Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen
Sazang Mati Panchen Lodro Gyaltsen was born in the Ngari (mnga’ ris) region of western Tibet. He was recognized very early as an emanation of the buddha Maitreya and could recite the Five Treatises of Maitreya from memory when he was four years old. After some further studies in his home region, when he was fifteen years old Mati traveled to Nyetang Monastery in central Tibet, where he received ordination as a novice monk from the abbot Tashi Sengge, and to Ralung Monastery, where he mastered many scholastic subjects such as the monastic code, abhidharma, epistemology, and the Bodhisattvacaryavatara. Then he arrived at the great monastery of Sakya where he studied under the master Jamyang Chokyi Gyaltsen, especially the Tantra Trilogy of Hevajra. He also visited other monasteries and masters, studying tantric subjects such as the Yamari cycles (gshed skor), the teachings of Zhije, the Six Dharmas of Naropa, and so forth. While studying at Zhalu Monastery when he was twenty-five years old, Mati Panchen first heard about the life of Dolpopa, was moved to tears, and made many prayers to meet him.
When Mati was able to travel to Jonang, he auspiciously arrived one morning just as Dolpopa had finished his meditation session and the dharma conch shell was being blown to announce the beginning of a teaching session. He sat at the edge of a gathering of about two hundred monks as Dolpopa taught the great Vimalaprabha commentary on the Kalachakra Tantra, incredibly supplementing it with explanations from the vehicle of the perfections, epistemology, abhidharma, and the monastic code. Mati Panchen was delighted and thought, “Wherever I have traveled, I’ve never found a master like this lord of dharma,” and began to weep. Mati was seated at the edge of the assembly, and no one recognized him, but Dolpopa understood. As soon as the teachings were finished, he sent for Mati, who was ceremoniously invited into Dolpopa’s presence with incense and a parasol, and the master himself honored him. Mati prostrated and offered gifts, and Dolpopa treated him affectionately and kept him late in conversation.
From that day forward, Mati Panchen constantly remained with Dolpopa, receiving and mastering all the exoteric and esoteric teachings. He also studied many profound topics under Dolpopa’s major disciples Kunpang Chodrak Palzang and Jonang Lotsawa Lodro Pal. Mati Panchen had also studied Sanskrit and other subjects with the great translator Pang Lotsawa Lodro Tenpa and, in about 1334, Mati and Lodro Pal made a new revised translation of the Kalachakra Tantra and the Vimalaprabha, which became known as the “new Jonang translation.”
The master Dawa Gyaltsen invited Mati Panchen to teach at Sazang Genden Monastery, and for one year he taught the Vimalaprabha commentary on the Kalachakra Tantra. Then the entire monastery was offered to him, he made it his residence, and a large number of monks gathered from many great monasteries to hear his teachings. Mati Panchen also told of having been the great translator Tropu Lotsawa Jampa Pal in a past life, and clairvoyantly identified objects he had brought back from India at that time, such as Nagarjuna’s meditation strap and Saraha’s walking cane. Miraculous events occurred at the time of Mati Panchen’s death, and marvelous images and relics appeared in his remains after cremation.