Royal Genealogy of Sikkim

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English | བོད་ཡིག

Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö

Palace Monastery, Gangtok

Royal Genealogy of Sikkim

by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö

The intermediate Indrabhuti, known as King Dza of Zahor in the East, had three sons: Śākyaputri, Nāgaputri and Guhyeputri. Three generations later, a descendent of the eldest, Śākyaputri, called Dharmapāla, travelled from Bengal to China. He stayed in the meditative centre of Bhatahor[1] in the Nakdru region.

A descendant of Dharmapāla travelled from Minyak to Samye at the time of the Abbot, Teacher and Dharma-King.[2] His property-guarding spirit known as Gyalpo Shingchachen[3] was appointed as the property guardian of Samye, and his descendants settled in Chongye. This royal lineage looked after the kingdom in Minyak for twenty-five (some sources say five) generations.

During Jamyang Sakya Paṇḍita’s time the family became his patrons. Sakya Paṇḍita performed the rite of Guru Drakpo[4] and took a scorpion seal as a treasure which he is said to have given to the king.[5] Then Guru Drakpo issued a prophecy to the king, saying that he should go to Sikkim. The king and prince went, accompanied by eighteen of their subjects, and visited the Jowo Śākyamuni in Lhasa. The Jowo spoke to them, and they went on to Sakya.

In the great temple at Sakya, the eldest prince helped to erect the gigantic pillars. Chögyal Pakpa said he had the strength of a hundred thousand men and nicknamed him Bumsak (‘a hundred thousand put together’). He married Jetsün Guruma[6] of Sakya. Together they went down and founded Pakshi Monastery[7] north of Gampa Dzong, where there were about four hundred monks. One brother took ordination and was appointed the resident lama. He [i.e., Bumsak] stayed at Pakri where he founded Samdrup Temple and so on. There the father died. Three brothers—Seshing,[8] Tsentong and Katsok—went southwards to the place called Ha. Gye [Bumsak] travelled through Dromo Kharchung and Chumoshong to Chumbi, where he built a house.

Ngawang Gyepa Palbar of Bhutan challenged Gyebum [i.e., Gye Bumsak] to a contest. Gyebum took three measures of mustard seeds and pressed them in his hands to produce oil. Gye Palbar asked for the same quantity of mustard seeds, then pressed them, but did not extract any oil. Gyebum then threw a giant stone to the far side of the Dromo river. Gye Palbar managed to throw it only a distance of seven steps. The Bhutanese Gye (Druk-gye) held Gyebum’s right hand to throw him but lost his grip and landed on his back. Then Gyebum gripped Druk-gye’s right hand and dislocated his arm at the shoulder blade, falling back six or seven paces. Druk-gye’s arm was plainly in Gyebum’s hand and, howling in pain, he returned to his own country. There he invoked the power of Masang,[9] but Gyebum had power over gods, demons and human beings. Masang manifested as a blue person, blue horse and blue dog and went before Gyebum. Humbled, he said, “Make offerings to me.” [Gyebum] replied, “I have nothing to offer.” The spirit said, “Put some barley and water in a large vessel and offer that.” He sacrificed an old white-heeled yak and presented it as an offering. This marks the beginning of Masang worship [in Sikkim].[10]

In Chumbi Gyebum had no sons. But among the Mön were the Guru’s emanations Tekong Tek[11] and Nyokong.[12] Three sons were born to Tekong. The youngest son took over the kingdom; he took a daughter from the Sakya family as his wife. Their sons were Zhangpo Dar[13] and Tse Chudar.[14] Then came Nyima Gyalpo and Guru Tashi, and Guru Tashi’s son Jowo Nakpo. His son was Apak,[15] whose son was Guru Tendzin.

His son was Chögyal Puntsok Namgyal, who took as his gurus Lhatsün Namkha Jigme, Ngadak Rigdzin Puntsok,[16] Katokpa Kuntu Zangpo and the Great Fifth Dalai Lama. The Great Fifth presented him with the crown of King Ja and other gifts. His son was Tensung Namgyal, whose wife, Pema Butri, was the daughter of the Zamsarpa family from the region of Tingkye in the northwest of Sikkim. Their son was Chakdor Namgyal (b.1686), who took the Third Lhatsün Jigme Pawo (b. 1682) and others as his teachers. His queen was the daughter of the King of Mustang and their son was Chögyal Gyurme Namgyal (1707–1733). It was at this time that Mingyur Paldrön of Mindrolling fled to Sikkim and the king became her patron. He took her sister Mingyur Drolma as his wife, but she returned to Mindrolling without issue.

[Puntsok Namgyal II] took Mikbabkyi, the daughter of Zamsar Kyide Pukpa, as his wife and their son was Tendzin Namgyal (1769–1793), who married the daughter of Dzöpa Garwang. Their son was Chögyal Tsukpü Namgyal (1785–1863). It was during his lifetime that Druptop Karpo and Karma Sherab appeared. To queen Mönkyi was born Chögyal Tutop Namgyal (1860–1914). After him came the one victorious in the three realms of existence (including the god realm) Sisum Namgyal, Sidkeong (1819–1874), also known as Karma Drubgyü Tendzin Dargye Lhundrup Ngedön Wangpo, who was ordained by the fourteenth Karmapa.

