Truthful Words of a Sage that Please the Unbiased Scholars Endowed with Discerning Wisdom

Button_Eng[An analysis on Dolgyal’s previous life as Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen]

Although they could see all phenomena from the sphere of their complete immersion into emptiness,
Those noble ones who have taken ordinary forms to relieve sentient beings
Only pretend to be ignorant, despite their uninterrupted clairvoyance that recollects the past.
As such, there is no alternative left than to rely on historical accounts and examine with valid reasoning.

Dolgyal’s coming into being after the demise of Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen is unanimously accepted by both those who advocate or oppose Dolgyal. Others believe in Dolgyal’s rise as a wrathful protector while many believe that he was born out of distorted prayers triggered by the antagonism he had held against His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama. It is therefore important to look into historical accounts and examine them closely. I have looked into the biographies of Panchen Lobsang Choegyal, the 5th Dalai Lama and Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen; therefore, my assessments are based on relevant accounts from these three historical references.

Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen was born in 1619. His own biography narrates that when he was two years old, his parents invited Panchen Lobsang Choegyal to his parental home, and he was named Choesang Gyaltsen. His auto-biography mentions that his [Choesang Gyaltsen’s] birth was associated with many good signs and that Panchen Lobsang Choegyal had also commented that the young child was not an ordinary one. However, it is quite difficult to believe this claim to be true for the following reasons: For one, he was too young at the age of two to recognise things properly and for another, it is implausible to think that he, who had been recognised as having taken a form of a perilous spirit by His Holiness the Great 5th Dalai Lama, was endowed with the ability to recollect things through his clairvoyance or other spiritual qualities. It is also difficult to trust the words of his mother who [in the biography of the 5th Dalai Lama] was called as someone with a devious nature. Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen’s mother tried her best to get her son Choesang Gyaltsen recognised as the reincarnation of the 4th Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Yonten Gyatso. However, when the divination was performed in front of Jowo Jamphel Dorji, [a renowned statue of Buddha in Tibet] at Jang Radreng Cathedral, Gyalwa Lobsang Gyatso got recognised as the 5th Dalai Lama. As Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen was a contemporary of the Great 5th Dalai Lama, one wonders if there is anything about Dolgyal in the autobiography and other works of the Great 5th Dalai Lama. His Holiness the Great 5th Dalai Lama’s autobiography is known by the name Dukulai Goezang that literally means ‘the exquisite silk custom’. The full name of the biography is The Exquisite Silk Custom: Presentation of Deceptive Ordinary Activities of This Life as Accounts of Realisations by the Elderly Monk from Zahor Who Goes by the Name Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso. On page no. 52 of this autobiography, printed in a book format in Tibet, it says thus:

‘Lak Agyal of Ge Khasa [family name of Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen] had tried to convince Jamyang Kunchok and many others with talks of how His Holiness the omniscient Yonten Gyatso [the 4th Dalai Lama] came to her [La Agyal’s dream] asking her to give him shelter and with many other such tales.’

In the biography of Panchen Lobsang Choeki Gyaltsen called Explicitly Recounting the Story of Lobsang Choeki Gyaltsen, a Bhikshu Who Teaches Dharma, Called a Garland of Precious Jewels, on page no. 118, it says thus:

‘In the Ngachen Year [1622], the reincarnation of the omniscient Yonten Gyatso [the 4th Dalai Lama] was invited to Drepung Monastery. I did the hair cutting ceremony for His Holiness and gave him the name Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso. In the Migmar Year [1624], I acted as the abbot for His Holiness’ ordination as a novice monk. At the same time, I recognised [Choesang Gyaltsen as] the reincarnation of the ‘Tulku of the Upper Chamber [Tulku Sonam Gelek Pelsang]’ and did the hair cutting ceremony for him, giving him the name Dakpa Gyaltsen.’

