Tsongkhapa Index of Topics



  • Abhidharma. See Scientific Knowledge (Abhidharma)
  • absolutism
  • absurd consequences
  • accomplishments, perfect
  • Āchārya Vīra. See Aśhvaghoṣha (a.k.a. Mātṛceṭa)
  • action tantra
  • Actuality of the Stages (Asaṅga)
  • addictions
    • arisal of addictions
    • eliminating addictions
    • addictions to food, clothing, body
    • addictions to intellectual and subconscious, relationship between,
    • pitfall of increasing addictions
    • addictions to pleasure
    • subconscious addictions
    • See also under misknowledge
  • adopting and rejecting, discriminating between
  • advice, practical
  • aggregates, five
    • Buddha’s perceptions of the five aggregates
    • the five aggregates in objective selflessness
    • the five aggregates and personal self, reasonings on the five aggregates
    • selflessness of the five aggregates, variant views on the five aggregates, truth-habit of the five aggregates
  • aims, two desirable
  • altruistic mind. See also spirit of enlightenment (bodhicitta)
  • ambrosia (in vision of Mañjuśhrī)
  • Amdo Province
  • Amitābha/Amitāyus
  • analogies and metaphors
    • conch shells
    • hairs falling from sky, distorted perception of
    • king of birds
    • for Mañjuśhrī
    • medicine
      mine of precious gems, ,
      mirror images, , , , , , , n
      nectar eradicating illness,
      night-lily garden, , n
      for path of action,
      for pitfalls in meditation, ,
      power-granting king, , n
      rabbit’s horns, , , ,
      rope as snake,
      rubbing-sticks and fire, ,
      sky-flowers, ,
      snake and elephant,
      son/childrebardon of barren women, , , ,
      water poured into water,
      for working with passion,
      See also wish-granting gem
      in four realities,
      of Middle Path,
      and nonanalysis,
      power of,
      of transcendent insight, ,
      of ultimate reality,
      of uncreated things,
  • analytic meditation
  • Ānanda
  • anger
  • animals/animal realm
  • antigods (asuras),
  • appearances
    • to buddhas and ordinary beings, distinctions between, dualistic
    • as illusory
    • mastering
  • Arapacana Mañjuśhrī
  • Āryadeva. See also Four Hundred Stanza
  • Āryaśhūra. See Aśhvaghoṣha (a.k.a. Mātṛceṭa)
  • Asaṅga
    • homage to
    • lineages of
    • Tsongkhapa’s view of
    • visions of
    • See also Actuality of the Stages; Bodhisattva Levels; Compendium of Scientific Knowledge; Śhrāvaka Levels (Disciple Stages)
  • Aśhvaghoṣha (a.k.a. Mātṛceṭa)
  • astrology
  • Atīśha Dīpaṃkara
    • homage to
    • lineage of
    • and Tsongkhapa, influence on
    • visions of
    • See also Entrance into the Two Realities; Instruction in the Middle Way; Lamp on the Path to Enlightenment (Bodhipathapradīpa)
  • austerities. See renunciation
  • Avalokiteśhvara
  • Avīchi Hell. See Hell of Uninterrupted Pain (Avīchi)
  • awareness
    • of buddhas
    • critical
    • empty
    • in meditation practice
    • primal
    • of reality, view of
    • spirit of enlightenment and
    • See also discriminating awareness


