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Ngawang Jigme Drakpa

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Title: Ngawang Jigme Drakpa  
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Subject: Rinpungpa
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Ngawang Jigme Drakpa

Ngawang Jigme Drakpa (Ngag dbang ajigs med grags pa) (fl. 16th century) was the last ruling prince of Tsang (West Central Tibet) of the Rinpungpa Dynasty. He was also a renowned author.

Literary activity

Ngawang Jigme Drakpa was the third son of the Rinpungpa prince Ngawang Namgyal. When his brother Dondup Tseten Dorje died in an unknown year in the 1550s or 1560s, he took over as the ruler of Tsang. He was a well-respected and accomplished scholar who translated several Sanskrit texts and wrote on various subjects. Among his works were a history of the Tartar kings, a romance of Shambhala, a biography of Sakya Pandita, and a treatise on poetry, An Ornament of a Monk's Thought.[1] He was popularly known as Pandita Gyalpo, the scholar king.[2]

Ill omens

Although Ngawang Jigme Drakpa is characterized as able in temporal affairs, the rule of the Rinpungpa drew towards its end.[3] An invasion in western Tibet in 1554, conducted by either him or his predecessor, failed badly.[4] In 1563 there was warfare in Tsang itself; Ngawang Jigme Drakpa interfered in a conflict between Sakya and Changdakpa, and personally led his troops in the field. Meanwhile various omens were seen. A cloud appeared in the form of the wrathful deity Rahula, causing a hailstorm that destroyed the crops. Religious sites were damaged and meteorites fell. Dried torma offerings fell on the roof of the ruler's castle.[5]

The end of the Rinpungpa

A relative of the Rinpungpa, Karma Tseten, was the governor of the Samdrubtse castle at Shigatse since 1548. In 1557 he rose in rebellion against the Rinpungpa. By this time there was widespread discontent with the rule of the family, and Karma Tseten supported various rebellious estates. In 1565 he seized Panam Lhundrup Kyungtse and the Pakmori Gold Castle. The renowned Drukpa lama Kunkhyen Pema Karpo arranged a peaceful settlement between the parties. However, just after the Tibetan new year in 1566 a new war broke out in lower Nyangtod. After another intervention by Kunkhyen, Ngawang Jigme Drakpa agreed to cede the entire Panam region to Tseten Dorje. These events marked the definitive end of Rinpungpa prominence in Central Tibet. According to one anecdote the wife of Ngawang Jigme Drakpa told her husband about the defeat sustained by his troops against Karma Tseten. He then replied that it did not matter since he had finished his poem.[6] The impoverished Ngawang Jigme Drakpa died some time after, leaving two sons called Dawa Zangpo and Gewa Pal.[7] The usurper Karma Tseten, also known as Zhingshagpa, became the ancestor of the Tsangpa Dynasty that ruled parts of Tibet until 1642.


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