Kumārādza Biography

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Longchen Rabjam


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Biography of Kumārādza

from The Jewel Rosary History

by Longchen Rabjam

It was from this noble guru [i.e., Melong Dorje] that Rigdzin Kumārādza received the complete cycle of the Luminous Essence. He in turn was born in Barsang Dzingkha in Ön in Yoru. His father was called José Sönam Pal, and his mother was Khyeza Bummé. He was given the name Tarpagyen. From an early age, he possessed great faith and compassion. He later said that his intelligence was such that he knew how to read and write without needing to study.

In his seventh year, he received Hevajra and Cakrasaṃvara empowerments from Lama Gyedor of Oshö Toteng Monastery in Kongpo. In his ninth year he took the vows of a complete upāsaka from Khenpo Tsangpa and trained in the dharma cycle of the Great Compassionate One, Emptier of the Depths of Saṃsāra (Khorwa Dongtruk). In his twelfth year he took monastic ordination with Khenpo Yerwa of Pakmodru and Lobpön Ngaripa. He received the name Zhönnu Gyalpo[1] and studied the Vinaya.

He spent five years receiving numerous instructions, including the Six Dharmas of Nāropa, from Rinpoche Drakyepa, and he studied and mastered the Hevajra Tantra under Lama Tsar Tengpa. He learned deity painting from Önpo Sangshé. He said that during a dream in which he recited the six-syllable mantra he saw the Great Compassionate One [i.e., Avalokiteśvara] smiling within a house of crystal.

He received numerous Nyingma tantras, transmissions and pith instructions from Khyungnak Shakdar. He travelled to Darpuk[2] cave where he met Drupchen Melong Dorje, who granted him instructions on Mahāmudrā through which he recognized the nature of mind and developed realization.

He then travelled to Khandro Ling in Mön as Drupchen’s attendant. He received many teachings there, including the cycle related to Vajravārāhī, and practised the approach. Through this, he said, he had a dream on the evening of the tenth day, in which Padma of Uḍḍiyāna appeared, red in colour, wearing the six bone ornaments and dancing, and said to him, "Ema! Son of noble family, constantly practise the Dharma!"

He then went to Tsurphu, where he received the entire collection of the Karmapa’s teachings from Lama Nyenré and Lama Darma Gön. He stayed for several years, then went to Dingri Langkhor in Latö and Bhutra,[3] where he met the great siddha Orgyenpa and the Karmapa, who was then seven years old and had just taken ordination. He requested all the instructions from the great siddha. After several years, when Orgyenpa requested Nyenré for the Heart-Essence, he also received the whole teaching. He then received the secret collection The Mirror of Key Points Introduction from Lama Namkha Dorje of Gyamen and many collections of secret Dzogchen instructions including The Mirror of Secret Key Points from Kaldenpa Chökyi Senggé.

He then went to Kharchu, where he received all the empowerments, guidance and instructions of the Secret Heart-Essence from Drupchen [i.e., Melong Dorje]. At that time, he had nothing to offer, so he served his teacher through body and speech. For two whole summers he painted murals in the house of Bumchung built by Dowo Repa. Of the four measures of barley that he was given, he used two to buy paper, on which he copied out texts by night, and two for butter lamps to aid his writing and food. On account of such deprivation, he was severely afflicted by lice. But this also brought about exceptional realization, which delighted the guru, who authorized him to work for beings’ benefit.

When receiving an empowerment at this time, he said, he saw Four-Armed Mahākāla in the space above the guru’s head and blue Ekajaṭī at the threshold of the guru’s chambers, holding a corpse-club and she-wolf and as tall as a two-storey building. Outside, an activity mamo with blood-soaked locks used her cupped hands to drink from a small pool of blood.