bardo. See intermediate state (bar do)
bases, designative, , , ,
beings, nine kinds, , , n
benefitting others
aspiration to, , , , , , , , n, n
by disciples,
and self, ,
Tsongkhapa’s efforts in, , , , , , ,
Bhaiṣhajyaguru (medicine buddha), ,
Bhāvaviveka, , , , , n. See also Blaze of Reason; Essence of the Middle Way
birth, , , , . See also rebirth
Black Mañjuśhrī,
Blaze of Reason (Bhāvaviveka), ,
blessings, , , , , , , , . See also Song Rapidly Invoking Blessings (Seventh Dalai Lama)
attachment to,
in creation stage,
generating uncontaminated,
mere shine of,
of peace,
of relativity,
in samādhis, ,
Tsongkhapa’s experience of, , ,
and void inseparable, ,
Bodhgaya, , , n
bodhicitta/bodhi mind, , , , , , n. See also spirit of enlightenment (bodhicitta)
Bodhisattva Levels (Asaṅga), , , , , ,
bodhisattva vows, , , , n
aggregates, perception of, by,
bodhicitta of, ,
conduct/deeds of, , , ,
eight, ,
ordained and lay, comparison of,
stages of,
superficial reality, understanding of,
addiction to, ,
of Amitāyus,
in creation stage,
erroneous views of, ,
of Maitreya,
meditative concentration and,
praise of Mañjuśhrī’s,
of Tsongkhapa, , , , ,
body of perfect beatitude (saṃbhogakāya), , ,
Brahmā voice, , ,
Brahmā’s Diadem, ,
breathing exercises, tantric, , ,
Buddha. See Śhākyamuni Buddha
buddha families,
Buddha Vairochana,
Buddhaguhya, ,
absolute and relative intuitions at, , n
emptiness as,
misknowledge eliminated at,
in one lifetime,
thought process at,
vows and commitments in attaining,
wishing to attain, ,
Buddhapālita, , , , , , , , n. See also Sustaining Buddha (Middle Way Commentary)
engagement of (activity),
perceptions of, , , n
signs and marks of, , , ,
thirty-five confessional, ,
buddha-universes, , n. See also pure lands/pure abodes
Chinese and Japanese, , n
Indian, , ,
misconceptions about,
Tibetan, , n
view of heaven in, n
Butön Rinpoche, ,
causal conditions, ,
causality, , , , . See also relativity (pratītyasamutpada)
cause and condition, ,
cause and effect, , , , , , , ,
Centrist system, , , , , , n, n. See also Middle Way (Mādhyamaka)
in arising of saṃsāra,
in Dharma, ,
from direct experience,
about emptiness,
about intrinsic realitylessness,
in karma, ,
about selflessness, importance of, ,
cessation, , , , , , ,
cessation, truth of. See nirvāṇa
Chakdorpa. See Nyingma Lama Namkha Gyaltsen
Chakrasaṃvara Tantra. See Heruka Tantra
Ch’an masters, n
Chandrakīrti (a.k.a. Chandrapada), , , , , n, n
dream of, ,
Great Perfection and, , n
importance of, , ,
lineage of,
See also Commentary to the Four Hundred Stanzas; Entrance to the Middle Way; Lucid Exposition; Sixty Reasonings Commentary
Chandrapada. See Chandrakīrti
Charida Pass,
Chennga Chökyi Gyalpo (a.k.a. Geshé Chen Ngawa), ,
Chöding hermitage, ,
Chödra Chenpo Dewachen monastery, , . See also Nyetang
Chöjé Abacha,
Chöjé Döndrup Rinchen,
Chökyi Pal,
clarity, , , , ,
clear light, , , ,
Close Contemplations Sūtra,
clothing, obstacle of, ,
cognition, n
authentic and spurious,
conventional, , , ,
of illusion,
rational, , , , , , , , ,
types of, , n
of ultimate reality,
See also validating cognitions
Collected Sayings (Potowa),
Collected Works,
Collected Works (Seventh Dalai Lama),
Commentary on Valid Cognition (Dharmakīrti), , , ,
Commentary to the Four Hundred Stanzas (Chandrakīrti), , , , ,
communion, , ,
iron hooks of,
of Maitreya, , ,
of Mañjuśhrī, , ,
meditation on, ,
motivation of, , ,
pitfalls concerning, ,
power of,
at time of death,
transcendent insight and,
of Tsongkhapa, , , ,
Compendium of Scientific Knowledge (Asaṅga), , , ,
Compendium of Training (Śhāntideva), ,
completion-stage yoga, , , , ,
conceptual cognitions/thoughts, , , , , , , . See also constructive thoughts
conditioning, bad,
consciousness, ,
fundamental and mental, views on, ,
lack of perception of,
in meditation, , ,
constructive thoughts, , , ,
temporal of aggregates,
conventional reality. See superficial reality
conventional truth, , , , n
creation stage, , , ,
crystal rosary, ,
Cultural Revolution,
cyclic existence/living (saṃsāra), ,
bondage in,
contemplating faults of, , , ,
conventional truth and, ,
cutting root of, , ,
freeing all beings from,
functionality of,
motivation and,
origin and cessation, sequence of,
rebirth and,
self-habit as root of, ,
ḍākinīs, , , , ,
death, , ,
certainty of,
contemplating, , ,
of gods,
joy at,
prayer for time of (See Prayer for Rebirth in Sukhāvati)
See also Lord of Death
Āryadeva and Aśhvaghoṣha,
with Gyaltsap Jé,
at Samye, n
Tsongkhapa’s skill in, ,
Dechen monastery,
deeds of Tsongkhapa, , ,
construction of tantric temple at Ganden,
presenting crown to Śhākyamuni statue,
restoration of Maitreya statue, ,
teaching on Discipline at Namtze Deng,
definitive and interpretable teachings, , , , n
archetype, , ,
great bliss,
meditational, , ,
terrific/fierce, n
See also under visions
deity yoga,
delusion, , , ,
as misknowledge,
as principle addiction,
teachings dispelling, power of,
three poisons and,
Demchok Maitri,
demons/demonic forces, , , , , , ,
Denma Lochö Rinpoche, ,
Denma Rinchen Pal,
Densapa Gekong,
dependent origination, , n, n. See also relativity (pratītyasamutpada)
depression, , ,
desire realm, , , n
Destiny Fulfilled,
destruction, , ,
development-stage yoga. See creation stage
devotion, ,
and excitement, antidote to,
to guru,
to Maitreya, ,
to Śhākyamuni,
in tantra, ,
Tsongkhapa’s acts of,
aspirations for, , ,
conducive conditions for,
degeneration of, , ,
false, exposing,
hearing, thinking, and meditating on, , , , , ,
Mañjuśhrī’s skill in teaching,
seeming and authentic,
three bonds of (See vows, levels of)
turning wheel of,
Dharma Encyclopedia, , ,
Dharma Jewel,
Dharma protectors, , , , , , ,
dharmakāya. See truth body (dharmakāya)
Dharmakīrti, , , n. See also Commentary on Valid Cognition (Dharmakīrti)
Dharmarāja, ,
Dharmarāja Suchandra, , , n
Dharmodgata, , n
Dialecticist-Centrist (Prāsaṅgika Madhyamaka) system, ,
conventional self in,
and Dogmaticist Centrists, distinctions in views of,
founding of, n
self-habits, differentiation of two in,
superficial reality in,
ultimate reality in,
difference, three types of,
Dignāga, , n, n
discernment, , , , , , ,
disciples (of Tsongkhapa), ,
eight, , ,
First Dalai Lama as,
legacy of,
numbers of, ,
prophecies about,
realization of, ,
tantric initiation of,
See also Gyaltsap Dharma Rinchen; Khedrup Chöjé Gelek Pal Sangpo
disciples (śhrāvakas), , , ,
Discipline basket (Vinaya), , , , ,
Disclosure of the Spirit of Enlightenment (Nāgārjuna), , , ,
Discourses basket (Sūtra),
discriminating awareness, , , , ,
discrimination and nondiscrimination, ,
Dissolutionists (Apratiṣṭhitavādi),
Distinguishing the Two Realities (Jñānagarbha), , , , , ,
Distinguishing the Two Realities Commentary (Jñānagarbha), , ,
distraction, ,
Dogmaticist (Svātāntrika) Mādhyamakas, , , ,
Door of Liberation, ,
Dorjé Rinchen,
doubt, , , , , , , , ,
Drakpa Gyaltsen,
Drakpa Shenyen Rinpoche,
dreamlikeness, ,
dreams, ,
of Chökyi Pal,
of merging of two conch shells,
of Nāgārjuna and five spiritual sons, , , ,
of Nyingma Lama Kyungpo Lhepa,
preceding Tsongkhapa’s birth,
Drepung Chökyi Dechen,
Drepung monastery, , , ,
Drikung Kagyü monastery, , ,
Drikung Thil monastery,
Drog Riwoché Mountain,
Dromtönpa, , ,
Dronlungpa Lodrö Jungné, n
Dzingji Ling, , , ,
effort, ,
joyous, , , , n
partial and complete,
in practice,
eight mundane concerns,
eightfold path,
Eighty (Main Deeds) of Tsongkhapa, The (Kagyü Panchen),
elements, eighteen, ,
elements, six,
eloquence, aspiration for, , , ,
Elucidation of Intent Sūtra, , , , , ,
Elucidation of the Middle Way Intention,
empowerments, , , . See also initiations, tantric
emptiness, , nn
aftermath illusory,
aspiration to realize,
certitude in, importance of,
of conditioned things,
correct view of, , , , , , , n
devoid of extremes, ,
differentiations of,
difficulty of understanding,
discriminating awareness and,
holding, error of,
intrinsic brilliance of,
as intrinsic realitylessness,
misunderstandings about, , , n
purpose of teaching, ,
rejection of correct view of,
and relativity, equivalence of, , ,
repeated cultivation of,
samādhis not oriented toward,
of self and property,
single-minded concentration on,
space-like and illusion-like,
as supreme import of suchness,
Tsongkhapa’s realization of, ,
Western views and, n
emptiness meditation
bodhicitta motivation in,
cognition in,
as completion stage,
distinctive subjectivity for, , n
lineage of, , n
See also clear light
energy channels, , ,
enjoyment body. See body of perfect beatitude (saṃbhogakāya)
enlightenment, , , , , n
enlightenment spirit meditation, , n
Entrance into the Two Realities (Atīśha),
Entrance to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Śhāntideva), , , , ,
Entrance to the Middle Way (Chandrakīrti),
on aggregates and self, , ,
on alienated and exalted perceptions,
discourses on, , ,
on negation of self,
on perception of ultimate reality,
on person, identification of,
on reasoning of relativity,
on root of cyclic life,
on selflessness, , ,
on sense perception,
on single continuum,
studies of, ,
on superficial reality,
Tsongkhapa’s commentary on,
on two actualities/realities, ,
on ultimate reality, ,
Entrance to the Middle Way Commentary (Chandrakīrti)
on differentiation of emptiness,
on misknowledge,
on perception of ultimate reality, , ,
on production, lack of intrinsically real,
on special intuition,
on spurious cognition,
on superficial reality, ,
on two realities, ,
equality, , ,
equanimity, ,
equipoise, , , , , , ,
Esoteric Community. See Guhyasamāja Tantra
Essence of Good Eloquence. See Praise for Dependent Origination
Essence of the Middle Way (Bhāvaviveka), , n
Essence of True Eloquence, , , n
ethics, , , , , n. See also morality
Eulogy of the Perfect Intention of the Dauntless Protector Maitreya Buddha,
European Renaissance,
evolutionary action (karma), ,
addictions and,
causality of,
cleansing debt of, , , n
confidence in,
contemplating, , , ,
conventional truth and,
cyclic life and, ,
in Dharma preservation,
evil and good, discriminating between,
knowledge of,
mind and,
negative accumulation of,
personal self and,
in pitfalls regarding view,
relativity and, ,
torment of,
excellences, seven,
exchange of self and others,
excitement, , ,
existence, ,
intrinsic and mere, distinguishing between, ,
lust for,
substantial, advocates of,
Explanatory Tantras,
Expression of the Names of Mañjuśhrī,
externalist views. See absolutism
“extreme free,”
fabrications, , , ,
in Amitāyus,
force of,
in Maitreya,
in Mañjuśhrī, ,
in Śhākyamuni,
at time of death,
in unproduced condition,
father tantra,
fearlessnesses, four,
Fifty Stanzas on the Guru (Aśhvaghoṣha), ,
Five Stages,
Five Stages, The (Nāgārjuna),
Five-Peaked Mountain (Wu-tai-shan),
fluency, , n
food, obstacle of, ,
form realm, , , n, n
Former Birth Tales (Aśhvaghoṣha),
formless realm, , , n, n, n
Four Commentaries Combined, , n
Four Hundred Stanzas (Āryadeva), , , , , ,
four interpretive procedures, , n
four major deeds. See deeds of Tsongkhapa
four noble truths, , ,
four opponent powers, , , n
Friendly Letter, The (Nāgārjuna),
friends, guidance on, , , , , ,
fruition, pitfalls regarding,
functionality, , , , , ,
fundamentalists (Tīrthikas), , , , , , n
Gampopa Sönam Rinchen, ,
Ganden monastery, , , , , n
Buddha’s prophecy about,
destruction of,
founding of,
near time of Tsongkhapa’s death,
works composed at, , ,
Ganden throneholders, , , , n
Garland of Supremely Healing Nectars, , , n
gateways, three, ,
Gawa Dong, ,
Geluk tradition, , n, n, n
Gendun Drup, the First Dalai Lama, , ,
generation stage. See creation stage
generosity, , , ,
Geshé Chen Ngawa. See Chennga Chökyi Gyalpo (a.k.a. Geshé Chen Ngawa)
Geshé Losang Tenpa,
Geshé Ngawang Dhargyey. See Venerable Geshé Ngawang Dhargyey
Geshé Potowa (Kadam), , , n
Geshé Sharawa, ,
Geshé Shatönpa,
Geshé Trinlé,
ghosts (pretas), , n, n
Glorious Principles Compendium Path,
god realms, , n, n
goddesses, outer and inner,
Golden Rosary of Eloquent Teaching, The (Legshay serteng),
graded order, importance of understanding,
Great Central Way. See Middle Way (Mādhyamaka)
great champions, , , n
Great Exposition of the Secret Mantra Stages, ,
Great Exposition of the Stages of the Teachings (Bstan rim chen mo, Lodrö Jungné),
Great Exposition on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment (Byang chub lam rim chen mo), , , n
composition of, ,
discourses on, , ,
Khedrup Jé’s visions while reading,
model for, ,
“great mistake,” , n
Great Perfection, , , n
Great Prayer Festival, , , n
Great Seal (Mahāmudrā), , , , ,
Great Way. See Universal Vehicle (Mahāyāna)
Guhyasamāja Tantra (Esoteric Community), ,
commentaries on, , n
discourses on, , ,
stopping without finishing discourse,
teachings received on, , ,
Guhyasamāja teachings,
guideline instructions, , ,
Guṇaprabha, n. See also Monastic Discipline Sūtra (Guṇaprabha)
Guru Padmasambhava, ,
Guru Suvarṇadvīpa. See Dharmakīrti
gurus. See spiritual masters
guru-yoga, , ,
Gyaltsap Dharma Rinchen, , ,
Gyalwa Kalsang Gyatso, the Seventh Dalai Lama, . See also Song Rapidly Invoking Blessings
Gyalwa Mikyö Dorjé, the Eighth Karmapa, , . See also Praise of the Incomparable Tsongkhapa
Gyatso Tsering,
habits/habit-patterns, , , , , , , , . See also self-habits; sign-habits (āyatana); truth-habits
aspiration for,
conventional truth and,
motivation and, ,
of self and others, ,
self-habit and,
Haven of Faith (Khedrup Jé), ,
Heart of Transcendent Wisdom Sūtra,
heat meditation, mystic, ,
hell beings/realm, , , , n, n, n
Hell of Uninterrupted Pain (Avīchi), ,
Heruka, , , , ,
Heruka Tantra, , , , ,
Hevajra Tantra, , ,
Hīnayāna. See Individual Vehicle (Hīnayāna)
holy persons
cognition of,
perception of superficial reality by, , ,
reliance on,
Holy Wisdom Treasure. See Mañjuśhrī
householders, vows of, ,
human form/body,
aspiration for,
attainment of,
eight ripened favorable qualities of, , n
excellent fortune of obtaining, ,
liberties of, , , n
human realm/abode, , , n, n
Hundred Gods of Tushita, , ,
Hvashang Mahāyāna, n, n
Hymn of the Names of Mañjuśhrī,
Idealist-Mādhyamakas (Yogācāra), , , ,
Idealists (Vijñānavāda), , , n, n, n
ignorance, , , , n. See also under misknowledge
Illumination of the Middle Way (Kamalaśhīla), , , , , ,
Illusionists (Māyānyāyasiddhi), , , n
exalted and alienated cognition of,
false arising of,
method of understanding,
of passion,
relativity and,
two meanings of, ,
unerring arising of,
illusory body yoga, n
impermanence, , , , , ,
individual liberation vows, , n
Individual Vehicle (Hīnayāna)
fruits of meditation in, ,
ordination in,
on personal selflessness,
quiescence and insight in,
three higher trainings of, n
vows of, , n
initiations, tantric, , , ,
insight. See transcendent insight (lhag mthong)
Instruction in the Middle Way (Atīśha),
Instruction in Transcendent Wisdom (Ratnakaraśhānti), , , , , , ,
intermediate state (bar do), ,
intrinsic actuality, , , ,
intrinsic identifiability, , , , , ,
intrinsic objectivity, , , , , ,
intrinsic reality, , , , , n
absolute and relative, , n
intrinsic brilliance of,
omniscient, , , ,
investigations, six, ,
Jamchen Chöjé,
Jamyang Chöjé Tashi Palden, ,
Jangchup Ling,
Jangchup Tsemo,
Jé Pakmo Drupa,
Jé Rinpoche. See Tsongkhapa Losang Drakpa
Jewel Cloud Sūtra, ,
Jñānagarbha, , n. See also Distinguishing the Two Realities
Jñānakīrti, , n
Jokhang Cathedral, , , . See also Lhasa Cathedral (Jokhang)
Jonangpa school, n
joy, , , , ,
Kadam tradition, , , ,
Kagyü Lama Chökyop Sangpo, n
Kagyü Panchen,
Kagyü tradition, , , ,
Kālachakra Tantra, , , ,
Kālachakra tradition, , , , n
Kalsang Gyatso. See Gyalwa Kalsang Gyatso, the Seventh Dalai Lama
Kamalaśhīla, , , , , n. See also Illumination of the Middle Way; Stages of Meditation
Kangyur woodblocks,
karma. See evolutionary action (karma)
Karma Kagyü,
Karmavajra. See Nyingma Lama Namkha Gyaltsen
Kashiwa Losal,
Kāśhyapa chapter, ,
Khamlung Tulku,
Khedrup Chöjé Gelek Pal Sangpo (Khedrup Jé), , , , , , . See also Haven of Faith; Song of the Tricosmic Master
Khenchen Rinchen Namgyal,
kindness, , , , , , , ,
King of Samādhi Sūtra, , , , ,
knowables/knowable things, , , , , , , , ,
Könchok Kyap,
Könchok Tsultrim, , ,
Kumbum monastery,
Kyabchok Palsang, ,
Kyabjé Trijang Dorjé Chang,
Kyimay Drumbu Lung,
Kyomo Lung, ,
Lama Umapa Pawo Dorjé, , , ,
Lamp of Concentrated Practices,
Lamp on the Path to Enlightenment (Bodhipathapradīpa, Atīśha), , , , , , n
Lang Darma,
laziness, , , , n
learning, , , n
importance of, ,
on path of action,
transformative instructions and,
Tsongkhapa’s quest for,
wisdom of, , , , ,
and yogic practice, union of,
leisure, , ,
Lhasa, , , , , , , , . See also Great Prayer Festival
Lhasa Cathedral (Jokhang), , , , , , ,
Lhasa Lower Tantric College,
Lhodrak Drawo monastery, ,
Lhodrak Khenchen Namkha Gyaltsen. See Nyingma Lama Namkha Gyaltsen
advantages of,
causes of,
through desire, pitfalls of,
firm determination to attain,
truthlessness of,
of whatever arises,
liberative art, skill in, ,
liberties, eight, , , , n
Library of Tibetan Works & Archives, ,
Life and Teachings of Tsongkhapa, The, , , ,
lineages, , , nn
Ling Rinpoche. See Very Venerable Kyapjé Ling Rinpoche
lion’s roar, ,
Loden Sherab,
logic, , , . See also reasoning
longlife rituals,
Lord of Death, , , , ,
Lord of Tushita’s Hundred Gods. See Tushita’s Hundred Gods
Losang Drakpa. See Tsongkhapa Losang Drakpa
for harmful beings,
of Maitreya, ,
meditation on, ,
motivation of, , ,
power of,
Tsongkhapa’s, ,
Lucid Exposition (Chandrakīrti), , , , , , ,
Luhipada, , , ,
luminosity, . See also clear light
Mādhyamaka. See Middle Way (Mādhyamaka)
magic body teachings, , ,
magical visions, yoga of,
Mahākāla, , ,
Mahāmudrā. See Great Seal (Mahāmudrā)
Mahāsiddha Maitrīpa, , n
mahāsiddhas, , , , , , n
Mahāyāna. See Universal Vehicle (Mahāyāna)
Mahāyāna Sūtra Ornament (Maitreya),
abode of, ,
as Invincible, , n
lineage of, n
praises to, , , , , n (See also Brahmā’s Diadem)
prophesies of,
on quiescence and insight,
as Regent, , n
statue of, restoration, ,
visions of, , , , ,
works of, , , ,
See also Ornament of Realizations (Abhisamayālaṃkāra)
Maitrīpa. See Mahāsiddha Maitrīpa
mandalas, ,
of body,
construction of,
in creation stage, , , , n
offering, , ,
in tantric temple at Ganden,
Mañjuśhrī Dharmachakra, ,
Mañjuśhrī Essence,
Mañjuśhrī Raktayamāri,
Mañjuśhrīgarbha, ,
Mañjuśhrī/Mañjughoṣha, , , n
advice to Tsongkhapa, , , ,
aspects of, , ,
blessings of,
body of, description,
gratitude toward, , , n
homages to, , ,
invocation of, ,
lineages of, n, n
as meditational deity,
mind of,
praises to, ,
prophecies of, ,
revelation to Tsongkhapa,
speech of,
at time of Tsongkhapa’s death, appearance as,
tooth transforming into,
Tsongkhapa as emanation of, , , ,
visions of, , , , , , , , ,
wisdom sword of, , , ,
mantras, , , , ,
Marpa, , ,
master-student relationship, , , , , n
materialism, , ,
Matibhadraśhrī. See Tsongkhapa Losang Drakpa
media, six,
on clear light,
determination of view in,
five errors regarding,
fruits of,
higher education of, n
length of sessions,
motivation in,
need for intensive,
places, effect of, on, , ,
purposes of, ,
quiescence in, benefits of,
realistic view in,
between sessions, , ,
