Explaining Lama Teacher Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje
Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje was known as mahasiddha of the Drukpa Kagyu school, well known for his songs of realization and said to have been an emanation of Milarepa.
Table of Contents
- 1 - The Viability of Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje
- 2 - Iconography of the Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje
- 3 - Depicting Lama Teacher Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje
- 4 - Pilgrimage Spot of Yogis-Jalandhara
- 5 - Meditation at Pom Lhakhab
- 6 - Main Disciples of Gotsangpa
The Viability of Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje
In this section, we are going to learn about the viability of Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje. And after that, we will learn about the short etymological description.
Etymology of Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje
Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje is known as Rgod tshang pa mgon po rdo rje in Tibet.
Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje was the lama teacher who was born in 1189. From the very beginning, Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje was fond of music and dance. His middle teens he lived as the kind of performance artist known in those days as a Pagshi.
Previously, we learn about the viability of Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje. Now we are going to learn about the iconography of Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje.
Iconography of the Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje
In the iconography of the Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje, we will learn about his body posture, hand and leg gesture, and different representations of Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje in thangka and statue.
Stance of Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje
Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje was carrying oiled red scepters a who was wearing bird-horn hats that looked rather like Viking helmets. perhaps more to the point jesters caps in his company would tour the countryside performing instrumental music, songs, and dances in the open areas of villages and towns. A handsome and gifted young man when he performed people would forget all their problems and not just human beings.
Even inhabitants of the spirit worlds of Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje would be drawn into the audience against their will. In those days Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje was known by his stage name Dondrub Sengge. People were so impressed.
People said he must have been a god in his previous life. As a teenager, he was known as Pagshi Dondrup Sengge. In pre-Mongol times Pagshi meant a traveling performer which might involve acting, juggling, acrobatics, storytelling, dancing, and singing.
In the later Mongol Empire, the same word usually is written Bakshi would come to mean a religious teacher. As we know, the life of the star performer is not always without its problems. Living in Lhodrag in southernmost Tibet by the time his mother gave birth to him, both of his older siblings had already died.
His childhood name was Gonpo Pal. When he became a young child his parents separated in a dispute about their shrinking finances. His mother eloped with a wealthy doctor and left him under his father’s care.
With only thirty goats and sheep, and fields that refused to yield a good harvest. His father contracted a dark phlegm disease that made him vomit blood and soon after that, he died. For some time the young boy was able to earn his own way as a reader.
Payment for such services usually meant little more than a meal. A few years later at age ten, he was able to visit his estranged mother. She sprang on him the revelation that he was not, in fact, his father’s child but the child of the doctor she had married.
This might have been just a white lie because she wanted to persuade him to come and help out with the chores around the house. Anyway, he rejected his mother’s story. And refused to accept a newly discovered biological father.
Youth of Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje
When Gotsangpa was the age of sixteen in part inspired by devotional activities he witnessed during his visits to Lhasa, he felt an aversion to worldly affairs along with a desire to study Buddhism. He studied texts and received teachings from a number of teachers, primarily in the traditions of Kadam, Shije, and Kagyu. Not certain which one he would follow he received his answer in a dream and then heard a minstrel of Tsang Province sing these words.
The words of the song opened Gotsangpa’s eyes and inspired a deep veneration. When he reached Ralung. He was almost immediately received by Tsangpa Gyarepa who greeted him with a smile and said, So have you made your appearance then Splendid. That same year he took novice vows along with the new name Gonpo Dorje the same name as the famous hunter converted by Milarepa.
Once during his first months in Ralung, a mouse chewed up his flour sack and his robe. Gotsangpa’s first response was to curse the mouse but he soon composed his thoughts and reflected that. According to the Hinayana, we ought to practice non-harm.
According to the Mahayana, we ought to consider all beings as our mothers. And according to Vajrayana, each being has to be seen as the divine form of high aspiration, the yidam. This perspective would hold him in good stead during the coming years of solitary meditation in remote places where he excelled in withstanding extreme discomfort and sickness.
He refused to accept obstacles as obstacles. While staying at Ralung his chief delight was to drink in all of Tsangpa Gyarepa’s teachings from the most exoteric to the most secret. Although the teacher-disciple relationship has often seemed a stormy one in Kagyu history.
In their case, there was never a single word of disagreement, scolding or complaint. When he wanted to go and study with other teachers particularly at Drigung he went with his teacher’s blessing given without hesitation.
When Tsangpa Gyarepa died Gotsangpa resolved to fulfill the words of his teacher’s last will and testament which said simply, “Give up concerns of the present life. Stay in mountain retreats.” After three years of meditation in Kharc where Tsangpa Gyarepa had once meditated. He was inspired to visit Mt. Kailash ` in part because of its association with Milarepa.
But at the same time at the age of twenty-five, he was thinking about going to Jalandhara, a city now in Himachal Pradesh. Although it is today a rather small town not far from Dharamsala where the Dalai Lama resides in exile. It was once an important center for Buddhists, Hindus, and Jains.
It was the site of the Third Council held by Kanishka according to Buddhist history. Gotsangpa went there because it is one of the twenty-four Places of the Vajra Body of Heruka listed in Cakrasamvara Tantras. Tibetans believe that two of them are actually located in Tibet, at Mt. Kailash in western Tibet, and Tsari in the east, although of course most of them are in India.
Well into his journey, in Lahaul he met a Tibetan translator named Gar Lotsawa and told him of his plan to visit Jalandhara. Gar Lotsawa dismissed the idea you won’t reach it. Food is hard to get.
You don’t know the language. The road is infested with death-happy bandits. On the one-in-an-hundred chance, you do make it there you will be blocked by the non-human spirits in the cemeteries.
