIN TEACHERS OF THE ‘GREAT YOGI PANDITA’ MONK ATISHA: Atisha’s names, monastic ordination, his main teachers and historical background to his being invited to Tibet (Life and Liberation of Atisha by 17th Karmapa Day Two)

“In any case, the only lama whom Tibetans call Jowo Je is Atisha, there is no-one else. This shows how close Tibetans felt to Jowo Je, and how much gratitude they have for his kindness. Tibetans have a different feeling for Jowo Je than any other lama from the very depths of their hearts. So, they use this word of high praise and respect.”

“One particular feature of Atisha, is that he combined the Middle Way view and the vast practice of the Mind-Only and practised them in union. This is a special feature of Atisha, and for that reason, even in Tibetan Buddhism, he was very influential.”

“When Atisha went to Tibet, they asked him: “You have had a lot of gurus so why do you pay such respect to Serlingpa?” Atisha replied: ” I followed many gurus, I cannot say who is better or worse, or higher or lower, there is no difference, all of them had high and excellent qualities. My reason for having such devotion to Serlingpa is not because of any difference in qualities , I have faith in all of them, but Serlingpa was the kindest one to me.”

–17th Karmapa


Today, am happy to offer an introduction and transcript of the second day of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa’s remarkable and original teaching on the Life and Liberation of Atisha (see video here). In this teaching, the Karmapa considered the following topics: 

  • Reasons/signs why the young tantric yogi Atisha took monastic ordination and from whom
  • How Atisha got his names and their meaning,
  • Combining monastic life with tantric practice
  • Atisha’s three main gurus and the reasons for his most beloved one, Serlingpa (Suvarṇadvīpa) whom he met in Sumatra, Indonesia.
  • the historical background in Tibet before Atisha was invited there.

How Atisha was invited and brought to Tibet is a topic the Karmapa discusses in more detail on the following Day 3 (more on that in the next post).

It was fascinating to learn about Atisha’s attempt to combine his monastic life while continuing his tantric practice, by leaving the monastery every six days. In fact, I recently spoke about this issue at the 4th Vajrayana conference in Bhutan and Atisha’s view as to whether or not monastics are allowed to practice Vajrayana, see video here. According to Atisha (Je Tsongkhapa and the current 14th Dalai Lama), monastics are not supposed to take the second or third empowerments of a Vajrayana initiation as it would defeat their Vinaya and monastic vows. So, it is interesting that Atisha himself appeared to try and circumvent this, and combine the two sets of practice and vows. Although, clearly Atisha would be considered an extremely highly realised practitioner, unlike most monastics.  However, one might debate that the rule/samaya about a Vajrayana/tantra practitioner not spending more than seven days with srameneras would seem to apply to a whole period of time, not every six days etc. It seems to defeat the very principle of that samaya/commitment, but this is how Atisha was said to have combined the two, according to this account shared by the 17th Karmapa

In any case, the 17th Karmapa’s teaching yet again was full of insights into the extraordinary life of Atisha, his studies and teachers in Buddhist India, and why Tibetans hold him in such high regard and respect.

Music? For Atisha’s travels to the ‘Golden Island’ Sumatra and his beloved teacher, Serlingpa (the Golden Island one): Indonesian Vibes music by Java Delta, Gamelan Music of Indonesia and Golden by Harry Styles.

Written and transcribed by Adele Tomlin, 2nd February 2023.





Reasons and signs why Atisha became a monk

“I will now talk about the causes and circumstances in which Atisha was ordained. At first, Atisha was a practitioner of Vajrayana. So how did he go from being a tantric practitioner to wanting to go forth? When Atisha was young, he practised a lot of Vajrayana and he basically mastered the topics of mantra and tantric practice and so he thought that originally, he would devote himself to tantric practice. However, there are many different signs he should go forth as a monk.