Having followed the guru inseparably for eight years, Kumārādza spent a winter in Nyuktsal cave, which had been one of the Uḍḍiyāna Guru’s dwelling places. He said that he had a vision of Vajravārāhī and his insight increased limitlessly. Just before his gracious teacher passed away he went to Yarlung, and established Tsarding hermitage in which he resided for a short while. Then, knowing that his guru had passed away, he went to Kharchu, where he met the guru’s two sons at Satek. Then he returned, initiated a memorial offering on the twenty-fifth, and went on pilgrimage to Tsari. During this trip, he said, he saw many wondrous signs, such as five-coloured rainbow light emanating from the self-arisen stone image at Neuring in Trikmolha. One morning, at a turquoise lake in the region of the pass at the base of the glacier of the glorious Crystal Mountain, he saw a five-coloured rainbow that emerged horizontally in between the clear sky and the surface of the lake.

Afterwards, when he was invited to Tsurphu by the Dharma Lord,[i.e., Karmapa Rangjung Dorje] he granted him the transmission of the tantras and instructions of the Heart-Essence. Then he went to Shang,[4] where he received the secret aural transmission and Lamp for the Eye of Concentration (bsam gtan mig sgron) from Lobpön Gompa, who belonged to the lineage of Chegom Nakpo.[5] He also received the Mountain Retreat Teachings of Yanggönpa from Önpo Changdrup in Namar in Dingri, Latö. Having met the great siddha,[6] while on the journey back he received numerous teachings from the Sarma tradition including Black Yamāri from Lama Trelungpa. He also received from Lobpön Yeshe Gönpo and others the instructions on all the perfection stage practices prevalent in Tibet, including the secret cycle, Götsangpa’s instructions, Aro’s Great Guidance Manual, the collection of essential guidance, and so on. In this way, he refined his understanding of the pith instructions and eliminated misconceptions through study and reflection.

Then, having circumambulated Tsari, which is important to the Sarma, he spent eight months alone by the shore of Yutso (Turquoise Lake), a Nyingma site.[7] He said that he experienced numerous miraculous events during this time: Jambhala gave him a jewel; the local deity Ghayadhara invited him to his dwelling and honoured him; and plate-sized bubbles of five colours dissolved into one another in the heart of the lake.

Kumārādza stayed constantly in remote places near glaciers and mountains, applying himself assiduously to the essential points of practice. He turned the Wheel of the secret unsurpassable Dharma for fortunate individuals and great beings such as the precious Karmapa Rangjung Dorje. He planted the seeds of liberation in many people throughout towns and rural areas. He even made places safer for travellers, wild animals, fishes and the like, by restricting access to dangerous roads between Kongpo and Yé, and limiting hunting and fishing, and so on. He brought widespread happiness, and wherever he stayed he pacified all forms of harm, such as hail and frost and disease. His magnificent activity was such that all who saw him, heard his voice or thought of him were established on the path to awakening.

This noble guru possessed all the signs and indications that characterise emanations of Vimalamitra, who are prophesied to appear in Tibet once every hundred years. He had mole on his nose in the shape of an A (), which remained unchanging. The Protectress of Mantra (Ekajaṭī), Za Rāhula and Damchen Dorje Lekpa bowed before and praised him, and he would converse with them just as with an ordinary person. He trained beings through his boundless wisdom and compassion and blessed their minds by means of his heightened perception. These days, teachers corrupt the definitive points of the Heart-Essence by introducing their own particular errors, but he distinguished himself from those who combine the view and meditation with elements of Mahāmudrā, Pacification, Six-Branch Yoga and so on, and go about things erroneously. He clarified the tenets of the secret unexcelled approach, and all whom he guided with compassion exhibited rainbow lights at the time of their passing and left behind relics, which engendered confidence. He was therefore Vimalamitra in person.

Manifesting directly in this way and acting for the benefit of beings, he remained for seventy-eight years. Then, at sunrise during the middle month of autumn[8] in the female Water Sheep year [i.e., 1343], he demonstrated passing away at a mountain hermitage in the Dang Valley in Dakpo. The event was accompanied by countless amazing signs, such as extraordinary sounds, rays of light, and lattices and pavilions of five-coloured light. Faithful students, headed by his attendant Gomdar, sat before him and prayed. In response, he looked upon them compassionately. After a while, he arose and sat up cross-legged, saying, "You need not despair! I have not died." Then, without any illness or pain, he offered instructions that benefitted them all and gave any advice that was needed.