But Gotsangpa was so determined to go that Gar decided to go with him which at least solved the problem of not knowing the language. The passes that both join and separate Lahaul and Chamba would have proven impossible if it were not for the good fortune of meeting some local porters he called Monpas. With pickaxes and ropes tied around their waists, they helped them by making footholds in the mirror-smooth rock faces.
Gotsangpa said about these Monpas that they had nothing to wear but deerskins and nothing to eat but buckwheat chaff. Meanwhile, the two Tibetans had nothing at all to eat and were constantly passing out from hunger. After a twelve-day trek thrilled to see just how green forests can be and catching a first glimpse of the Indian plains “as smooth as the palm of the hand” stretching out beneath them.
They found themselves in the capital of the Chamba king. Gar sat himself down inside the fort and started playing his double-headed drum called the Damaru which brought the whole fort and village out to have a look at the curious strangers. Even the king, who was evidently a Muslim came out on his veranda and called out in Persian, “Pir! Pir!” the word used for Sufi masters although it literally means elder.
Several days later when they reached Jalandhara, the people must have been mainly Hindu. Since they shouted out “Guru! Guru!”. After visiting the temple of Jwalamukhi which is still today famous for its eternal flames emerging from the rock. They came to the town of Jalandhara itself.
Previously, we learn about the viability of Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje and the iconography of Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje. Now we are going to learn about Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje.
Depicting Lama Teacher Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje
The thangka of Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje is from China. This thangka was made in between 1800 AD to 1899 AD. It is from Drukpa (Kagyu, Bhutan) lineage. The base of the painting is ground mineral pigment on cotton. Presently, this painting is in the Rubin Museum of Art.
By depicting this thangka we will learn about the presentation of Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje.
He met his main teachers Tsangpa Gyaré Yeshe Dorje and Sangye on. Following his studies, he traveled from one isolated hermitage to another, never staying in the same place twice. He founded the branch of the Drukpa Kagyü school known as the Upper Drukpa. His students included Orgyenpa Rinchen Pal.
Previously, we learn about the viability of Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje and the iconography of Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje and depicting Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje. now we are going to learn about the Pilgrimage spot of Yogis Jalandhara.
Pilgrimage Spot of Yogis-Jalandhara
In this portion, we are going to learn about the pilgrimage spot of yogis Jalandhara.
Jalandhara is one of the twenty-four Places of the Vajra Body according to the Cakrasamvara system. Jalandhara is known as an external pilgrimage spot for yogis. It corresponds to a part of the inner Vajra Body made up of channels and drops and what is known as the Body Mandala.
Because they were practicing Completion Stage yogas. They experienced the Holy Place through a constant buzz of inner meditative experiences. Their bliss was so great they scarcely noticed when some of the town people cursed the strange foreigners or when the children showered them with dirt clods.
But the temple and town were not the main goals of their visit. There were five cemeteries in the area where they intended to meditate. During their months of meditation, they survived like the other religious mendicants by once a day visiting doorsteps in the villages just after the women had finished preparing the morning rice.
Hearing the Damarus the women would come and place a mouthful worth of rice inside each of their gourd begging bowls. But the village women were not always willing to give food to the foreign yogis and in any case, the food was not what Tibetans were accustomed to eating. Eventually, they returned to Lahaul by way of Kulu Valley.
And yet another Place of the Vajra Body called Kuluta. Back in a Buddhist land, they received offerings of new monastic robes, recovered from their illnesses, and spent the summer meditating at Mt. Gondhola, a place still associated with Gotsangpa’s name in the minds of modern Lahaulis.
Previously, we learn about the viability of Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje and the iconography of Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje, depicting Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje, and the Pilgrimage spot of Yogis Jalandhara. Now we are going to learn about Meditation at Pom Lhakhab.
Meditation at Pom Lhakhab
In this section, we are going to learn about meditation at Pom Lhakhab.
After returning to Ralung, Onre Darma Sengge, who was then the abbot advised him to meditate at Pom Lhakhab so he went to practice there for three years in a hut. Once the nearby lake overflowed and flooded his hu. But he remained in meditation with his body half-submerged. He was living on nothing but water.
It was only then that he took complete ordination from the abbot of Ralung. Later on, he became quite well known for the devoted service he provided to the hermits in Tsari in the eastern part of Tibet, inside the great bend of the Tsangpo River. To support the meditating hermits in their scattered caves he carried roasted barley flour on his back until the blisters broke which earned him the affectionate nickname, Yellow Donkey.
Getting Onre’s permission, he went to meditate at a place not far from the border with Nepal called Gotsang where he remained for seven years. It appears that by this time he had become quite famous which is why he would forever after be known as Gotsangpa, ‘the man of Gotsang.’ Gotsangpa spent the last years of his life founding a number of monasteries and initiating the tradition of the Drugpa Kagyu known as Upper Drug.
In each of the monasteries, some thousands of practitioners gathered. Among his last instructions before his death, he requested that no dues be collected among his followers. And that rather than collecting offerings for constructing images and the like they should devote themselves to solitary meditation.
Previously, we learn about the viability of Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje and the iconography of Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje, depicting Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje, the Pilgrimage spot of Yogis Jalandhara, and Meditation at Pom Lhakhab. Now we are going to learn about the Main Disciples of Gotsangpa.
Main Disciples of Gotsangpa
Now we are going to learn about main disciples of Gotsangpa.
Among his main disciples, the best known who are presented below:
- Orgyenpa Rinchen Pal
- Bari Chilkarwa
Previously, we learn about the viability of Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje and the iconography of Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje, depicting Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje, the Pilgrimage spot of Yogis Jalandhara, and Meditation at Pom Lhakhab. Finally, we learn about the Main Disciples of Gotsangpa.