At the time when Choesang Gyalsten got recognised as the reincarnation of the ‘Tulku of the Upper Chamber’ [Tulku Sonam Gelek Pelsang] by Panchen Lobsang Choeki Gyaltsen, he was already recognised as the reincarnation of the same [as the 4th reincarnation of Panchen Sonam Dakpa] by Rabjampa Chakdik [Rabjampa was a degree of academic accomplishment at that time]. This was publicly made known and Choesang Gyaltsen had already taken seat at the Upper Chamber. This fact is stated in the biography of the 5th Dalai Lama. On page 58 of His Holiness’ biography, it states thus:

‘On the auspicious 18th day of the 3rd month, at Zimchung Nyongha [The Extremely Pleasant Residence], Panchen Lobsang Choeki Gyaltsen did my hair cutting ceremony and gave me the name Lobsang Gyatso. Nangso Doluk [Nangso was the name of the clan to which Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen belonged. Doluk is a typical Tibetan nick name that literally means the one who has loose belly] of Ge Khasa who had been proclaimed as the reincarnation of Tulku Sonam Gelek Pelsang by Rabjampa Chakdik also arrived [at Drepung] on the same day. It appears that his hair cutting ceremony must have been done before.’

From this, we can make out that prior to the recognition of Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen as the reincarnation of Tulku Sonam Gelek Pelsang by Panchen Lobsang Choeki Gyaltsen, he had already been recognised as the reincarnation of the same by Rabjampa Chakdik and the attendants of the ‘Upper Chamber’. His Holiness’ biography relates here that on the day of His Holiness’ hair cutting ceremony, Nangso Doluk reached Drepung. It also states that at that time he had already been proclaimed as the reincarnation of Tulku Sonam Gelek Pelsang by Rabjampa Chakdik. The statement ‘perhaps his hair cutting ceremony must have been done before’ means that Tulku Dakpa Gyalsten’s hair cutting was not done together with the 5th Dalai Lama on that day. It further implies that as he was already proclaimed as the reincarnation of the ‘Upper Chamber’ by Rabjampa Chakdik, his hair cutting ceremony must have been done by Rabjampa Chadik or someone else before.

Furthermore, Panchen Lobsang Choeki Gyaltsen states in his biography that on the day he ordained His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama, he also did the hair cutting ceremony for Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen. This happened two years later when His Holiness received his sramana or novice-ordination. The statement in the biography of His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama is consistent with Panchen Lobsang Choeki Gyaltsen’s account. Thus, His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama, who was born in 1617, was recognised in 1622 while Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen, who was born in 1619, was recognised in 1624. However, on the Tibetan Page no.3 of Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen’s auto-biography [Volume Ka པོད་ཀ་པ།], it states thus:

‘Again, the supreme Panchen who holds the vajra,
Visited Drepung, and in Gaden Phodrang [the residence of the Dalai Lamas]
He cut the hair of Lobsang Gyatso, ‘the Guardian of the Land of Snow’.
At the same time, I was given the name Dakpa Gyaltsen
While my hair was also cut completely by his own hands.’

According to Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen’s autobiography, he claims in it that his hair cutting ceremony was done with His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama. If it was the case, then, as the biography of Panchen Lobsang Choeki Gyaltsen — who did Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen’s hair cutting ceremony on Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen and His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama — mentions that the Great 5th Dalai Lama’s hair cutting ceremony was done in the Ngachen Year [1622], Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen’s hair cutting ceremony should also have been done on that day with the Dalai Lama. However, the same biography of Panchen Lobsang Choegyal states that Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen’s hair cutting ceremony was done in the Migmar Year [1624]. Thus, it is clear that either Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen did not remember the exact year of his hair cutting ceremony or he wanted to create an impression that he had received the same honour and prestige as the Great 5th Dalai Lama.

Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen also mentions in his autobiography that when he was two years old, his parents invited Panchen Lobsang Choeki Gyaltsen to their house and that Panchen Lobsang Choeki Gyaltsen gave his blessing to him and told his parents that their boy was not an ordinary child. On page no. 2 of his autobiography, it says thus:

‘When I was two years old,
The omniscient Panchen visited the vajra seat of Tibet.
When my parents invited him to our house,
He blessed me with his two hands
And gave me the name Choesang Gyaltsen.
As my karma and aspirations were pure,
An inexhaustible faith in him blossomed in me.
I received the nectars of his speech, such as the long-life initiation.
My parents were given much advice
And told that I was not an ordinary child.’

