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Jamgon Kongtrul

Jamgon Kongtul (1902-1952) depicted on Kagyu Refuge Tree thangka.

Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thayé (Tibetan: འཇམ་མགོན་ཀོང་སྤྲུལ་བློ་གྲོས་མཐའ་ཡས་Wylie: 'jam mgon kong sprul blo gros mtha' yas, 1813–1899), born in Rongyap, Kham, Tibet, was one of the most prominent Buddhist masters in Tibet in the 19th century. He is credited as one of the founders of the Rimé movement of Tibetan Buddhism and he compiled what is known as the Five Great Treasuries. He achieved great renown as a scholar and writer, and authored more than one hundred volumes of scriptures.

Having seen how the Gelug institutions pushed the other traditions into the corners of Tibet's cultural life, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thayé compiled together the teachings of the Sakya, Kagyu and Nyingma, including many near-extinct teachings.[1]

Without Khyentse and Kongtrul's collecting and printing of rare works, the later suppression of Buddhism by the Communists would have been much more final.[2]


  • Tulkus 1
    • The Second Jamgon Kongtrul (1902–1952) 1.1
    • 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul (1954–1992) 1.2
    • The Fourth Jamgon Kongtrul (born 1995) 1.3
    • Other tulkus of Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye 1.4
  • Works by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye 2
    • The Treasury of Knowledge 2.1
    • Other works published in English translation 2.2
  • Terma 3
  • Notes 4
  • External links 5


The Second Jamgon Kongtrul (1902–1952)

The biography of Khakyab Dorje, 15th Karmapa Lama mentions he had a vision in which he saw 25 simultaneous emanations of the master Jamgön Kongtrül. Preeminent among these was Karsé Kongtrül (Tibetan: ཀར་སྲས་ཀོང་སྤྲུལ་Wylie: kar sras kong sprul, 1904–10 May 1952). Karsé Kongtrül was born as the son of the 15th Karmapa: Karsé means "son of the Karmapa". His formal religious name was as Jamyang Khyentsé Özer (Wylie: 'jam dbyangs mkhyen brtse'i 'od zer).

Karsé Kongtrül was identified and enthroned by his father at age twelve in 1902, in Samdrub Choling at the monastery of Dowolung Tsurphu. Karsé Kongtrül resided at Tsadra Rinchen Drak, the seat of his predecessor in eastern Tibet. He received the full education and lineage transmission from the Karmapa. Among his other teachers were Surmang Trungpa Chökyi Nyinche, the 10th Trungpa tulku. He attained realization of the ultimate lineage, was one of the most renowned Mahamudra masters and transmitted the innermost teachings to Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, 16th Karmapa. On many occasions he gave teachings, empowerments, and reading transmissions from the old and new traditions, such as the Treasury of Precious Termas (Rinchen Terdzö), and he rebuilt the retreat center of Tsandra Rinchen Drak, his residence at Palpung Monastery. Karsé Kongtrül died on 10 May 1952 at the age of 49.

3rd Jamgon Kongtrul (1954–1992)

The 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul, Karma Lodrö Chökyi Senge,[3] a tulku of Khyentse Özer, was born on 1 October 1954. He fled to India in 1959 in the aftermath of the 1959 Tibetan uprising and grew up at Rumtek Monastery under the care of Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, 16th Karmapa. Following the Karmapa's death, the 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul was actively involved in the search for his successor. However, he died in a car accident on 26 April 1992 before the search could be completed.

The Fourth Jamgon Kongtrul (born 1995)

Lodrö Chökyi Nyima, one of the disputants for the fourth Jamgon Kongtrul title

There are two Jamgon Kongtrul IV:

The first recognition occurred in August 1996 and was formally installed by Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje later that year with the name Lodrö Chökyi Nyima. He had been born on November 26, 1995 near Chushur Dzong in Central Tibet. In 1997, he travelled to India and has since lived at the monastery established by the previous Jamgon Kongtrul in Lava, West Bengal. This recognition was confirmed by the 14th Dalai Lama, Sakya Trizin, the head of the Sakya sect, and Mindroling Trichen, the now deceased head of the Nyingma tradition. All three performed hair-cutting ceremonies and bestowed names, as is traditional.

The second recognition occurred in December 1996, when Karmapa Thaye Dorje gave him the name Karma Migyur Drakpa Sengge Trinley Kunkhyab Palzangpo. The child, often referred to as Jamgon Yangsi, had been born the son of the Second Beru Khyentse on 17 December, 1995 in the Kathmandu valley, Nepal on the anniversary of the birth of Tsongkhapa (the 25th of the Tibetan month). When Thaye Dorje first visited Bodhgaya on 23 December 1996, Yangsi Rinpoche despite his young age was able to spontaneously pick up some rice and toss it into the air as a mandala offering, signifying the auspicious connection between Karmapa and Jamgon Kongtrul. In 1997, at Beru Khyentse Rinpoche's request, the Dalai Lama performed the hair-cutting ceremony for Jamgon Yangsi in Bodhgaya. In 2000 Penor Rinpoche, then head of the Nyingma sect, again reconfirmed Jamgon Yangsi as reincarnation of the Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye.

