Kyabje Ling Rinpoche and Dorje Shugden

Kyabje Ling Rinpoche (1903-1983), 97th Ganden Throne Holder, and yongs ‘dzin to the 14th Dalai Lama was born 1903 in Yabphu near Lhasa. Yabphu is a holy place of Chakrasamvara and Vajrayogini, being shaped like a double triangle.

It also contained a precious image of Naropa’s Vajrayogini that was to known to have spoken many times. Since the previous life of Ling Rinpoche was a yongs ‘dzin to the 13th Dalai Lama, his reincarnation was confirmed by 13th Dalai Lama and he was enthroned in Lhasa at an early age.

When he was 10 he entered Drepung Loseling and began studying the five major texts. At 13 he received novice ordination from the 13th Dalai Lama. Regarding the study of the five major texts Ling Rinpoche writes:

These basic texts of each of the five main texts, as well as the commentaries by Je Rinpoche, his son-like disciples, and Panchen Sonam Dagpa are memorized. We were expected to comprehend the meaning of both the root texts and their commentaries, to discuss all their difficult points, and to clearly analyze and understand the different points of view of the principal Indian and Tibetan masters. Thus I studied thoroughly, debated with wise and intelligent dharma friends and gained considerable knowledge.
In his autobiography Ling Rinpoche gives a long list of specific texts that were studied and debated during this time. First Ling Rinpoche mentions the study of Prajnaparamita in relation to Maitreya’s Five Treatises given to Asanga, supplemented by Abhisamayalamkara.

Also studied were relevant texts by Haribhadra, Jamgon Tsongkhapa, Gyaltsab Je and Panchen Sonam Dragpa. This also included “the eight hidden meanings of the Prajnaparamita which are the eight categories and seventy topics.”

He also recollects that Gomang and Loseling colleges (both part of Drepung) held regular debate sessions together that he attended. In one case he debated with Geshe Gomang Gagshing on Nagarjuna’s Six Logic Texts of Madhyamika philosophy.

According to Ling Rinpoche these texts “establish the direct meaning of emptiness as presented in the Prajnaparamita Sutra.” For studying Madhyamika texts additional to those by Nagarjuna were by Je Tsongkhapa and Panchen Sonam Dragpa.

Yet, Ling Rinpoche states “in order to adequately understand the profound view of Madhyamika philosophy one must also study Pramana (valid cognition).” To this end, among other texts Dharmakirti was studied in the higher logic class, Ling Rinpoche states Dharmakirti’s commentary on Pramana “logically proves the non-deceptive nature of the Enlightened Ones and their teachings which lead to liberation and omniscience.”

Traditionally in Tibet Jang was the place for studying Pramana during the winter, involving long debate sessions, as related by Ling Rinpoche “it was extremely cold at Jang our hands cracked, but we could hardly feel the blood dripping because our concentration was totally involved in the debate.” According to Ling Rinpoche the most important commentaries to Dharmakirti’s Pramanavartika are by Panchen Sonam Dragpa and Gyaltsab Dharma Rinchen.

Next, of the five great subjects is Vinaya, which according to Ling Rinpoche: “teaches the way to obtain vows for those who have not yet obtained them, and how to restore when they are broken. The teachings on the three points of advice, the objections, the practices and the permissions are clearly revealed in Gunaprabha’s root and commentary texts on the Vinaya Sutra.” According to Ling Rinpoche in this additional texts by Kunkhyen Tsonawa, Gendun Drup, Panchen Sonam Dragpa are studied.

Finally, particularly for metaphysics Abhidharmakosa (Treasury of Abhidharma) was studied. Abhidharmakosa was created by Vasubhandu who incorporated seven Abhidharma texts based on the practice of Hinaya. Commentaries to this that were studied included those written by Chim Jampel Yang and Gendun Drup.

In 1922 Ling Rinpoche took full ordination from the 13th Dalai Lama. He was instructed to begin his geshe degree examination at age 20, an unprecedented young age. At age 22 he obtained the Geshe Lharampa degree. He then entered the Upper Tantric College and studied all four classes of Tantra, especially Heruka, Guhyasamaja and Yamantaka.

For Guhyasamaja he relied on many texts including Panchen Sonam Dragpa’s text on the development and completion stage, commentaries by Chandrakirti and Jamgon Tsongkhapa among other texts.

He also studied Jamgon Tsongkhapa’s commentary on Chakrasamvara Clarifying Hidden Meanings. When he was 23 he was given first position in the tantric examinations. When he was 24 he became the disciplinarian for the Upper Tantric College for four months.

In addition to the classical Gelug education Ling Rinpoche also received many teachings from the greatest masters of that time. At age 12 he received Lam Rim Chenmo teachings from the 13th Dalai Lama and Solitary Hero Yamantaka and Vajrayogini initiations from Je Pabongkha. About his teachers after graduating from the Upper Tantric College Ling Rinpoche writes:

Among my teachers at this time was Je Pabong Khapa Dechen Nyingpo, manifestation of the glorious Chakrasamvara (Pal Khor Dompa). My other teachers were the great Kyabgon Yongzin Sikyong Tradag Dorje Chang, Kyabje Yongzin Trijang Dorje Chang, Kyabje Khangsar Dorje Chang, Chone Lama Rinpoche Losang Gyaltsen Palzangpo and others. In short, I studied with thirty scholars and practitioners. Their kindness cannot be repaid even by holding them on my head for infinite lifetimes.

When he was 28 he went to southern Tibet, gave teachings and visited many pilgrimage places. When the 13th Dalai Lama passed away he was involved in creating the golden stupa for his relics. Next, age 34 he was appointed as the abbot of the Upper Tantric College. Soon after he was appointed as the mtshan zhabs to the 14th Dalai Lama.