on space-like emptiness,
transcendence of,
See also emptiness meditation
Meditation Ultimate (Buddhaguhya),
Meeting of Father and Son Sūtra,
mental functions, four,
mental quiescence
creation stage meditation and,
identifying, ,
misunderstandings about,
See also quiescence and insight
merit, ,
from consecrated images,
directing toward enlightenment,
emptiness and,
of Mañjuśhrī,
from studying and teaching Dharma,
of Tsongkhapa,
from virtue,
See also two collections/stores
Meru, Mount, , , ,
Methodology of Elucidation (Vasubandhu),
Metön Chenpo,
Middle Way (Mādhyamaka), , , n
classifications of, , n
illusoriness in,
misunderstandings about,
purpose of,
Tsongkhapa’s study of, , ,
Tsongkhapa’s works on,
view, difficulty of discovering,
See also Dialecticist-Centrist (Prāsaṅgika Madhyamaka) system; Dogmaticist (Svātāntrika) Mādhyamakas
Middle-Length Transcendent Insight,
Mikyö Dorjé. See Gyalwa Mikyö Dorjé, the Eighth Karmapa
Milarepa, ,
emptiness of,
enlightened and unenlightened, relationship between, n
erroneous views of,
of Mañjuśhrī,
meditative concentration and,
mental quiescence and, ,
nine stations of,
personal self-habit and,
as root,
supreme cultivation of,
taming of, , ,
three habits of, , n
of Tsongkhapa, , ,
in understanding reality,
and wind, mixing,
mind and mental functions, ,
mindfulness, , , , ,
mindstreams, , ,
miracles, , ,
miracles, month of, ,
misknowledge, ,
addictive, , , ,
as egoistic views,
and ignorance, distinctions between, n
relativity and,
thorough consideration of,
Miwang Drakpa Gyaltsen, , ,
Moenkar Tashi Dzong,
monastic discipline (Vinaya), , , , . See also ordination
Monastic Discipline Sūtra (Guṇaprabha), , , , ,
moral discipline, , , ,
morality, , , ,
Mother of All Victors (Perfection of Wisdom in One Hundred Thousand Lines), , , , n
“Mother of the Buddhas,” , n
mothers, all being as, ,
causal factors for developing,
misunderstanding conventional truth and,
of path, ,
rebirth and,
selfish, cessation of,
special functions of,
three levels of, , , n
Nāgabodhi, , , , ,
Nāgārjuna, , , , , , , , , , n, n, n
on buddha activity,
five key texts of,
Great Perfection and, , n
on Guhyasamāja Root Tantra,
homage to,
importance of,
lineage of, , n
oral tradition of,
reliance on,
tantric writings of,
Tsongkhapa’s dream of, , , ,
Tsongkhapa’s view of, , ,
visions of, ,
See also Disclosure of the Spirit of Enlightenment; Praise for the Dharmadhātu; Precious Garland, The; Rebuttal of Objections; Seventy Stanzas on Emptiness; Six Works on Reason; Sixty Reasonings; Wisdom: Root Verses on the Middle Way
Namtze Deng,
Naropā, , , n
nature, pitfalls concerning, ,
negation, , , , , , , , , , n
“neither one or many” reasoning,
nescience, ,
Ngo Loden Sherab, , n
Ngokchu Dorjé,
nihilism, , n
analytic meditation and,
in erroneous meditation on emptiness,
falling into,
freedom from,
refutation of, , , , , ,
nirvāṇa, ,
conventional truth and,
functionality of,
as nondeceptive,
reasonings on,
relativity of, ,
of Tsongkhapa,
Western views and, n
Nomad Mountain (Drogri), ,
nondual apperception, , n
nonexistence, ,
and mere nonexistence, distinguishing between, ,
ultimate reality and, ,
Nyaello Ro,
Nyapön Kunga Pal,
Nyetang, , ,
Nyingma Lama Kyungpo Lhepa,
Nyingma Lama Namkha Gyaltsen, , , , , , n. See also Garland of Supremely Healing Nectars
Nyingma tradition,
objective condition,
objective selflessness, , , , ,
of cognition,
in Dialecticist system, selflessness of,
hypothetical and intellectual,
as illusory,
nonexistence of, seeing,
objectivity established on,
quiescence and insight as nondifferentiated by, , , ,
six, ,
three poisons and,
See also knowables/knowable things
obstacles, , , , , , , , ,
Ocean of Reasoning,
Oede Gungyal/Öde Gungyal, , , ,
to eliminate karmic debt,
motivation in,
by Tsongkhapa, , , , , , , , ,
for Tsongkhapa, , , ,
for two collections,
causes of,
path of, departing from,
See also under intuition
one taste,
oral teachings/instructions, , ,
ordination, , ,
origination, relational, . See also relativity (pratītyasamutpada)
Ornament of Realizations (Abhisamayālaṃkāra, Maitreya), , , , , ,
Ornament of the Middle Way (Śhāntarakṣhita), , ,
Padmasambhava. See Guru Padmasambhava
pāramitās, six. See six transcendences
partiality, pitfall of,
passions, , , , ,
of accumulation, ,
of action,
of application, ,
of preparation,
patience, ,
of buddhas, , , n
direct, ,
purifying, , ,
two realities and,
perfection, factors of,
perfection, primal,
Perfection of Wisdom in One Hundred Thousand Lines. See Mother of All Victors
Perfection of Wisdom (Prajñāpāramitā) Sūtra, , nn
Buddha’s teaching of, ,
mastery of, , ,
as transformative instruction,
Tsongkhapa’s commentary on,
perfection stage. See completion-stage yoga
Perfection Vehicle,
performance tantra,
personal selflessness, , , ,
four keys for analyzing, , n
identification of person in,
illusoriness and,
nonrealistic of property (“mine”) and,
analytic discrimination of,
emptiness of,
perception of,
pilgrimages, , ,
poetry, study of,
five, , ,
three, , , n
postmeditation, , ,
posture, ,
Potala palace,
Potala Peak,
pots, example of, , , , ,
Praise for the Dharmadhātu (Nāgārjuna), , , ,
Praise of the Incomparable Tsongkhapa (Mikyö Dorjé), ,
Praise to Dependent Origination, , , , ,
Praises Extolling the Praiseworthy (Aśhvaghoṣha),
pratyekabuddhas. See self-enlightened sages (pratyekabuddhas)
Prayer for Rebirth in Sukhāvati, , ,
Prayer of the Virtuous Beginning, Middle, and End, ,
force of,
perfection of,
praise of Maitreya, , n
for supportive circumstances for practice, ,
Prayers for the Pure Land,
Precious Garland, The (Nāgārjuna), , , , , , ,
preliminary practices,
pride, , , ,
production, , , , , , ,
property-habit (Bdag gir ’dzin pa),
on disciples of Tsongkhapa,
by Mañjuśhrī, ,
on Tibet, ,
on Tsongkhapa, , ,
of Vajrapāṇī,
prostrations, , , , ,
pure lands/pure abodes, , , , n
purification, , , , , , ,
Questions of Nāga King Anavatapta Sūtra, ,
Questions of Sagaramati Sūtra,
Questions of Upāli Sūtra,
quiescence and insight, ,
attainment of, , ,
in balanced proportion, importance of, , , ,
benefits of,
fluency in, , n
necessity of both,
order of,
request for teaching on,
See also mental quiescence; transcendent insight (lhag mthong)
rainbows, , , , ,
Raka Drag,
Rationalists, n
Ratnakaraśhānti, . See also Instruction in Transcendent Wisdom (Ratnakaraśhānti)
Ratnakuṭasūtra collection,
realistic view, , , , , , , , , , n
realities, four, ,
realities, two
certification of number of,
as different actualities and identical differentials, , n
erroneous views on,
importance of understanding,
purpose of differentiating,
sprout example,
realitylessness, , , , ,
realms of existence, , , , n
reasoning, ,
four types, , , n
lines of, ,
path of,
and ultimate reality, ,
aspiration for human,
fixation on,
in form realm,
knowledge of,
memory of, ,
mindfulness of,
suffering of,
training throughout multiple,
of Tsongkhapa,
unfortunate states of, , , , n
See also Prayer for Rebirth in Sukhāvati
Rebuttal of Objections (Nāgārjuna), ,
recitation, adamantine (vajrajāpa),
refuge, , ,
Mañjuśhrī as, , ,
misunderstanding conventional truth and,
Tsongkhapa as, ,
reification, , , , , , , n
relativity (pratītyasamutpada), , , , ,
attitude oriented toward,
delusion and,
functions of, ,
superficial reality and,
See also Praise to Dependent Origination
Rendawa Shönu Lodrö, , , , , , ,
renunciation, , n
aspiration for, , , , ,
of cyclic existence,
transcendent, ,
Tsongkhapa’s, , , ,
repudiation, , , n
retentions, perfect,
Reting monastery, ,
Retreat House Empty Mountain Sunrise,
retreats, ,
for cultivating view,
four-year, ,
group, Reting tradition of,
on Kālachakra Tantra,
near end of life,
on Yamāntaka,
Rölpai Dorje, the Fourth Karmapa,
Rongrub Chölung,
Sadāprarudita, , n
Sākya monastery, , ,
Sākya tradition, ,
samādhi, , , ,
in analytic meditation,
of form and formless realms,
free of discriminative thought,
quiescence and insight in, , ,
realistic view in,
three types,
Samantabhadra, ,
saṃbhogakāya. See body of perfect beatitude (saṃbhogakāya)
saṃsāra. See cyclic existence/living (saṃsāra)
Samye monastery, , , n, n
Saraha, , , n
Sarasvatī, , , , , ,
Sautrāntikas, , , n
Sazang Mati Panchen,
Scientific Knowledge (Abhidharma), , , ,
Scriptualist Centrists. See Sautrāntikas
scripture, , , ,
in analyzing reality, , , ,
meditation and,
as personal guideline,
practice and,
reasoning and, , n
as validating cognition,
Secret of the Tathāgatas Sūtra,
Secret Union,
seed syllables of twenty voidnesses,
self, , , . See also personal selflessness; self-habits
self-enlightened sages (pratyekabuddhas), , , ,
negating objects of,
objective, , , ,
personal, , ,
sequence of generation of,
self-initiation meditations, , ,
certainty about,
insights of three doors and,
reason for understanding, ,
samādhi and, , ,
two types,
See also objective selflessness; personal selflessness; self-habits
Separating and Mixing Tantra,
Sera monastery, , ,
Seven Branch Texts of Validating Cognition (Dignāga),
seven-limbed ritual,
Seventy Stanzas on Emptiness (Nāgārjuna), , , ,
Śhākyamuni Buddha, , , , , ,
contest of miracles and,
faith in,
homages to, (See also Praise to Dependent Origination)
intention of, , , n
kindness of,
lineages from, nn
as Mighty Demon Tamer,
previous lives of,
prophecy regarding Tsongkhapa, ,
speech, supremacy of,
Tsongkhapa’s similarities to, ,
twelve deeds of, n
visions of,
Shambhala, n
Śhāntarakṣhita, , , n. See also Ornament of the Middle Way
Śhāntideva, , , , . See also Compendium of Training; Entrance to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life
Śhīlaprabha, n
“Short Biography, A” (Geshé Ngawang Dhargé), ,
Śhrāvaka Levels (Disciple Stages, Asaṅga), , , , ,
sign-habits (āyatana), , ,
signlessness, yoga of,
single-minded concentration
analysis and,
in creation stage,
on emptiness, ,
four defining characteristics of,
perfect view and,
six limits/parameters, , n
Six Ornaments, , n
six species, , . See also realms of existence
six teachings of Nigu,
six transcendences, , , , n
Six Works on Reason (Nāgārjuna), , , n
six yogas of Naropā, , , , ,
six-branched yoga (Kālachakra),
Sixty Reasonings (Nāgārjuna), , , , , , , n
Sixty Reasonings Commentary (Candrakīrti), , , , ,
social superficial reality, ,
solitude, , , , , , ,
Song of the Mystic Experiences (Jamyang Chöjé), ,
Song of the Tricosmic Master (Khedrup Jé), ,
Song Rapidly Invoking Blessings (Seventh Dalai Lama), ,
Songtsen Gampo, first queen of,
space, , ,
element of,
in meditation, , ,
truthlessness of,
vajra of,
space-like emptiness,
of Maitreya,
of Mañjuśhrī,
of Tsongkhapa, , , ,
of Vajrāpāṇi,
Spell for Entering Nondiscrimination,
spirit of enlightenment (bodhicitta), , n
aspiration for, , ,
contemplating, benefit of quiescence in, ,
function of,
importance of, , , ,
two types, n
spiritual friends
Amitāyus as,
depending on,
Maitreya as,
Mañjuśhrī as,
spiritual genes,
spiritual masters,
devotion to,
name mantra of,
qualities of, ,
relying on,
in tantric tradition,
wrong-minded, avoiding,
sprout example,
Stages of Arrangements,
Stages of Meditation (Kamalaśhīla), , , , n
first, ,
second, , , , ,
third, , ,
stages of the path (lamrim), , , , nn
certainty in,
lineages of,
meditation instructions in,
Stainless Light (Puṇḍarika),
of Avalokiteśhvara, ,
of Buddha in Lhasa, crowning of, ,
of Buddha in Lhasa, offerings to, ,
at Ganden,
stupas, , , n
substantivism, , , n, n
subtle drops, ,
Suchandra. See Dharmarāja Suchandra
erroneous views on,
import of,
meditation on,
orientation toward,
of personal self, ,
seeking view of,
truthlessness of,
compassion for others’,
contemplating, ,
conventional truth and,
freedom from, aspiration for,
origin of,
relativity of,
of six realms,
three types,
Sukhāvatī Prayer. See Prayer for Rebirth in Sukhāvati
Sumati Kīrti, . See also Tsongkhapa Losang Drakpa
superficial reality, ,
categories of,
designative ultimate reality and,
false and genuine,
in Mādhyamaka schools,
merely superficial and,
verbal meanings of terms,
Supreme Vehicle, , , , . See also Vajra Vehicle (Vajrayāna)
Sustaining Buddha (Middle Way Commentary, Buddhapālita), , , , n
Sūtra Collection (Nāgārjuna),
Sūtra on the Three Heaps of the Doctrine,
Sūtrayāna, n
Taktsang Lotsawa, n
classes of, , , ,
and Discipline, harmonizing,
error in,
at Ganden,
Individual Vehicle and, n
Nāgārjuna and Āryadeva in, n
and passion, harnessing to path,
qualities needed for,
spirit of enlightenment in,
superiority of,
and sūtra, compatibility between, , , n
Tsongkhapa’s studies of,
Tsongkhapa’s teaching on, ,
vows in, ,
Tantrayāna. See Vajra Vehicle (Vajrayāna)
tantric pledges and vows, , , n
Tārā, . See also White Tārā
Tashi Lhunpo,
Tashi Palden,
Tashi Sengé,
ten powers, ,
Tengyur woodblocks,
Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, , , ,
Teura monastery,
cultivating, ,
depending on reason,
focusing on,
nondiscrimination and,
omniscient intuition, perception by,
penetration into,
quiescence and insight in seeing, ,
realization of, , ,
vision of,
Thatness-Teaching Samādhi Sūtra,
theoretical schools, four main, , n
Thirteen Deity Yamāntaka practice,
thoughtful attitudes, , ,
three baskets (Tripiṭaka), ,
three doors, insights of,
three higher trainings, , n
Three Jewels of refuge, , , , n
Three Principles, , ,
three realms, , , n, n
Thupten Yeshé Gyaltsen,
prophecies about, ,
revival of Buddhism in,
three greatest luminaries of,
Tilopā, , , n
time, investigating,
titans. See antigods (asuras)
Tokden Jampal Gyatso,
tooth relic,
transcendences. See six transcendences
Transcendence Vehicle, ,
transcendent insight (lhag mthong), , ,
categories of,
four conscious attitudes in,
generating, ,
phenomenological and ontological,
simulated, ,
three conditions for,
See also quiescence and insight
Transcendental Praise (Nāgārjuna),
transferring consciousness,
Transformative Instruction Collection,
transformative instructions, ,
Treasury of Scientific Knowledge (Abhidharmakośha, Vasubandhu), ,
Trisong Detsen, King,
Triumph of Virtue monastery, . See also Ganden monastery
truth body (dharmakāya), , , ,
addictive misknowledge and, ,
about aggregates, ,
in analytic meditation, ,
as cause of addictive views,
cyclic life and,
remedy for,
superficial reality and, , , ,
truthlessness, , , ,
truths, two, , , n. See also conventional truth; realities, two; ultimate truth
actual ultimate and,
cognition and,
habitual, ,
mere exclusion of,
superficial reality and,
of ultimate reality, refutation of, , , ,
uncreated things and,
Tsal Gungthang,
Tsong Kha region, ,
Tsongkhapa Losang Drakpa
as all buddhas,
biographies of, , , , , , n
birth of,
central theme of,
death of, ,
enlightenment of, ,
fame of, ,
first teachings of,
Ganden, teachings given at,
health problems of,
invocation of, ,
legacy of,
and Lhodrak Khenchen, karmic connection between,
and Mañjuśhrī, relationship between,
as Mañjuśhrīgarbha, ,
as Matibhadraśhrī, , , , ,
mummified body of,
names of, , , , n
ordination of,
praises of, , , , ,
previous incarnations of, , ,
prophecies about, , ,
qualities and character of, , ,
quest for learning of,
studies and training of, , , ,
teaching career of, , , , , , ,
works of, , , ,
world history, role in,
See also deeds of Tsongkhapa
Tsultrim Dorjé Wang,
Tsultrim Rinchen,
Tushita, , , , , , , , ,
Tushita, Hundred Gods of. See Hundred Gods of Tushita
twelve deeds/acts of universal teacher, , n
twelve links of dependent origination,
Twenty-Verse Rite on the Guhyasamāja Mandala (Nāgabodhi),
two collections/stores, , , , , , , n
two stages, , , , , , , , , n. See also completion-stage yoga; creation stage
Two Superiors, , n
ultimate reality
buddha’s perceptions of,
categories of,
cognition of,
nature of,
objectivity of,
quiescence and insight in understanding,
truthlessness of,
verbal meaning of terms,
ultimate truth, , , n
Umapa. See Lama Umapa Pawo Dorjé
unexcelled yoga tantra, , , , n, n
Universal Vehicle (Mahāyāna), , , n
aspiration for actualizing,
causal and resultant, n
fruits of meditation in, ,
quiescence and insight in,
rebirth in, aspiration for,
spirit of enlightenment in, ,
spiritual friends in,
spiritual gene of,
two paths of, , , nn, n
vows in, , n
unproduced condition,
Uṣhṇīṣha Sitatapatra,
Uṣhṇīṣha Vijayā, ,
U-tsang, , ,
Vaibhāṣhikas, , n, n
Vairochana Enlightenment (Buddhaguhya), ,
Vaiśhravaṇa, ,
Vajra Hell,
Vajra Mañjuśhrī,
vajra mind,
vajra posture, ,
vajra songs,
Vajra Vehicle (Vajrayāna), , , n
aspiration for,
bodhicitta in, importance of, ,
emptiness view in,
quiescence and insight in,
samādhis of,
superiority of,
vows of, n
Vajradhāra, , , ,
Vajrapāṇī, , ,
homages to, ,
Khenchen Namkha Gyaltsen and, , , , n (See also Garland of Supremely Healing Nectars)
as meditational deity,
memory of, , n
prophecies of,
on Tsongkhapa’s trip to India, ,
vision of, , ,
Vajrāsana (Bodh Gaya), , , n
Vajrasattva, hundred-syllable mantra of,
Validating Cognition Collection,
validating cognitions, , , , , ,
Vasubandhu, , , n. See also Treasury of Scientific Knowledge (Abhidharmakośha)
vehicles, three, , . See also Individual Vehicle (Hīnayāna); Universal Vehicle (Mahāyāna); Vajra Vehicle (Vajrayāna)
Venerable Geshé Ngawang Dhargyey, , , , ,
Venerable Geshé Wangyal, ,
verbal conventions,
Verse Summary of the Perfection of Wisdom, The,
Very Venerable Kyapjé Ling Rinpoche, ,
authentic, , , n
cause of all,
egoistic, , , , , ,
elimination of,
extremist, , , , , , , , n
four wrong,
meditation and,
natural release into,
pitfalls regarding,
wrong, abandoning, ,
See also realistic view
visions, ,
of the between (bar do),
of all lineages,
of Amitābha, ,
of Black Mañjuśhrī,
of Buddha Vajraviḍaraṇa,
during four-year retreat,
of Kālachakra, ,
of Maitreya, , , ,
of Mañjuśhrī, , ,
of Mañjuśhrī’s sword flowing with ambrosia, , , ,
of Nāgārjuna and five spiritual sons, ,
of Sarasvatī, ,
of sixteen arhats,
three ways of having,
of Tsongkhapa by Khedrup Jé,
of Vajrāpāṇi, , n
Visit to Lanka Sūtra, ,
visualization, methods of,
vital drops. See subtle drops
bodhisattva, ,
levels of, , , , n
transgressions of, confessing,
in Tsongkhapa’s early life,
See also tantric pledges and vows
Vultures Peak, , , n
Wangchuk Dorje, the Ninth Karmapa,
wealth, , ,
wheel of becoming,
White Tārā,
winds/wind-energies, neural, , , , n
aspiration for,
bliss and,
discriminating, , , , , , n
five types,
higher education of, n
as insight,
of Maitreya,
of Mañjuśhrī,
and method, union of,
from realizing emptiness,
realizing truthlessness,
of relativity,
transcendent, , , n
of Tsongkhapa, ,
Wisdom: Root Verses on the Middle Way (Nāgārjuna), ,
on actions and addictions,
on aggregates and self, reasonings on, ,
Buddhapālita’s commentary on,
on dependence,
on peace in relativity,
on property of self,
on single continuum,
title of, n
Tsongkhapa’s commentary on,
on uncreated things, ,
wish-granting gem, , , , , n
Wittgenstein, Ludwig, n
Wolka Chölung, ,
Wolka Jampa Ling,
Wonde Chenteng,
Wongyi Tashi Dokar,
world transformation,
Yama. See Lord of Death
empowerment of,
enlightenment practice of,
Mañjuśhrī as,
as meditational deity, ,
thirteen-deity mandala of, ,
visions of,
yoga of nonappearance,
yoga tantra, ,
yogini tantras,
Yönten Gyatso, ,
Zhalu monastery, ,


