Our Master’s Masters – Jamyang Chökyi Wangchug

Jamyang Chökyi Wangchug from the Temple of the Great Contemplation at Merigar.

Jamyang Chökyi Wangchug (1909-1960) was born in the Geog valley in the Changra district south of Derge. He was recognized by Jamyang Loter Wangpo,  the fifth Dzogchen Rinpoche Thubden Chökyi Dorje (1872-1935), and by the third Kathog Situ Chökyi Gyatso (1880-1923/5), as the tulku of Jamyang Chökyi Wangpo, the first body emanation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo,  who had died prematurely. He left clear prophecies about his next rebirth: Jamyang Chökyi Wangchug was born as indicated from the union of Samdrub Drönma, sister of the same Chökyi Wangpo and maternal grandmother of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, with Jamyang Trinle, a functionary of the king of Derge and descendant of the ancient Ngonatsang family.

Since early childhood, Chökyi Wangchug showed a total dedication to the doctrine and received teachings from great masters of his epoch, in particular from those who had recognized him as a tulku, and from Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö,  Adzom Drugpa,  Kunga Palden (1878-1950), Shenga Rinpoche, and the abbot Dampa Rinpoche. After receiving teachings, he cultivated their realization during long periods of retreat. 

In 1930, following a controversy that had erupted among some of his administrators and those of Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö, Chökyi Wangchug was obliged to leave Dzongsar and moved his main residence to Derge Gönchen, a great Sakya monastery in the capital. He was often solicited by the treasurer of the monastery and by his father to pursue worldly interests; in spite of all this, he continued to show the utmost indifference for riches and power. 

Jamyang Chökyi Wangchug. Photo courtesy of Master Bi Song.

From 1944 on he stayed longer and longer periods in the small monastery of Galing, where he exchanged teachings with Kunga Palden [note 1], his principal master, who had his residence there; he spent many years in the monastery, practicing and instructing his disciples, and became known by the name Galing Khyentse. Under his tertön name of Humchen Heka Lingpa, Jamyang Chökyi Wangchug revealed many sacred objects and texts such as The Essence of the Heart of the Master, The Compendium of the Peaceful Ones, The Compendium of the Wrathful King, The Jampal Shinje, and The Divine Prophecy, Lord of Secrets. Chögyal Namkhai Norbu is the holder of some of the teachings discovered by him, while many other termas were lost in the course of the Cultural Revolution. Khyentse Chökyi Wangchug was captured by the Chinese and died in prison in 1960. Yeshe Pal, the son and first child of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, was recognized as his tulku by the forty-first holder of the Sakya throne, Ngawang Kunga.

Excerpted and adapted from Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, The Lamp That Enlightens Narrow Minds. 

Note 1. Kunga Palden, disciple of Ogyen Tendzin Norbu (1827- 1888), was considered among the main holders of the Dzogchen teaching and was famous in all of eastern Tibet for the extent of his realization. Born in a poor Galingting family, he spent most of his life in retreat subjecting himself to great austerities. He became the master of remarkable figures of the caliber of Dzogchen Rinpoche, Thubten Chökyi Dorje, Khunu Lama Tendzin Gyaltsen (1884-1977), and Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö. Before his death, in 1950 he entrusted the Galing Monastery to Chökyi Wangchug who later identified his successive reincarnation whose whereabouts, however, were lost during the Chinese invasion. In 1997, informed that he was still alive, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu succeeded in finding him and invited him to Galing Monastery where he remained until the summer 2008. He is currently at Rakhog, an area inhabited by nomads in Derge county. Another tulku, much younger, recognized by Tulku Kelsang, lives at Dzogchen Monastery. See the Introduction by Enrico Dell’Angelo to Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, The Lamp That Enlightens Narrow Minds. 

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