A brief history of Lho Lungkar Gon
A brief history of Lho Lungkar Gon
The Lho Jedrung Tulkus
Superbly sprung from the vast ocean of the two accumulations,
Most exquisite in the splendrous qualities of freedom and maturation,
Great source of the millionfold well-being of existence and peace,
Peerless Teacher, chief of the Shakyas, to you I bow.
You arose from the wisdom play of Boundless Light,
Lord of vidyadharas and accomplished yogis,
Sun of the teachings in the Land of Snow, splendor of beings in the dark age,
Lotus-born master, I honor you in the lotus flower of my heart.
Lamp of the Buddha's teachings, noble Nagarjuna in person,
Protector Drigungpa, who came to this Land of Snow
To dispel the extreme views of mistaken concepts in the dark age,
Master of the ten powers, Lord Kyobpa, to you I bow.
In the Noble Land you were the accomplished vidyadhara Shri Singha,
At the feet of Guru Rinpoche you were his heart son Lord Nyang-Ben,
In this realm you were the splendor of the teachings and beings endowed with the seven transmissions,
Son of Padmakara's voice, bearer of the name Nuden, may you be victorious.
After these verses of veneration, as the main topic we shall present here a brief introduction to Lho Lungkar Gon, Ogmin Tubten Shedrub Ling. We shall do so in the twofold way of briefly explaining its origin in general, and in specific how it has carried on the tradition of the drubchen ceremonies of Kabgye, Gongdu and Phurpa, and others.
For the first, Lho Trinley Namgyal, who was one of the main 'pillar' disciples of Gyalwa Drigungpa's teachings, founded his principal seat in Dokham at the Mi-Yel Cave, the practice place of Seltong Shogom. This monastery became renowned as Lho Mi-Yel Gon, a place at which the tradition of the Drigung Kagyu was upheld.
A few links in the succession of lamas after this master appeared Lho Drubchen Tingdzin Sangpo. He was a great lord of siddhas who could traverse freely through solid rock. He departed for Chijong in Dokham, a place personally visited by the Second Buddha Gyalwang Padmakara as well as by the great translator Vairotsana and Yudra Nyingpo of Gyalmo. This was the land ruled over by the royal lineage of Drongpa, the Dong Mukpo Lharik. Here, on the mountainous ranges of Chito Sermo Yimon, one slope had the shape of a white conch coiling clockwise. Since this was the place where he founded his first monastery, it was known as Dungkar Gon, the White Conch Monastery. Later on, this sound was corrupted into Lungkar Gon. Venerated by the chieftain families of the Drongmey region as their principal object of worship, it became the largest monastery of for these Drongpa highlanders. This accomplished master upheld in the Rimey style, on the basis of the Drigung Kagyu tradition, many lineages of the Kagyu and Nyingma teachings. The third (and following) incarnation was Lho Tingdzin Jangchub Sangpo.
The fourth in this line of incarnations was Lho Jedrung Orgyen Nuden Dorje. As the owner of the seven transmissions and a most learned and accomplished master, also in the Rimey style, of both the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions, it was during his time that this monastery developed into it greatest days. In former times, this master was the monk Akashagarbha who followed Buddha Shakyamuni. In the presence of the glorious Lord of Secrets (Vajrapani), he was the vidyadhara Drakden Chokyong, the first to request the Anuttara teachings of Secret Mantra. He had also been the vidyadhara Shri Singha, lord of the Dzogchen teachings; and in the Snowy Land of Tibet he was Nyatri Tsepo, the first Dharma king. At the feet of Gyalwang Padmakara, he was Nyang-Ben Tingdzin Sangpo. Among the family line of the Drugyal Kyura Dong, he had been Namkha Wangchuk, the first son of Achi. He had also been Dungtso Repa, the revealer of the Dzogchen teachings Yangti Nagpo, as well as Jnana Benza, the son of the great terton Sangye Lingpa. In addition to having been Orgyen Leytro Lingpa, the crest ornament of an ocean of treasure revealers, he had incarnated in a succession of these and many other sublime learned and accomplished great masters.