Buddhist Bibliography

Short Biography of Tsongkhapa Losang Drakpa

“The great Nyingma teacher Lhodrak Khenchen Namkha Gyaltsen once asked the Bodhisattva Vajrapāṇī to describe the qualities of Lama Jé Tsongkhapa; but since these were innumerable, Vajrapāṇī was unable to do so. To hear the complete biography of the Lord Tsongkhapa would take at least a year. This brief exposition has been compiled merely as an introduction for English-speaking readers.

Tsongkhapa, popularly known as Jé Rinpoche, was born in 1357, the year of the bird, in the Tsong Kha region of Amdo Province, in eastern Tibet. His father, who was bold but unassuming, energetic yet taciturn and reserved, was constantly engaged in thoughts of the Teaching and recited the Expression of the Names of Mañjuśhrī each day. His mother, a guileless and very kind woman, was always chanting the six-syllable mantra of Avalokiteśhvara — oṃ mani padme hūṃ. They had six sons, Tsongkhapa being the fourth.

During the time of Buddha Śhākyamuni, Tsongkhapa, in a previous incarnation, was a young boy who offered the Buddha a clear, crystal rosary and received a conch shell in return. The Buddha then called his disciple Ānanda to him and prophesied that the boy would be born in Tibet, would found a great monastery between the areas of Dri and Den, and would present a crown to the statue of the Buddha in Lhasa and be instrumental in the flourishing of the Dharma in Tibet. The Buddha gave the young boy the future name of Sumati Kīrti, or, in Tibetan, Losang Drakpa.

All this occurred exactly as the Buddha had prophesied. The conch shell that the Buddha had given the boy was unearthed during the building of Ganden monastery and, until 1959, could still be seen in Drepung, the largest monastery in Tibet. The crown still rests on the head of the Buddha statue in Lhasa.

Over a thousand years after the passing of Śhākyamuni Buddha, further prophesies relating to Jé Rinpoche were given by the lotus-born guru Padmasambhava. He predicted that a fully ordained Buddhist monk named Losang Drakpa would appear in the east near the land of China. He said that this monk would be regarded as being an emanation of a bodhisattva of the greatest renown and would attain the complete enjoyment body of a buddha.

During the year of the monkey, which preceded his birth, his parents had unusual dreams. His father dreamed of a monk who came to him from the Five-Peaked Mountain (Wu-tai-shan) in China, a place particularly associated with Mañjuśhrī. This monk required shelter for nine months, which, in the dream, his father gave by accommodating him in their shrine room for that length of time.

His mother dreamed that she and one thousand other women were in a flower garden, to which a boy dressed in white and carrying a vessel came from the east while a girl dressed in red and holding peacock feathers in her right hand and a large mirror in her left came from the west. The boy went to each of the women in turn and asked the girl if the woman would be suitable. The girl repeatedly rejected them until the boy pointed to Tsongkhapa’s mother, whom she indicated as the perfect choice. The boy and girl then purified Tsongkhapa’s mother by bathing her, and when she awoke the next day she felt very light.

In the first month of the year of the bird, Jé Rinpoche’s parents again had striking dreams. His mother saw monks coming with many different ritual objects, saying that they were going to invoke the statue of Avalokiteśhvara. When the statue appeared, it was as big as a mountain, yet as it approached her it diminished in size, finally entering her body through her crown aperture.

Tsongkhapa’s father dreamed of Vajrapāṇī, who, from his own pure realm, threw down a vajra, which landed on his wife.

Just before giving birth, his mother dreamed of many monks arriving with offerings. When she inquired about their purpose they replied that they had come to pay their respects and gain an audience. Simultaneously, the boy in white from her previous dream appeared and pointed to her womb. With key in hand he entered it and opened a box, from which came the golden statue of Avalokiteśhvara. This statue was stained, and a girl in red appeared and cleaned it with a peacock feather. This dream symbolized that Tsongkhapa would be an emanation of Avalokiteśhvara as well as of Mañjuśhrī. The same morning, Tsongkhapa was born without causing any suffering to his mother. At the time of his birth an auspicious star appeared in the sky. These portents were ample evidence of the birth of someone remarkable. In this respect Jé Rinpoche’s birth resembled that of the Buddha.

Prior to these events, Tsongkhapa’s future great teacher, Chöjé Döndrup Rinchen, had been in Lhasa and had learned that upon his return to Amdo, he would find a disciple who was an emanation of Mañjuśhrī. After Tsongkhapa’s birth, he sent his chief disciple to the parents with a protection knot, some relic pills, and a letter of greeting.

At the age of three, Tsongkhapa took layman’s vows from the Fourth Karmapa Lama Rölpai Dorjé and received the name Kunga Nyingpo.

When Tsongkhapa’s parents invited Chöjé Döndrup Rinchen to their home, the lama brought horses, sheep, and a huge number of gifts, which he gave to Tsongkhapa’s father. When the lama requested the father to part with his son, the father was delighted at the prospect of his child being with such a great teacher and allowed him to leave with the lama.

Before taking the novice vows, Tsongkhapa received many tantric initiations and teachings, including the Heruka empowerment, and was given the secret name of Dönyo Dorjé. When he was seven, he fulfilled his yearning to take the novice vows, receiving them from his teacher. It is here that he was given the name of Losang Drakpa, which, forty years later, was to become the most talked about and controversial nom de plume in central Tibet.

Tsongkhapa attached greater importance to guarding his vows than he did his eyes or his own life. He had entered the mandalas of Heruka, Hevajra, Yamāntaka, and other deities before receiving ordination, and was even performing self-initiation meditations on Heruka when he was only seven. Before self-initiation is allowed, a major retreat of the specific deity must be completed.

His eminent teacher took care of him until he went to central Tibet at the age of sixteen. Before the statue of Śhākyamuni Buddha in the Lhasa Cathedral, he offered prayers to enable his completion of all the stages of sutra and tantra in order to mature and lead other trainees to enlightenment.

Chöjé Döndrup Rinchen proffered advice in poetical form to the effect that Tsongkhapa should first study and master the Ornament of Realizations (Abhisamayālaṃkāra) and then approach the other four great treatises. The lama further suggested Tsongkhapa’s lifelong choice of meditational deities to whom he should make offerings and with whom he should feel perpetually inseparable. The following deities were to be cultivated accordingly: Yamāntaka for the continuation of his practice, Vajrapāṇī for freedom from interruptions, Mañjuśhrī for increase in wisdom and discriminating awareness, Amitāyus for long life, and the three Dharma protectors — Vaiśhravaṇa, the six-armed Mahākāla, and Dharmarāja — for protection and for the availability of prerequisites while practicing.

On his departure, his master came with him as far as Tsongkha Kang, from where Tsongkhapa went on alone, walking backward with his hands folded at his heart and reciting the Hymn of the Names of Mañjuśhrī. When he reached the line “Those who do not return to cyclic existence never come back,” he had tears in his eyes, for he realized that he would never return to Amdo.

Traveling with Denma Rinchen Pal, in autumn of the year of the bull (1373), Tsongkhapa arrived at Drikung, a five-day journey from Lhasa, where he met the head lama of the Drikung Kagyü monastery, Chennga Chökyi Gyalpo by name. This great lama was his first teacher after leaving his original master and tutored him during his stay at the monastery on various topics such as the altruistic mind (bodhicitta) and the five sections of the Great Seal (Mahāmudrā). He also met the great doctor Könchok Kyap, who taught him the major medical treatises, and by the time he was seventeen he had become an excellent doctor. Thus his fame was already spreading even in the early years of his study.

From Drikung, Tsongkhapa went to the Chödra Chenpo Dewachen monastery in Nyetang, where he studied with Tashi Sengé and Densapa Gekong. Furthermore, Yönten Gyatso taught him how to read the great treatises and continually helped him with the Ornament of Realizations. Within eighteen days he had memorized and assimilated both the root text and all its commentaries, and he soon mastered all the works of Maitreya Buddha. He then gained a complete understanding of the Perfection of Wisdom (Prajñāpāramitā) Sūtras at great speed and with little effort. His teachers and fellow students with whom he debated were astonished at his knowledge and, after two years of studying the Perfection of Wisdom Sūtras, he was recognized, at the age of nineteen, as a great scholar.