Once in a dream, Heruka came to the sky in front of Atisha and said:

“Child of noble family if you keep doing the practice of Avadhutipa’s conduct that will not be enough to get anywhere. So you need to go forth and be a monastic. If you do, then in the future, you will be able to foster many monastic students.”

There was a more amazing dream than that. One night Atisha dreamt that he was in a big temple, inside of which was Bhagavan Shakyamuni surrounded by a large sangha of Bhikshunis and they were all eating their midday meal. Atisha himself was at the end of the row. While he was sitting there at the end of the row, the Buddha saw Atisha and pointed his finger at him and said “something happened to that person. What happened why he did not go forth?” Atisha dreamt this. 

Another night, in his dream, Atisha imagined that Maitreya was in  temple wearing monastic robes and sitting in a temple and Maitreya and he thought he should approach him, but Maitreya said:

“This is a place for monastics to go but not a place for you householders to come, so you should not come here.”

Because of that, Atisha thought to himself, I definitely have to become a monk and so he had that thought.

That time, there was a householder from whom Atisha would normally rent rooms when he was in Nalanda, and this householder knew a lot about the Dharma. At that time, there were many different Buddhist schools and he knew a lot about the situation of Buddhism at that time too. So, Atisha said

“I would like to go forth, but which school should I become a monk in, because there are many different schools to do that? Which is the best one for me to do that?”

The landowner replied:

“Are you going to keep doing Vajrayana practice or not? Are you going to stop it when you become a monk or continue?”

This was a very pointed question. Atisha said: “even after I go forth, I want to keep doing Vajrayana practice.” So then the householder said: “if that’s the case, then it is best for you to go forth in the Mahāsāṃghika School”.  Taking that advice, when Atisha was 29 years old, he went to Bodh Gaya. At that time, there were many different temples there.  There was one called the Madhya Vihara. He went to that temple and went forth there. 

Some other accounts say he went forth at the Odantapuri Monastery [Odantapuri (also called Odantapura or Uddandapura) was a prominent Buddhist Mahavihara in what is now Bihar Sharif in Bihar, India. It is believed to have been established by the Pala ruler Gopala I in the 8th century.] In any case, there are different accounts of the place he went forth, but if you ask who was the Khenpo who gave him ordination, it was a master of the Mahāsāṃghika lineage school, within that there are many different sub-schools of the Mahāsāṃghika and it was called the school of Transcending the World (Jigten le depa). The master in this was called Buddha Jnana.  He was probably a master of Padmasambhava. So he was  a very well-known master. Later, it is said that this master had achieved the level of the path of joining (jorlam) . So, the master from whom Atisha took the vows was Abbot Śīlarakṣita.

Atisha’s names and their meaning
Atisha’s name in Bengali, Tibetan and IAST script.

The name Atisha was given as a monastic was Atiśa Dīpaṃkara Śrījñāna. If we explain this in Tibetan, Dīpankara means ‘to do’; Śrī means ‘glorious’ and jñāna means ‘primordial awareness’. So, that was his name. All the people in Buddhajñāna‘s lineage had the word jñāna at the end of their name, that was the tradition.  for that reason, that is why jñāna is at the end of Atisha’s name. So among Dromtonpa’s Praises in Thirty Verses, it says:

“He left the wealth of royalty, became a Bhikkhu of the Mahāsāṃghika School, I supplicate glorious Atisha.”

From then on, Atisha refrained from even the smallest offence of the Vinaya. Even the most minor and subtle offences of the Vinaya, he was very strict about them and kept his vows very carefully. For example, there were clay cups, he was given some flour/grain but he wouldn’t eat it if it was put in a clay pot. The reason was because the clay pot in olden times was for alcohol. They normally made alcohol in clay pots so for that reason he also gave up any container that had had alcohol in it. In the Mahāsāṃghika school they add not drinking alcohol to the four root vows and make it as a 5th root vow. They had a very strict practice so that Atisha himself  would not drink from such a pot. In any case, Atisha himself said I never had any offence at all in the Pratimoksha vows. There have been a few minor faults in the Bodhisattva precepts but I have not left any of them unrepaired for more than a day. If there was a fault that happened that day, he would confess and purify it immediately. He would not wait until later to confess and repair it.