Finally, in that life, he took birth in the tantric family line of Shotang descending from Dharma king Ratna Lingpa, an unbroken family line of accomplished yogis and masters of mantra. Born in the year of the Earth Bird of the fourteenth cycle, he became the disciple of many learned and accomplished masters: Drigung Kyabgon Tukje Nyima, Taklung Tsetrul Gelek Rabjam, Padma Ösel Do-Ngak Lingpa, Jamgon Kongtrul Padma Garwang, Upey Khechok Drubpey Wangpo, Nangchen Ngawang Tsoknyi, and numerous others.
From these masters he received and studied the Sutra and Tantra systems as well as the general topics of the sciences. Specifically he received all the existent profound instructions of his personal tradition, the Drigung Kagyu. Moreover, he also received the all the profound instructions of the nonsectarian Eight Chariots of the Practice Lineage including the Kadam, Shijey, Cho-yul, and the Jordruk teachings. In particular, he put great effort into receiving the Ngagyur Kama, the Oral Tradition of the Early Translations, the peaceful and wrathful Magical Net of the Mahayoga tantras, the Khatun Nakpo and Rutson Marpo versions of Manjushri Yamantaka, the Rog and Rong traditions of Kilaya, the Shi-tro Narak Dongtruk traditions known as Padma Gyaden, the two Immaculate Tantras of Kriya and Charya, the Dupa Do empowerment of the complete nine vehicles belonging to Anu Yoga, and the Mind, Space and Instructions Sections of Ati Yoga. He also put great effort into receiving the secret treasuries of the profound terma teachings of several of the major undisputed incarnated treasure revealers including the Upper and Lower termas of Lord Nyang-Ral and Guru Chowang, the termas of Gya Zhangtrom, Ratna Lingpa, Sangye Lingpa, Pema Lingpa, Minling, Jatson Nyingpo, as well as Chokling (Chokgyur Lingpa) and Khyentse (Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo). As indicated by these transmissions he received, he became a depository of nonsectarian instructions.
Not letting it be enough simply to have received these teachings, he personally practiced the instructions, in entirety and without error, of the aspects of development and completion, means and liberation, each in accordance with its individual scriptures and directions. Having realized the common and extraordinary qualities of the paths and bhumis, he arrived at a high level of accomplishment. This is why Drigung Kyabgon Chokyi Lodro, Tukje Nyima, Garchen Trinley Yongkyab, Traktung Barwey Dorje, and many other great beings, who themselves were abiding on the bhumis, venerated him as the lord of the family (root guru) at the crown of their heads. He also became one of the gurus of the great Dharma king of Gomde Nangchen. Since the two Jamgon masters - Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgon Kongtrul - repeatedly extolled him as an authentic being, his fame spread everywhere throughout eastern and central Tibet.
Specifically, due to the timely awakening of the aspirations and entrusted mandates of both the Second Buddha Gyalwang Padmakara and Mahapandita Vimalamitra, he became someone who obtained an immense profound treasury endowed with the seven transmissions. They are mentioned like this:
The unbroken oral tradition from person to person,
The profound treasures themselves, and mind termas,
Rediscovered treasures, the termas of recollection,
Pure visions, and the hearing lineage;
The rivers of these seven transmissions
Will be immensely precious for the Buddhadharma in the dark age.
Profound and extensive, they will shine further than the light of the sun.
In accordance with this statement, the way in which he received these transmissions will be described below.
There are many special predictions in the termas foretelling this master as an authentic incarnated terton. One of these is the Dojang Nyimey Nyingpo which says:
At that time the translator Tingdzin Sangpo,
On the slope of Lho-Da ridge in Domey,
Will be born from a family line of men and nonhumans,
Accompanied by three great wonders.