That year Jé Rinpoche debated at the two biggest monasteries of the day in Tibet: Chödra Chenpo Dewachen and Samye. He now became very famous in U-tsang, the central province of Tibet, and undertook an extensive tour of it. First he visited the great monastery of Zhalu, where the renowned translator Khenchen Rinchen Namgyal, a direct disciple of the founder of the monastery, gave him the Heruka initiation. He went on to Sākya, the center of the Sākya tradition, in order to debate further on the major treatises and thereby increase his understanding of them. But upon arrival, he learned that most of the monks had gone to debate at the distant Karpu pass so instead he went to Zhalu and met the great lama Demchok Maitri, who initiated him into the Thirteen Deity Yamāntaka practice. Later he returned to Sākya, but the debaters had still not returned, so this time he went to Sazang and met the great Sazang paṇḍit Mati, who gave him extensive teachings. Returning a third time to Sākya, he was able to take the required examinations on the Perfection of Wisdom Sūtras.

He then continued on his travel around the other monasteries of U-tsang, engaging in more and more debates. There are many stories concerning the miraculous visions of those present at these places as well as Tsongkhapa’s ever-developing great realizations and insights. Jé Tsongkhapa continued with many other required debates at various monasteries on the systems of philosophical theories and the five major treatises. As he had a great admiration for Nyapön Kunga Pal, whom he met at Tsechen in U-tsang and from whom he received many discourses, he went to him and requested instructions on the Perfection of Wisdom Sūtras, but this master was unwell and referred him to his disciple, the Venerable Rendawa (1349–1412). Jé Rinpoche developed tremendous respect for Rendawa’s method of teaching the Treasury of Scientific Knowledge (Abhidharmakośha) and its autocommentary. Tsongkhapa asked many searching questions on certain points to the amazement of his teacher, who was sometimes unable to answer immediately. This master had innumerable spiritual qualities and Tsongkhapa later came to regard him as his principal teacher. Their relationship became such that simultaneously they were each other’s master and disciple. He also received teachings on the Middle Way (Mādhyamaka) philosophy from Rendawa.

Tsongkhapa composed a verse in honor of Rendawa and would often recite it:

Mañjuśhrī, lord of stainless omniscience,

Avalokiteśhvara, mighty treasure of unconditional love,

O Rendawa Shönu Lodrö, crown jewel of Tibetan sages,

at your feet I make this request,

grant protection to me, a fly seeking liberation.

Rendawa replied that this was more applicable to Tsongkhapa than to himself, and so adapted the verse as follows. This is now regarded as Tsongkhapa’s mantra:

Avalokiteśhvara, mighty treasure of unconditional love,

Mañjuśhrī, lord of stainless knowledge,

Vajrapāṇī, destroyer of all demonic forces,

O Jé Tsongkhapa, Losang Drakpa,

crown jewel of the sages of the Land of Snows,

humbly I request your blessing.

During the autumn and winter, he received many teachings on the Entrance to the Middle Way by Chandrakīrti, who also wrote an autocommentary to it. He then returned to U-tsang, where the great translator and metaphysician Jangchup Tsemo was to give teachings in Lhasa on the five major treatises.

Upon arrival in Lhasa, Tsongkhapa went straight to him and requested teachings. However, this old lama was in delicate health and intended to leave soon for an area south of Lhasa. Tsongkhapa was not satisfied with the short discourses he received, so he returned to Nyetang to become the student of the great scholar of monastic discipline (Vinaya), the Abbot Kashiwa Losal, at whose feet he studied the root texts of Guṇaprabha’s Monastic Discipline Sūtra and Vasubhandu’s Treasury of Scientific Knowledge, as well as many related commentaries. By the time he left, his depth of understanding surpassed that of his teacher. He memorized a commentary on the extensive root text of the Monastic Discipline Sūtra at the daily rate of seventeen Tibetan folios, which is thirty-four pages.

While reciting prayers with the other monks, he had complete and effortless single-pointed concentration on insight meditation.

However, he remained dissatisfied and continued to search for further teachers and teachings. Surely we can derive inspiration from such rectitude, considering that he had memorized, for example, over twenty thousand verses of the extensive Perfection of Wisdom Sūtras.

During that winter, a troublesome back pain developed and he thought of returning to Rendawa in U-tsang, but the bitterly cold weather forced him to stay at Nenying, where he gave his first teachings. Scholars had asked for teachings on Scientific Knowledge (Abhidharma), or metaphysics, and in particular on Asaṅga’s Compendium of Scientific Knowledge, which develops the Mahāyāna Scientific Knowledge. He also wished to study again the Treasury of Scientific Knowledge written by Vasubhandu, which is a compilation of the Hīnayāna Scientific Knowledge. Tsongkhapa studied the higher tenets, and although it was his initial encounter with this text, he mastered it on first reading and gave perfect teachings.

From there he went to Rendawa, who was at Sākya, and for eleven months taught the Compendium of Scientific Knowledge.

At this time, he himself received teachings on Dharmakīrti’s Commentary on Valid Cognition as well as various texts such as Chandrakīrti’s Entrance to the Middle Way and the transmission of Guṇaprabha’s Monastic Discipline Sūtra.

While at Sākya he also received an explanation on the Hevajra Tantra from Dorjé Rinchen. This lama also taught him a method by which to cure his painful back.

In the company of the master Rendawa, he left for northern Tibet and spent the spring and summer at the monastery of Chödey. Here Rendawa wrote his commentary to the Compendium of Scientific Knowledge, which he later taught to Tsongkhapa upon the disciple’s request.

At this time, many people from Tsong Kha were coming to Lhasa with gifts from Tsongkhapa’s now-wealthy family and brought with them numerous letters from family and friends imploring him to come back. Reading these upon his return to Lhasa, Jé Tsongkhapa considered going back but realized that return would necessitate a break in his studies with the consequence of failure in his drive to help sentient beings. Thus he stayed back and wrote to his mother instead, enclosing a self-portrait that spoke to her when she opened it. From childhood, he had always possessed a strong sense of renunciation and, later on, even refused an invitation from the emperor of China, who had requested his services as imperial tutor.

Tsongkhapa went into retreat for a few months and in between sessions studied the Commentary on Valid Cognition. This text contains four chapters, and when he reached the second, he realized the profundity of the work and developed the greatest respect and admiration for Dharmakīrti while deepening his conviction in the Buddha and his teachings.

He then returned to Tsang to debate, traveling to Narthang where the Tibetan woodblocks of the Tibetan translations of the Buddha’s actual teachings (the Kangyur) and of the scientific treatises (the Tengyur) were kept. Here he met the great translator Donzang, author of a critique to the Commentary on Valid Cognition, which he taught to Tsongkhapa. They also debated on the two sets of Scientific Knowledge and on the Monastic Discipline Sūtra. He received teachings on the technical aspects of poetry from the translator Namkha Sangpo and then returned to Rendawa for further elucidation on the five major treatises: the Middle Way philosophy, Logic, Scientific Knowledge, Perfection of Wisdom, and Discipline. He especially concentrated on the Entrance to the Middle Way, and from the Abbot of Narthang received instruction on the Six Works on Reason by Nāgārjuna.

Having further refined his dialectical skills, he returned, with Rendawa, to Sākya, where he took examinations on four of the five treatises, omitting the Perfection of Wisdom Sūtras, which he had previously covered. Tempers are sometimes short during a debate, but he always remained calm and spoke with amazing mastery.

Tsongkhapa practiced simplicity and lived without affluence or great comfort. People felt overawed before meeting him, but once in his presence were happy and relaxed. He would treat all questions with equal respect. Many of his disciples attained enlightenment in one lifetime.

By this time, people realized that Tsongkhapa was an exceptional person who had taken birth by choice in order to help all sentient beings. His pure morality gained him the greatest respect from all sides and his devotees in U-tsang were now legion. It is uncertain when he took the vows of a fully ordained mendicant monk, or bhikṣhu, for there is nothing to substantiate the commonly accepted thesis that he was twenty-one. However, at a monastery just south of Lhasa, the Abbot Tsultrim Rinchen and a group of bhikṣhus were present at the ordination ceremony. This was conducted in accordance with the tradition of the Hīnayāna, which requires the presence of ten bhikṣhus and an abbot when ordination is given in a place where the teachings are flourishing, technically called a central land. If the ordination is not held in such a place, then at least five bhikṣhus and an abbot should attend. In either case, the presence of two elders is essential. One reads from the Monastic Discipline Sūtra and the other questions the candidate concerning his suitability for the monastic way of life.

After ordination, he returned to the great lama at the Drikung Kagyü center, and while the two were engaged in lengthy conversation the elderly lama was overcome by tears, wishing that he too could have practiced so intensively in his youth. He later told his disciples that both he and they had merely received higher rebirths, whereas Jé Tsongkhapa received a stream of realizations even in his youth. He received many teachings from the lama on such topics as tantra, the six yogas of Naropā, the works of Jé Phakmo Drupa (who was one of the foremost disciples of Gampopa), and the teachings of the founder of the monastery.

By this time, Tsongkhapa had received from this Drikung Kagyü master all the teachings that Marpa had given to two of his four sons: Milarepa and Ngokchu Dorjé, the other two “sons” being Metön Chenpo and Tsultrim Dorjé Wang. In addition, Tsongkhapa was constantly developing spiritual qualities and reading all the texts and commentaries available.

At the age of thirty-two he traveled to Tsal Gungthang, where he commenced writing a commentary on the Perfection of Wisdom Sūtras. He synthesized all twenty-one Indian commentaries on the Ornament of Realizations, for Maitreya’s text is itself a commentary to the Perfection of Wisdom Sūtras. He called this work The Golden Rosary of Eloquent Teaching (Legshay serteng). The translator Tagtsang, who had previously disputed many of Tsongkhapa’s viewpoints, was amazed by this commentary and showered praise on the text and its author. He wrote, “As your sun of wisdom rises, my flower of arrogance disappears.”

Tsongkhapa and his chief disciples traveled to Lhasa and started a fasting retreat near the statue of Avalokiteśhvara. One evening he told the disciple who was his scribe to observe his dreams that night. The acolyte did so, and dreamed that two conch shells appeared in the sky and then descended into his lap, where they merged. He blew this conch, which gave forth a deep resonance. The dream symbolized that Tsongkhapa’s teaching would flourish.

After this retreat, he visited Nyethang once more and gave many discourses on the Middle Way and the other major treatises. He decided to study the Kālachakra literature and received the relevant teachings from Thupten Yeshé Gyaltsen, who lived near Lhasa. This teacher also imparted the relevant instructions on astrology and mandala construction.

He now started giving tantric initiations and the teachings related to its practices, especially the permission of Sarasvatī, a female deity of wisdom, whom some took to be his particular protectress. The instructions that he conferred ripened and liberated many disciples. While staying at Moenkar Tashi Dzong, just south of Lhasa, he taught the biographies of the great accomplished beings of the past. Jé Tsongkhapa was requested to teach in the tradition of Geshé Shatönpa and others who had dealt with as many as eleven volumes during the period of teaching. He promised to do so and went into retreat for twenty days to prepare. His idea was to commence the discourses on the first day of the Tibetan month, but as so many people wished to attend, he deferred until the fourth to give them time to arrive. In the interim he gave some teachings from the lineage of Marpa and Milarepa, and thereafter proceeded to teach not just eleven but seventeen texts in three months. Each day was divided into fifteen sessions between dawn and dusk and the texts covered were as follows: Dharmakīrti’s Commentary on Valid Cognition, Ornament of Realizations and the other four works of Maitreya, Vasubhandu’s Treasury of Scientific Knowledge, Asaṅga’s Compendium of Scientific Knowledge, Guṇaprabha’s Monastic Discipline Sūtra, the five key texts by Nāgārjuna, Chandrakīrti’s Entrance to the Middle Way, Āryadeva’s Four Hundred Stanzas, and Śāntideva’s Entrance to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life.

He taught all these texts and their commentaries from memory, explaining their use of profound logical analysis and expounding on them in great depth, yet he continued concurrently with his own daily practices. For example, he carried out many self-initiations daily into the mandalas of various deities such as Yamāntaka.

From here he went to the south for a very intensive retreat in the practice of Heruka, in which he did the self-initiation each night. In the Kagyü tradition great emphasis is placed on the six yogas of Naropā and the six teachings of Nigu, both of which deal with breathing and mystic heat meditation. After tremendous practice, in which he engaged in eight hundred rounds of heat meditation daily, he developed both powers.

The summer was spent with his Sākyapa teacher Rendawa. They resided together and mutually gave many initiations on the hill where the famous Potala palace was later to be built. Rendawa then returned to Tsang and Tsongkhapa returned to Kyomo Lung, where he gave discourses on the Kālachakra Tantra, the Ornament of Realizations, and Entrance to the Middle Way.

He decided to concentrate on the four classes of tantra and searched once more for a teacher, even though he had been giving initiations to himself since the age of seven. He left for Tsang to discuss his plans with Rendawa, and on the way, at Rongrub Chölung, Abbot Drakpa Shenyen Rinpoche gave him many initiations. Each of the four Tibetan sects has a standard set of initiations and permissions with respect to the practice of the lower divisions of tantra, and the Rinpoche conferred part of such a set. Two of Tsongkhapa’s disciples had received many discourses from Lama Umapa Pawo Dorjé, who now requested Tsongkhapa, via the disciples, to give the initiation of Sarasvatī. This lama as a young shepherd in eastern Tibet had received visions of Black Mañjuśhrī. Tsongkhapa asked him for the teaching of Mañjuśhrī Dharmachakra, but was unable to receive it at the time, since he was determined to see Rendawa.

One night Tsongkhapa dreamed of Chökyi Pal. In his dream, he asked the lama how many times he had received Kālachakra teachings from Butön Rinpoche. The reply was seventeen, which he subsequently substantiated on meeting Chökyi Pal in person. At that time, the living tradition of Kālachakra was in danger of extinction.

He arrived in Tagten, meeting Rendawa and two other teachers, Drakpa Gyaltsen and Chöjé Abacha, and together the four gave many discourses. He received teachings from Rendawa on the Guhyasamāja Tantra, called “the king of tantras,” and Rendawa advised him to concentrate on the teachings of the three baskets (Tripiṭaka) — the Discourses, Scientific Knowledge, and the Discipline.

