Author Topic: The legacy of Lama Tsongkhapa  (Read 8495 times)

Big Uncle

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The legacy of Lama Tsongkhapa
« on: July 15, 2012, 09:14:42 PM »
Dorje Shugden arose specifically to protect the teachings and legacy of Lama Tsongkhapa's tradition. So what did Lama Tsongkhapa left behind? You can read here in brief what did Lama Tsongkhapa leave behind....


Bronze depicting Tsongkhapa, who is known and revered by Mongolians as Bogd Zonkhov.
With the founding of the Ganden monastery in 1409, he laid down the basis for what was later named the Gelug ("virtuous ones") order. At the time of the foundation of the Ganden monastery, his followers became to be known as "Gandenbas." Tsongkhapa himself never announced the establishment of a new monastic order.[3] Tsongkhapa’s teachings drew upon the teachings of Atisha, emphasizing the study of Vinaya, the Tripi?aka, and the Shastras. Atisha’s Lamrim inspired Tsongkhapa’s Lamrim Chenmo, which became a main text among his followers. He also practised and taught extensively the Vajrayana, and especially how to bring the Sutra and Tantra teachings together, wrote works that summarized the root teachings of the Buddhist philosophical schools, as well as commentaries on the Pratimoksha, Prajnaparamita, Candrakirti’s Madhyamakavatara, logic, and the Sarma Tantras. Tsongkhapa emphasised a strong monastic Sangha. Furthermore, he promoted the study of logic, encouraged formal debates as part of Dharma studies, and instructed disciples in the Guhyasamaja, Kalacakra, and Hevajra Tantras.

Tsongkhapa was one of the foremost authorities of Tibetan Buddhism at the time. He composed a devotional prayer called the Migtsema Prayer to his Sakya master Rendawa, which was offered back to Tsongkhapa, with the note of his master saying that these verses were more applicable to Tsongkhapa than to himself. After Tsongkhapa's passing away, several biographies were written by Lamas of different traditions, and they all agreed that he was a teacher without parallel. The 9th Karmapa, Wangchuk Dorje, praised Tsongkhapa as one "who swept away wrong views with the correct and perfect ones." The 8th Karmapa, Gyalwa Mikyö Dorje, wrote in his poem In Praise of the Incomparable Tsong Khapa:

When the teachings of the Sakya, Kagyue, Kadam
And Nyingma sects in Tibet were declining,
You, O Tsong Khapa, revived Buddha's Doctrine,
Hence I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

Further, it is said that the Buddha Sakyamuni spoke of his coming as an emanation of the Bodhisattva Manjusri in the short verse from the Root Tantra of Manjushri (Tib. 'Jam-dpal rtsa-rgyud):

After I pass away
And my pure doctrine is absent,
You will appear as an ordinary being,
Performing the deeds of a Buddha
And establishing the Joyful Land, the great Protector,
In the Land of the Snows.

Although Tsongkhapa would finally pass away in 1419 at the age of sixty-two, he left to the world 18 volumes of collected teachings, with the largest amount being on Guhyasam?ja tantra. These 18 volumes contain hundreds of titles relating to all aspects of Buddhist teachings and clarify some of the most difficult topics of Sutrayana and Vajrayana teachings.

Major works among them are:

The Great Exposition of the Stages of the Path (lam rim chen mo),
The Great Exposition of Tantras (sngags rim chen mo),
The Essence of Eloquence on the Interpretive and Definitive Teachings (drang nges legs bshad snying po; full title: gsung rab kyi drang ba dang nges pai don rnam par phye ba gsal bar byed pa legs par bshad pai snying po),
The Praise of Relativity (rten ’brel bstod pa),
The Clear Exposition of the Five Stages of Guhyasamaja (gsang ’dus rim lnga gsal sgron) and
The Golden Rosary (gser phreng).
These scriptures are the prime source for the studies of the Gelugpa tradition and these and other teachings of Tsongkhapa endured into the modern age and are seen as a protection against misconceptions in Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism.

The 14th Dalai Lama has highlighted the fidelity of Tsongkhapa's work to the meaning found in Buddhapalita’s work. Tsongkhapa’s work is praised as being profound and true to tradition, essentially a clarification and condensation of the transmitted teachings, which after all, are intended to encapsulate unchanging truth.

