Sera Je Dragri Gyatso Thaye

The Dragri line of incarnations was significant enough for Trijang Dorje Chang, who is Heruka himself, to take an interest in them. Revealing the origins of this ancient lineage, Trijang Rinpoche wrote that the incarnations were some of the most profound Indian masters including Arhat Kanakavatsa (a direct disciple of Shakyamuni), King Chandrabhadra, and Pamting Ngawang Chugje and Gonpo Sonam Coden of Tibet. However, lacking in a formal recognition system, these incarnations did not carry the Dragri name.

More recently, the line of incarnations to carry the Dragri name began with Dragri Gyatso Thaye who was born in the first half of the 18th century. He was followed by Lobsang Chojor and Lobsang Thubten Namgyal, both born in the 19th century, and then by Lobsang Nyengyu Lungrig Gyatso who was born in the 20th century.

The traditional seat of the Dragri line was at Dragri hermitage located not far from Sera Monastery where Gyatso Thaye and many of his disciples such as Retreng Tritul Tenpa Rabgye studied. The hermitage, with formal buildings and structures, was founded by Gyatso Thaye. The location however, has always had a spiritual significance from as far back as the 7th century, when Buddhism first came to Tibet.

The hermitage was located close to Pabongka Monastery and Chuzang Hermitage. In fact, Gyatso Thaye was once the abbot of Pabongka Monastery, thus earning him the name Pabongka Gyatso Thaye. Dragri Rinpoche was also abbot of Garu Nunnery, taking charge in 1792 and continuing to take charge over successive lifetimes.

Gyatso Thaye’s incarnations were also famed for other aspects of Dharma practice and teachings. Lobsang Chojor, the incarnation immediately after Gyatso Thaye, became a lineage holder of the Solitary Hero Yamantaka practice from the Gelugpa lineage. The third incarnation of the Dragri line, Lobsang Thubten Namgyal, became one of Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo Rinpoche’s teachers.

By Gyatso Thaye’s time, there already existed notes and complete rituals written by Morchen Kunga Lhundrup and Drukpa Kunley propitiating Dorje Shugden. However, Gyatso Thaye was requested by his student Retreng Tritul Tenpa Rabgye to compose an extensive kangsol invoking Dorje Shugden’s blessings.

Thus Gyatso Thaye composed the Treasury of the Four Activities: Complete with Offerings, Praises, Fulfilment and Requests to the Dharmapala Dorje Shugden Tsel which was published in the Dorje Shugden sebum. This ritual was to become the first official extensive Gelug kangsol of Dorje Shugden in the Gelugpa lineage, calling upon him to protect the Gelug lineage and doctrine. Before this text, practitioners would refer to compositions written by older masters such as Morchen Dorje Chang, Dreuley and the Sakya Throne Holders who had been the first to officially propitiate him.

It is important to know that this kangsol was composed by Gyatso Thaye as early on as the 18th century, long before Pabongka Rinpoche. This completely counters the modern critics who claim that Dorje Shugden’s practices only came into prominence because Pabongka Rinpoche promoted it aggressively in the 20th Century.

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.…Instead of turning away people who practise Dorje Shugden, we should be kind to them. Give them logic and wisdom without fear, then in time they give up the ‘wrong’ practice. Actually Shugden practitioners are not doing anything wrong. But hypothetically, if they are, wouldn’t it be more Buddhistic to be accepting? So those who have views against Dorje Shugden should contemplate this. Those practicing Dorje Shugden should forbear with extreme patience, fortitude and keep your commitments. The time will come as predicted that Dorje Shugden’s practice and it’s terrific quick benefits will be embraced by the world and it will be a practice of many beings.

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