Lineage Masters: H.H. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche

Junior Tutor to the present Dalai Lama

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He spent the next 12 years studying the classical texts for the Geshe degree – Pramanavartika, Madhyamaka, Prajnaparamita, Vinaya and Abhidharmakosha – principally according to the textbooks by Panchen Sonam Dragpa. He also studied the collected works of Je Tsongkhapa, the 1st Dalai Lama, and the Panchen Lama Chokyi Gyaltsen.

Diligent and devoted, in Gaden, Trijang Rinpoche would debate all night outdoors in the bitter cold, even though it meant his hands would chap so badly that they would crack and bleed. He was the top student in his class. When he was 7 years old, Trijang Rinpoche received Kalachakra initiation from Serkong Rinpoche, as well as empowerments into Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani. Later he received empowerments of Guhyasamaja, Yamantaka, Heruka and Vajrayogini. He also continued to receive instructions and initiations from Pabongka Rinpoche, including the Collected Works of Gyalwa Ensapa, the Collected Works of Panchen Chokyi Gyaltsen, and a Guru yoga of Je Tsongkhapa called Ganden Lha Gya Ma (“Hundreds of Deities of the Joyful Land”).

Trijang Rinpoche continued to receive tantric empowerments. He received the Empowerment into the Six Ways to Revolve the Chakras of Heruka (including the full initiation costume of bone ornaments) as well as all the Action Tantra empowerments from Khyenrab Yonten Gyatso, the 88th Ganden Tripa, in 1915, aged 14. In 1916, aged 15, he studied the complete Tibetan grammar and from then on composed thousands of acrostic verses, such as:

Ah Friends! While the spittle drools from the Death Lord’s smile, bleaching your head as white as falling snow, ould this tedious life yield aught but chaff? Dharma from my Guru is what I’ll practice!

He found different ways to express his devotion, composing chants for spiritual practices and ceremonies. Trijang Rinpoche also composed scores for their music for use by Ganden Shartse monastery, some of which are still used today.

When he was 9 he contracted smallpox and did long-life retreat. The illness did not become serious.

Thus Trijang Rinpoche showed that he was a learned scholar and master debator. In 1919, when he was only 18, he debated before the Geshes of the three major Gelugpa monasteries for his final examination. His young age and the fact he had only been studying for a short time led the Geshes to wonder if he would be intellectually prepared for such rigorous examinations. There was no cause for concern however, and they “praised him to the skies” for the answers he gave. The 13th Dalai Lama awarded him third place, and he received the highest Geshe degree, the Lharampa.

Shortly afterward Trijang Rinpoche received the 253 ordination vows of a fully-ordained monk from the 13th Dalai Lama. He was admitted to the Upper Tantric College, Gyuto, in 1919, where he studied the Root Tantra of Heruka and its commentary by Je Tsongkhapa, Illuminating all Hidden Meanings (Tib. Be dön kun säl).

From the ages of 20 to 22, Trijang Rinpoche received many teachings and empowerments from his root Guru Je Pabongka, including the initiation into the sindhura mandala of Vajrayogini according to Naropa, the Heruka body mandala empowerment according to Ghantapa, teachings on Lama Chopa (Offering to the Spiritual Guide), Gelugpa Mahamudra, the Lamrim Chenmo (great stages of the path) by Je Tsongkhapa and Seven Points of Training the Mind by Geshe Chekhawa.

Trijang Rinpoche was in Gyuto for one year before he went to Chatreng in Kham province where he received more teachings. In his spare time, he engaged in meditative retreat on the deities of the teachings he received, including Yamantaka, Heruka Five Deities, Vajrayogini, Hayagriva and Avalokiteshvara. He also did his preliminary practices (Tib. ngon dro) of purifying the mind and accumulating merit in conjunction with Lama Chopa; and he meditated on Lamrim and Lojong (training the mind).

Quickly becoming renowned for his mastery of the texts, in1924, Geshe Yonten of Ganden Shartse College requested him to teach. Trijang Rinpoche was just 23 years old when he gave the oral transmission of the Collected Works of Je Tsongkhapa and His Main Disciples to about 200 monks, followed later by granting the empowerment of Vajrayogini according to Naropa to about 60 Lamas, incarnate Lamas and monks. At the request of Artog Tulku, Trijang Rinpoche then travelled to Sera Je Monastery. There, he gave empowerments of Heruka Five Deities and Hayagriva to about 200 people.

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