So, next I want to speak about how Atisha got his name, he had many different names. we could say he was called by different names. The most common Sanskrit name for him is Atisha. If we translate the word Atisha, it means pre-eminent, or the most excellent. There are many ways one can explain the word, Atisha. Some people would say that Ati means excellent and sha means the intention if you join the two it means the ‘most excellent intentions’. Some people say the word Ati means ‘exceedingly’ and Shanti means ‘peaceful’, so when one combines the two it means ‘extremely peaceful’. Another explanation is that A means ‘great yogi’, ti means a great pandita, referring to the ti in pandita, and sha means a great Bhikkshu. So, it can also mean being a great yogi pandita. I think Sha might also be understood as a Shramanera. This is another explanation of the name.

The way Atisha was given his name – by a Dharma King?
King Dharmapala of the Pala dynasty

In any case, how was he given this name Atisha? There are two different accounts of this. One of them is from Panchen Sonam Dragpa’s History of the Kadampas: Ornament of the Mind (Kadam Chojung Yigi Dzepa). It says in there that Lha Lama Jangchub O saw that Atisha had superior knowledge and compassion, different from other Indian panditas, and was superior to them. He saw that he would be able to help the precious teachings flourish more than before. So he gave him the name Atisha as a way of praising him. 

Another account is from Sakyapa Kunga Sonam’s account of the History of the Kadampa: Amazing Ocean, it says that there was a King called Dharmapala in the Pala dynasty in India who was very well-known. At that time, Atisha was superior to all the other panditas and siddhas in India. So Dharmapala invited him to Vikramaśīla and gave him the name, Atisha. However, this King Dharmapala, if he was the King of the Pala dynasty then the time period does not match because there are many different explanations about King Dharmapala. The Indian histories are not clear. So basically we are making inferences or guesses.

So, there are many different positions, even though he was a well-known King.  Later, most Indian historians say that this King existed in the 8th Century. So if he was from the 8th Century, then it is a different time period to Atisha who was from the 10th Century. In Tāranātha’s History of Indian Buddhism, at the point where he is describing Jowo Atisha, he says that the King of the Pala dynasty who reigned at that time was King Bhimapala, not Dharmapala. So, this is another point that needs some investigation. Perhaps it is more logical and likely that King gave him that name.

Jowo Shakyamuni, Jokhang Temple, Lhasa, Tibet, Yarlung Dynasty, brought to Tibet in 641(?), gilt metals with semiprecious stones, pearls, and paint and various offerings

 “One of the names most frequently used in Tibet is Jowo Je. There are two Jowo statues in the area of Lhasa, Tibet. There are both called Jowo.  The name Je is the only difference. In terms of Sanskrit, the word Jowo would be a translation of the Swami. Basically, there are many different Indian swamis, Hindu teachers called that. So, it is the same Sanskrit word.

In Tibetan, the word Jowo can mean the King, or the leader. Sometimes it can be understood as someone who is older than you. Like we call an older son, Ajo or Jo la. I think the word Jowo comes from that same root. Or it can mean like the Jowo statue in Lhasa, a Buddha statue in Sambhogakaya robes and ornaments. Basically, Jowo is not any Buddha statue but ones that are in that form. 

Anyway, Jowo is a word of praise, someone for whom we have a lot of regard and respect for, the most important among all. It’s a word indicating how much one cherishes someone. In any case, the only lama whom Tibetans call Jowo Je is Atisha, there is no-one else. This shows how close Tibetans felt to Jowo Je, and how much gratitude they have for his kindness. Tibetans have a different feeling for Jowo Je than any other lama from the very depths of their hearts. So, they use this word of high praise and respect.”

