Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen


The Compassionate Martyr

During the era of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, Dorje Shugden took rebirth in the form of a very special incarnate lama. This would be Dorje Shugden’s “last” incarnation before he arose as a Dharma Protector. From childhood, this incarnation exhibited many signs of a superior being. For example, at the age of 2 or 3, he was already speaking and playing with ritual instruments. When he was only 5 or 6 years old, he had clear visions of yidams (meditational deities) and enlightened beings.

Even at a very young age, the boy could recall his past lives, remember his past teachers and recite prayers from memory. Amidst such extraordinary signs, at the age of 6, His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lama Lobsang Chokyi Gyaltsen (Panchen Chogyen) recognized the young boy as the unmistaken 4th incarnation of the Zimkhang Gongma line of incarnations. The line had been established by Panchen Sonam Drakpa, an exceptional lama who, amongst his many great achievements, had been a tutor to the 3rd Dalai Lama.

The Panchen Chogyen installed the boy upon his former throne, giving him the name ‘Drakpa Gyaltsen’. When he was just 7, the young tulku (incarnate lama), ‘out of his own volition’, took novice vows from the Panchen Chogyen and received from him Yamantaka (Vajrabhairava) empowerment, long life initiation and initiations of Dharma protectors such as Mahakala and Kalarupa. He also received transmission of Lord Atisha’s texts on the Path to Enlightenment. By the time Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen was 9 years old, he was already giving teachings and writing profound commentaries.

First ever Dorje Shugden graphic novel in the world! Click to enlarge and click here to find out more.

By the time he was 13 years old, Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen had already studied and mastered the Lamrim. Among other teachings, he also received extremely vast and profound instructions on the Path of Bliss commentary to the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment (Lamrim), as well as transmission and commentary for Guru Yoga of the Segyu Tradition, Ganden Lha Gyama, and many others.

Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen was 20 years old when he received his full ordination vows. From that time onward, like all of his previous incarnations, he upheld his monastic vows perfectly and purely, without transgressing even the slightest foundation of the precepts. In the following years, until he was 28, this young erudite lama continued to request for and receive countless teachings, transmissions and initiations of the highest practices from his lama the Panchen Chogyen. It seemed his capacity and thirst for learning was without limit. The relationship between Guru and disciple was very close and governed with great mutual respect. It is said that the Panchen Chogyen was at one time very busy but when Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen requested for profound teachings, the Panchen Lama took a break from his schedule to give him the entire Kadam Volume with many other various essential and important teachings such as Lamrim Chenmo and Ngagrim Chenmo, combining instructions of Je Tsongkhapa and Khedrub Rinpoche. After receiving these teachings, Master and student then entered isolated retreat together, where Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen received the rest of the profound teachings of the uncommon ear-whispered Ganden lineage.

The Great 5th Dalai Lama

Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen was one of the two main disciples of the 4th Panchen Lama, Lobsang Chokyi Gyaltsen, the other being the Great 5th Dalai Lama himself. Contrary to what is often mistakenly recounted, Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen and the 5th Dalai Lama shared a very respectful and close relationship. Both Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen and the 5th Dalai Lama studied together, debated together and spent a lot of time with each other. Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen also received many direct teachings from the Dalai Lama. On several occasions, Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen made offerings and served the Dalai Lama directly, coming out personally to receive or escort him on his travels. He even invited the Dalai Lama to his own residence and received from him a hundred long-life initiations.

Throughout his life, from his childhood, Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen was highly recognized for his vast study and incomparable ability to easily absorb and understand even the most subtle and profound points of the teachings. His skill in teaching, speaking, debate, composition were unrivaled and known to have conveyed the Buddha’s original teachings perfectly, without the slightest deviation or error. By this alone, we can see that he did not just study and know the teachings, but had full realization of them. Further, in his lifetime, he also engaged in many isolated retreats, and in purification practices and the accumulation of merit based upon the Guru Yoga. He also accomplished full retreats that focused upon many yidams, thus achieving all the highest realizations described in sutric and tantric texts. In his biographical account of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen, His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche writes in Music Delighting an Ocean of Protectors that,

“He reached the state of a supreme mahasiddha and the infinite pure simultaneous appearance of the entire ocean of mandalas, and it is with reverent regard for this that he is praised.”