After Tsongkhapa had founded the monastery of Ganden in 1409, it became his main seat. He had many students, among whom Gyaltsab Dharma Rinchen (1364–1431), Khedrup Gelek Pelzang (1385–1438), Togden Jampal Gyatso, Jamyang Choje, Jamchenpa Sherap Senge, and the first Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Gendün Drup (1391–1474), were the most outstanding. After Tsongkhapa’s passing his teachings were held and kept by Gyaltsab Dharma Rinchen and Khedrub Gelek Pälsang. From then on, his lineage has been held by the Ganden Tripas, the throne-holders of Ganden Monastery, among whom the present one is Thubten Nyima Lungtok Tenzin Norbu, the 102nd Ganden Tripa.

After the founding of Ganden Monastery by Tsongkhapa, Drepung Monastery was founded by Jamyang Choje, Sera Monastery was founded by Chöje Shakya Yeshe and the Gendün Drup founded Tashilhunpo Monastery. Many Gelug monasteries were built throughout Tibet but also in China and Mongolia. He spent some time as a hermit in Pabonka Hermitage, which was built during Songsten Gampo times, approximately 8 kilometres north west of Lhasa. Today, it is also part of Sera.

Among the many lineage holders of the Yellow Hat Tradition (Gelugpas) there are the successive incarnations of the Panchen Lama as well as the Chagkya Dorje Chang, Ngachen Könchok Gyaltsen, Kyishö Tulku Tenzin Thrinly, Jamyang Shepa, Phurchok Jampa Rinpoche, Jamyang Dewe Dorje, Takphu Rinpoche, Khachen Yeshe Gyaltsen, Trijang Rinpoche, Domo Geshe Rinpoche,[9] and many others.

The annual Tibetan prayer festival Monlam Prayer Festival was established by Tsongkhapa. There he offered service to ten thousand monks. The establishment of the Great Prayer Festival is seen as one of his Four Great Deeds. It celebrates the miraculous deeds of Buddha Shakyamuni.


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Re: The legacy of Lama Tsongkhapa
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2012, 06:46:52 PM »
Lama Tsongkhapa has done so much and left a legacy behind where many more monasteries and high revered Lamas did the same to protect the teaching Lama Tsongkhapa for years and centuries to come.   In this modern times, we have to ask ourselves, what has we accomplished so far in life now as compared to what Lama Tsongkhapa has done?  Okay, we are not monks or nuns to even come that far to write a thesis nor a kangyur or built a temple. What about supporting others be they a charitable organisation or a person in contributing time, skill and energy to help build a legacy or something that can be left behind which will benefit others in return after when we are dead?  Isn't these are the very least thing that we can do? 

Oh yes! Everyone can do that before we are dead.   This would be the most meaningful, joyous and yet meritorious for many lifetimes to come.  Nothing to loose at all.  Why not suffer to bring many benefits to the many people out there?  Even now, when we chase after all the so call worldly material, relationship, power, etc we are in fact suffer to get them and suffer to protect them too.  There's no guarantee nor insurance at all that we can bring them with us to our next lives no matter how much we amassed them.  After having all these, is there a legacy left behind after we are dead?  No one can nor will remember us for what we have painstakingly amassed as compared to helping a virtuous charitable organisation to benefit many others. These are my thoughts. 


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Re: The legacy of Lama Tsongkhapa
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2012, 08:32:08 PM »
Lama Tsongkhapa is the great Tibetan Buddhism master and the former of Gelug school. He is the emanation of Manjushri. He has written 18 volumes of collected teachings. Major works among them are:
  • The Great Exposition of the Stages of the Path (lam rim chen mo),
    The Great Exposition of Tantras (sngags rim chen mo),
    The Essence of Eloquence on the Interpretive and Definitive Teachings (drang nges legs bshad snying po; full title: gsung rab kyi drang ba dang nges pai don rnam par phye ba gsal bar byed pa legs par bshad pai snying po),
    The Praise of Relativity (rten ’brel bstod pa),
    The Clear Exposition of the Five Stages of Guhyasamaja (gsang ’dus rim lnga gsal sgron) and
    The Golden Rosary (gser phreng).
These scriptures are the prime source for the studies of the Gelugpa tradition. His text is still used by the monasteries and tantric monasteries too. He taught on how to bring both sutra and tantric teachings together.
The Migtsema Prayer that is composed by him is known to be very suitable for this modern world.

Dorje Shugden is arosed specifically to protect the teachings and legacy of Lama Tsongkaha’s tradition. Therefore it is clearly shown that DS is definitely not any evil spirits. He is the great protector of this era.  May the ban be lifted soonest so that more people can be blessed by him and benefited by the teaching of Lama Tsongkhapa. 