He returned to Lama Umapa Pawo Dorjé to receive the Mañjuśhrī Dharmachakra teaching and a commentary on Entrance to the Middle Way. Thereafter, due to military activity in the area, he practiced intensive meditation in a cave. Afterward he set off to meet Nyento, a learned scholar and practitioner of Kālachakra, who was also a disciple of Butön Rinpoche. Upon arrival, he found that this great master had already finished teaching the first chapter of the Kālachakra Tantra. Tsongkhapa first presented him with a yellow scarf, the color symbolizing accomplishment of the completion-stage yogas, and the next day offered blue and green brocade, the colors being auspicious regarding the development-stage yogas. In their ensuing conversations, the master told Tsongkhapa that his predispositions would enable him to reach the pinnacle of the completion stage of that practice, and proceeded to give him the external, internal, and secret Kālachakra teachings.

One night during this discourse Tsongkhapa dreamed of the Nyingma Lama Kyungpo Lhepa, seated on a great throne, a crown on his head and bell and dorjé in hand, repeating the word karmavajra, the Sanskrit form of Tsongkhapa’s mystic name. Jé Rinpoche was overjoyed and determined to go to Zhalu, where this lama lived. Another night he dreamed of the same lama, who had at his heart many circles of mantras. The image was so vivid that Tsongkhapa could read them all individually. Consequently, he journeyed to Zhalu to meet this lama, who proved to be identical to the figure in his dreams.

From this master Jé Rinpoche received a complete set of standard initiations into the three lower classes of tantras. Later he embellished the walls of the temple where these initiations were conferred with gold leaf as an act of devotion to the master. He also received here the teachings that this lama held on the Heruka Tantra in accordance with the three traditions of the Mahāsiddhas — those of Luhipada, Ghaṇṭapada, and Kriśhṇapada.

Not only should the disciple have impeccable devotion for the master, as exemplified by Tsongkhapa’s actions, but the master in turn should be willing to fully teach such a receptive vessel. After every initiation, in order that psychic attainment be transmitted, this lama would always say that he had received the material from such and such a teacher, who had been completely willing to instruct him.

Tsongkhapa and Lama Umapa Pawo Dorjé left for Lhasa in the year of the monkey for Gawa Dong, the seat of the Second State Oracle, located about three miles from Lhasa. In Lhasa Cathedral, they paid their respects to the large statue of Śhākyamuni Buddha, which had been made during the Buddha’s lifetime and consecrated by him in person.

This sacred image had been brought to Tibet via China in the seventh century CE by the first queen of King Songtsen Gampo. They offered some prayers before the statue and then returned to Gawa Dong for intensive retreat.

During the retreat, Tsongkhapa received many tantric lineages, including the special teachings on Mañjuśhrī Dharmachakra. Although he experienced visions of Arapacana Mañjuśhrī, the most well-known of the five aspects of Mañjuśhrī, he spoke of these to no one but Khedrup Rinpoche, who was one of his chief disciples and, after Jé Rinpoche had passed away, was also his biographer. Henceforth, Mañjuśhrī and Tsongkhapa became teacher and disciple. From this time onward, Jé Rinpoche was able to question Bodhisattva Mañjuśhrī on any topic.

After this retreat, many thousands of people came for teachings. Mañjuśhrī advised him to enter another intensive retreat, but Lama Umapa felt that it would be of greater benefit for sentient beings if he gave discourses. Thus in spite of Mañjuśhrī’s exhortations, he carried on teaching for some time out of respect to his guru. However, secretly he felt that it was vital for him to master the import of Nāgārjuna’s profound view and that sutras and teachers were unable to provide him with these. What was required, he felt, was intensive meditation.

Therefore, after teaching for a short period, he announced that he would soon enter a retreat. Lama Umapa chose to go to eastern Tibet and Tsongkhapa escorted him to Lhasa, where they stayed in one of the small rooms on the upper floor of the Jokhang Cathedral and engaged in long discussions.

Tsongkhapa then returned to Kyomo Lung and taught until winter. He then left for Wolka Chölung, a few days’ journey south of Lhasa, in order to enter meditation. When in the Lhasa Cathedral he had asked Mañjuśhrī how many disciples to take with him into retreat. The reply was eight, and he chose four from central Tibet and four from the two eastern provinces.

The retreat was to last for four years. During the first phase, both master and disciples undertook intensive generation of spiritual energy and purification of the obscurations in order to demonstrate the indispensability of such practices from the outset. Jé Rinpoche personally performed 3.5 million full-length prostrations and 1,800,000 mandala offerings. Indeed, his prostrating form wore an impression in the floor of the temple, and at the conclusion of the mandala offerings his forearm was raw and bleeding.

While the nine were engaged in prostrations, they recited the names of the thirty-five confessional buddhas, who are found in the Sūtra on the Three Heaps of the Doctrine — eventually they received a vision of a golden Maitreya. The next vision was that of the medicine buddha, Bhaiṣhajyaguru, and by this stage their insights and spiritual qualities had increased to an extraordinary degree. After they carried out many self-initiations into the thirteen-deity Yamāntaka mandala, they received a vision of Nāgeśhvararāja, the king of nāgas buddha, who is one of the thirty-five confessional buddhas. Tsongkhapa subsequently wrote a detailed commentary describing the visions.

The first Tibetan month is known as the month of miracles, for the Buddha competed with six non-Buddhist masters in a contest of miracles from the first to the fifteenth. On the new year’s day after the retreat, they went to the temple of Dzingji Ling, where there is a statue of Maitreya. They found this to be in very poor condition, and Tsongkhapa wept on seeing it thus cracked and covered with bird droppings. In order to repair it they all sold all their possessions, except their robes. However, as this was insufficient to make significant repairs, they made offerings to Vaiśhravaṇa, the wealth deity, and lit a lamp using butter that they had been given by a passing monk. Mañjuśhrī himself blessed the work, and as a result many people came and offered both financial and physical assistance. Everyone involved in the restoration took daily Mahāyāna precepts and they were all careful to ensure that their speech during the work was prayer rather than mundane chatter. This work on the Maitreya statue was the first of Tsongkhapa’s four major social deeds.

Soon thereafter Tsongkhapa wrote down two prayers composed and given to him by Mañjuśhrī: a praise of Maitreya and a prayer for rebirth in the pure realm of Sukhāvati.1

Tsongkhapa and the eight disciples then traveled south of Lhasa to Nyaello Ro, where they spent five months meditating in the mountains. Here they gained many insights and Tsongkhapa gave a large number of discourses on topics such as the Discipline. They had a vision of Mañjuśhrī surrounded by a concourse of not just bodhisattvas but also great adepts (mahāsiddha) like Naropā and Tilopā and great scholars like Nāgārjuna and Asaṅga. Tsongkhapa made little of such experiences and did not mention them. Mañjuśhrī predicted that by following the teachings of these Bodhisattvas, Tsongkhapa would be able to benefit living beings immeasurably. Mañjuśhrī also manifested to Tsongkhapa in the aspect of Yamāntaka, and after that reappeared as the youthful Mañjuśhrī, his sword handle at his heart and its tip at Tsongkhapa’s chest with a stream of nectar flowing down the blade. Thus Tsongkhapa experienced utter bliss.

The Nyingma Lama Lhodrak Khenchen Namkha Gyaltsen invited Tsongkhapa to his residence at the Lhodrak Drawo monastery to answer some questions for him. When they met, the lama saw Tsongkhapa as Mañjuśhrī and Tsongkhapa saw that lama as Vajrapāṇī. When he was seventy the Khenchen had a vision of a white goddess who had told him that he would meet a man indistinguishable from Mañjuśhrī and closely linked with Sarasvatī. The goddess had also noted that there was a karmic connection between Jé Tsongkhapa and the lama spanning their past fifteen lifetimes. That evening Tsongkhapa requested the Khenchen to give teachings on guru yoga, and during these he had a vision of Vajrapāṇī.2

The oral teachings of the Kadam tradition had been passed to Atīśha’s chief disciple, the layman Dromtönpa. He in turn passed on the lineage in three distinct lines. The textual Kadam lineage was given to Geshé Potowa3 and emphasized the need for a thorough comprehension of the Buddha’s actual words in their entirety, not omitting even a single word or syllable. The Kadam lamrim lineage was given to Gampopa and places reliance on Atīśha’s Lamp on the Path to Enlightenment. The guideline instruction lineage was given to Geshé Chen Ngawa, the disciple of Geshé Sharawa, and depends on the transmission of oral instructions, especially those Atīśha obtained from Guru Suvarṇadvīpa. This included the lineage of Śhāntideva’s Entrance to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, which Atīśha had traveled to an island near Java in order to receive.

Only the latter two lineages were taught to Tsongkhapa by this Nyingma master, for he had already received the first one elsewhere. The Khenchen dreamed that he was told to receive Śhāntideva’s Compendium of Training from Mañjuśhrī, so he asked Tsongkhapa for this instruction. On Tsongkhapa’s head he witnessed Maitreya Buddha; on his right shoulder, White Mañjuśhrī; on his left, Sarasvatī; and he saw many Dharma protectors as well. Tsongkhapa and the Khenchen gave each other reciprocal teachings, and this kind of mutual teacher-disciple association quickly became the pattern in Tsongkhapa’s relationship with his various masters.

At this time, Tsongkhapa was considering going to India to meet Nāgabodhi and the great Mahāsiddha Maitrīpa, for he desired further elucidation on Middle Way theory as well as the tantric teaching on the magic body, which is one of the highest stages in the tantric path. So he checked his dreams that night and beheld himself and his disciples, dressed in robes, sitting on Vultures Peak at Rajgir, where the Buddha had taught the Perfection of Wisdom Sūtras. Tsongkhapa discussed his plans with Khenchen Namkha Gyaltsen, and the lama said that he would consult Vajrapāṇī. The reply was that if Tsongkhapa went to India, he would develop great renown and probably become the abbot of one of the monasteries there, but Vajrapāṇī advised Tsongkhapa to remain in Tibet because it would be of greater benefit both to sentient beings generally and to his direct disciples, some of whom had already attained the Mahāyāna path of preparation. Furthermore, the heat in India would prove unbearable for some of the Tibetans. The present junior tutor to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Kyapjé Trijang Dorjé Chang, has said that we have this Nyingma lama to thank for such works as Tsongkhapa’s Great Exposition on the Stages of the Enlightenment Path, because Tsongkhapa might otherwise have gone to India and been lost to Tibet.

For six months Tsongkhapa stayed at Nyan studying the Great Exposition of the Stages of the Teachings by Geshé Trinlé,4 which is a text on the stages of the path (lamrim). Contrary to popular belief, this literary form was neither the creation of Jé Rinpoche nor of Atīśha but originates from the Buddha himself. Tsongkhapa derived innumerable insights from this particular text and would offer incense in its honor. He also gave a variety of other teachings while in Nyan.

Tsongkhapa had now gained complete understanding of all the five paths and perceived the need to compose a text for the benefit of future practitioners. He planned to write in accordance with the works of Nāgārjuna and Atīśha, taking guru-yoga as the foundation of the path and proceeding onward to meditative quiescence and penetrative insight, the very heart of all meditation. He also planned to compose a similar graded text explaining the stages of tantra. The basis for the former project would be the Light on the Path to Enlightenment.

From Nyan, Tsongkhapa and thirty others went on a pilgrimage to Tsari, a sacred place of Heruka. This site is visited only once every twelve years during the year of the monkey. It is in a very primitive area inhabited by extremely wild peoples. Here Tsongkhapa had a vision of Maitreya, who told him that he was propagating the teaching in the same manner as Buddha Śhākyamuni had done. The cave in which he experienced this vision can still be seen there.

Tsongkhapa then went into retreat on the Kālachakra Tantra, which contains the “six-branched yoga.” Again he had a vision of Kālachakra, who said that he would become a second Dharmarāja Suchandra, the famous king who received the Kālachakra system from Vajradhāra, the bodily form with which Buddha conferred the highest tantric teachings.

Tsongkhapa gave many ordinations and discourses on the Discipline, for he was a very strict practitioner in that respect and would never transgress even the minor rules of a monk.

He received a vision of Sarasvatī, who told him that he would live to only fifty-seven and until then he should maximize his work for the teachings and sentient beings. Because of this he offered prayers to the eight-armed Uṣhṇīṣhavijayā, a female aspect who is one of the three longlife deities. His disciple Tokden Jampal Gyatso approached Mañjuśhrī regarding the possibility of lengthening Tongkhapa’s life, and the reply was affirmative.

Mañjuśhrī told Tsongkhapa in a vision that it was no longer necessary for him to ask for further advice regarding the correct view of emptiness, since he himself now had extensive insight into it. He advised Tsongkhapa to teach in accordance with the standpoints of Nāgārjuna and Atīśha. Jé Rinpoche traveled to the south of Lhasa to stay for the summer, and there he met Gyaltsap Dharma Rinchen, the great scholar and debater from the Sākya tradition. Gyaltsap Jé wanted to debate with Tsongkhapa and first encountered him while the latter was giving teachings. Gyaltsap even had the temerity to climb onto Tsongkhapa’s throne, but as he listened to the discourse, all of his questions were so perfectly answered that he realized his grave error, got down from the throne, offered three prostrations and humbly sat with the listeners. Later on Gyaltsap Jé was to become renowned as one of the foremost disciples of Tsongkhapa.

Tsongkhapa then returned to Wolka Chölung, the scene of his four-year retreat, this time to undertake an intensive one-year retreat in which he concentrated on the Middle Way schools of thought in greater detail. During this period, he received a vision of Nāgārjuna with his five chief disciples known as the “holy father and sons.” Buddhapālita, one of the sons and also the author of a famous composition by the same name, placed his text on Tsongkhapa’s head to give him inspiration and blessings. Buddhapālita’s book, Sustaining Buddha,5 is the best commentary to Nāgārjuna’s Wisdom: Root Verses on the Middle Way. The very next morning while Tsongkhapa was perusing the eighteenth chapter of this commentary, he gained complete nonconceptual understanding of emptiness. He then composed a text in praise of the Buddha’s teachings on the interrelativity of all things. This text, popularly called Essence of Good Eloquence, or Praise to Dependent Origination,6 mentions how he was unable to restrain tears whenever he thought of the Buddha’s kindness in teaching the Perfection of Wisdom Sūtras at Vulture’s Peak.