Atisha’s monastic studies combined with Vajrayana/tantric practice – leaving the monks every six days

From the time Atisha went forth at the age of 29 until the age of 33, Atisha studied various Mahayana texts from many different gurus. In terms of the texts of the Hinayana vehicle, at that time, there were four main schools: The Mahāsāṃghika, the Theravada, the Mahasamata and the Sarvāstivāda.

The reason why they are called the four root sections/schools. Sometimes some talk about the two, or the four main schools, but at the time of Atisha, when they say four main schools, they mean among the 18 different schools these mean the most widespread of the schools, the ones that were still extant, the larger schools were called the four great schools.

Each of these schools had their own sutras, Abhidharma and Vinaya and their texts are slightly different, but he had faith in all of them.  He studied all the three baskets of the studies.  He also knew the practices of all four schools without mixing any of them up. for example, he even knew the way the monks were given the alms bowl at the meal. So, he knew all those differences in the different schools. He also studied the text that was considered common to all schools at that time, the Great Exposition 800 Volume text by Arhat Ugupta. At this time, whether that was the same Great Exposition text that was in Chinese, it is not clear. Some people say 800 volumes, some people say 300 volumes, but in any case, it had a lot of volumes and was very long. So Atisha studied the whole text. The guru he studied with, at that time, there was the Adhantapuri Monastery and there was a lama there called Dharmarakshita, so that is who he studied this text with.  Generally, in order to study the text, it was said to take twelve years to study it. However, Atisha was so diligent that he took eight years to study all of it.

At that time, while he was studying that, he would go to the master Dharmarakshita and study for six days, and then on the seventh day, he would leave. Every day, he would leave the borders of the monastery and go outside.  The reason why he did this, was that in the secret mantra it is said that one should not spend more than seven days with the Sravakas. That is one of the main vows of the Vajrayana. He had a samaya commitment. So, he only stayed for six days in the monastery. [Transcriber’s note: this is hard to make sense of, because surely it means the total amount of time a tantric practitioner spends with monastics, not re-calculating that every week?]

Atisha’s numerous teachers and the three main gurus

Likewise, at that same time, Atisha studied with many different gurus, he would go to all sorts of different places throughout India. He went out many different islands and sailed across oceans three times.  he went to Sumatra and Ceylon and many different islands and went to a lot of hardship to study with the gurus. Those days, sailing across the ocean was very dangerous.  Basically, there are different accounts of this in his various biographies. Some say he followed 157 lamas, the maximum was this number. The minimum would have been around 30 lamas. There is not time to explain all of them.

Among them all there were three gurus who were the most extraordinary ones. The three gurus who taught him bodhicitta. 

These three are: 

  1. Dharmarakshita
  2. Matripa Yogi
  3. Dharmakirti (Suvarṇadvīpa Dharmakīrti; in Tibetan, Serlingpa  གསེར་གླིང་པ་)

I will give a brief introduction to these three. 

1) Dharmarakshita
Dharmarakshita [a c. 9th century Indian Buddhist credited with composing an important Mahayana text called the Wheel of Sharp Weapons (Tib. blo-sbyong mtshon-cha ‘khor-lo).]

“It is said in the oral histories, that there was a person who had a particular illness and in order to heal that illness, he had to have human flesh and blood as medicine. So when he heard this, he cut some flesh from his body and gave it to that person for his medicine. So for ordinary people to do that is very difficult.  To cut some flesh from one’s own body and give it to someone. In any case, this Guru had not only trained his mind in exchanging self for others, he was actually able to give the flesh of his own body. Because of the high level of his practice of bodhicitta.”

