In Praise of Khenpo Kunpal

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Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö

Khenpo Kunzang Palden

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Offering the Flowers of Remembered Kindness

In Praise of the Gracious Teacher, Khen Rinpoche Kunpal

by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö

Homage to the guru and the protector Mañjughoṣa!

From the outset you attained a form of utter peace,
Yet, out of love for those of us in this present age,
You appeared as a guide to the supreme vehicle.
Peerless guru, great khenpo, to you I offer praise.

Prior to this life, you manifested as not just one
Learned and accomplished master but several.
You took birth in the Water Monkey[1] on the banks of the Dachu[2] in Kham,
And awakened your sublime potential—to you I offer praise.

Jigme Chökyi Wangpo accepted and guided you.
Caring for you like his own son and instructing you well
In all the forms of conduct to be adopted and avoided.
Youthful moon, heir to the victors, to you I offer praise.

You easily mastered reading, writing and grammar,
And within the great bodhisattva’s divine hearing,
Each day you recited practice texts, praises, songs,
And chapters, much to his delight—to you I offer praise.

To the assembled saṅgha you gave an outstanding explanation
Of the aspiration prayer for attaining the realm of great bliss
And brought supreme joy and amazement to the intelligent.
To you whom the supreme guide and guru encouraged, I offer praise.

From the great bodhisattva, who was Śāntideva in person,
For six months[3] you received instruction on the Bodhicaryāvatāra
And took marvellous notes on his excellent teachings,
So vast and profound—to you I offer praise.

From Yönten Gyatso, a tenth-bhūmi bodhisattva,
You took ordination, a saffron emblem of victory,
And adorned the Sage’s teachings with your oceanic discipline,
Untainted by downfalls, natural or proscribed—to you I offer praise.

With Tendzin Norbu, lord among scholars,
You studied several works of the vehicle of characteristics,
Eliminating misconceptions through study and contemplation,
And ascended to the kingdom of erudition—to you I offer praise.

From Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo,
Chökyi Dorje, Tenpai Nyima,
Dechen Dorje, the one named Pema,[4] and others,
You received empowerments and instructions, especially those of the Heart-Essence—to you I offer praise.

From the lord of siddhas, Chakong,[5] an emanation of Düdul,
You received empowerments and instructions from his own treasures and on Dzogchen, and the like.
To you whose realization was enhanced and who received clear prophecies
Of what would happen in the future, I offer praise.

You relied especially on Jamyang Mipham Choklé Namgyal,
With whom you had a special connection from former lives.
He taught profound, difficult points of the Middle Way and Pramāṇa,
And you became his supreme heart-son—to you I offer praise.

In the dharma centre of Katok Dorje Den,
Counterpart of Magadha in the land of Āryas,
You had an utterly clear sense of having been born
As Śākya Dorje in a previous life—to you I offer praise.

From Situ Paṇḍita, the omniscient one in person,
You received an ocean of secret mantra teachings, both Sarma and Nyingma.
Your minds merged as one, and you also taught sūtra and mantra.
To you who produced so many learned disciples, I offer praise.

At the great dharma centre of Tennyi Dargye Ling,
You compiled the excellent works of Pema Vijaya,[6] crown ornament of the learned and accomplished,
And those of Mipham, lord of Dharma.
To you who contributed to the profound and vast ways of Dharma, I offer praise.

In the Garden of Immortality, the private residence
At Tashi Lhatsé,[7] which is just like a second Akaniṣṭha,
You taught the community the Bodhicaryāvatāra
And Pramāṇavārttika—to you I offer praise.

At Evaṃ Tarpa Tsé, in the great khenpo’s residence
And the omniscient one’s quarters you twice turned the Dharma Wheel,
Imparting the definitive secrets of the great Kālacakra commentary.
To you who fulfilled the profound intent of Jampal Gyepa, I offer praise.

You did not neglect the sayings of your own teachers,
Or misapply the words of Indian and Tibetan commentaries.
To you who taught without error or confusion,
Precisely according to the sayings and assertions of past scholars, I offer praise.

However much the critical might investigate and inquire,
Still they could not plumb the depths of your intelligence.
To you whose responses instilled confidence in those
With the four reliances and four modes of reasoning, I offer praise.

You spoke honestly, without any pretension or deception,
Adopting a śrāvaka’s pure, wholesome conduct externally,
While inwardly you never parted from the profound practice
Of generation, perfection, and Great Perfection—to you I offer praise.

As a sign of proficiency, your wisdom born of meditation blazed.
There are very few today who have done as much as you
To uphold the view of the Ngagyur Nyingma tradition.
To you who deserve the epithet 'third Longchen Rabjam',[8] I offer praise.

