Biography of Drakkar Lobzang Palden

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English | བོད་ཡིག

Alak Zenkar Rinpoche

Drakkar Lobzang Palden

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Brief Biography of Drakkar Lobzang Palden

by Alak Zenkar Rinpoche[1]

The sublime Drakkar Lobzang Palden was born on the first day of the first month of the Fire Tiger year (1866) at Druklang monastery (Triklung hermitage) in Kardzin (Kardze). His father was called Samten Tsering and his mother, Tseringma.

When the child reached his fourth year he was recognized as a reincarnation of Drakkar Changchub Gyaltsen and given the name Lobzang Palden Tendzin Nyendrak Palzangpo. In his fifth year, he learned how to read and write from his teacher Dorje Bum. Then, from his ninth year onwards, he studied with Bapuk Yongdzin Loden Chöpel, receiving instruction on the common sciences, such as orthography, grammar and poetry, as well as a complete reading transmission for the precious Translated Words of the Buddha (Kangyur), instructions on major texts related to sūtra and mantra, and empowerments and transmissions for the profound Dharma of both the New and Old traditions. He took ordination from Drungsar Lama Lobzang Palden Tendzin Tsultrim, and with Gyarong Lama Könchok Zangpo he studied the grammatical treatises of the Sārasvata system and guidebooks for yogic exercises in the Nyingtik tradition. From Tutop Gyatso he received empowerments for the thirteen-deity Vajrabhairava practice.

At sixteen, he travelled to Lhasa and then entered Trehor College at Drepung Loseling. He took Hor Drango Geshe Lobzang Wangchuk, the great abbot of Loseling, as his tutor for philosophy and with him he studied the five major treatises extensively. He made a tour of the debate grounds, and for each of the major texts, he memorized both the root verses and the commentary. He mastered the key points and arrived at a definitive understanding through logical reasoning. As a result, learned geshes heaped flowers of praise upon him. Based on his learned responses in his debate with Jamyang Mipham Namgyal (1846–1912), his reputation as a scholar grew.

From the powerful siddha Dharma Senge[2] he received medical teachings, empowerments and instruction on Chöd and on the Sealed Secret (gsang ba rgya can) of the Fifth Dalai Lama; empowerments, transmissions and instructions for the Longchen Nyingtik, and the writings of the omniscient Longchenpa, as well as other profound and vast instructions, and took the master as the lord of his buddha family. From the former abbot of Zhalu, Lobzang Khyenrab,[3] he received the Thirteen Golden Dharmas of the Sakya tradition, as well as the Path with its Fruit (Lamdré).

He took full ordination with the great Ganden throne-holder Yeshe Chöpel acting as preceptor.[4] In his twenty-second year he returned to the region of Amdo and made Drakkar Changchub Ling his seat.

He received the transmission of the Tengyur from Ling Yongdzin Choktrul and the major and minor Lamrim treatises from Serong Jamyang Wangchuk Rabten. Nyagyé Choktrul granted him the transmission for the collected writings of Tsongkhapa and his heirs, while Dza Lhasul Tenpé Gyaltsen bestowed on him the empowerments for Guhyasamāja and Cakrasaṃvara. Jamzhe Kalzang Tupten Wangchuk[5] offered him many teachings on the body maṇḍala of Cakrasaṃvara and so on, and Shunang Lama Nyendrak taught him the Six-branch Kālacakra. Thus, he followed in the proper way many learned and accomplished masters of both Old and New traditions. He studied in an unbiased way works related to sūtra and mantra, of the Old and New traditions, as well as mundane sciences. Through immersing himself in a great ocean of Dharma instruction in this way, it filled the endless knot of his mind, and he reached the very pinnacle of learning.

From the age of 26, he settled mainly in Mālanang, the hermitage of Drakkar, as well as Chöying Monastery, Getar Lung in Drango and Palgang. There he taught such texts as the Five Treatises of Maitreya, the Root Verses of the Middle Way, Introduction to the Middle Way and Four Hundred Verses of the Middle Way, the Collection of Reasoning and Collection of Praises. He travelled impartially to places such as Chöra Kyang, Kardze, Drango, Minyak, Sertar, Golok Dodzi Rong and elsewhere, bestowing empowerments, transmissions and instructions for Cakrasaṃvara, Guhyasamāja and Vajrabhairava, the Heart-Essence (Nyingtik), Pacification and Severance and so on. In total, he transmitted the precious Translated Words of the Buddha (Kangyur) fifteen times, the Translated Treatises (Tengyur) six times, The Collected Nyingma Tantras (Nyingma Gyübum) five times, the Seven Treasures [of Longchenpa] three times, and the collected writings of Jé Tsongkhapa five times. In addition, he granted the reading transmissions for various masters’ collected writings and explained them with clarity, authenticity and eloquence, such was his tremendous kindness in bestowing inexhaustible gifts of Dharma. In this way, he guided everyone—noble, modest and in between.