Critically speaking, one wonders how he could recollect the event of Panchen Lobsang Choeki Gyaltsen’s visit to his parents’ home, even remembering within himself an inexhaustible faith in Panchen Rinpoche when he was only two years old?

When he was not able to recollect the exact date of his hair cutting ceremony which happened much later when he was six years old, how could he remember receiving the long life initiation and others teachings when he could bare speak properly at the age of two?

Perhaps the only plausible answer is that his mother must have told him so. Even so, can we really trust the words of his mother whom the Great 5th Dalai Lama referred to as a devious mother? Her first devious attempt was to try to get her son recognised as the Dalai Lama, and when that failed, she went to Drepung, and deceived Rabjampa Chakdik into recognising her son as the reincarnation of the Upper Chamber. For the Panchen Lama, there was no other alternative than to give his approval as the child had already been proclaimed by others as the authentic reincarnation; it was also not easy for him to disqualify the choice made by Rabjampa Chakdik [a prominent scholarly Lama] and the members of the Upper Chamber at a time when their choice of the reincarnation had already taken up residence at the Upper Chamber. The fact that many were not happy with the way the choice of the reincarnation came to be concluded is stated in Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen’s auto-biography.

On page no. 2 of his autobiography, it says thus:

‘The omniscient Panchen held me with compassion
And said that I ‘might be’ the reincarnation of Tulku [Sonam] Gelek Pelsang,
༼བོད་སྐད་དུ་སྤྲུལ་སྐུ་དགེ་ལེགས་དཔལ་བཟང་གི་ཡང་སྲིད་འདི་ཡིན་སྙམ་ཞེས་འདུག་པས་འགྱུར་སྟངས་ནོར་མེད་པ་མཁྱེན་པར་མཛོད།༽
And although this prophecy came from his own mouth,
Many viewed this proclamation with suspicions.
Forming chains of misconceptions and flames of anger,
Sparks of speculations continued to blaze time and again.’

His autobiography states [on page no. 2] that when Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen was three years old, he was taken into custody by the Mongolian troops, but got released with the help of Panchen Lobsang Choeki Gyaltsen. Again, one wonders, ‘why was he kept in custody by the Mongolian troops at such a tender age?’ Probably, it may be connected to his mother’s meddling with the reincarnation of the 4th Dalai Lama. We still do not know the reason clearly. However, perhaps this and some other reasons led Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen into performing his wrathful exorcism against the Mongolians. Although secretly performed when he was in the Ge Khasa estate, the knowledge of this exorcism reached the Mongolian ears; this led to them killing many people [probably men] of the Ge Khasa family. His auto-biography states thus on page no. 9:

‘Later, when I was nineteen years old, the secret of the exorcism that I had performed whilst at Ge Khasa reached the ears of the Mongolians, and [many] people of Ge Khasa were killed. On my part, I understood this as a message that the end of birth is death, and did not feel the need to mourn their death as doing so would not yield anything. So, I took it as a reminder of the reality of impermanence. However, my parents were deeply overwhelmed by the sorrow of having lost their sons and came to me insisting that I take the charge of the family.’

The reason why he performed the wrathful exorcism against the Mongolian troops in Tibet could be because of his long standing antagonism against the Mongolian Army in Tibet for two reasons. First, they had kept him and his parents under captivity when he was only three years old. He must have nurtured a strong hatred against the Mongolians for keeping him as a prisoner at such a tender age.