To the eighth Chögyal Tutop Namgyal and his wife Palding[17] of Tashilhunpo was born Tsodrak Namgyal. He was exiled to Traring and his brother Sidkeong Namgyal (1879–1914) took the throne in Sikkim.

Tashi Namgyal (1893–1963), who was born to the daughter of Princess Lhadingpa, Yeshe Drönma,[18] is still alive, as is Princess Chönyi Wangmo (1896–1953) who lives in Kalimpong. Tashi Namgyal's queen, daughter of the Rakar Shak[19] general, was Kunzang Dechen (1906–1987). They had three sons and three daughters, of whom the eldest [Kunzang Paljor Namgyal, 1921–1941] was killed in a plane crash.[20] The middle son is Palden Döndrup Namgyal (1923–1982) and the youngest Jigdral Tsewang Namgyal (b. 1928). The eldest daughter Koko (or Kuku-la, alias Pema Choki, 1924–2008) married into the Punkhang family. The middle one, Kulai, married into the Yutok family and the youngest[21] is still here now. There is also another daughter, Trinley Wangmo, from a different father.

This was extracted from Chökyi Lodrö’s notebook where it was written in his own hand.

| Translated by Adam Pearcey with the generous support of the Khyentse Foundation and Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2020.


Tibetan Edition Used

'Jam dbyangs chos kyi blo gros. "’bras ljongs kyi rgyal rabs" In 'Jam dbyangs chos kyi blo gros kyi gsung 'bum. TBRC W1KG12986. Bir, H.P.: Khyentse Labrang, 2012. Vol. 4: 689–693

Other Tibetan Sources

mThu stobs rnam rgyal & Ye shes sgrol ma. 'Bras ljongs rgyal rabs. TBRC W29205. 1 vol. Gangtok: The Tsuglakhang Trust, 2003. (BGR)

Secondary Sources

Lin Shen-Yu, “Pehar: A Historical Survey”, Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines, no. 19, Octobre 2010, pp. 5–26.

Mullard, Saul. Opening the Hidden Land: State Formation and the Construction of Sikkimese History. Leiden: Brill, 2011.

Nebesky-Wojkowitz. Oracles and Demons of Tibet: the Cult and Iconography of the Tibetan Protective Deities. The Hague: Mouton and Co., 1956.

Rock, Joseph F. "Excerpts from a History of Sikkim." Anthropos, Bd. 48, H. 5/6. (1953) pp. 925–948

Steinmann, Brigitte. “The Opening of the sBas Yul ’Bras mo gshongs according to the Chronicle of the Rulers of Sikkim: Pilgrimage as a Metaphorical Model of the Submission of Foreign Populations” in Alex McKay (ed.) Pilgrimage in Tibet. Curzon Press 1998 (Reprinted Routledge 2013.)

Tashi Tsering. “A Short Communication About the 1908 ’Bras ljongs rgyal rabs.” Bulletin of Tibetology 2012. Vol. 48 No. 1, pp. 33–60.

  1. BGR: Bhetahor  ↩

  2. i.e., the time of Śāntarakṣita, Guru Padmasambhava and Trisong Detsen.  ↩

  3. On this spirit's connection with Pehar see Lin Shen-Yu, "Pehar: A Historical Survey", p. 20  ↩

  4. BGR: gur drag ye shes rab ’bar.  ↩

  5. The Tibetan says that the king took out the treasure and gave it to himself, which is clearly an error. The translation here is based on the full version of the story in BGR.  ↩

  6. Referred to as Jomo Guruma in other sources  ↩

  7. BGR: spag shi. Tibetan source reads spag shing, which is likely an error.  ↩

  8. BGR: seng shing  ↩

  9. ma sangs. Original has ma sang.  ↩

  10. See Nebesky-Wojkowitz, p. 237  ↩

  11. the kong teg. He was an emanation of Guru Padmasambhava  ↩

  12. nyo kong ngal.  ↩

  13. zhang po dar, so called because he was born near his maternal uncle.  ↩

  14. tshes bcu dar, so called because he was born on the tenth day of the month.  ↩

  15. Corrected from la phag.  ↩

  16. i.e., Ngadak Puntsok Rigdzin (1592–1656), on whom see here.  ↩

  17. Referred to as Pending in some sources.  ↩

  18. Usually referred to as Yeshe Drolma (sgrol ma) not Drönma (sgron ma). She was the joint author of ’Bras ljongs rgyal rabs (BGR).  ↩

  19. Also referred to as Rakashar/Ragashar.  ↩

  20. An air force pilot, he died while on active service during World War Two.  ↩

  21. Sonam Palden Trateng, b. 1927  ↩

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