In 1941 he was appointed as the junior yongs ‘dzin to the Dalai Lama, and in 1949 he became the Sharpa Choeje. In 1953 he became the senior yongs ‘dzin to the Dalai Lama and imparted to him teachings on Lam-Rim and tantric teachings on Heruka, Guhyasamaja and Yamantaka. In 1954 he gave full ordination to the Dalai Lama during the Great Prayer Festival.

In 1954 he visited China with the Dalai Lama, after which they visited Kubum Jampa Ling in Amdo In 1956 for the 2500th anniversary of the Buddha’s Parinirvana he visited Bodh Gaya and other pilgrimage places in India with the Dalai Lama. Upon returning to Tibet he gave many teachings on tantra including on the development and completion stages of Vajrabhairava and Guhyasamaja. In 1959 he fled to India after the Chinese occupation of Tibet.

In 1960 upon the passing of the previous Ganden Throne Holder in Tibet Ling Rinpoche was appointed as the 97th Ganden Throne Holder. He ascended the throne at Gaden Phelgye Ling monastery. He visited Switzerland and England and gave many teachings.

In 1969 he gave teachings on Lam-Rim Chenmo at the request of Guru Deva Rinpoche at Gaden Phelgye Ling monastery. In 1972 he visited the three monastic seats of Sera, Ganden, and Drepung in South India and gave many teachings there. He continued to turn the wheel of dharma until his passing in 1983. In the conclusion of his autobiography, Ling Rinpoche states:
Until now I have dedicated my stay in India to the service of restoring the waning doctrine of the Buddha and to the teachings of Second Buddha’s (Jamgon Tsongkhapa) doctrine, the stainless views of both sutra and tantra which are like pure gold.

Source: The Autobiography of Kyabje Ling Rinpoche. The Tibet Journal, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 45-61.

The ritual below was written by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche at the request of the Gelug assembly at Varanasi University for a simple way to do fulfillment, confession, request for activity and serkyem for Mahakala, Dharmaraja, Palden Lhamo, Vaishravana and Dorje Shugden. Source: Jam mgon rgyal ba’i bstan srung rdo rje shugs ldan gyi ‘phrin bcol phyogs bsdus bzhugs so. Bylakuppe, India: Ser smad gsung rab ‘phrul spar khang (1992), pp. 63-69.

Source: Trinley Kalsang’s Dorje Shugden History

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  1. This shows clearly the most high gelug lamas had connections and deep respects for the abilities of Dorje Shugden. That Dorje Shugden is a special protector arisen from enlightened origins. Even the highest of Lamas such as Ling Rinpoche will pen verses to him. Have no doubts in Ling Rinpoche or Dorje Shugden.

    The serkym above to Dorje Shugden is together with the other great and enlightened dharma protectors such as pelden hlamo, kalarupa, etc. Which shows he is among their ranks.

    Kyabje Ling Rinpoche is the root teacher of H.H. the current Dalai Lama, and could Ling Rinpoche be wrong again. If Ling Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche are wrong, who is left who can be right? And hence the Dalai Lama can be wrong also.

    Ling Rinpoche is accepted as an incarnation of Yamantaka. Can Yamantaka be wrong about Dorje Shugden?

    None of the above can be wrong.

    Dorje Shugden is enlightened just as Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche taught.

    I am very happy to see the above writing.

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  3. Kyabje Ling Rinpoche was senior tutor to HH Dalai Lama. He was also the 97th Ganden Throne Holder.
    Amongst his greatest teachers (of whom he said : “Their kindness cannot be repaid even by holding them on my head for infinite lifetimes”), he cited the two great Masters Je Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo and Kyabje Yongzin Trijang Dorje Chang.
    In his autobiography, he wrote about dedicating his stay in India to the “service of restoring the waning doctrine of the Buddha and to the teachings of Second Buddha’s (Jamgon Tsongkhapa’s) doctrine, the stainless views of both sutra and tantra which are like pure gold”. It is thus fitting that he should also have greatly relied upon the immensely swift and powerful Dharmapala of Buddha’s teachings in general and Manjushri Tsongkhapa’s teachings in particular, Dharmapala Dorje Shugden.
    We see this highly attained Master( like his great Lamas Pabongka Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche) showing the greatest reverence and highest esteem for the supramundane Dharmapala Dorje Shugden , and placing Him in the same class and rank as other Enlightened Dharma Protectors like Mahakala, and Palden Lhamo.

  4. Kyabje Ling Rinpoche studied under thirty scholars and practitioners and had devoted his whole life to the service of the Dharma and Lama Tsongkhapa’s doctrine. He had great respect for Dorje Shugden and placed the Protector among the other great Protectors, viewing them as equal in rank. I have no doubts about Ling Rinpoche and hope to study his Autobiography and other works in the future.

  5. Through this article it clearly shows that Ling Rinpoche has dedicated his life for Dharma, constantly improving himself and teaching all the practitioners about different knowledge.

    With Ling Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche being strong practitioners of Dorje Shugden, I do not understand how would the Dalai Lama say that both his Gurus are wrong. That Dorje Shugden is not an enlightened Dharma protector, instead, Dorje Shugden is an evil spirit. It does not make any sense at all. If it is said that Dalai Lama’s Gurus are wrong, it would mean that there is a high chance that Dalai Lama himself is wrong as well.

    And if Dorje Shugden is an evil spirit, why would Dalai Lama seek advises from Dorje Shugden when they were fleeing from Tibet to India? Hence, I believe that the purpose of the ban is more then what we think or know about it.

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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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