Secondly, these Mongolian troops were brought from Mongolia by Desi Sonam Rabten, the principle attendant of Gyalwa Yonten Gyatso, [the 4th Dalai Lama] who escaped to Mongolia when Tsangpa Depa’s government in Tibet at that time was very critical of the Geluk tradition. In order to defeat Tsangpa Depa, he brought the Mongolian troops which ultimately succeeded and His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama was thus enthroned by the Mongolians as the spiritual and political head of Tibet. The year of the 5th Dalai Lama’s establishment of the Gaden Phodrang Government was in 1642, the Water-Horse Year. Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen’s exorcism was performed in 1638, the Earth-Tiger Year. At that time, it appears that both the Dalai Lama and Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen enjoyed almost similar kinds of respect and honour in Drepung Monastery. Both of them were seen as the reincarnations of the two most respected Lamas of Drepung. There was only a two year age difference between them. So, in Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen’s mind, a sense of competition and rivalry must have taken root as his mother’s initial efforts to get him recognised as the reincarnation of the 4nd Dalai Lama was futile, although he still got the position of one of the highest Lamas in Drepung. At that time, the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation was respected more widely in Tibet than the reincarnation of Panchen Sonam Dakpa, a student of the 2nd Dalai Lama, whose recognition and prestige were limited within the premises of Drepung and its branch monasteries. The 2nd Dalai Lama became the throne holder of Gaden, Sera, and Drepung. The 1st Dalai Lama was a direct disciple of Tsongkhapa, and was known to be the reincarnation of Dromptonpa. He built Tashi Lhunpo Monastery. The 2nd Dalai Lama was a non-sectarian practitioner and widely known throughout Tibet. So, the influence of the Dalai Lama was widespread in Tibet even before the 5th Dalai Lama. Besides, if Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen was not the real reincarnation of Tulku Sonam Gelek Pelsang [as according to the biography of the 5th Dalai Lama], it is possible that he had a very ordinary perception of life and a strong liking for rank, respect and power, and circumstances could have helped to brew in him a strong dislike for the 5th Dalai Lama.

Foreseeing the inevitable outcome of Tsangpa Depa’s [the clan that ruled Tibet at that time] defeat, Tulku Dakpa Gyalsten might not have been happy to see the 5th Dalai Lama’s ascend to become the most respected religious and political figure in Tibet. So, he must have dreaded the Mongolians who were supportive of the 5th Dalai Lama and performed exorcisms to stop their influence in Tibet. The 3rd Dalai Lama visited Mongolia and died there. The 4th Dalai Lama was born in Mongolia. So, the bond between the Dalai Lamas and Mongolia is historical and very strong. Before His Holiness’ establishment of the Gaden Phodrang Government in Tibet, Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen and the 5th Dalai Lama were known as the reincarnation of the ‘Upper and the ‘Lower Chamber’ respectively. The two residences came to have that name based on the landscape on which they were built. The Upper Chamber was situated on a landscape that was slightly higher. Initially, both of these residences belonged to the 2nd Dalai Lama but he gave the ‘Upper Chamber’ to his student Panchen Sonam Dakpa. Tulku Sonam Gelek Pelsang was the third reincarnation of Panchen Sonam Dakpa. The 2nd Dalai Lama chose the ‘Lower Chamber’, probably because of its location as Tibet usually is cold and any house built on a raised landscape is colder due to its exposure to wind.

After His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama became the spiritual and political head of Tibet, Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen received many teachings from him. This fact is mentioned in both of their biographies. This fact, coupled with the volumes of works of His Holiness the Great 5th Dalai Lama, can surely challenge the much believed rumour among the Dolgyal fanatics that Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen’s rise to prominence was such that the attendants of the Dalai Lama plotted and killed him out of jealousy. This hypothetical speculation must have been swept by wind, and people gradually took them seriously although there was no evidence to prove it.

Also, if the Tulku of the Upper Chamber was more famous in Tibet at that time, why did Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen’s mother try to get her son recognised as the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama first, and then pursue the title of Panchen Sonam Dakpa’s line of reincarnations later when she failed in her first pursuit? It is also mentioned in Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen’s biography that he considered the Great 5th Dalai Lama as one of his root masters, and not the other way around. The biography of His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama also points out that Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen received many teachings from him, and not the other way around. Around the time of the death of Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen, since the 5th Dalai Lama was the top Lama and the political head of Tibet, and also the master of Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen from whom the latter received many teachings, the story that the latter was more prosperous and famous in Tibet at that time can be easily seen as bogus. The biography of the 5th Dalai Lama also says that the throne of Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen and others were restricted at the great prayer festival — held every year in Tibet after the Tibetan New Year — by Panchen Lobsang Choeki Gyaltsen, and this created much dissatisfaction in Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen and his attendants that they stopped appearing for the prayer festival ever since. All these are mentioned in the biography called Dukulai Goesang of His Holiness the Great 5th Dalai Lama. Thus, judging by the influence of the Great 5th Dalai Lama over Tibet as its ultimate spiritual and political authority; his contributions to all the four schools of Buddhism in Tibet; his own voluminous works of 38 volumes; his secret biography and pure vision-teachings, and so forth, it is highly doubtful that his attendants killed Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen out of jealousy.

