Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen
Sazang Mati Panchen
Jonang Lotsawa Lodro Pal
Tangpo Chungwa, who was one of the Dharma lord Dölpopa’s fourteen major disciples, studied at many places in Central Tibet and Tsang, especially Sakya monastery. When he first received the Kalacakra initiation and the instructions of the six-branch yoga from Dölpopa, the great master recognized him as an emanation of the eleventh-century yogin Yumowa. Tangpo Chungwa also received many transmissions from several of Dölpopa’s other major disciples. In later life Tangpo Chungwa lived in the Tölung valley of Central Tibet, where he mainly taught the Kalacakra tradition and the Vimalaprabha.
Tangpo Chungwa was born in Central Tibet. At the age of six he received ordination as a novice monk from the abbot of upper Namgyal in Tölung (stod lung rnam rgyal gong ma) and studied the monastic code, the Bodhisattvacaryavatara, and epistemology. He became famous as a scholar at the monasteries of Shalu (zhwa lu) and Sangpu (gsang phu), and then went to the great Karma Kagyu monastery of Tsurpu (mtshur phu) and received many teachings such as the Tantra Trilogy of Hevajra and the Doha.
Tangpo Chungwa then traveled to the region of Tsang, where he studied many subjects in monasteries such as Drakram (brag ram), Tropu (khro phu), and Ralung (ra lung). In particular, he studied extensively under the master Jikmey Drakpa (‘jigs med grags pa) at Sakya (sa skya) Monastery. After the Sakya master of the Khön family named Dönyö Gyaltsen (don yod rgyal mtshan, 1310–44, Sakya throne-holder 1342–44), had gone to Jonang to request teachings from the Dharma lord Dölpopa, Tangpo Chungwa also went there and received a pleasant welcome from the great master. When he received the Kalacakra initiation and the instructions of the six-branch yoga from Dölpopa, an exceptional experience and realization of blissful emptiness arose. He recognized Dölpopa’s meditation strap, which had previously belonged to the great adept Yumowa (yu mo ba mi bskyod rdo rje, 11th cent.), and Dölpopa prophesied that Tangpo Chungwa was an emanation of Yumowa. Tangpo Chungwa received full monastic ordination and all the exoteric and esoteric transmissions from Dölpopa, such as the Bodhisattva Trilogy. He also received many teachings from Dölpopa’s other major disciples such as Kunpang Chödrak Palsang (kun spangs chos grags dpal bzang, 1283?–1363?), Jonang Lotsawa Lodrö Pal (jo nang lo tsA wa blo gros dpal, 1299–1354), Mati Panchen (ma ti paN chen, 1294-1376), and Chogle Namgyal (phyogs las rnam rgyal, 1306–1386).
Tangpo Chungwa then became the abbot of upper Namgyal in Tölung (stod lung rnam rgyal gong ma), where he gave many teachings such as the Vimalaprabha. When he passed away, he remained resting in clear light for forty-nine days. Many miraculous events occurred at his passing and during his cremation, and wonderful sacred images emerged from his bones.
This summary of Tangpo Chungwa’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, 623–25. This text is included in the ‘Dzam thang dbu can edition of Dolpopa’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, 36–37. Koko Nor: Krung go’i bod kyi shes rig dpe skrun khang, 1992.