As a vidyadhara endowed with five marks,
He will possess the seven transmissions and attain accomplishment.
An elephant-like yogi, with courageous discipline,
Possessing the strength of awareness, and a navel letter marked in his flesh,
Bearing the name Dorje, this yogi born in the bird year,
Will appear from the south in the year of the Iron Bird.
A sublime son of manifold awareness, with the name of A,
The heart essence, a buddha in human form,
Will sustain the remnant termas of Leytro Lingpa.
The Dusum Lungten Dorje Gyadu mentions:
In the earth element's year of the feathered bird,
A bearer of the name Dorje, with long braided hair,
In the form of a yogi, but endowed with the Vinaya discipline,
A heart son bodhisattva with great generosity,
His yogic conduct is that of a king,
His deeds uphold Shakyamuni's teachings,
His behavior maintain the tantric teachings.
If his karmic aspirations fully coincide,
His activity for the benefit of beings will greatly expand,
And he will take command over all the termas of the profound teachings.
The terma predictions of Guru Kyungdrag Dorje describe him in these words:
When invading armies pour into central Tibet and the time draws close for subjugating activity,
At a place near Nabun Dzong in Dokham,
The one named Dorje will hold the list of the profound termas.
1) Fulfilling these and many other of Padmasambhava's prophesies, in which he was repeatedly glorified, it was in the year of the Fire Pig, his thirty-fifth, in the Vajra Cave at Khandro Bumdzong, which is one of the 25 sacred places of Domey, that he revealed the Kadu Chenmo Tukdrub Dechen Nyingpo Gyu, the Tantra of the Essence of Great Bliss from the Heart Practice of the Grand Embodiment of Teachings, as well as the cycle of the major sadhana activities. The following year he revealed at Yegyal Namkha Dzo its cycle of minor activities. In the secret cave of Guru Rinpoche at Gyalsang Drolma Drak, he revealed the sadhana and activities for Zabdon Nyenpo Lhasum. From Karchen Namkha Drak he revealed the outer, inner and innermost teaching cycles of the Heart Essence of Vimalamitra. These comprise his earth termas, sa-ter.
2) The Tukdrub Tsasum Drakpo, the Tukdrub Yizhin Kunjung, the teaching cycles of the Yabka Pema Gyalpo and the Yumka Pema Kandro, as well as the Lama Dudul Gyalpo, comprise his mind treasures, gongter.
Furthermore, at Nabun Dzong in Dokham, Kyungdrag Dzong, and various other terma places, he discovered a huge amount of sacred shrine objects and substances, as well as wealth termas and so forth. For these reasons he became famed as lord of an ocean of profound termas, the undisputed great treasure revealer Lho Jedrung Orgyen Nuden Dorje, also known as Lho Drongtrul Changlo Mebar.
Among his close disciples were his older brother, Önchen Kunzang Drodul, who was an emanation of Kyeuchung Lotsawa, and his younger brother, Drubgyu Tendzin, who was an incarnation of Guru Rinpoche's heart son Acharya Pal-Yang, as well as Choktrul Trinley Gyamtso, an emanation of Rigdzin Godemchen.
This guru and his disciples rendered a great service to the precious teachings of scriptures and realization of nonsectarian lineages, headed by Kagyu and Nyingma, and acted in immense and eminent ways to promote the Buddhadharma through teaching, propagation, and personal application, as well as providing facilities for others to study and practice. To say this is not mere false and hollow praise. Rather, it can be understood even from the small amount of writings and biographies that are still in existence.
The fifth Lho Jedrung was Tendzin Gyalbu Nyugu. The sixth was Drongtrul Tendzin Drodul, and the seventh supreme incarnation is at present alive and well in the Noble Land of India. The reincarnations of his two brothers mentioned above also continued to spread the Buddhadharma at this monastery by means of teaching, practice, and various spiritual activities.
