Lineage – ability to trace a teaching and practice directly to a credible source, usually an enlightened being or highly attained lama.
Knowin the source and how it has been transmitted gives assurance that what we are learning is an authentic teaching.
This teaching came from Dorje Shugden directly and transmitted through the great Mahasiddhas HH Tagpu Pemavajra.
A siddha is someone who has attained the realisations of siddhi (psychic and spiritual abilities and powers ).
A mahasiddha, is therefore a great siddha and Tagpu Pemavajra was one such Lama. He is very special practitioner and his past life included that of Dharmaten, a direct disciple of Lord Buddha. He was also Lobsang Tenpe Gyaltsen, wrote the important commentary on Vajrayogini, together with another master, who later reincarnate as HH Pabongka Rinpoche. The Vajrayogini lineage that Gelugpa practice today, comes from the work of HH Tagpa Pemavajra (HHTP).
He also has many extraordinary visions of deities. Tara spoke directly to Him and from there we have the Cittamani Tara practice today. It was claimed that once HHTP entered into retreat, the secret dakini sign language was revealed to Him.
His main disciple HH Pabongka Rinpoche was also highly attained Lama, who was requested by Dorje Shugden through and oracle to compose a new text for the deity’s practice. And although He did that, He felt He had to be sure, so He asked HHTP for help.
HHTP was by then very famous for His ability to astro-travel and He travelled to Tushita Heaven and had an audience with Lama Tsongkhapa and Dulzin Dragpa Gyaltsen, who was not only Lama Tsongkhapa main disciple, but also the past incarnation of Dorje Shugden.
Dorje Shugden emanated from under Lama Tsongkhapa’s throne and personally taught the practice to HHTP, and when He returned from Tushita, He carefully recorded all the teachings down and passed it to HH Pabongka Rinpoche. He also compose a praise to Dorje Shugden, known as Infinite Eons, which later became the basis of thee most definitive text on Dorje Shugden.
Hence the lineage of Kechara’s Dorje Shugden began from Lama Tsongkhapa’s pure land, with Dorje Shugden giving the teachings to HHTP and from HHTP, we received the Cittamaani Tara and the Vajrayogini practice of today and therefore extremely credible.
The lineage was passed on to HH Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, based on what DS taught HHTP, HHPR wrote ‘Melodious Drum, Victorious in All Directions’. It is from this text we have the DS Kangsol used today for the worship and praise to DS.
HHPR being a highly attained master in His own right and is also know as Pabongka Geshe Nyingpo meaning Essence of Bliss. In other words HHPR is regarded as one with Heruka. In His past life HHPR was a great Lama Changkya Rolpai Dorje, who was a tutor of a chinese emperor – only the best scholars are selected to be tutors of an emperor. He was also a direct disciple of Lama Tsongkhapa. He manifested as an average student, He became an exceptional Lama, to the point where learned geshes would consult Him.
There were many accounts of this Lama’s attainments as as when Heruka appeared before HHPR in a place called Timbury in Tibet and spoke to HHPR and when the image of Heruka Chakrasamvara opened His mouth nectar began to come out. HHPR collected this nectar and made them into nectar pills. This is the origin of the Gelug nectar pills. This event was witnessed by 60-70 people.
HHPR has the ability to teach complex teachings in a simple way that was easy for everyone to understand, regardless of their backgrounds and levels of comprehension. This is the same quality as that of Lord Buddha. His teachings can he humorous and and light hearted but easily understood. These are the same qualities, we observe in His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche.
HHPR’s abilities were witnessed by HH 13th DL when He described in detail, the text within a specific book that is sitting in HH 13th DL’s study. HH 13th DL was convinced HHPR was an extraordinary Lama. In 1925, HHPR was chosen by HH 13th DL to give the annual Lamrim teachings. This was a deviation from the tradition where The Gaden Tripa would give such teachings.
HHPR wrote the long Vajrayogini saddhana that all Gelugpa lamas must rely on for practice. And in the tradition of Atisha and Lama Tsongkhapa, HHPR gave a historic 24 day oral discourse on the Lamrim which was then recorded and published as Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, a most relied upon Lamrim text today. HHPR is considered a key lineage holder of the oral Gaden tradition and in His lifetime there was hardly any significant figure in the Gaden tradition who had not been His disciple.
From HHPR, we come to HH Kyabje Trijiang Rinpoche, His closest disciple. In 1959 when HH 14th DL and many tibetans fled Tibet, HHPR knew that He would not be able to escape, and so He carefully transmitted all the lineage teachings to His closest disciple HHTR, including DS teachings in its purest form.
HHTR is considered the most influential Gelugpa high Lama of His era and of the modern times. (HH 14th DL, HH Zong Rinpoche, HE Zemey Rinpoche, Ven. Kelsang Gyatso, Lama Yeshe – all regard HHTR as their teacher). HHTR comes from an illustrious line of incarnation, starting with Chandra, Lord Buddha’s chariot driver, and include Atisha and Chandrakirti.
HHTR was very learned by 18 years old and debated with the geshes of the 3 major gelugpa monasteries for His final examinations and received the Geshe Lharampa degree.