When Lobpön Loden and the attendant Gomdar asked one morning for guidance about what to do after he passed away, what should happen at the end, and whether to invite the omniscient guru, he replied, "What’s that, you fools? Don’t trouble him. If you have still not thoroughly resolved your doubts concerning the teachings, then go to him. I have had discussions with Loden and the rest of you and already given a lot of advice. Do not talk so much; it will harm your ears."

He said no more but smiled as he held the crouching rishi posture and the dharmakāya gaze. At dawn on the eighth he entered the primordial state of dissolution. He remained like that until the twenty-fifth, when his body was cremated. Countless interlacing rays of light emerged from a clear bright sky. Inside his skull, which remained intact, was a maṇḍala of the five families and above the right and left ear cavities were blue inch-sized images of the noble goddess. Outside, rings and circles of five-coloured rainbow light and vertically extended spokes appeared spontaneously. Ringsel emerged from the fragments of remains, and the five kinds of relics appeared. Such wondrous spectacles inspired faith and devotion in all who attended.

Meritorious actions were then performed on the master’s behalf, and a stūpa was constructed. Throughout the month in which ritual practices were performed, the sky was clear and countless rays of light appeared in the west.

Kyema kyihü! O gracious protector,
Look with compassion from the primordial sphere,
And guide me and all other beings in existence
To the realm of ultimate peace, I pray.

It was from this noble guru that I received the profound unsurpassable teachings of the Luminous Vajra Essence, and, to his extreme delight, eliminated any misconceptions through study, contemplation and meditation upon their meaning.

| Translated by Adam Pearcey with the generous support of the Tsadra Foundation, 2024.


Tibetan Edition

klong chen rab 'byams pa dri med 'od zer. "lo rgyus rin po che’i phreng ba" In snying thig ya bzhi. 13 vols. Delhi: Sherab Gyaltsen Lama, 1975. Vol. 1: 117–127 (5 folios)

Secondary Sources

Arguillère, Stéphane. Profusion de la vaste sphere: Klong-chen rab-’byams (Tibet, 1308–1364). Sa vie, son œuvre, sa doctrine. Leuven: Peeters Publishers, 2007.

Dudjom Rinpoche. The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism. Translated by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein. Boston: Wisdom, 1991.

Garry, Ron. "Kumārarāja," Treasury of Lives, accessed January 24, 2024, http://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Kumaradza/4043.

Nyoshul Khenpo. A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems. Translated by Richard Barron. Junction City, California: Padma Publication, 2005.

Tsumagari, Shinichi. Meaningful to Behold: A Critical Edition and Annotated Translation of Longchenpa’s Biography. Create Space, 2016.

Tulku Thondup. Masters of Meditation and Miracles: The Longchen Nyingthig Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Boston: Shambhala, 1996.

Version: 1.0-20240125

  1. He is most commonly known by the Sanskritized version of this name, which means Youthful King. Although the Sanskrit equivalent of Zhönnu Gyalpo (gzhon nu rgyal po) is Kumārarāja, this is shortened and altered in Tibetan pronunciation to give Kumārādza/Kumarādza.  ↩

  2. Our text spells this dar phug. Many secondary sources have Ngarpuk (ngar phug). The letters da and nga are written in a similar way in Tibetan and commonly confused.  ↩

  3. Bhutra was the hermitage of Orgyenpa (1229–1309), where Rangjung Dorje (1284–1339) stayed briefly in his childhood. Note that some sources give Purang in place of Bhutra, but this appears to be the result of an error.  ↩

  4. Reading shings as shangs.  ↩

  5. Chegom Nakpo (lce sgom nag po) was a direct disciple of Chetsün Senggé Wangchuk.  ↩

  6. The reference here is unclear but this could mean Önpo Changdrup or possibly Orgyenpa.  ↩

  7. The interpretation of this line follows that of Richard Barron. See A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems, p. 95  ↩

  8. i.e., the eighth month  ↩

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