The Lho Lungkar Gon Monastery
Now in the second main topic, describing in particular how at this monastery the drubchen ceremonies of Ka Gong and Phur, and others, were carried on following the Nyingma tradition of Secret Mantra.
At the time of the fourth Lho Jedrung mentioned earlier, due to the auspicious coincidence of the timely ripening of this master's former aspirations and karmic continuity, not only did he ensure that his personal Kagyu lineage did not diminish, but he placed in addition a special emphasis on practicing the oral and rediscovered lineages of the Old School of the Early Translations (Ngagyur Nyingma).
To mention one of the many drubchen traditions for which he founded yearly ceremonies, he established the drubchen of the Kabgye Deshek Dupa, the terma of Nyang (Nyang-Ral Nyima Özer), by following the perfect tradition transmitted jointly down through Gyalwang Rinchen Puntsok and the sublime Rigdzin Chokyi Drakpa. Using this as the basis, he supported it with instructions he received from Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgon Kongtrul Padma Garwang Tsal, and adorned it with sound additions from the profound oral and rediscovered lineages of the Early Translation School.
He established the manual for the great group assembly practice known as Sangten Nyizhon Drenpey Shingta, The Chariot of the Innermost Teachings for Guidance in Coursing on the Rays of the Sun. It is said:
Without letting the precious hub, one's own tradition, disappear,
Unfold a thousand spokes, the reasonable general system of the Early Translations.
May this connected rim, the pure tradition,
Turn the Dharma Wheel for whoever it encounters.
In the same way, they did their best to continue, for as long as the Buddhadharma shall remain, an extremely elaborate version of the grand group assembly drubchen according to the Kabgye Deshek Dupa, using the tradition of their personal tradition of the Minling style. We shall now describe in brief how the activities of these traditions are applied.
The drubchen begins at the end of the second month with dance exercises and being given custody of the implements. On the third day of the third month and onwards the monastic household (labrang) will commence the sadhana with the successive exorcisms and arranging of the costumes. The ornamentation for the tormas and their decorations are also prepared. On the seventh day, the vajra master (dorje lobpon) will confer the empowerment for the daily practice, set up the poles for the guardian kings, draw the outer, inner and innermost boundary lines and trace the mandala. On the eighth day the colored powder will be poured, the tormas completed, and there will be some time off. On the ninth day, the preparatory steps of the ritual will be carried out and thereby the preliminaries are completed.
Beginning with the tenth, and through the twenty-second day, there will be a succession of mantra recitations - starting with the peaceful deities, followed by the nine glorious ones, the unified mandala, and longevity recitation - changing from day to day. With the peaceful and Chemchok practices overlapping, the main part of the drubchen lasts thirteen days. The ceremony for receiving accomplishment goes on for two days. The dance of the wrathful ones and the torma ritual for warding off negativity takes two days as well. On the thirtieth day, the colored powder is sent into the river and, together with the ceremony of the lamp aspiration, the entire drubchen is completed within twenty-one days.
During this time the following positions of responsibility are appointed: the congregation participating in the drubchen, the vajra sentinel (dorje tsampa), the lama serving the Dharma protectors (dreksol gonla), the purification master and assistant (trula ponlob), the master of the grand assembly (tsokchen lama), and the other various positions for carrying out minor activities. The continuous recitation during the main part of the drubchen is not done as in a general whispered way, rather, each day the session master (tongtun lobpon) will give the visualization points for the recitations in the respective sadhana groups. Initiated by three long recitation tunes, they will commence their individual melodies of recitation and continue uninterruptedly throughout the day and night. This is one of the many special qualities of this drubchen. Further details are clarified in the available Application Notes. The drubchen described here is supposed to be practiced on a yearly basis.