H.H. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche

Apparently, he had also received many direct visions of deities and exalted Gurus from a very young age but in following the Kadam tradition of humility and keeping such attainments secret, there are only very few and scattered accounts of these visions. (One rare and very precious example of such secret writings of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen can be read in Music Delighting an Ocean of Protectors). Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen became one of the most highly-respected and sought-after lamas of the land who was known to have the complete qualifications for teaching. His body was pure as he held ethical discipline throughout his life and firmly upheld every one of his commitments and vows. He was deeply learned and extremely well-versed in scripture, reasoning and the Buddhadharma. Lastly, because of his pure altruism he was very beneficial to others in all his actions throughout his life. As described by His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche,

“He had all of the realized qualities for teaching without exception, making his teachings so exalted that it was as if Arya Nagarjuna, one of his disciples, or the great master Haribadra was actually present.”

Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen was also well-known for his humility. He was not interested in fame nor did he seek the admiration and veneration of people but due to his reputation as an esteemed scholar and an extraordinary lama, he was very highly sought-after. At that time, Tibet was undergoing a period of political instability and even after the Great 5th Dalai Lama was enthroned and his rule was consolidated, his ministers remained concerned that Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen’s enormous popularity would eclipse the 5th Dalai Lama’s hold on the Tibetan people. And yet Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen’s acclaim continued drawing devotion from the royalty of Tibet, Mongolia and China. This in turn created a lot of fear and resentment amongst officials of the 5th Dalai Lama.


The Murder of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen

As Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen came of age, his fame and popularity consolidated. He was a pure monk, an erudite scholar and had a great following of students, especially amongst Mongol royalty. As a high lama, he was expected to attend the Monlam Chenmo festivities in Lhasa. It was at this time that he met with the Oracle of Nechung who took possession of the protector deity and greeted the high lamas and the public. Nechung asked Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen if he remembered the promise he had made in his previous incarnation as Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen who was Lama Tsongkhapa’s preeminent disciple and one of his eight main students. At that time, Nechung had approached Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen and asked him to promise to arise as a protector of Lama Tsongkhapa’s teaching of Nagajurna’s Middle Way, and Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen had agreed. But Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen replied that he did not remember the promise.

Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen

Nechung then gave Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen some blessed rice to partake along with some practices to do. Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen ate the rice and followed the prescribed practices. Soon he remembered the promise he made as Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen and he returned to have audience with Nechung through the Oracle. The lama told Nechung he remembered his promise but that he did not have it in him to generate anger, which was necessary to become a Dharma protector. Nechung reassured Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen that he would create the necessary conditions.

By then, there was already ongoing rivalry between followers of the 5th Dalai Lama and the household of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen. The Potala Palace was not yet built and both the 5th Dalai Lama and Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen resided in Drepung Monastery, with the Dalai Lama occupying the “Lower House” and Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen living in the “Upper House”. Visitors going to Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen’s residence would pass by the 5th Dalai Lama’s house and witnessing Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen’s popularity, and fearful that he would overshadow their lama, the Great 5th Dalai Lama’s ministers felt that drastic actions had to be taken. It would appear that Nechung was accomplishing his work to fan the rivalry between both factions to a feverish pitch.

Finally, the brother of Desi Sonam Chopel (the 5th Dalai Lama’s regent) decided to eliminate Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen and get rid of the threat once and for all. The would-be murderer’s name was Depa Norbu (also known as Nangso Norbu). Meanwhile, Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen clairvoyantly knew that his time was up and thus he began making preparations. He informed his closest attendants and entered into retreat, and said that he did not want to meet anybody. People were informed that he was ill and it was said that the Dalai Lama himself wanted to go and visit but was prevented from doing so by his attendants. The attendants told the Dalai Lama that Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen was suffering from an infectious disease and that it was not a good idea for him to travel there. They offered to represent him instead and unbeknownst to the Dalai Lama, this was all part of a sinister plot to kill Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen.