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Re: The legacy of Lama Tsongkhapa
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2012, 01:52:13 PM »

Lama Tsongkapa founded Ganden Monastery and laid down the basis for what was later named the Gelug order.Tsongkapa's teachings drew up the teachings of Atisha.
He composed the devotional prayer to his Sakya master Rendawa,which was offered back to Tsongkapa,with the note of his master saying that these verses were more applicable to Tsongkapa than to himself.
He left to the world eighteen volumes of collected teachings,and these contain hundred of titles relating to all aspects of Buddhist teachings and clarify some of the most difficult topics of Sutrayana and Vajrayana teachings.Tsongkapa's major works are translated in English.
The Great Treatise on the Path to Enlightenment Vol 1
The Great Treatise on the Path to Enlightenment Vol 2
The Great Treatise on the Path to Enlightenment Vol 3
Ocean of Eloquence :Tsongkapa commentary on the Yogacara Doctrine of mind
Ocean of Reasoning :A great commentary on Nagarjuna's  mulamadhyamakakarika.
Tantric Ethics :An explanation of the Precepts for Buddhist Vajrayana practice.
The splendor of an Autumn Moon : The devotional verse of Tsongkapa.
The fulfilment of all hopes: Guru devotion in Tibetan Buddhism.
Tsongkapa's work is praised as being profound and tune to tradition.The annual Tibetan prayer festival is seen as one of his four great deeds.It celebrates the miraculous deeds of Buddha Shakyamuni.

Positive Change

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Re: The legacy of Lama Tsongkhapa
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2012, 02:40:02 PM »
The start of a Great Lineage

Tsongkhapa was born in 1357 in the Tsongkha valley of Amdo province in northeast Tibet. The miraculous events that occurred at his birth aroused the interest of the master Choje Döndrup Rinchen (Chos rje Don grub rin chen), who had studied and lived in central Tibet and who founded two monasteries in Amdo after his return there. When Tsongkhapa was three this master gave a gift of livestock to his father and requested that he should be put in charge of Tsongkhapa's education. At the age of seven Tsongkhapa went to live with I Chöje Döndrup Rinchen, from whom he received many teachings and tantric empowerments. Having learned to read and write with great ease, Tsongkhapa both studied and practiced meditation from a very early age. When he was eight years old he received ordination as a novice monk and was given the name Losang Drakpa (Blo bzang grags pa).

At the age of sixteen Tsongkhapa left Amdo to pursue his quest for knowledge in central and southern Tibet, where he studied with more than fifty prominent teachers. Between 1374 and 1376 he concentrated on the Perfection of Wisdom sutras and on the five treatises of Maitreya along with the many commentaries devoted to them. He gained a rigorous intellectual training and a wide knowledge of both sutra and tantra during this period. Tsongkhapa was already determined to combine scholarship with the practice of both sutra and tantra and he continued to receive tantric empowerments from a number of important masters belonging to different traditions.

He was dedicated to developing the correct understanding of reality and at this time had a significant experience of entering a profound state of meditation during a ceremony when the assembled monks were reciting a Perfection of Wisdom sutra. He remained deeply absorbed long after the ceremony was over and the other monks had left the hall. From his twenty-second year he began to study intensively the works on valid cognition by Dignaga and Dharmakirti and was deeply impressed and moved by the efficacy of Dharmakirti's system of reasoning.

For the next eleven years Tsongkhapa travelled from one monastic college to another deepening his philosophical knowledge and giving teachings. His main teacher and close friend during this period was the Sakyapa (Sa skya pa) master Rendawa Shönu Lodrö (Red mda' ba gZhon nu Blo gros).

At the age of thirty-three he met with the remarkable Lama Umapa (dBu ma pa), who came to Tsang (gTsang) with the intention of studying with Tsongkhapa. Umapa had had a vision of Manjushri, the embodiment of enlightened wisdom, which had changed his life from that of a simple cowherd. As a result of this vision he took up practices related to Manjushri and eventually experienced Manjushri's constant presence.

Lama Umapa became Tsongkhapa's direct line of communication with Manjushri. They spent periods of retreat together during which Umapa conveyed to Tsongkhapa Manjushri's advice and responses to questions concerning the correct understanding of reality. Eventually Tsongkhapa himself experienced visions of Manjushri, who bestowed empowerments on him and gave him teachings. However it was said that, in his humily, when Tsongkhapa first had visions of Manjushri, he did not believe it was truly Manjushri till he checked with Lama Umapa who then confirmed that Tsongkhapa was indeed having direct visions of Manjushri. Only then did Tsongkhapa believe because it came from his Guru. Such Guru devotion, believing only in his Guru even though a Buddha was before him!

