Gharungwa, who was one of Dölpopa’s fourteen major disciples, studied at many Sakya and Kagyu monasteries before first meeting Dölpopa. After receiving the six-branch yoga and other instructions from Dölpopa, Gharungwa gained exceptional experience in meditation. He also received many profound transmissions from other major disciples of Dölpopa. Gharungwa became a great teacher and composed a number of important works, especially a biography of Dölpopa. Gharungwa was born at Nyetang (snye thang) in Central Tibet. At five years of age he received ordination as a novice monk at KumbumTang (sku ‘bum thang) and began studies of the monastic code. For two years he also studied the treatises of the vehicle of the perfections, epistemology, and abhidharma. Then he traveled to many different monasteries in Central Tibet for further studies in the same subjects and others such as the Bodhisattvacaryavatara and the Five Treatises of Maitreya. While at the great Karma Kaygu monastery of Tsurpu (mtshur phu), he received the transmission of several tantras from the clairvoyant yogin Tokden Drakseng (rtogs ldan grags seng, d. 1349), who also recognized him as an incarnation of the Indian master Aryadeva. When he was twenty years old Gharungwa traveled to the Tsang region, where he reached a high level of expertise in the treatises of the vehicle of the perfections, epistemology, abhidharma, and the monastic code under the teacher Könchok Sangpo (slob dpon dkon bzang) at Drakram (brag ram) monastery. He also studied and taught at many other places before arriving at the great monastery of Sakya (sa skya), where he studied the same subjects under the master Jamyang Chökyi Gyaltsen (‘jam dbyangs chos kyi rgyal mtshan), but also received the Tantra Trilogy of Hevajra and the Bodhisattva Trilogy. He then studied at Palteng (dpal steng) monastery under the master Rinchen Sangpo (rin chen bzang po), and next traveled to the Kagyu monastery of Ralung (ra lung), where he received many tantric transmissions such as the initiations of Hevjara in both the Sakya and the Kagyu traditions and the Doha Trilogy of the great Indian adept Saraha. While at Ralung, he heard about the incredible reputation of the Dharma lord Dölpopa and was filled with faith. When Gharungwa was thirty-two years old he arrived at Jonang monastery and met Dölpopa. He offered the great master a white conch shell and other gifts and received many initiations such as Kalacakra and Guhyasamaja, and all the guiding instructions such as the six-branch yoga. He gained exceptional experience in meditation, actually beheld Avalokiteshvara and his pure land, and experienced pure visions such as the transformation of himself into a buddha and the light rays of his own body illuminating the entire three worlds. For many years Gharungwa received from Dölpopa a number of profound teachings such as the Bodhisattva Trilogy and the ten sutras of definitive meaning. Gharungwa also received special transmissions from some of Dölpopa’s other major disciples: from Kunpang Chödrak Palsang (kun spangs chos grags dpal bzang, 1283?–1363?) he received the great Vimalaprabha commentary on the Kalacakra Tantra seven times, the instructions of the six-branch yoga, Naropa’s commentary on the Sekoddesha, and so forth; from Jonang Lotsawa (jo nang lo tsA wa blo gros dpal, 1299–1354) he received the Vimalaprabha and other tantric teachings; from Mati Panchen (ma ti paN chen blo gros rgyal mtshan, 12941376) he received many teachings such as the Five Treatises of Maitreya and the Path with the Result (lam ‘bras); from Choley Namgyal (phyogs las rnam rgyal, 1306–1386) and Nya Ön Kunga Pal (Nya dbon Kun dga’ dpal, 12851379) he received many transmissions such as the Path with the Result in both the Sakya tradition and the Shang tradition (lam ‘bras sa lugs zhang lugs), and the Bodhisattva Trilogy. Gharungwa then ascended to the monastic seat of Gharung (g+ha rung) Monastery, where he taught for many years. He was eventually offered the hermitage of Namkha Dzö (nam mkha’ mdzod) and took up residence there, teaching the Vimalaprabha and various other topics. Many marvelous signs occurred when Gharungwa passed away, and he rested in immutable clear light for sixteen days with his body held in the sevenfold posture of Vairocana. Further wonderful events manifested at his cremation, and countless special relics emerged from his bones. This summary of Gharungwa’s life is based on the work of the Jonang abbot Gyalwa Josang Palsangpo (rgyal ba jo bzang dpal bzang po): Brilliant Marvels: Abbreviated Biographies of the Great Omniscient Dharma Lord, the Spiritual Father, and His Fourteen Spiritual Sons. Chos kyi rje kun mkhyen chen po yab sras bco lnga’i rnam thar nye bar bsdus pa ngo mtshar rab gsal, 615–19. This text is included in the ‘Dzam thang dbu can edition of Dölpopa’s Gsung ‘bum, vol. 1: 559–629. The same work has also been published in Jangsem Gyalwa Yeshe (byang sems rgyal ba ye shes), Biographies of the Masters in the Lineage of the Jonangpa Tradition of Glorious Kalacakra. Dpal ldan dus kyi ‘khor lo jo nang pa’i lugs kyi bla ma brgyud pa’i rnam thar, 143–209. Beijing: Mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 2004. The following work was also used: Ngawang Losang Drakpa (ngag dbang blo gros grags pa). Moonlamp Illuminating the Glorious Jonangpa Dharma Tradition. Dpal ldan jo nang pa’i chos ‘byung rgyal ba’i chos tshul gsal byed zla ba’i sgron me, 35–36. Koko Nor: Krung go’i bod kyi shes rig dpe skrun khang, 1992.
Period: Early Masters (13th–16th)