An audience was therefore arranged with Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen, and Depa Norbu and his people came bearing offerings and khatas for the lama. During the audience, these representatives of the 5th Dalai Lama tried to poison and stab Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen. Neither method however, had an effect; an accomplished tantric practitioner, Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen’s body expelled the poison and it is said that the stab wounds took on the appearance of eyes, leaving the lama miraculously unharmed.

Lama Tsongkhapa and two sons

Finally, Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen himself revealed that he could only be killed by strangulation. Immediately, one of the 5th Dalai Lama’s attendants grabbed a khata while the others held the lama down and they forced the khata down the throat of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen. As that was happening, the lama generated the mind of enlightenment and as he thought of Lama Tsongkhapa, the lineage and the practitioners of the lineage, Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen willingly offered up his life. He would take the responsibility to assist, protect, nurture and to clear their obstacles. Thus, he generated that supreme aspiration to safeguard the lineage and anyone who needed help, and Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen entered clear light.


The Funeral of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen

When Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen passed away, the monastery and his ladrang (a lama’s household) were in turmoil because such an important high lama had been murdered. In accordance with tradition, they placed his remains on a huge funeral pyre in Lhasa with thousands of disciples, Mongolian royalty and all the high lamas in attendance. They came to pay their last respects to the great lama Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen. Some lamas came to perform various rituals, self-initiations and so forth. Strangely however, the funeral pyre would not catch fire and could not be set ablaze despite everyone’s best efforts.

A statue of the Great 5th Dalai Lama

Meanwhile, the 5th Dalai Lama was very disturbed by the whole matter as he had come to learn of the role his own people had played in Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen’s assassination. In shock and with great sadness, the Dalai Lama composed a letter of apology to the lama. An attendant brought the letter to where Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen’s funeral pyre had been assembled and it was read aloud to the assembly. The moment the letter was read, the wood on the pyre suddenly caught fire. This aggravated his attendants and made them even more upset. In utter frustration, one attendant took his zen (part of a monk’s maroon robes) and he hit the pyre, exclaiming, “Some kind of lama you are! You were supposed to be a high lama and you can’t even exact revenge on them and you don’t show any signs… They just simply kill you and that’s it!”

At that moment, it is said that a powerful swirling black smoke arose from the fire. A very strong tumultuous wind blew and an earthquake shook all of Lhasa. It was sign that the mind of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen left his body in this smoke that formed the rough outline of a hand that extended and eventually covered the skyline of the entire city. Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen had thus fulfilled the promise he had made many lifetimes ago as Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen, arising in the wrathful form of the Dharma protector Dorje Shugden, sworn to safeguard and protect Lama Tsongkhapa’s teaching of the Middle Way.



Emperor Kangxi

According to historical records, after Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen’s passing, his estate and ladrang were dismantled, and the search for his reincarnation was banned. Thus, the illustrious Drepung Zimkhang Gongma line came to an end and the estate founded by Panchen Sonam Drakpa in 1554 ceased to exist in 1656. Records of his life in Tibet were destroyed and the Tibetan leadership did their utmost best to stamp out all memory and mention of him.

Hence, what we know about Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen today comes from Mongolian records, preserved due to his faithful Mongol students, especially the great Mongol scholar Jaya Pandita (1642-1708). According to Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen’s own writings, he had a dream of his own tutor, Panchen Lobsang Chokyi Gyaltsen, giving a prediction that he would take rebirth in China and Mongolia.

Thus, according to scholars and lamas, it is believed that Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen did not only arise as Dorje Shugden but that he also took rebirth as the Qing Emperor Kangxi. The mind of an enlightened being is not limited to just one vessel; it is well-known that enlightened beings of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen’s attainments and qualities can emanate in multiple forms simultaneously in order to benefit to sentient beings. However, since the recognition of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen as the Emperor Kangxi was never verified, he was therefore never enthroned as a reincarnation of the Zimkhang Gongma line.

Nevertheless, Kangxi became independently renowned for his benevolence and immense patronage of arts, culture, learning and religion throughout China. Many of the monasteries and works that he sponsored during his lifetime continue to exist to this day, a testament to the enduring legacy and benefit associated with the Zimkhang Gongma line of incarnations.