After intensive practice, many retreats, and a great deal of meditation, Tsongkhapa received visions of many deities. He also constantly sought Mañjuśhrī’s advice on his choice of abode and study material.

He traveled to Wolka and spent the winter and spring teaching the monks the enormity of the altruistic attitude and the profundity of emptiness. He accepted an invitation to spend the rainy season retreat in the south of Lhasa, after which he came back to Lhasa at the request of Namkha Sangpo and stayed on the Potala Peak, giving many discourses. Thereafter he traveled to Gawa Dong.

For tantric practice, extraordinary devotion to the tantric master and flawless moral discipline are necessary, especially to keep the very easily broken tantric pledges. Tsongkhapa taught the Fifty Stanzas on the Guru, written by Aśhvaghoṣha, who had initially been a non-Buddhist but who had changed his faith after defeat in debate by Āryadeva and thereafter was known as Āchārya Vīra or Āryaśhūra. Jé Tsongkhapa also taught a text on the root tantric vows and Asaṅga’s Bodhisattva Levels as well as writing commentaries to them.

Rendawa had so far remained in Tsang but now came to meet Tsongkhapa at Gawa Dong, where they gave many teachings to each other. Tsongkhapa made elaborate offerings to Rendawa in connection with his practice of guru-yoga.

They both considered doing a retreat at Reting, the monastery that had been founded by Dromtonpa. The great Kadam geshés had stayed there and a special tradition of group retreats had originated at this monastery. Thus it seemed to be an ideal environment for such activity.

Reting is a place of beautiful juniper forests, located three days’ journey by horse to the north of Lhasa. It was here that Tsongkhapa wrote the Great Exposition of the Stages of the Enlightenment Path as well as many commentaries. Just above the monastery was a large rock in the shape of a lion where Tsongkhapa sat with a scroll painting of Atīśha next to him. This painting was still in the monastery in 1959. First he made entreaties to Atīśha and received a vision of all the lineages from the Buddha to his own teachers. The vision continued for one month, giving Tsongkhapa the chance to put forth many questions. Finally, all the lineages dissolved into Atīśha, Dromtonpa, Geshé Potowa, and Geshé Sharawa. Thus Tsongkhapa was able to have prolonged discussion with these great lamas. Then the latter three masters dissolved into Atīśha, who gave Tsongkhapa a blessing by placing his hand on Tsongkhapa’s head.

After this vision Jé Rinpoche completed the Great Exposition of the Stages of the Enlightenment Path as far as the section on penetrative insight.7

At this point he hesitated, feeling that in future such teachings would be beyond anyone’s comprehension. However, Mañjuśhrī appeared and bade Tsongkhapa both to finish the work and to write a short and medium-length exposition on the stages of the path for those whose aptitude was not commensurate with the presentation in the Great Exposition. The eight great Dharma protectors also requested him to continue with this work, and it is a tribute to his humility that such great names were not included in the colophon, where it is customary to mention those who have requested the teaching. In fact he wrote only the name of one of his disciples there.

Meanwhile Rendawa had been discoursing on some of Nāgārjuna’s tantric writings. Tsongkhapa gave many teachings using Asaṅga’s work, the Disciple Stages, which includes a section on meditative quiescence, and at this time many people staying in the surrounding mountains developed samādhi. Rendawa and Tsongkhapa also clarified points of issue concerning certain tantric practices.

They were then invited by the great Lama Jamkawa to stay some time at the main Drikung Kagyü monastery. So they went there in the spring when the great translator Kyabchok Palsang was in residence. Tsongkhapa was now over forty. There he received instruction according to the Kagyü tradition on the six yogas of Naropā and a special oral teaching on the Great Seal.

The master Yönten Gyatso invited Tsongkhapa, Rendawa, and Kyabchok Palsang to Namtze Deng, a monastery of six hundred monks, where they spent the rainy season retreat with their host as sponsor. Tsongkhapa gave an elaborate discourse on the Discipline so lucidly that it is regarded as the second of his four greatest social deeds. He also gave teachings on Validating Cognition and the Middle Way.

After the retreat Rendawa left for Tsang and Tsongkhapa went to Reting, where, ensconced at the lion-shaped rock above the monastery, he completed the Great Exposition. Kyabchok Palsang had particularly urged the completion of this work.

Tsongkhapa now decided to teach tantra and so sent twenty-five of his disciples to Kyabchok Palsang for initiations before he started. He was concerned that many people who had taken bodhisattva vows from him and from countless other masters did not know how to guard their vows properly. Therefore he wrote a commentary on the moral discipline chapter of Asaṅga’s Bodhisattva Levels. There are two distinct lineages with respect to taking these vows, one of which derives from the above text, whereas the more well-known one is from Śhāntideva’s Entrance to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life. In both cases the vows are identical. Jé Tsongkhapa wrote a commentary to the Fifty Stanzas on the Guru to reinforce the supremacy of such devotions in the Tantric Vehicle. He then taught the Great Exposition in its entirety to Kyabchok Palsang, who thereafter went to U-tsang with the text while Tsongkhapa stayed and gave teachings on this remarkable composition. He spent the month of miracles at Reting making offerings, after which he returned to Lhasa.

Until Tsongkhapa’s time, little value was given to the study of dialectics and epistemology; but his discourses provided the necessary impetus for people to realize the enormous importance of these subjects as an indispensable tool in the quest for enlightenment. Khedrup Rinpoche noted that people were able to appreciate this because of Jé Tsongkhapa’s infinite kindness, which would be difficult to repay. At the request of Miwang Drakpa Gyaltsen, Tsongkhapa spent the next rainy season retreat at Wonde Chenteng, where he gave many discourses.

At Wolka Jampa Ling he taught all the stages of the highest tantras as well as the Great Exposition of the Stages of the Enlightenment Path, and then entered a strict retreat with a few disciples. During this retreat, he composed a commentary to Nāgabodhi’s Twenty-Verse Rite on the Guhyasamāja Mandala, Nāgabodhi having been a disciple of Nāgārjuna.

One of the most difficult parts of tantra is the Guhyasamāja teaching on the magic body. Here Tsongkhapa confidentially told several disciples that he had clearly understood and mastered these teachings some ten years earlier and affirmed his intention of explaining how to actualize such a body. Complete understanding of this ensures the attainment of buddhahood in one lifetime.

Following many requests, he wrote the Great Exposition of the Secret Mantra Stages, the sequel to his previous Great Exposition dealing with the path, from the point where the previous text ended, continuing up to unsurpassed enlightenment. He also composed a text on the method of attaining enlightenment as found exclusively in the practice of Yamāntaka. In all facets of the practice, his concentration was single-pointed and uninterrupted. During meditation he was completely oblivious to all disturbances around him.

South of Lhasa at Jangchup Ling he taught both Great Expositions, after which he went to the area near Lhasa where Sera monastery now stands. Close to the site was Chöding hermitage, where he had spent many rainy season retreats. After completing a retreat there, he taught the Guhyasamāja and Heruka Tantras and gave general discourses on the completion stage of the other tantras.

Nāgārjuna’s Wisdom: Root Verses on the Middle Way is very difficult to understand, and Tsongkhapa, now almost fifty, was requested to write a commentary to it. During the composition, he invoked Mañjuśhrī and seed syllables of the twenty voidnesses appeared in the sky around him.

Once the wisdom letter AH appeared and descended onto a nearby rock, leaving an impression that could still be seen in 1959 in one of the Sera gardens. Jé Rinpoche prophesied that a large monastery producing many sages would be constructed at that spot. Sera monastery was duly built there by one of his disciples, Jamchen Chöjé, who was later sent to China as the imperial tutor in Tsongkhapa’s stead. Tsongkhapa foresaw interruptions if he remained at Chöding, so he departed for the peace and solitude of Raka Drag. Soon afterward a party of Chinese officials and ministers arrived at Chöding, but in the absence of Tsongkhapa, they proceeded on to Lhasa. Miwang Drakpa Gyaltsen met these dignitaries, who requested his services in obtaining an audience with Tsongkhapa. So he traveled to Raka Drag to inform Tsongkhapa of the situation.

Jé Tsongkhapa came to Lhasa, where the ministers presented him with a letter from the Chinese emperor requesting his presence in China that he might teach, but Tsongkhapa replied that his advancing age and his wish to stay in retreat precluded acceptance. The officials went back to China with his reply and some images of the Buddha for the emperor while Tsongkhapa returned to Raka Drag.

Tsongkhapa then commenced writing the Essence of True Eloquence, An Analysis of Interpretable and Definitive Meaning Teachings, which studies different theories of how to differentiate between the interpretable and definitive teachings of the Buddha. He then went to Chöding and stayed for two years, giving teachings on his stages of the path texts.

After the rainy season retreat, Miwang Drakpa Gyaltsen invited him to spend the winter at Kyimay Drumbu Lung and he traveled there with an estimated five hundred to one thousand disciples, many of whom were great scholars. He gave many discourses on the Stages of the Path, the Heruka Tantra, and other tantric systems during his stay. Upon leaving Chöding, he conceived the idea of and decided to inaugurate the Great Prayer Festival, asking two of his disciples to prepare many offerings for it; however, funds were lacking because he always gave away whatever he received. Henceforth he kept everything he was given solely for use in the festival.

The two disciples gathered many artists to both wash with perfumes and paint the statues and walls of the Lhasa Cathedral. In 1409 Tsongkhapa was fifty-two, and during the final evening of the year of the mouse eight thousand monks assembled for the first Great Prayer Festival, which ushered in the year of the bull. An enormous offering ceremony commenced at midnight with Tsongkhapa presenting a crown of fine gold to the statue of Śhākyamuni Buddha, which he consecrated, thus fulfilling the Buddha’s prophecy. This was the third of his four major social deeds.

Tsongkhapa also presented a jeweled silver crown to the statue of Avalokiteśhvara. This statue was destroyed by the Chinese after 1959, though some Tibetans managed to salvage three of the heads, two of which are now on display in the cathedral at Dharamsālā in India. Jé Rinpoche made copious offerings, including a huge silver begging bowl, which he presented to the Buddha statue. He also robed and crowned many of the other statues in the Jokhang Cathedral.

Large amounts of food were offered and later distributed among the poor and destitute. The multifarious events of the festival, which lasted twenty-one days, would take many pages to describe even in broad outline. Each day gold was applied to the face of the Buddha statue, and on the eighth and fifteenth the bodies of all the statues were painted with gold.

During the festival, Tsongkhapa gave many teachings on both sutra and tantra, including a discourse on Āryaśhūra’s Former Birth Tales. This teaching is still given annually in Dharamsālā on the fifteenth of the first Tibetan month by His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. The power and clarity of Tsongkhapa’s discourses wrought beneficial change in many people, who also saw visions of great accomplished beings of the past appearing in the sky. Tsongkhapa by now had become celebrated as an author and teacher of great renown.

At the close of the festival his disciples concluded that it would be unwise for him to continue his peripatetic lifestyle. Hence they offered to build him a monastery wherever he chose. He prayed in front of the Śhākyamuni statue and examined his dreams, concluding that such a monastery should indeed be built, and he chose Nomad Mountain (Drogri) as the site. This was in fact the very spot cited in the Buddha’s prophecy. He decided to call the monastery Ganden — in Sanskrit, Tushita — the present abode of Maitreya, the next Buddha. Tsongkhapa went to the site with one of his disciples, Gendun Drup, who was later posthumously recognized as the First Dalai Lama, appointing two others to take charge of the construction.

Many gave donations and many volunteered their services in the building of the monastery. The main temple and over seventy other buildings were completed within a year. The monastery was built in accordance with the rules of the Monastic Discipline Sūtra laid down by the Buddha, so there was a preliminary survey of the site for future dangers and a check to make sure that there was no infringement of land ownership. In the following year, the year of the tiger (1410), Tsongkhapa went to Ganden and gave instruction on the Great Exposition of the Stages of the Enlightenment Path, discourses on the Guhyasamāja Tantra, on Asaṅga’s Compendium of Scientific Knowledge, and explanations of difficult dialectical points.

Not only did he compose a host of commentaries to such texts as the Guhyasamāja Tantra, but on careful consideration of the list of Tsongkhapa’s discourses and teachings, it would also appear that he must have spent his whole life discoursing. Yet from the point of view of his daily practice it seems that he spent his whole life in meditative retreat. But upon reading his literary output, it would seem that he could only have read and composed texts. His Holiness the Dalai Lama feels that Jé Rinpoche’s greatest feat was to have done all three.

Signs now appeared suggesting the onset of considerable health problems from his fifty-seventh year onward. Therefore, when he was fifty-five, his disciples requested him to perform special practices in the extensive Yamāntaka system in order to transcend these auguries. Together with thirty disciples he went for a Yamāntaka retreat during the winter and spring, after which Khedrup Rinpoche and many other disciples performed longlife rituals for their master’s well-being.

At fifty-six he taught extensively, telling his disciples not to forget such instruction, for his ability to continue teaching was uncertain. His disciples’ mounting concern impelled them to offer still more prayers and mandalas, and it is said that every longevity practice possible was carried out for his benefit.

In Tsongkhapa’s fifty-fifth year, the year of the dragon (1412), he and many disciples entered an intensive retreat on the seventh day of the eighth month, and during it the disciples offered fervent prayers for his long life.

During the eleventh month he felt unwell, and though no sickness manifested, he was unable to sleep. Khedrup Rinpoche and the future First Dalai Lama carried out a wide range of rituals and offerings to the Dharma protectors in order to safeguard their master’s life.

He frequently entered long periods of single-pointed concentration, until one day, while out walking, he said that he felt much better. From his throne he urged his disciples never to separate themselves from total altruism or from meditation on it, and while seated there, he had a vision of the Buddha Vajraviḍaraṇa (Crusher of Interferences). The Buddha approached Tsongkhapa, then dissolved into him filling him with renewed strength and vigor. He was temporarily cured and his disciples rejoiced. In the following year he accepted Miwang Drakpa Gyaltsen’s invitation to spend the rainy season retreat at Wongyi Tashi Dokar, where he gave many discourses. After this sojourn he returned to Ganden and composed a commentary to Luhipada’s system of Chakrasaṃvara (the Heruka Tantra), a commentary to Chandrakīrti’s logical analysis of the completion stages of the unexcelled yoga tantras, and the commentary known as the Four Commentaries Combined on the Guhyasamāja Tantra.8

At this juncture he decided to erect a special temple where tantric rituals could be carried out privately, since the uninitiated are not permitted to see artifacts such as the mandalas. In the year of the sheep (1415) the construction of this hall at Ganden commenced. He was fifty-eight at the time.