2) Maitripa Yogi
Maitrīpāda (c. 1007–1085, also known as Maitreyanātha, Advayavajra, and, to Tibetans, Maitrīpa), was a prominent Indian Buddhist Mahasiddha associated with the Mahāmudrā transmission of tantric Buddhism. His teachers were Shavaripa and Naropa.[

“One story about him is that someone was beating a dog with an iron rod and abusing it. When the Guru saw it, then he immediately felt great compassion for that dog and he took the dog’s suffering onto his own body. When he did that, he took the dog’s feelings of pain and sickness but also the physical suffering itself.  So on his own body, he got big welts on his body that were dripping pus. So he intentionally took the others suffering on himself.  So, we can see he was not an ordinary lama, he had an extremely high level of bodhicitta and loving kindness and compassion. “

3) Suvarṇadvīpa/ Serlingpa
Dharmakirti (Suvarṇadvīpa Dharmakīrti; ཆོས་ཀྱི་གྲགས་པ་,  cho ki dragpa) or Dharmapala (chos skyong) of Suvarnadvipa (b. 10th century). In Tibetan, Serlingpa  གསེར་གླིང་པ་.

“Serlingpa (Suvarṇadvīpa) was said to be the embodiment of bodhicitta. What does that mean? it means the guru was like living bodhicitta himself, that the guru and the bodhicitta are not separate, the Buddha himself was like the representation of the living bodhicitta himself. Because of this we can say that the level of his realisations of his loving kindness and compassion were extremely high level. Among all the different gurus that Atisha followed, the one he had the greatest and deepest faith in was Serlingpa. 

The way we know this, is because for other gurus he did not have any reliquary of them. After the lama passes, the relics are put into a stupa.  Atisha did not have a tradition of making reliquaries for all the gurus, but he did make one for Serlingpa, which had a silver parasol on top of it. Also, there is a tradition of making offerings for gurus on the day they passed away, but he did not do that for his other gurus, only for Serlingpa. This is basically the same as when Tibetans observe a guru’s passing away and some say this came from Atisha.

Another special thing Atisha did, is when he heard the name of his gurus, he would join his hands in prayer at his heart to show respect.  When Serlingpa’s name was mentioned, he would put his palms at the crown of his head, to show he had different devotion for them than other gurus.  When he heard about others, he would not shed any tears either, but when he heard about Serlingpa, the tears would flow naturally.

For that reason, when Atisha went to Tibet, they asked him: “You have had a lot of gurus so why do you pay such respect to Serlingpa?” Atisha replied: ” I followed many gurus, I cannot say who is better or worse, or higher or lower, there is no difference, all of them had high and excellent qualities. My reason for having such devotion to Serlingpa is not because of any difference in qualities , I have faith in all of them, but Serlingpa was the kindest one to me.”

They asked him “How was he so kind to you?” Atisha replied: “I cannot say I have many good qualities at all. But I can say I have a little bit of goodness; we might say this is my one quality. The reason I have a kind heart is due to Serlingpa’s kindness.” 

Another thing Atisha said, that without Serlingpa he would not have the bodhicitta of exchanging self for others. It was only after he met Serlingpa that he was able to do that practice of exchanging  self for others.”

The name Serlingpa (Suvarṇadvīpa) means a place in present-day Indonesia.  There is  large island called Sumatra. It is one of the largest islands in the world, they say. Anyway, the old ancient name for it Suvarṇadvīpa , which means the ‘golden island’: Suvarṇa means gold and dvīpa means island. These days we do not use that word.

In the latter half of the 7th century, probably in 671, the Tang dynasty translator, Yijing (635–713 CE), went twice to that island, and if we combine the amount of time he spent there over the two visits, it was over two years.

Anyway, the reason he was called Suvarṇadvīpa (Serlingp) is because he was also a King and a guru who lived in that country. Due to the lack of time, I cannot speak about how Atisha met and studied with him. If I have time I will talk about it later.”

Upholder of the Mind-Only Practice of Vast Conduct and abbot of Vikramaśīla monastery
Vikramashila ( Vikramaśilā ) was one of the three most important Buddhist monasteries in India during the Pala Empire, along with Nalanda and Odantapuri. Its location is now the site of Antichak village, Bhagalpur district in Bihar.