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16 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen is such a great Dharma master in record. He was not only completely and purely committed to the Dharma in this lifetime. Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen’s previous recognized reincarnations were also exalted Dharma teachers, saints and practitioners who spread the Dharma far and wide to lands like Mongolia and China. Kings and their subjects embraced the Dharma because they were convinced and moved by his wisdom and compassion. One example is Sakya Pandita whose mastery of the Dharma enabled him to transform the mind of a Mongol Prince to Dharma (for more details: http://www.dorjeshugden.com/introduction/incarnation-lineage/sakya-pandita/)

    By the vast accumulation of merit of this lineage of reincarnation, it is logical to deduce that only benefit and dharma will continue to grow through the efforts of this mind stream. I feel very blessed to be connected to this practice as I observe the rapid degeneration of our time.

    Thank you to the team of ds.com for providing clear and comprehensive information consistently throughout the years.

  2. Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was already a highly attained lama for many lives time. Only one with such attainments will accept the request of becoming a Dharma protector. He is different from other protectors which was a powerful demon that being subdued by highly attained lamas and oat to protect the Dharma. He was one that already attained Buddhahood and becoming the Dharma protector by wish. Hence he has an enlightened being that became a Dharma Protector due to his compassion to save all sentient beings.

    Indeed the karma is huge due to the ban as CTA created the schism among the sangha, discriminating the practitioners and even put down the highly attained Dorje Shugden Lamas.

  3. Never bored with reading DS past lives. I can read it again and again and have goosebumps all over. How compassionate is tdg! All these attained beings have such humility and at the same time full of wisdom and compassion.
    I believe with all my heart that this biography is true and that tdg is Dorje Shugden.
    Even back then the Tibetan leadership are up to no good and destroying faith in many Tibetans. Till now they think that they can just destroy or shut up matters that do not appease them. What a joke! We are so lucky to have histories and social media. The world can now see how cruel the so called Tibetan leadership is. They force people to go their way or else they will be harmed. Show the world whatever evidences you have and let them judge how disgusting the cta is! Pathetic liars.

  4. To my dismay, political in Tibet had long started since the enthronement of 5th Dalai Lama. Due to the popularity of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen, the then ministers (now CTA) attempted to banish him for fear TDG will surpass the Great 5th Dalai Lama. Though search for his reincarnation was banned but yet he still came back as human form. Wasn’t he supposed to be a ‘spirit’ and remain in 3 lower realms? It’s already more than 400 years DS had been tainted as ‘bad’ and in political issues, I think it should be cleared. Karma do comes to serve those created the caused.

  5. The CTA is using all methods to hide this truth and to erase the history and lineage. The ban on Dorje Shugden practice is one of their methods by blaming Dorje Shugden for almost everything that the CTA failed in. The truth cannot be hidden.

  6. The 5th Dalai Lama and Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen share a very closed relationship. What change the situation was when the 5th Dalai Lama followers that had great jealousy take action out of their hand. We can see this scenario passed down to this time where CTA is taking action to create more suffering and harmful to their own people with spiritual discrimination.

    The truth will always reveal the the truth will always win. The lineage of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen is back and the practice of Dorje Shugden will spread wide because of his motivation and practice is based on compassion and his promise to protect to middle way teaching.

  7. Due to the rivalry between the 5th Dalai Lama’s household and followers of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen, this erudite lama was murdered, so that some form of wrath was generated in order for him to become a Dharma Protector, Dorje Shugden.

    Controversy over Dorje Shugden occurred even at the funeral of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen and perpetuated until to day.

    On the demise of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen, Tibetan authorities eradicated His lineage and destroyed all records of this great lama. It is through the devotion of His Mongolian followers that we now have records of His history.

    As a Dorje Shugden devotee, I am grateful to the Mongolians.

  8. All these years, out of jealousy from the supposedly monks of the 5th Dalai Lama and the promise TDG made in his previous life. #DorjeShugden is born as a Dharma Protector.