Two years later in the third month of the year of the bird (1417), artists and sculptors congregated at Ganden to make a statue of Buddha Śhākyamuni. This was to slightly exceed the dimensions of the one in the Lhasa Cathedral. The artists were commissioned to make gilded copper three-dimensional mandala palaces relating to the thirty-two-deity Guhyasamāja, the sixty-two-deity Heruka, and the thirteen-deity Yamāntaka practices.

During the fabrication of these, miraculous manifestation occurred, and effulgent symbols of various deities, possessing an inherent sheen and luster, came forth from the molds and were often surrounded by rainbow light. The consecration ceremonies were performed, thus completing the construction of Ganden’s main hall and the various figures contained therein. This is held to be the fourth of Tsongkhapa’s major social deeds.

In the year of the dog (1418), when Jé Rinpoche was sixty-one, he gave extensive discourses and wrote a commentary on Entrance to The Middle Way. His complete works fill eighteen large volumes.

Four of his disciples one day witnessed him losing a tooth, and each of them asked if he might have it. Jé Tsongkhapa’s choice fell on Khedrup Rinpoche, whom he likened to Mount Meru surrounded by rings of golden mountains. However, the other three disciples did not relent, so Tsongkhapa elected to satisfy everyone. He took back the tooth, placed it on the altar, and then proceeded to make offerings, perform rituals, and recite prayers. The tooth transformed into the youthful Mañjuśhrī, from whose forehead came a white relic pill the size of a plover’s egg, from whose throat came a red one, and from whose heart came a blue one. Thus everyone was satisfied. The manifestation became the tooth once more, which was returned to Khedrup Rinpoche.

In the year of the hog (1419) Tsongkhapa’s disciples invited him to the hot springs at Tolung. From Ganden, Tsongkhapa first went to Lhasa and made offerings and prayers, then journeyed on to the hot springs, where he gave teachings to those assembled there. On a previous visit there, he had leaned against a rock and his body had left an imprint that still can be seen. Here he also received a vision of the sixteen great arhats. Thus Tolung was included on the itinerary of the Lhasa Lower Tantric College during their annual one-month stay at Ganden. Tsongkhapa then went on to Drepung at the invitation of the founder, Tashi Palden, and gave a variety of discourses on teachings such as the Stages of the Path, the six yogas of Naropā, and the Entrance to the Middle Way. Those present saw rainbows appear in a clear sky, which they took as an indication of Tsongkhapa’s impending death. About two thousand of the roughly nine thousand monks present were holders of the Tripiṭaka, the three baskets of the sutra teachings. Tsongkhapa privately requested a sculptor to fashion a large silver image of Buddha Vairochana. During a teaching on the root text of the Guhyasamāja Tantra, which contains seventeen chapters, Tsongkhapa unexpectedly halted at the end of the ninth, saying that he would break there. This was a most unusual occurrence, and again people felt it to be an indication that he was preparing for his passing away. It is considered auspicious to leave a teaching unfinished, if departing somewhere, to ensure that master and disciples will meet again and continue the teaching in this and future lives. Before he left Drepung, there was a minor earth tremor and the appearance of more rainbows.

From there he went to the Lhasa Jokhang Cathedral to make comprehensive prayers and offerings with the wish that the teachings might endure for the benefit of all sentient beings. He prostrated before leaving the cathedral, which also was unusual because it is only done in such circumstances when return to that place will be impossible for a long time. He said that he might be unable to come again to the cathedral.

He was invited to Chöding hermitage by a disciple, whom he instructed to build a large monastery there. This came to be the famous Sera monastery, and Tsongkhapa went to the site of the future monastery to conduct a confession ceremony in order to strengthen the links between master and disciples. He also taught the root tantras of Guhyasamāja and Heruka.

From there he returned to Ganden, stopping on the way at Dechen at the invitation of a government official. He suggested that Dechen monastery should be rebuilt and that the monks should harmonize their practices of the Discipline and the tantras following the method introduced into Tibet by the great kindness of Atīśha. He presided at an elaborate consecration ceremony and stated that he would be unable to return to conduct another when the reconstruction was finished. In addition, he donated many things to furnish the monastery.

Back at the main hall in Ganden, he offered a massive ritual cake, then concluded the rite with many prayers from the Stages of the Path tradition. Together with the assembly of monks gathered in the hall, he dedicated the accumulated merit for the benefit of all sentient beings and finally recited the Prayers for the Pure Land and other auspicious verses. Afterward, in the room, he expressed satisfaction at being back in the monastery far removed from trivial affairs. That night he developed a back pain, so many monks gathered for prayers. It was the year of the hog and Tsongkhapa was sixty-two.

The next day he admitted he was in pain, though it was not immediately obvious. He gave his hat and robe to Gyaltsap Jé and proffered advice to his disciples, stressing the importance of not drifting away from an altruistic state of mind.

He continued to perform self-initiations and four-session yoga of many deities. On the twentieth of the tenth month, he made an extensive offering to Heruka and that night meditated on the adamantine recitation (vajrajāpa), a special tantric breathing exercise. Very early on the morning of the twenty-fifth, sitting in full lotus posture, he meditated on emptiness, then at dawn made a series of inner offerings, although no one present could understand why.

His breathing ceased and his body regained the vibrancy of a sixteen-year-old, similar to the generally depicted appearance of the youthful Mañjuśhrī. Many disciples present witnessed the emission of variegated light rays from his body, which substantiates the belief that Tsongkhapa entered the intermediate state as a fully enlightened being. For the following forty-nine days, an offering of one hundred thousand butter lamps and many other offerings were made at Ganden and Drepung. Many saw a rain of flowers descend from the sky. A high lama of the Kagyü tradition, Kagyü Panchen, came to Ganden fifteen days after the passing away and composed The Eighty (Main Deeds) of Tsongkhapa, which is regarded as the standard biography, and which contains elaborate details of his life.

The disciples consulted oracles — those who, in a state of trance, become the mediums of certain Dharma protectors — in order to divine the most appropriate treatment for the body. The oracles’ prophesy was that it should be enshrined in a stupa. A special hall was built to accommodate a silver platform, on top of which was a solid-gold stupa that became very well known and was visited by many Tibetans and Mongolians. Another famous stupa associated with Tsongkhapa is the one containing the tree that grew from his afterbirth. It appeared in the middle of his parent’s house in Amdo, now the site of Kumbum monastery, and this stupa still exists.

The Ganden stupa was desecrated during the Cultural Revolution of the midsixties when the whole of Ganden was demolished. However, some of Tsongkhapa’s hair was recovered and there are a number of statues containing clippings in Tibetan homes in India. What is extraordinary is that the mummified body of Jé Tsongkhapa was still intact in the middle of this century. Gyaltsap Dharma Rinchen was requested by the other disciples to ascend the throne of Ganden, signifying that he was to be head of the monastery. His incumbency lasted for twelve years until his own demise. Gyaltsap Jé was a prolific writer and his works are contained in eight volumes. Khedrup Rinpoche then succeeded to his office until he passed away at the age of fifty-four. These two are always depicted flanking Jé Tsongkhapa in scroll paintings of the Hundred Gods of Tushita.9

Khedrup Jé received five visions of Tsongkhapa after his master’s decease. The first occurred when Khedrup Jé had grown disheartened at being unable to give clear teachings on emptiness. Tsongkhapa appeared and advised him concerning the correct view. Later Khedrup Jé was again downhearted at his failure to fathom a difficult tantric text written by Tsongkhapa, and since he was the best scholar of the time, he could not refer to anyone. Tsongkhapa appeared on an elephant and answered many questions. Again, while reading the Great Exposition of the Stages of the Enlightenment Path, he was struck by the brilliance of Tsongkhapa as a master and, at that moment, his teacher appeared.

Jé Tsongkhapa, who was only sixty-two when he passed away, taught and achieved so much. This is especially true considering the much longer life spans of Asaṅga and Nāgārjuna, which were one hundred and fifty years and six hundred years, respectively.

On another occasion, Tsongkhapa appeared and fortified Khedrup Jé when he became discouraged after musing on the decline of the Buddha’s doctrine. Khedrup Jé, who often thought of joining his master in the Tushita Pure Land, received the final vision when he wished to ascertain whether Tsongkhapa had been born in Tushita as had been predicted. Tsongkhapa appeared on a tiger, holding a sword and a skull-cup, and this time Khedrup Jé asked for Tsongkhapa’s approval of his decision to enter parinirvāṇa, which was given. Khedrup Jé prepared to leave this life but was urged by six-armed Mahākāla, in a vision, to remain for the benefit of sentient beings. However, Khedrup Jé felt that he had done everything possible, and so went to the Land of Dakinis.

His body was placed inside another stupa beside that of Tsongkhapa, and the same was done with Gyaltsap Jé’s remains. However, the lineage of the throneholder of Ganden, who is also the head of the Gelug sect that Tsongkhapa founded, did not cease. The ninety-seventh successor to Tsongkhapa was the senior tutor to His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Kyabjé Ling Rinpoche.

Many of Tsongkhapa’s disciples benefited sentient beings through the foundation of religious institutions, such as the great monasteries of Drepung, Sera, and Ganden. Furthermore, the First Dalai Lama founded Tashi Lhunpo monastery at Shigatse, about halfway between Lhasa and the Nepalese border to the south. The two tantric colleges in Lhasa were also inaugurated.

After Tsongkhapa’s passing away several biographies were written by lamas from the different traditions. They all agreed that he was a teacher without parallel. The ninth Karmapa Lama praised Tsongkhapa as one “who swept away wrong views with the correct and perfect ones.”

It is generally accepted that the three greatest contributors in the annals of Tibet were Guru Padmasambhava, Atīśha, and Tsongkhapa, all of whom appeared when a great teacher was needed. It was the thirty-seventh Tibetan king, Trisong Detsen, who first invited the Bodhisattva Śhāntarakṣhita to Tibet. At that time, there were many evil forces in Tibet strongly resenting the appearance of the Buddha’s teaching there, thus hindrances and calamities occurred. Śhāntarakṣhita advised the king to invite Padmasambhava, who came and subdued these malignant forces, and then instigated the construction of the first monastery at Samye, south of Lhasa. After the repression of the Dharma by King Lang Darma, there was a period in Tibet when a very degenerate form of religion was practiced. During this time, no one could find compatibility between the systems of sutra and tantra, which were considered to be an irreconcilable dichotomy. It was Atīśha who dispelled such views and started the Kadam tradition. Later, when people could not see how learning and yogic practice were to be united, Tsongkhapa came and revealed the correct path. Today we should strive to emulate Tsongkhapa’s peerless progress along the path. To hear as many teachings as possible and never to be satisfied with less than ultimate knowledge are the most important lessons to be applied in life. It is imperative to appreciate and work toward the peerless goal of wishing to achieve enlightenment in order to help every other sentient being do exactly the same. Jé Rinpoche’s example of scriptural learning and meditative application taken as a unified path show the essence of Buddha’s intent and the truly quick method of achieving enlightenment.”

Fair Use Source: B078M5J7ZW


See Also:

Buddhism Glossary, Three Refuges: 1. Buddhas, 2. Dharma: SutrasShastrasBuddhist Bibliography, 3. Sangha: BodhisattvasHistoric Buddhist MastersModern Buddhist Masters

Great Dharma Master Lama Tsongkhapa Losang Drakpa

See also Buddhist Glossary, Historic Buddhist Masters

Life and Teachings of Tsongkhapa


by Gyatso Tsering


by Robert A. F. Thurman



  • 4 Three Principles of the Path
  • 5 Lines of Experience
  • 6 A Letter of Practical Advice on Sutra and Tantra
  • 7 The Prayer of the Virtuous Beginning, Middle, and End


  • 8 Praise of Buddha Śhākyamuni for His Teaching of Relativity
  • 9 The Middle Length Transcendent Insight
  • 10 Conditions Necessary for Transcendent Insight


  • 11 The Ocean of Clouds of Praises of the Guru Mañjughośha
  • 12 Brahmā’s Diadem — A Praise of Maitreya
  • 13 Prayer for Rebirth in Sukhāvati
  • 14 Garland of Supremely Healing Nectars


  • 15 Song of the Tricosmic Master
  • 16 A Song Rapidly Invoking Blessings
  • 17 In Praise of the Incomparable Tsongkhapa
  • 18 Tushita’s Hundred Gods

Fair Use Sources:

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Thurman, Robert A. F., editor, writer of introduction. | Sherpa Tulku. | Khamlung Tulku. | Berzin, Alexander. | Landaw, Jonathan. | Mullin, Glenn H. | Tsong-kha-pa Blo-bzang-grags-pa, 1357–1419. Works. Selections. English.

Title: The life and teachings of Tsongkhapa / edited by Robert A.F. Thurman; translations by Sherpa Tulku, Khamlung Tulku, Alexander Berzin, Jonathan Landaw, Glenn H. Mullin, Robert A.F. Thurman.

Other titles: Life and teachings of Tsong-khapa

Description: [Revised edition]. | Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2018. | Includes bibliographical references. |

Identifiers: LCCN 2017048509 (print) | LCCN 2017058805 (ebook) | ISBN 9781614294399 (e-book) | ISBN 9781614294276 (paperback)

Subjects: LCSH: Dge-lugs-pa (Sect) — Doctrines — Early works to 1800. | Tsong-kha-pa Blo-bzang-grags-pa, 1357–1419. | Dge-lugs-pa lamas — Tibet Region — Biography. | BISAC: PHILOSOPHY / Buddhist. | PHILOSOPHY / Eastern. | RELIGION / Buddhism / Tibetan.

Classification: LCC BQ7950.T753 (ebook) | LCC BQ7950.T753 E5 2018 (print) | DDC 181/.043 — dc23

LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2017048509

ISBN 978-1-61429-427-6  ebook ISBN 978-1-61429-439-9

See Also:

Buddhism Glossary, Three Refuges: 1. Buddhas, 2. Dharma: SutrasShastrasBuddhist Bibliography, 3. Sangha: BodhisattvasHistoric Buddhist MastersModern Buddhist Masters