“Atisha followed many gurus of the Mahayana, Middle Way and Mind-Only. Serlingpa and Shantipa were masters who upheld the Mind-Only tradition. If we look at Atisha’s life and liberation in detail, it primarily focused on the lineage of vast conduct that was passed down from Serlingpa.  I think he probably paid most attention to the practice.

One particular feature of Atisha, is that he combined the Middle Way view and the vast practice of the Mind-Only and practised them in union. This is a special feature of Atisha, and for that reason, even in Tibetan Buddhism, he was very influential.

Later, after he had ordained as a monk and done a lot of study and was learned, according to Tāranātha’s History of Buddhism in India, Atisha became the abbot of Vikramaśīla monastery. Also, Odantapuri monastery, he was also an abbot there. Likewise, as I said before, Atisha also had a really good character and someone who connected nicely with everyone and treated everyone well.  So he studied the Dharma of all the different schools and tried to be harmonious with all of them, so he was revered as a guru of all the different schools in India at the time.

In that way, Atisha’s name actively spread throughout India but we have not got time to speak about all that today.”

Historical background in Tibet before Atisha was invited there

“Next, I want to speak about how Atisha was invited to Tibet. In medieval times it was different than today, if you wanted to bring Indian panditas to Tibet, or if a Tibetan student wanted to go to India. it is extremely difficult. We cannot conceive of it. There were limitless hardships to doing that. Especially at the time of Atisha. He was one of the most famous and important gurus in India and he was extremely important and influential Buddhist guru. One could not just invite him to India and he would immediately go.  So what were the causes and conditions that allowed people to bring Atisha to Tibet? Why did they invite him? First, we need to understand what the situation of Buddhism in Tibet was like.

In Tibet, at the beginning of the 7th Century, at the time of the King Songtsen Gampo, Buddhism began to spread in Tibet. There are many differing accounts of when it started. Yet, the reliable sources say that it was from that time. It was probably during the time of Trisong Detsen that Buddhism spread very widely. `

Darma Udumtsen (དར་མ་འུ་དུམ་བཙན,), better known by his nickname Langdarma ( གླང་དར་མ།, lit. “Mature Bull” or “Dharma the Bull”) was most likely the last Tibetan Emperor who most likely reigned from 838 to 841 CE.

“Four generations later, there was a King called Darma Udumtsen , we call him Langdarma. Lang is like a nickname. He was the 4th King in line after Trisong Detsen. So in 841, he persecuted and wiped out Buddhism, and prohibited the formation of monasteries, and in 844, he wiped it out.

Then 50 years later, in 892, there was Larchen Gonpa Rabsel. He was the one who propagated the lower Vinaya lineage and then there were many who came to get vows from him. Many who went from central Tibet to Kham to take vows. Those students then went to central Tibet. Then they began to rebuild monasteries and establish sanghas. 

Only then that the teachings began to be revived. This is called the later spread of the teachings. So how many generations were there between Langdharma’s persecution of Buddhism and the re-establishment of it in central Tibet, there are differing accounts, probably more than100 years. There is a lot more to say about that, but there is not time to say it all today.  In any case, because of the activity of Rabsel and other lamas the Vinaya teachings that were in Kham were able to spread into central Tibet. This is called the spread of the teachings from Lower Tibet.”

“At the same time, there was a revival of the teachings that we call in Ngari. When we speak about this in Ngari, we must speak about Lha Lama and his nephews.  King Langdharma had two sons, one called O-Sung and another called Yonten, there was a lot of conflict between them both and disagreed about who should be King. Because of that, by the end of the 9th Century, the Tibetan empire had fragmented into many different smaller parts. 

They continued to hate each other and would not let O-Sung’s nephew stay in Central Tibet so they had to flee to an area close to Zhangshung. This is the area that we nowadays call Ngari. When he went there, he established a Kingdom there. After doing that, later he had three sons. in order they would not any conflict, he divided the region of Ngari into three parts and gave each of them a different area. That is why we talk about the three regions of Ngari, and that term originated at that time – Ngari Khor Sum. Before that there was no discussion of it.