During the winter of 1392-1393 in accordance with Manjushri's instructions he stopped teaching and withdrew from other public activities to concentrate on a period of intense meditation. He was joined by a group of eight carefully chosen students. Living austerely, they began practices for purification and the accumulation of merit reciting purificatory mantras, making prostrations and offerings of the mandala many hundred thousand times. Tsongkhapa simultaneously continued to study the most important texts dealing with the nature of reality.

In 1394 he and the others moved to Wolka ('Ol kha) and while they were there they all experienced visions of deities associated with the practices in which they were engaged. In 1395 they decided to break this retreat to refurbish and reconsecrate a famous and venerated statue of the future Buddha Maitreya which had fallen into disrepair. This generated much interest and many craftsmen and benefactors offered their help for the project, which was successfully completed.

For the next three years Tsongkhapa and his companions continued to practice in Lodrak (IHo brag) and then in 1397 they began a final year of retreat again in the Wölka area. In the late spring of 1398 these concerted and extraordinary efforts finally bore fruit. One night Tsongkhapa dreamed that he was present at a gathering of famous Indian masters discussing the subtleties of the Madhyamika view. One of them, who was dark-skinned and tall and whom Tsongkhapa recognized in the dream as Buddhapalita, rose and, holding a volume in his hands, approached Tsongkhapa and joyfully blessed him by touching his head with the book. Tsongkhapa woke as it was getting light and opened his own Tibetan translation of Buddhapalita's commentary at the page which he had been reading the day before. When he reread the passage he at once experienced a seminal insight into the nature of reality, which brought him the understanding that he had been seeking.

Among Tsongkhapa's many beneficial activities four are mentioned in particular:

1. The first was the renovation of the statue of Maitreya and the subsequent great festival he organized during the Tibetan New Year in 1400 at Dzingji ('Dzingji) temple, which housed the statue.

2. The second was an extensive teaching on the code of discipline for the ordained which he, Rendawa and Kyapchok Pel Zangpo (sKyabs mchog dPal bzang po) gave for several months at Namtse Deng (gNam rtse Ideng), thereby revitalizing the tradition of monasticism.

3. The third deed was his establishment of the Great Prayer Festival in Lhasa in 1409, beginning a tradition that has continued until now of devoting the first two weeks of the Tibetan new year, culminating on the day of the full moon, to prayers for universal well-being. Tsongkhapa donated everything he himself had received from benefactors to support this event and offered ornaments made of gold and precious stones to the famous statue of the Buddha in the main temple in Lhasa.

4. The fourth deed was the construction of Ganden Monastery (dGa' Idan) near Lhasa. "Ganden" means "The Joyous" and is the Tibetan name given to the pure land of Maitreya. The monastery was completed and consecrated in 1410. In 1415 special halls were built to house selected mandalas. Under Tsongkhapa's guidance skilled craftsmen created these mandalas and images of the relevant deities, which were installed in 1417. All of this was destroyed after the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959.

During his last years Tsongkhapa devoted much of his energy to giving extensive teachings. He passed away in 1419. Personally and through his students he made an extremely significant impact on the development of Buddhism in Tibet and his influence extended to Mongolia and China. He wrote prolifically and lucidly on topics connected with both sutra and tantra, and thanks to his clear and elegant style these great works remain illuminating, relevant and accessible to this day.

tsongkhapa with his chief disciples


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Re: The legacy of Lama Tsongkhapa
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2012, 03:28:33 PM »
I think Tsongkhapa is known for Lamrim Chenmo and also Three Principal Aspects of the Path amongst (non-Tibetan) Tibetan Buddhists. Various masters like His Holiness, Lama Yeshe, Geshe Rabten and many others have taught this to their students.

The Three Principal Aspects of the Path
Ngawang Drakpa, one of Lama Tsongkhapa's closest disciples requested for some inspiration for his practice, and Tsongkhapa wrote this in response to his request. Although this is not a long text, it contains the essence of the entire teachings of buddha and is the basis for the 3 vehicles (Hinaya, Mahayana and Vajrayana).

The three principal aspects are:
1. Renunciation – the attitude of turning away from the faults of the cycle of existence and yearning and directing one’s spiritual practice towards liberation from such a state of existence
2. Bodhichitta – the motivation, attitude and intention to achieve the highest state of  lightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings
3. Correct view of voidness - the 'wisdom' of understanding the actual abiding nature of reality which is voidness, of non-inherent existence and of dependent arising that is to say the middle way view. The 'middle way' here being a middle way between the two extremes of annihilation and permanence. So this correct view of reality then is the third of the three principal aspects of the path.