For the two supreme Dodrup incarnations[9] and other fortunate ones,
You turned the Dharma Wheel of the Heart-Essence,
And increased the vitality of the teachings.
To you who brought boundless benefit to beings, I offer praise.

At a time when the Nyingma teachings had been tainted,
You alone were like a ketaka jewel that purifies water,
Commenting precisely according to Lama Mipham’s intent.
To you who showed the Middle Way beyond the extremes of eternalism and nihilism, I bow.

In your profound commentary to the Beacon of Certainty,
And other texts you commented according to the guru’s intent,
And through numerous well-formulated compositions,
Revived the dying embers of the Early Translation teachings—to you I offer praise.

Guiding others along the path of authentic reasoning,
You appeared like Dharmakīrti for this degenerate age,
Kunzang Palden, victorious over all,
Great lion of speech, to you I devotedly offer praise.

Until the vase of your nirmāṇakāya dissolved
During your seventy-second year, in the Water Sheep,[10]
You constantly applied yourself to profound meditation
And taught sūtra and mantra day and night—to you I offer praise.

O glorious and gracious guru,
Even an ox such as I, when recalling how
You kindly inspired an inclination towards study,
Can only shed tears of anguished longing.

May you, the lord who showed me such exceptional care,
Remain without ever parting in the centre of my heart,
And help me to master bodhicitta, realize the genuine nature,
And spontaneously accomplish my own and others’ aims.

Thus, Lodrö Gyatso, the ragged lama who was sustained by this supreme protector’s immeasurable kindness wrote this in Gangtok, Sikkim, while remembering the guru. May it become a cause for the swift infusion of his blessings.

| Translated by Adam Pearcey with the generous support of the Khyentse Foundation and Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2022.


Tibetan Editions

'jam dbyangs chos kyi blo gros. “mkhan rin po che kun dpal la bstod pa bka’ drin rjes dran gyi me tog mchod pa.” In gsung 'bum 'jam dbyangs chos kyi blo gros (dbu med), Gangtok: Dzongsar Khyentse Labrang, 1981–1985. Vol.1: 255–262.

'jam dbyangs mkhyen brtse chos kyi blo gros. "yongs 'dzin bka' drin can mkhan rin po che kun dpal la bstod pa bka' drin rjes dran gyi me tog mchod pa." In rdzong sar mkhyen brtse 'jam dbyangs chos kyi blo gros kyi gsung 'bum. Bir, H.P.: Khyentse Labrang, 2012. Vol. 2: 607–611.

Secondary Sources

Kunzang Pelden. The Nectar of Manjushri’s Speech: A Detailed Commentary on Shantideva’s Way of the Bodhisattva. Trans. Padmakara Translation Group. Boston & London: Shambhala Publications, 2007

Tulku Thondup. Masters of Meditation and Miracles. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, 1996.

Version: 1.2-20220906

  1. Following the dbu med edition and reading chu sprel. The 2012 edition erroneously reads chu sbrul. Note that there has been much discussion of Khenpo Kunpal’s dates based on the present text, which gives them as 1872–1943. As many have pointed out, this would create chronological issues as it would mean that Kunpal was very young when he received teachings from Patrul. The issue of the birth year is clarified, however, by Kunpal himself, who writes in the colophon of his biography of Patrul that he completed the work in the Earth Tiger (1938) while in his seventy-seventh year, meaning that he must have been born in 1862. Although this directly contradicts the present text, which was also followed in Tulku Thondup’s Masters of Meditation and Miracles, there seems no reason to doubt the master’s own words. Jamyang Khyentse is undoubtedly correct as to the death year, and in another text he even specified the precise date.  ↩

  2. zla chu. I.e., in Dzachukha  ↩

  3. zhag gi phung po drug. Literally, six 'collections of days'.  ↩

  4. Most likely a reference to the Third Mura Tulku, Pema Dechen Zangpo.  ↩

  5. Dudjom Lingpa (1835–1904)  ↩

  6. Shechen Gyaltsab Gyurme Pema Namgyal (1871–1926).  ↩

  7. The private quarters of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820–1892) at Dzongsar Monastery.  ↩

  8. After Longchen Rabjam (1308–1364) himself and Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa (1730–1798).  ↩

  9. Dodrupchen Tupten Trinlé Palzangpo (thub bstan phrin las dpal bzang po, 1927–2022) and Dodrupchen Jalü Dorje ('ja' lus rdo rje, 1927–1961).  ↩

  10. As noted earlier, although the year of Khenpo Kunzang Palden's passing is correct, the age given seems to be incorrect, as Khenpo himself wrote that he was in his seventy-seventh year in 1938 and therefore would have lived to the age of 81 (or into his eighty-second year).  ↩

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