Another thing, a digression, so we say Tibet has three parts, the upper, lower and central parts. Some say this came from the time of the three parts of Ngari but actually this ifs first mentioned in Mongolia, and the Yuan dynasty. So the Tibetan manuscripts say that central Tibet say is a single part.”

Lha Lama Yeshe Od’s Dharma legacies and the Guge Dynasty area of Tibet

“Anyway, he gave the area Purang to his second son, Tashi Degung. He established his own dynasty and became known as the Guge dynasty. King Tashi Degung had two sons himself, the elder was called Sono in 965 CE. When he became an adult, he became the 2nd King of the Guge dynasty. Later he gave up the Kingship and became a monk.

Lha Lama Yeshe O

The name he was given was Lha Lama Yeshe Od, The reason he was called the Lha lama was because he had formerly been a King, and then became a monk, so the word Lha means God and Lama means teacher. So he was the Divine Teacher.

Before he became a monk, he was married and had two sons and his sons also both became monks. He and his sons had great faith and devotion in the Dharma and they offered a lot of service to Dharma. He had a very strong influence on Tibetan history. 

One way was he had the vow tradition of the three palas, this is the source of the upper transmission of the Vinaya and so the transmission of that is because of him. The other way, is that he invited Atisha to Tibet. That is his second main legacy. The third is that he fostered and supported many translators, including the great Lotsawa, Rinchen Zangpo. So they began translating many new texts, especially those of the new translation Secret Mantra. So this was his third legacy.”

Was Lha Lama Yeshe Od captured by the King of Garlog?

As for an oral history, is that in order to invite Atisha he went looking for gold, and the King of Garlog captured him and would not release him. In order to have him released, his nephew Jamphel Od looked for a lump of gold and he went to Garlog and asked him to release the King but he would not.  Finally, it is said that Yeshe O actually died in Garlok.

However, we need to examine this. There was a Guge Pandita, Ngawang Dragpa was probably a student of Tsongkhapa I think. He took many old manuscripts that were kept in Ngari Tholing and used these to make a history of Guge dynasty and of Lha Lama Yeshe Od. What he says in there is that 

Even when Lha Lam Yeshe was very old, he would go to Tholing and circumambulate the Tholing monastery with a staff. It also said then when he was old, other than one attendant, he would not allow anyone else to see him and he spent three years in a very strict retreat. It also says that he passed away in his room at Tholing monastery in the female-earth sheep year.

So if we look at the story of Lha Lama Yeshe O being captured by the King of Garlog and imprisoned, we have to look at if that is actually true. Likewise, at the Drepung Nechung Lhakhang there  was a very old manuscript and this was called The History of the Guru and the Lineage, a biography of Atisha, probably written in the 12th Century. it says that, the nephew of Corey, who was probably one of Lha Lama Yeshe’s brothers. Some people say younger, some say elder, in any case he had  grandson named Lha De. He had a  son called Ode who was very wrathful and volent and making war, so he went to wage war against the King in Ladakh. In the past this was an area of Tibet, now it is part of Pakistan, this area of Balti. They probably have all converted to Islam. Within the area of Balti there is an area called Trulshag, they had a war with them and they lost and he was captured by the King of Trulshag and he was punished severely. So his younger brothers, Jangchub O and Shiwa O took a lot of gold to go ransom him. But before the gold arrived, Ode escaped from the prison, and then they shot him with arrows and they were poisoned arrows, so he died while escaping on the road. 

So we have to investigate whether it was true that Lha Lama Yeshe was imprisoned by the King of Garlog. There is a contemporary Tibetan scholar called Guge Tsering Gyalpo who wrote a paper examining whether Lha Lama Yeshe O died in Garlog or not. That would be good to read it. Also, there is a book by Karme O Samde Arrow in Power, which is very good they say, I have not read it yet but he says that within this, the scholars have many different positions about whether Lha Lama Yeshe O was imprisoned by the King of Garlog or not, so it must be examined.”


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