Another drubchen ceremony, that of the Lama Gongdu cycle, similarly uses the instructions of the two Jamgons (Khyentse and Kongtrul), and its application involves several special superior features. Especially, it makes use of the Gongdu Dzap-yang Chenmo, the grand Gongdu recitation tune, from a recollection of when the master (Lho Jedrung) was Sangye Lingpa's son, Tersey Yeshe Dorje. It also makes use of the Nangcham Dorje Tsokgar Chenmo, the grand inner dance of the vajra feast dance, established when the master had a pure vision during a drubchen in which he visited Guru Rinpoche and his assembly of disciples at the Glorious Copper-Colored Mountain and received the Gongdu Drubwang Chenmo, the grand sadhana empowerment of Gongdu. This drubchen also includes a public dance, Tashi Chogar, offering dance of auspiciousness, in connection with the increasing fire puja of the ritual for receiving accomplishment. This drubchen, which includes the consecration of sacred medicine, is completed in thirteen days, and is also to be carried out on a yearly basis.
Just in terms of the feast offering gatherings, we would always use elaborate ganachakra offerings with no less than a load of tsampa and a load of dried cheese and have never allowed plainness.
In addition to these drubchen ceremonies of Kabgye, Gongdu and Phurpa, we also performed a yearly drubchen according to these traditions: the Minling Dorsem Tukkyi Tigley, Ratney Tukdrub Yangnying Dupa, Tsedrub Sangwa Dupa, Jatson Konchok Chidu, Yongey Pema Bendza, Tsedrub Tabshey Khajor, as well as for the master's own terma Tukdrub Dechen Nyingpo. Also performed was the drubchen for Manjushri Yamantaka, the Jampal Shinje Tsedag Yangdog Meyi Pudri Dasang, and its Sungdog, protective ritual of exorcism, as well as the Tersar Ngakyi Sojong. All of these were carried out yearly and without break. Besides all these, the drubcho sadhana practices performed which belong to the New Schools are not mentioned here.
In later years, the monasteries of Nangchen Gargon, Lho Mi-Yel Gon, and Tsele Gon in Zitron, also held the drubchen of Kabgye which an appointed khenpo from this monastery was sent to teach. In the region of Kham it was only this monastery which was the source of the Kabgye drubchen in the Drigung tradition, and this was because of the above mentioned monasteries followed the tradition of the master Lho Jedrung.
In this way, in the past up to these days it is evident that no major monastery that has been seen or heard of has established the custom of yearly drubchen ceremonies of Kabgye, Gongdu and Phurpa. Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche witnessed this by saying: "In this Tibetan land of snow, I have never heard of any place to hold yearly drubchens of Kabgye, Gongdu and Phurpa, other than Lho Lungkar Gon." In this way it can only be shown that he over again lavishly poured praise upon this monastery and placed it among great wonders.
These exceptional Dharma traditions have lately been swept under by the waves of upheaval. Nevertheless, in combination with the restoration of the monastery, the abovementioned drubchen ceremonies have already or are being re-established. About seven years have gone by since we re-instituted the Phurpa and Vajrasattva drubchens, and both the Kabgye and the Gongdu have been re-instated in the year of the Fire Bird. Thus we have re-established the complete traditions of Kabgye, Gongdu and Phurpa, just as they were in the past.
However, taking into account the vehement destruction of the monastery, the feeble means of the local highlanders, the absence of support from other sources, and the monastery's lack of personal income, these yearly drubchen ceremonies are at risk of being forsaken. Therefore, we beg all the great beings who take upon themselves the responsibility of continuing the general teachings of the Old School of the Early Translations (Ngagyur Nyingma) to direct their attention to the truth of the facts we have described here, and to kindly refrain from limiting their immense sense of generosity.
Palden Drigung Kagyu
The Committee for Supporting Lho Lungkar Gon Monastery of Dokham Nangchen.
Tso-Ngon Zhingchen, Yuhru Khul, Dzato Dzong, Zhang Drong Mey, Lho Lungkar Gon, Ogmin Tubten Shedrub Ling
Written by Khenpo Konchok Monlam and translated by Erik Pema Kunsang