Other tulkus of Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye

In addition to Karsey Kongtrul Khyentsé Özer (1904–1953) (the principal incarnation), there were four other reincarnations of the first Jamgon Kongtrul: Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Dzogchen Kongtrul Rinpoche, and Shechen Kongtrul Rinpoche. Kalu Rinpoche, also recognized post-facto as the incarnation of Lodrö Thaye's activity, was never enthroned as such.

Works by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye

The main corpus of Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thaye vast scholarly activities (comprising more than ninety volumes of works in all) is known as the Great Treasuries:

  • The Treasury of Encyclopedic Knowledge (shes bya kun la khyab pa'i mdzod), summarizing the entire sutric and tantric paths.
  • The Treasury of Precious Instructions (gdams ngag rin po che'i mdzod), a compendium of empowerments and oral instructions of what he formulated as the "Eight Great Chariots" of the instruction lineages in Tibet.[4]
  • The Treasury of Kagyü Mantras (bka' brgyud sngags kyi mdzod), a compendium of rituals, empowerments and oral instructions for the Yangdak, Vajrakilaya and Yamantaka deities of the Nyingma kama tradition, and the tantra cycles from the Sarma lineages of Marpa and Ngok.
  • The Treasury of Precious Termas (rin chen gter mdzod), a massive compilation of termas.
  • The Uncommon Treasury (thun mong ma yin pa'i mdzod), which contains Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thaye's own profound terma revelations.
  • The Treasury of Extensive Teachings (rgya chen bka' mdzod), which includes various related works, such as praises and advice, as well as compositions on medicine, science and so on.

The Treasury of Knowledge

Jamgon Kongtrul's (1813–1899) 'The Infinite Ocean of Knowledge' (Tibetan: ཤེས་བྱ་མཐའ་ཡས་པའི་རྒྱ་མཚོWylie: shes bya mtha' yas pa'i rgya mtsho) is constituted by ten books or sections and is itself a commentary on the root verses 'The Encompassment of All Knowledge' (Tibetan: ཤེས་བྱ་ཀུན་ཁྱབWylie: shes bya kun khyab) which is as well the work of Jamgon Kongtrul.[5] The Encompassment of All Knowledge are the root verses to Kongtrul's autocommentary The Infinite Ocean of Knowledge and these two works together are known as 'The Treasury of Knowledge' (Tibetan: ཤེས་བྱ་མཛོདWylie: shes bya mdzod).[6] Tibetan Text

Of the Five, the Treasury of Knowledge was Jamgon Kongtrul's magnum opus, covering the full spectrum of Buddhist history, philosophy and practice. There is an ongoing effort to translate it into English. It is divided up as follows:

•Book One: Myriad Worlds (Snow Lion, 2003. ISBN 1-55939-188-X)
•Book Two: The Advent of the Buddha (parts 2, 3, and 4 forthcoming)
Part One: The Teacher's Path to Awakening
Part Two: The Buddha's Enlightenment
Part Three: The Buddha's Twelve Deeds
Part Four: Enlightenment's Bodies and Realms
•Book Three: The Buddha's Doctrine—The Sacred Teachings
Part One: What Are the Sacred Teachings?
Part Two: Cycles of Scriptural Transmission
Part Three: Compilations of the Buddha's Word
Part Four: Origins of the Original Translations' Ancient Tradition (Nyingma)
•Book Four: Buddhism's Spread Throughout the World
Part One: Buddhism's Spread in India
Part Two: How Buddhist Monastic Discipline and Philosophy Came to Tibet
Part Three: Tibet's Eight Vehicles of Tantric Meditation Practice
Part Four: The Origins of Buddhist Culture
•Book Five: Buddhist Ethics (Snow Lion, 2003. ISBN 1-55939-191-X)
•Book Six: The Topics for Study
Part One: A Presentation of the Common Fields of Knowledge and Worldly Paths
Part Two: The General Topics of Knowledge in the Hinayana and Mahayana
Part Three: Frameworks of Buddhist Philosophy (Snow Lion, 2007. ISBN 1-55939-277-0)
Part Four: Systems of Buddhist Tantra (Snow Lion, 2005. ISBN 1-55939-210-X)
•Book Seven: The Training in Higher Wisdom
Part One: Gaining Certainty about the Keys to Understanding
Part Two: Gaining Certainty about the Provisional and Definitive Meanings in the Three Turnings of the Wheel of Dharma, the Two Truths and Dependent Arising
Part Three: Gaining Certainty about the View
Part Four: Gaining Certainty about the Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind
•Book Eight: The Training in Higher Meditative Absorption (Samadhi)
Part One, Two: Shamatha and Vipashyana; The Stages of Meditation in the Cause-Based Approaches (forthcoming)
Part Three: The Elements of Tantric Practice (Snow Lion, 2008. ISBN 1-55939-305-X
Part Four: Esoteric Instructions, A Detailed Presentation of the Process of Meditation in Vajrayana (Snow Lion, 2008. ISBN 1-55939-284-3)
•Book Nine: An Analysis of the Paths and levels to Be Traversed (forthcoming)
Part One: The Paths and Levels in the Cause-Based Dialectical Approach
Part Two: The Levels and Paths in the Vajrayana
Part Three: The Process of Enlightenment
Part Four: the Levels in the Three Yogas
•Book Ten: An Analysis of the Consummate Fruition State (forthcoming)
Part One: the Fruition in the Dialectical Approach
Part Two: The More Common Attainment in the Vajrayana
Part Three: The Fruition in the Vajrayana
Part Four: The Fruition State in the Nyingma School