  9. Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was a born protector. With his super natural wisdom and intelligent when he was at very young age, this proved that he was not an ordinary monk. Yet, CTA, the great Tibetan so called “government” can wipe out all the proves and reincarnation line, hide the truth and history, twisted the truth, turn it around and say that Dorje Shugden is evil spirit. There’s proof that Dorje Shugden is Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, and arise as a protector. There’s proof that High Lamas that has been practicing Dorje Shugden, CTA, where is your proof that saying Dorje Shugden is evil spirit? Please be responsible on the words that come out from your mouth, it is because it can cause chaos, just like the ban of Dorje Shugden.

  10. All Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen previous incarnations comes from a great lineage of fully enlightened beings whose work has had a great impact on the growth of Dharma. He manifested as Dorje Shugden to protect Dharma and yet ban by the CTA. Could you see how heavy the negative karma is. 60 years gone, Tibetans till suffering, Tibetan in exile still remain stateless, Dalai Lama still cannot go back to Tibet. Dorje Shugden will only help you because he is enlightened being. CTA, please speak the truth.The truth can not be hidden.

  11. Such as inspiring great Buddhist master, for the sake of bringing more benefit to all sentient beings via Dharma, he worked tirelessly, accept & act with pure wisdom and compassion.

    Now, he continue to benefit people as a Dharma protector, so many miracles & positive review about Dorje Shugden. Me too, practicing Dorje Shugden for like 3 years, my life has been getting better, in terms of health, wealth & my mind.

    I wish many people can know Dorje Shugden & get benefited.

  12. Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen all his previous incarnation are the high ranking lama in Tibet. He even close to the 5th Dalai Lama stay at the samb monastery. If he arose as spirit to seek revange. The 5th Dalai Lama and the murder will have the consequaces early. Is undenileable Tibetan government try to cover the history and separete the rumor to put Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen name down as Dorje Shugden. In this modern time now people will find out and spoken. Can CTA stop all the lies to tell people he is evil spirit. Karma has taking the roll call now for those who speak badly against Dorje Shugden.

  13. People who claimed that Tulku Drakpa Geltsen or Dorje Shugden is an evil are so wrong. Did they or have they even gone through reading about the history of Tulku Drakpa Geltsen before he became a protector. How can such a highly attained lama be evil? It doesn’t make any sense at all. So before making any accusations, it is best to do some research or read up first.

  14. Hi. I recently started watching Tsem Rinpoche on youtube afew months back. I did not know there was such a huge controversy with regards to H.E. Tsem Tulku and Dharma protector Dorje Shugden.

    I really like his teachings, its so easy to understand alas he has parnirvana and I did not get to meet him while he was alive.

    Could anyone clarify, is H.E Tsem Tulku Rinpoche an incarnation of Dorje Shugden? Given that they share the same reincarnation lineage?

    Appreciate any clarity i can get on this.

  15. Tsem Rinpoche is not an incarnation of Dorje Shugden. Rather Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen emanated as Dorje Shugden while at the same time his incarnation line continued with his most resent mind incarnation as Tsem Tulku Rinpoche. Due to the fact the search and enthronement of his incarnation line was banned after Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen murder, his incarnation line was not proclaimed publicly until Tsem Tulku Rinpoche.

    Enlighten beings can manifest, emanate and incarnate in multiple and unlimited ways at the same time in the past, present and future. They have beyond the limitations of conditioned phenomena, time and space due to their enlighten nature.

    They can be manifest as inanimate objects, emanate in various supernatural beings like dharma protectors and they can incarnate as human beings like recognized tulkus and Lama/Gurus.

    Ultimately even all the enlighten beings and Gurus are one in nature as Vajradhara aka Samantabhadra the primordial Buddha who is the true nature of the mind.

    Going beyond conventional dualistic perceptions of reality, ultimately the Dalai Lama and Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen are one in nature as Vajradhara. What looks like conflict is actually enlightened actions for the benefit of all sentient beings. So what may look like a negative situation to our dualistic unenlightened minds are actually situations that help purify our karma and ultimately lead us also to enlightenment.

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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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