When HHTR gave His first oral transmission of the collected works of Je Tsongkhapa and His main disciples, to about two hundred monks, followed by granting empowerments of Vajrayogini to about 60 reincarnate lamas and monks. He was then 23 years old. And for His entire life HHTR taught the entire corpus on the Gelugpa lineage teachings.
HHTR was also the holder of the Gaden oral tradition that was transmitted to Him in its entirety by HHPR and through HHTR’s strong commitments that the DS lineage was kept fully intact and pure. HHTR wrote the definite text on DS, called Music Delighting an Ocean of Protectors, based on Tagpu Pemavajra’s writing on DS, called Infinite Eons.
In Music Delighting an Ocean of Protectors HHTR inumerated the deity’s previous life as Manjushri, Birupa, Shakya Pandita, Buton Rinchen Drub, Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen, Panchen Sonam Drakpa and Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen.
HHTR had a very close bond with DS and in His autobiography, The Illusory Play, HHTR often spoke very fondly of the deity and said that DS was like a loving mother to Him. HHTR used to train oracles to take trance of DS. It was HHTR who gave the instructions to consult the oracle of DS and asked if the 14th DL should remain in Tibet or escape in 1959.
HHTR wrote in the Illusory Play, the situation had become so dangerous, that it greatly disturbed Him. Although a few advises had already been given by Palden Hlamo, Nechung and the Gadong Oracle, He felt it necessary to consult DS, who advised to leave immediately and by way of the south western direction as no harm will befall HH 14th DL or any of His entourage. He guaranteed it.
HHTR then pass the DS teachings to His close disciple HH Zong Dorje Chang, whom He met at Shartse college. HHTR was then 14 years old but very highly accomplished. He became HHZR’s chief mentor and root Guru.
HHZR was already known as a remarkable scholar by then, with temendous knowledge in the Madhyamaka. But He was especially known for being an exceptional debater. He has a highly agile mind and had a firm grasp of scriptures and logic which made Him the unbeatable debater of His time.
During one debate on buddhist logic, the famous geshe Sherab Gyatso, likened HHZR to Dharmakirti. HHZR was appointed as an abbot to the prestigious Gaden Shartse monastery, a position He held for 10 years. He is also well known as a powerful tantrician and gave many empowerments and tantra teachings. HHZR will also always give DS teachings whom He regarded as a very special Protector.
HHZR, with the assistance of DS saved many monks from Chinese attacks. He is also known for His clairvoyance and 3 days before the Chinese army attack, HHZR could forsee the event and requested many monks to leave the monastery into safety. But on the day of the attack on the monastery, some old and sick monks remain and as the chinese began shelling the monastery, HHZR was seen retreating into His chambers and did a DS repelling obstacles puja. People saw a bright light coming from HHZR chamber hitting the chinese camp which created a small earthquake that damaged the chinese canons and equipment, which delayed the attack for a few hours allowing enough time for the monks to escape.
HHZR made several trips to the west and it was in one of those trips, He met our Guru, His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinppoche, in 1984, in LA. HETTR was a lay person then and attended to all of HHZR’s needs during His stay in LA, as if He had done this before, many times.
HHZR recognised HETTR as the yound incarnate tulku and aske Rinpoche to go to Zong ladrang in Gaden. HHZR confirmed what HETTR felt as a child, that He was destined for a life in dharma.
HETTR’s mother was a mongolian princess, and for the 9 months of pregnancy, she constantly dreamt of a baby white elephant, entering her court yard and she would tie the elephant to a tree. On the day Rinpoche was born, the princess dreamt of high lamas and monks performing various pujas in the house. These were all auspicious signs, that a high incarnate lama had entered the world.
At 7 months old, monks came and recognised the baby as a reincarnated lama and requested Rinpoche’s mother to take the boy to the monastery to be enthroned. Rinpoche’s mother rejected the offer, saying that if Rinpoche is a high lama, He would make His own way to the monastery. And so from an early age Rinpoche has a deep longing to be in a monastery and did everything possible whilst growing up to return there.
Eventually He gave up what would have been a comfortable secular life, and seek the dharma. In fact it is uncanny how the dharma always finds Rinpoche. He met erudite masters like Kensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche, a direct disciple of HHPR and HHTR; HE Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen in LA, where Rinpoche served and studied for years.
At a young age, Rinpoche was drawn towards a few deities, Palden Hlamo and DS. He wanted one protector and asked HHZR who impart the protector DS practice to Him. Rinpoche accepted and received a Sokthey or life entrustment from HHZR. DS has been HETTR’s protector ever since and looked after HETTR dharma life. HETTR trusted DS completely. HETTR has also healed people from incurable sickness, with the help of DS.
Rich and true lineage from DS. It has reached us because it has been preserved and passed on from one enlightened master to another – Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen, Mahasiddha Tagpu Pemavajra, Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo, Trijiang Dorje Chang, Zong Dorje Chang and Tsem Tulku Rinpoche – pure an unbroken lineage – integrity, hold vows, guru devotion, clean samaya, fully trusting DS for effective and powerful practice and keep us on the path to liberation.