Other works published in English translation

The Great Path of Awakening : The Classic Guide to Using the Mahayana Buddhist Slogans to Tame the Mind and Awaken the Heart translated by Ken McLeod, Shambhala, 2000. ISBN 1-57062-587-5

Buddha Nature, The Mahayana Uttaratantra Shastra with Commentary Arya Maitreya, with commentary by Jamgon Kongrul Lodro Thaye and Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, Snow Lion, 200. ISBN 1-55939-128-6

Cloudless Sky commentary by Jamgon Kongrul the Third. Shambhala, 2001. ISBN 1-57062-604-9

Jamgon Kongtrul's Retreat Manual translated by Ngawang Zangpo. Snow Lion Publications, 1994. ISBN 1-55939-029-8

The Torch of Certainty Foreword by Chogyam Trungpa. Shambhala, 2000. ISBN 1-57062-713-4

Creation and Completion: Essential Points of Tantric Meditation translated by Sarah Harding. Wisdom Publications, 2002. ISBN 0-86171-312-5

The Autobiography of Jamgon Kongtrul: A Gem of Many Colors translated by Richard Barron, Snow Lion Publications, 2003. ISBN 1-55939-184-7

Sacred Ground: Jamgon Kongtrul on Pilgrimage and Sacred Geography Snow Lion Publications, 2001. ISBN 1-55939-164-2

Enthronement: The Recognition of the Reincarnate Masters of Tibet and the Himalayas Snow Lion Publications, 1997. ISBN 1-55939-083-2

The Teacher-Student Relationship Snow Lion Publications, 1999. ISBN 1-55939-096-4

Essence of Benefit and Joy Siddhi Publications, 2000. ISBN 0-9687689-5-4

Timeless Rapture : Inspired Verse from the Shangpa Masters Snow Lion, 2003. ISBN 1-55939-204-5

Light of Wisdom, Vol. 1 by Padmasambhava, commentary by Jamgon Kongtrul, translated by Erik Pema Kunsang, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1999. ISBN 962-7341-37-1

Light of Wisdom, Vol. II by Padmasambhava, commentary by Jamgon Kongtrul, translated by Erik Pema Kunsang, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1999. ISBN 962-7341-33-9

Light of Wisdom, Vol. IV by Padmasambhava, commentary by Jamgon Kongtrul, translated by Erik Pema Kunsang, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2001. ISBN 962-7341-43-6 (restricted circulation)



  1. ^ Schaik, Sam van. Tibet: A History. Yale University Press 2011, page 165-9.
  2. ^ Schaik, Sam van. Tibet: A History. Yale University Press 2011, page 169.
  3. ^ Rigpa Wiki: Jamgön Kongtrul Rinpoche - Rigpa Wiki
  4. ^ Kongtrül, Jamgön. "Welcome to the Tsadra Foundation Catalog of the Damngak Rinpoché Dzö - The Treasury of Precious Instructions - gdams ngag rin po che'i mdzod". Tsadra Foundation. Retrieved 2014-03-27. 
  5. ^ Kongtrul Lodro Taye (author, compiler); Kalu Rinpoche Translation Group (translators) (1995, 2003). The Treasury of Knowledge, Book One; Myriad Worlds: Buddhist Cosmology in Abhidharma, Kãlacakra, Dzog-chen. ISBN 1-55939-188-X, p.9
  6. ^ Kongtrul Lodro Taye (author, compiler); Kalu Rinpoche Translation Group (translators) (1995, 2003). The Treasury of Knowledge, Book One; Myriad Worlds: Buddhist Cosmology in Abhidharma, Kãlacakra, Dzog-chen. ISBN 1-55939-188-X, p.36

External links

  • A Brief Biography by Ven. Bokhar Rinpoche
  • A Brief Biography by Alak Zenkar Rinpoche
  • 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul Karma Lodro Chokyi Senge according to Beru Khyentse Rinpoche, father of one recognition
  • 4th Jamgon Kongtrul Karma Migyur Drakpa Senge recognized by Thaye Dorje, son of Beru Khyentse Rinpoche
  • 4th Jamgon Kongtrul Chokyi Nyima recognized by Ogyen Trinley Dorje and the Dalai Lama


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