His disciples, learned and accomplished figures from both Old and New schools, included Amdo Geshe Jampal Rolwé Lodrö, Getok Choktrul Lodrö Gyurme Chökyi Wangchuk, Raho Choktrul Jamyang Drubpé Wangpo, Gyurme Pendé Özer,[6] Tongkor Zhabdrung, Ganden Tritrul, Trungsar Kuzhab, Dodrup Khenpo Damchö,[7] Khenpo Könmé,[8] Wönda Gyangtrul,[9] Washul Pönla, Dungkhar Tulku Ngedön Gyatso,[10] and Minling Khenchen Ngawang Khyen-nor[11], in addition to the learned Chinese monk Takang Hri,[11] and powerful leaders such as Washul Göndra.

His magnanimous activity, beyond the comprehension of ordinary minds, included the sponsorship of supports of enlightened body, speech and mind, such as statues of Vajrasattva and Maitreya in gold and copper and a Kangyur written in a golden script.[12]

Finally, on the third day of the eighth month of the Earth Snake year (1929),[13] he manifested the departure of his wisdom-mind and the temporary cessation of his acts for those to be trained.

The master’s collected writings include works that he composed between the ages of 12 and 62. They cover poetry, praises, biographies of lineage masters, the five major treatises, the root tantra of Guhyasamāja, commentaries on mantra and Dzogchen, as well as practice liturgies. In total, they fill seventeen volumes and represent a stream of teaching to sustain his remaining followers.

| Translated by Adam Pearcey, 2019.


Translation based on

  • Mi nyag mgon po (et al.) "Brag dkar blo bzang dpal ldan gyi rnam thar mdor bsdus" in Gangs can mkhas dbang rim byon gyi rnam thar mdor bsdus, Beijing: Krung go'i bod kyi shes rig dpe skrun khang. 1996–2000. Vol. 2: 342–346. W25268

Secondary Sources

  • Schneider, Nicola. "The Third Dragkar Lama: An Important Figure for Female Monasticism in the Beginning of Twentieth Century Kham" in Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines 21, 2011, pp. 45-60
  • Tulku Thondup. Masters of Meditation and Miracles. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1996.

  1. Although Zenkar Rinpoche is not identified as the author in the original text (where the biography is unattributed), he confirmed his authorship in a personal message to the translator.  ↩

  2. Khamnyön Dharma Sengge (khams smyon dha+rma seng ge, d.1890).  ↩

  3. Alias Rinchen Lobzang Khyenrab of Ripuk (ri phug rin chen blo bzang mkhyen rab).  ↩

  4. Yeshe Chöpel (Ye shes chos 'phel) was the 82nd throne-holder and held the office from approximately 1884–1889.  ↩

  5. The Fourth Jamyang Zhepa, 1856–1916.  ↩

  6. Alias 'Jam dpal bde ba’i nyi ma.  ↩

  7. i.e., Damchö Özer (Dam chos 'od zer, d. 1927?) famous for his objections to Mipham's commentary on the Madhyamakālaṃkāra to which Mipham wrote a response. He was one of the four great khenpos of Dodrupchen Monastery (rdo grub mkhan po rnam bzhi).  ↩

  8. i.e., Lushül Khenpo Lobzang Kunkhyap (Klu shul mkhan po blo bzang kun khyab), alias Könchok Drönme (dKon mchog sgron me, 1859–1936), another of the four great khenpos of Dodrupchen Monastery.  ↩

  9. Döndrup Dorje (Don grub rdo rje), alias Lobzang Tsultrim (Blo bzang tshul khrims), 1892–1960.  ↩

  10. d.1959. He features in the lineage transmission of the Kangyur. See Thondup 1996: 376 n. 337.  ↩

  11. i.e., Ngawang Khyentse Norbu, 1904–1968.  ↩

  12. For more details on the latter project see Schneider 2011 : 54–55.  ↩

  13. The original inserts '1928' here (in arabic numerals), but the Earth Snake corresponds to 1929.  ↩

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