When one's practice is influenced by renunciation, it becomes a cause for achieving liberation (Nirvana), when it is influenced by Bodhichitta it becomes a cause for achieving omniscience (Buddhahood), and when it is influenced by correct view it becomes an antidote to the cycle of existence (Samsara).


Homage to the venerable Spiritual Guide
I shall explain to the best of my ability
 The essential meaning of all the Conqueror’s teachings,
 The path praised by the holy Bodhisattvas,
 And the gateway for fortunate ones seeking liberation.
You who are not attached to the joys of samsara,
 But strive to make your freedom and endowment meaningful,
 O Fortunate Ones who apply your minds to the path that pleases the Conquerors,
 Please listen with a clear mind.
Without pure renunciation there is no way to pacify
 Attachment to the pleasures of samsara;
 And since living beings are tightly bound by desire for samsara,
 Begin by seeking renunciation.
Freedom and endowment are difficult to find, and there is no time to waste.
 By acquainting your mind with this, overcome attachment to this life;
 And by repeatedly contemplating actions and effects and the sufferings of samsara,
 Overcome attachment to future lives.
When, through contemplating in this way, the desire for the pleasures of samsara
 Does not arise, even for a moment,
 But a mind longing for liberation arises throughout the day and the night,
 At that time, renunciation is generated.
However, if this renunciation is not maintained
 By completely pure bodhichitta,
 It will not be a cause of the perfect happiness of unsurpassed enlightenment;
 Therefore, the wise generate a supreme bodhichitta.
Swept along by the currents of the four powerful rivers,
 Tightly bound by the chains of karma, so hard to release,
 Ensnared within the iron net of self-grasping,
 Completely enveloped by the pitch-black darkness of ignorance,
Taking rebirth after rebirth in boundless samsara,
 And unceasingly tormented by the three sufferings
 Through contemplating the state of your mothers in conditions such as these,
 Generate a supreme mind [of bodhichitta].
But, even though you may be acquainted with renunciation and bodhichitta,
 If you do not possess the wisdom realizing the way things are,
 You will not be able to cut the root of samsara;
 Therefore strive in the means for realizing dependent relationship.
Whoever negates the conceived object of self-grasping
 Yet sees the infallibility of cause and effect
 Of all phenomena in samsara and nirvana,
 Has entered the path that pleases the Buddhas.
Dependent-related appearance is infallible
 And emptiness is inexpressible;
 For as long as the meaning of these two appear to be separate,
 You have not yet realized Buddha’s intention.
When they arise as one, not alternating but simultaneous,
 From merely seeing infallible dependent relationship,
 Comes certain knowledge that destroys all grasping at objects.
 At that time the analysis of view is complete.
Moreover, when the extreme of existence is dispelled by appearance,
 And the extreme of non-existence is dispelled by emptiness,
 And you know how emptiness is perceived as cause and effect,
 You will not be captivated by extreme views.
When, in this way, you have correctly realized the essential points
 Of the three principal aspects of the path,
 Dear One, withdraw into solitude, generate strong effort,
 And quickly accomplish the final goal.
Translation © Geshe Kelsang Gyatso & New Kadampa Tradition


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Re: The legacy of Lama Tsongkhapa
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2012, 02:21:35 PM »
He is perhaps best known for other amazing deeds, however. He founded the Gelugpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, built on the foundations of the Kadampa tradition, the legacy of Atisha. Based on Tsongkhapa’s teachings, the two distinguishing characteristics of the Gelug tradition are the union of sutra and tantra and the emphasis on vinaya. Having studied at Sakya, Kadam and Drikung Kargyu monasteries, he was one of the foremost authorities on Tibetan Buddhism.
Tsongkhapa was also a prolific writer, and left eighteen volumes of collected teachings containing hundreds of titles, among the most important texts in Tibetan Buddhism, including the seminal text on Guhyasamaja tantra.
Some of his most important works include:

1)The Great Exposition of the Stages of the Path (Lamrim Chenmo)
2)The Great Exposition of Tantras (sNgag-rim chenmo)
3)The Essence of Eloquence on the Interpretive and Definitive Teachings (Drang-nges legs-bshad snying-po)
4)The Praise of Relativity (rTen-'brel bstodpa)
5)The Clear Exposition of the Five Stages of Guhyasamaja (gSang-'dus rim-lnga gsal-sgron)
6)The Golden Rosary (gSer-phreng)

These works are prime sources for the studies of the Gelug tradtion and have been praised by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as being the true essence of Buddhapalita’s work.