Kunpang Chödrak Palsang

kun spangs chos grags dpal bzang
Birth: 1283?
Death: 1363?
Family: Ratnamati (Newar sculptor)
Non-Jonang Site of Residence:
Gungthang (gung thang) Monastery
Sakya (sa skya) Monastery
Shalu (zha lu) Monastery
Sangpu Nyetok (gsang phu ne'u thog)
Dzum Chölung ('dzum chos lung)
Palteng (dpal steng) Monastery
Primary Teachers:
Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen
Non-Jonang Teachers:
Jangchup Özer (byang chub 'od zer)
Döndrup Pal (don grub dpal)
Jamyang Chökyi Gyaltsen ('jam dbyangs chos kyi rgyal mtshan)
Butön Rinchen Drup
Tarpa Lotsawa Nyima Gyaltsen (thar pa lo tsA ba nyi ma rgyal mtshan)
Dzumpa (chos rje 'dzum pa)
Transmissions Received: The Five Treatises of Maitreya (byams chos lnga); the Bodhisattvacaryavatara; the abhidharma; Kalacakra initiation; the transmission of the great Vimalaprabha commentary;

Chödrak Palsang was the first of Dölpopa’s fourteen major disciples. He was also the supervisor of all the construction work on Dölpopa’s great stupa at Jonang. Chödrak Palsang became a great teacher and practitioner, especially of the Kalacakra tradition, and also translated Buddhist texts from Sanskrit. Toward the end of his life he traveled to China and taught the Chinese emperor. Kunpang Chödrak Palsang was born in Ralung (ra lung). His father was the Newar sculptor Ratnamati, who had been invited from Nepal to create art in the Nyangtö (nyang stod) region of Tsang (gtsang). From the age of five Chödrak Palsang learned the art of sculpture from his father and became expert in calligraphy, the casting of metals, and blacksmithing. At seven years of age he received lay vows from the master Jangchup Özer (byang chub ‘od zer) and memorized the Five Treatises of Maitreya (byams chos lnga). He traveled to Gungthang (gung thang) monastery the next year, where he received the vows of a novice monk from the abbot Döndrup Pal (,i>don grub dpal). He stayed at Gungthang until he was twelve years old, studying and becoming expert in the literature of the vehicle of the perfections, epistemology, and abhidharma. Chödrak Palsang then traveled to the great monastery of Sakya (sa skya), where he studied epistemology, the Bodhisattvacaryavatara, and abhidharma under the master Jamyang Chökyi Gyaltsen (‘jam dbyangs chos kyi rgyal mtshan). He became quite famous there when he taught epistemology to a large audience of scholars. Up until the age of twenty-one he traveled around Central Tibet and Tsang studying at different monasteries. He received many teachings from the great Butön Rinchen Drup (bu ston rin chen grub, 1290–1364) at Shalu (zha lu) monastery and from Tarpa Lotsawa Nyima Gyaltsen (thar pa lo tsA ba nyi ma rgyal mtshan) at Sangpu Nyetok (gsang phu ne’u thog). At the age of twenty-three he went to Jonang monastery for the first time and received full ordination from the master Yönten Gyatso (yon tan rgya mtsho, 1260-1327), from whom he also received the Kalacakra initiation, the transmission of the great Vimalaprabha commentary, many instructions, and gained special experience in meditation. At the age of twenty-five Chödrak Palsang received a number of teachings from the Dharma lord Dzumpa (chos rje ‘dzum pa) at Dzum Chölung (‘dzum chos lung). There he also met the omnisicent Dölpopa for the first time and during Dharma discussions came to feel like a small pool in the presence of the ocean. He begged Dölpopa for Dharma teachings, saying that he had never met anyone as learned in all his travels, but Dölpopa refused, noting that he was a wandering mendicant and not suitable to be his teacher. Finally, after further begging from Chödrak Palsang, Dölpopa agreed to teach him the Kalacakra in detail, and they traveled in secret to the cave hermitage of Kyiphuk (skyid phug) near Jonang. Chödrak Palsang stayed constantly with Dölpopa for twelve years, first receiving the Vimalaprabha commentary on the Kalacakra Tantra for an entire year, and gradually obtaining the transmission of everything Dölpopa himself had received. When Dölpopa built the great stupa at Jonang from 1330 to 1333, Chödrak Palsang was the person in charge of all the inner and outer work. At the completion of this massive project, he renounced all mundane activities and mostly stayed in meditation retreat. Then the master Tönpa Yeshe Pal (ston pa ye shes dpal, 1281–1365) offered him the monastery of Chusang (chu bzang) near Sakya, where he took up residence, first teaching epistemology for three years and then the Vimalaprabha. After inviting Dölpopa to consecrate the shrines at Chusang, Chödrak Palsang went into strict retreat, during which he had visions of Amitabha and his paradise. During retreat he achieved many extraordinary attainments, such as directly beholding the blazing and dripping of the seminal drops in the channels and cakras of his body, clearly seeing the colors of the five vital winds, experiencing exceptional bliss, and gaining various types of stable clairvoyance and magical abilities. Chödrak Palsang also traveled to China as Dölpopa’s representative, where he demonstrated his paranormal abilities to the emperor and his court and taught Dharma to the emperor for seven months. He told the story of Dölpopa’s life to the emperor, who then asked to be given a Buddhakapala (sangs rgyas thod pa) image that had manifested in Dölpopa’s bones after his cremation. Chödrak Palsang returned to Central Tibet and Tsang and taught the Vimalaprabha and many other topics in various places before finally arriving at his monastery of Chusang. When he was eighty-one years old, Chödrak Palsang was invited to teach at the monastery of Palteng (dpal steng). He predicted that it would be dangerous for him to go, but accepted the invitation for the benefit of sentient beings. On the road to Palteng, Chödrak Palsang was attacked and murdered by an evil warlord named Jangpa Siddhi (byang pa sid d+hi), who stabbed him to death. His body was taken back to Chusang and cremated in a ceremony attended by Dölpopa’s major disciples Mati Panchen (ma ti paN chen, 1294-1376) and Choley Namgyal (phyogs las rnam rgyal, 1306–1386), and many other teachers. Many miracles occurred during and after the ceremony, and wonderful relics manifested in his bones after the cremation. This summary of Chödrak Palsang’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, 566–73. 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,