On Gyalse Rinpoche (1743 – 1811) was born in Central Tibet. His lineage of On Gyalse was one of the three major lineages of Drepung Monastery with the 4th incarnation famous for being the regent of Tibet when the 7th Dalai Lama was exiled in Garthar, Kham.
The 5th On Gyalse Rinpoche was enthroned at the age of four. The following year, he was given the name Thubten Jigme Gyatso by the 7th Dalai Lama who also performed the first hair cutting ritual on him.
At the age of 10 years old, he was ordained as a novice monk. At 20, he received full ordination from the famous Gelugpa master Phurcho Ngawang Jampa. He went on to obtain his Geshe Lharampa degree in 1766 and met the Panchen Rinpoche at Tashi Lhungpo the following year.
On Gyalse Rinpoche received sutric and tantric teachings from some of the most illustrious teachers of the time, including Phurchog Ngawang Jampa, Panchen Rinpoche Palden Yeshe and Changkya Rolpa Dorje. At a later time, he also sought teachings and initiations – notably the Vajrayogini and Kurukulle initiations – from the famous Sakya Throne-holder Kunga Lodro.
Having excelled in his studies, he reached the highest level of study, Geshe Lharam – usually requiring over 30 years of study – when he was only 23. By the time he was only 26, he was already engaging in single-pointed meditation in a cave for three years.
Under his tutelage, On Gyalse Rinpoche produced some of the most erudite masters of his time including Longdol Lama Ngawang Lobsang, the 3rd Tagphu Lobsang Chokyi Wangchug and the 1st Dragri reincarnation, Dragri Gyatso Thaye, all of whom have gone on to give unexcelled teachings and write highly respected texts and rituals in their own right.
On Gyalse Rinpoche is also famed for having written a ritual on torma offering to Dorje Shugden performed through Yamantaka and is an adept of Tibetan poetry, which can be seen clearly in his written works and the rituals he authored.
Another notable work is a short incense offering called Sang Choe Dogyur Chibey Ga-tsoen She-Ja-Wa Shugsol, very powerful for clearing obstacles and for purification. This in particular is the practice of offering fragrance to Vajradhara, Buddha Shakyamuni, the Seven Patriarchs, the Six Ornaments, the 84 Mahasiddhas, Heruka, Hevajra, Yamantaka, Guhyasamaja and a vast number of protectors such as Dorje Shugden.
This showed very much that he had a strong reliance on and great reveance for this Protector Shugden. Lamas of such calibre would not compose texts to deities if it would be damaging to their students or practitioners in any way
During the later part of his life, On Gyaltse was bestowed the title Nomenhan and became a Yongdzin, or academic tutor, to the 9th Dalai Lama. This is no ordinary accolade as the term Yongdzin refers to the attainment of an enlightened state. Yongdzins are the most respected Lamas because the lineages they hold are passed on directly to the line of Dalai Lama reincarnates.