Je Tsongkhapa ཙོང་ཁ་པ་
Je Tsongkhapa is the founder of the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism and One of the most important people in the History of Tibetan Religion. When you travel to Tibet, you will hear about him and find statues in almost all the major monasteries in Tibet including some significant monasteries in the Lhasa area.
Tsongkhapa was born in 1357 in the Valley of Tsongkha in Amdo ( Qinghai province of China). He was born with a lots miraculous events like a drop of blood from the birth grows in Sandal Wood tree. These events caught the interest of many learned master in the region. Master Choje Dhondup Rinchen gave livestock to his family and ask his father to make him responsible to the Young boy’s education. Later the Tsongkhapa family built a stupa at the very place he was born, and the monastic community was found by the third Dalai Lama. Now the monastery is known as the Kunbum monastery, and it is near Xining city.
Je Tsongkhapa’s Education and Practice
At the age of seven, Tsongkhapa went to live with Choje Dhondup Rinche for the formal education and religious practice. The young boy learns to read and write to a very early age great ease. He then practices meditation at a very young age. At the eight of eight, Tsongkhapa received ordination as a novice monk and Named Lobsang Drakpa. He received many teachings and Tantric Empowerment from his master Choje Dhondup Rinchen.
At the age of Sixteen Tsongkhapa for central and southern Tibet to pursue his quest for knowledge, where he studied with more than fifty most prominent teachers. He received Tantric empowerment from many Important masters fro the different tradition. He was determined to combine the practice of both sutra and tantra. For this, he gains rigorous intellectual training and knowledge of both Sutra and Tantra.
He travels from most monastery to another to deepening his philosophical knowledge. One his primary teacher and a very close friend is Sakya master Rendawa Shönu Lodrö.
Tsongkhapa met with remarkable Lama Umapa at the age of thirty-three. Lama Umapa came from Tsang to met Tsongkhapa with the intention of studying with him. Umapa had a vision of Manjushri (Lord of wisdom). This vision changes his life from a simple cowherd. He took up the practice of related to Manjushri and eventually he can experience the constant presence of Manjushri.
While practicing together Lama Umapa Become Tsongkhapa’s means of communicating with Manjushri. During their retreat together Umapa conveyed Manjushri advice to Tsongkhapa and response the question Tsongkhapa has for Manjushri. Later Tsongkhapa himself had experience vision of Manjushri, who gave him teaching and bestowed empowerments on him.
Manjushri instructs him to stop all the teachings and withdraw from public activities to concentrate on an intense meditation. During the winter of 1392-1393, joined by eight carefully chosen students, begun practices for purification and accumulation of merit by reciting purification mantras, make prostration and offering mandala thousand of times.
In the year 1394, he and his group moved to Wölka. All experience vision of deities associated with the practice.
In the year 1395, they break the retreat to work on refurbishing a famous and revered statue of Buddha of future the Maitreya, which had fallen into disrepair.
Among his many beneficial activities, the four are mention in particular.
- The renovation of the Maitreya statue and the grand festival he organizes during the Tibetan New Year of 1400.
- The extensive teaching on the code of discipline for the ordains monks along with other masters. This teaching lasts for several months and revitalizing the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet.
- Establishment of the Great Monlam (Prayer) festival in Lhasa in 1409. During the festival, he donates everything he received from benefactors in support of the event to make ornaments of gold and precious stones to the famous statue of Buddha in the Jokhang temple in Lhasa.
- The construction of Ganden Monastery near Lhasa.
During the last year of his life. Tsongkhapa devoted much of his time in giving extensive teaching. He passed away in 1419. His new school of Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism had made a significant impact on the development of Buddhism in Tibet.
Je Tsongkhapa prayer
༈ དམིགས་མེད་བརྩེ་བའི་གཏེར་ཆེན་སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས། །
mikmé tsewé terchen chenrézik
drimé khyenpé wangpo jampal yang
düpung malü jomdzé sangwé dak
khangchen khépé tsukgyen tsongkhapa
lobzang drakpé shyapla solwa dep
Great treasury of non-referential compassion, Avalokiteshvara,
Powerful lord of flawless wisdom, Manjushri,
And destroyer of all the hosts of Mara, Vajrapani, Lord of Secrets—
Crowning glory amongst all the learned masters of the Land of Snows,
Tsongkhapa Lobzang Drakpa, at your feet I pray!