In the auto-biography of the 5th Dalai Lama, it states thus on page no. 493 [printed in Tibet in 1989]:

‘During the tea break, I got a message through Jesang Depa [one of the four ministers] that it was urgent for me to pay a visit at all cost. Instantly, I gave up the retreat and went to the ‘Upper Chamber’. I offered an initiation of Mahakala called ‘dispelling all obstacles’. However, he seemed to be possessed by an evil spirit and could not remain conscious. Thus, this did not help him. On the 13th, he passed away to another realm at noon.

The fact that I felt extremely sleepy in the morning, before the initiation that I did later on that evening, was also a sign of the ill effect of the evil spirit that had occurred in advance. My retreat on the ‘White Manjushree’ came under the influence of obstacle and I had to stop it instantly’.

Therefore, it is clearly stated in His Holiness’ biography that the attendants of the ‘Upper Chamber’ requested His Holiness if anything could be done to help revive the health of Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen. It also says that Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen died after an illness. It further speaks of how he could not retain his consciousness when the Mahakala initiation was given to him as he appeared to be possessed by an evil spirit. So, this account of His Holiness clearly rebukes all claims that the attendants of the Great 5th Dalai Lama conspired and killed Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen.

On page no. 496, it states thus:

‘The great Dharma protector [Nechung] told me that it would not be good to be anywhere near the pyre when the Tulku’s [Dakpa Gyaltsen’s] body would be put on fire. I was told to go to Potala and on the 22nd, I shifted there. For seven days, I engaged diligently in prayers and practices of many recitations in front of the two important Arya Statues.’

On page no. 524, it says thus:

‘Although the great Dharma protector [Nechung] had warned us of an evil spell that was cast upon Depa [Sonam Rabten] and instructed that the stupas at the ‘Upper Chamber’ be removed elsewhere, and even when I had given my instructions on this through two of the monastic disciplinarians before I set out for the region of Toelung and its surrounding regions, the silver stupas were only kept separately, but were not removed away. The great Dharma protector said that due to this there were diseases which have now become rampant. Although there were discussions to see if it was possible to settle the matter in the same manner a king-spirit is sent away, although it is not clear how this [attributing the present diseases to the spirit born after Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen’s death] can truly be justified or not, before the eight stupas were not separated [and kept together], there had been noises and rattling sounds that were heard from inside the stupas. As it was impossible to limit people’s suspicions and speculations, the objects that belonged to the Tulku [Dakpa Gyaltsen] were taken away to the outskirt of Toelung region. The logs and others [with which the residence was built] were taken to Shar Chu Bug [a place not too far from Drepung Monastery]. At the demolition site of the Upper Chamber, my monastery [Namgyal Monastery] performed an exorcism while about one hundred monks from three monasteries recited Sutras.’

If you examine these words of His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama and other sections of his biography [read the section ‘His Holiness the Great 5th Dalai Lama and Dolgyal on this website], you will realise that His Holiness makes it explicitly clear that Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen was not the authentic reincarnation of Tulku Sonam Gelek Pelsang. He also states that Dakpa Gyaltsen was born as Dolgyal out of distorted prayers. Thus, that Dolgyal is a perfidious spirit with strained commitments, born out of distorted prayers, whose function is only to harm the Dharma and sentient beings, was the position of His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama.

As Holiness the Great 5th Dalai Lama was a contemporary of Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen, and had seen and experienced what now is history, his accounts of the truthful story about Dolgyal can be considered reliable. His Holiness had written these accounts hoping that these would help us come to term with Dolgyal’s deceptive stories that continue to betray many into the path of worshipping a spirit under the name of a genuine Dharma protector, where as the reality remains far from such dubious claims.