In 1929, His Eminence Lobsang Nyima was born to Mr. Lobsang Tsering and Mrs., Yeshi Lhamo at Changmarsing of TsawaRong. TsawaRong is of Tsawa Gang Rong (Range and plain) an integral part Khan MarDzoSer-soom. He was born on a lunar eclipse day considered very auspicious. His mother dreamt of preparing a throne and enthronement ceremonies prior to his welcome birth. He had his initial basic studies of writing, reading and Nyingma traditional rituals from Gen Ngawang Yeshi, a reputed Nyingma scholar. He, due to his strong past affinity to the practice of Dharma, would often act as a spiritual master to his fellow friends even during plays.
At the tender age of 12, he entered his native monastery Dagyul Wogthang Gon and received his novice vows from Venerable Rabten, the abbot of the monastery. Intelligent and great being as he is, he learnt all the rituals practices (Mahayana Buddhism) of the monastery and thoroughly mastered all of the monastery tradition of mandala making, playing all sorts of religious instruments etc plus grammar and literature within an amazingly short period impressing one and all.
In 1945, at the age of 17, aspiring for more knowledge, he set on for central Tibet enrolling himself into Drepung Loseling monastic University whole-heartedly sub-merged into the great monastic studies of the ‘five Treatises of Buddhism’ under the spiritual masters of His contemporary including the famed two great Tutors of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. During more than 12 years prior to 1959, true to his great potential, he had memorized a mind blowing number of Texts verbatim and actively participated in various Intra and Inter monastic Debates like Jan-gunchoe (Annual Inter Monastic Debate on Pramana (logic) at Jang) which he did not miss even once.
All these under a very meager living amenities, well illustrated by his repeated running out of Tsampa (Burley flour) to return from memorizing Text-retreats at secluded caves only in search of some Tsampa. Once, in such a situation, he saw a deer-carcass at the mouth of his cave on his return to the monastery, a real gift to a sincere aspirant by the Dharma Protectors-enabling him to continue his pursuit.
Being very well versed in all the Tantric Rituals he was approached by the merchants co- of mardo Ser-soon to become an attendant at a Temple built and managed by them near Lhasa.
Despite a very hard living as a Dharma student, he blankly declined the prospect of a very lucrative life as a Temple attendant, giving higher priority to long term goal for which he had left his native and parents over short term material gains.
He had the great opportunity to study under spiritual masters of the calibre Gyalrong Khensur rinpoche Jampel Samphel, Tsulkhang Khensur Gen Yeshi Thupten, Phara Khenchen Gen Pema Gyaltsen, Phara Gen Atso, Sharkor KhenRinpoche Gen Nyima Gyaltsen, Toetsam TulkuJampel Thinley Yonten Gyatso, Tehor Geshe Sonam Gonpo, Denma Lochoe Rinpoche, Gen Jamyang Nyima etc.
He also had the great privilege to attend the sacred teaching of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, His Holiness 19th Panchen Rinpoche Ertini Choekyi Gyaltsen, Kyabje Yongzin Ling Rinpoche, Kyabje Trijaing Rinpoche, Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche, Kyabje Song Rinpoche, Kyabje Chogyed Trichen Rinpoche, Kyabje Taklung Tsetul Rinpoche, Kyabje Trulshig Rinpoche, and many other scholar-saints of all four lineages of Tibetan Buddhism.
He shouldered the obligatory one-year duty of housemaster of Tsawa Khangtsen with great efficiency while in Madhyamaka class.
He initially planned to be a wandering hermit at unspecified caves, but the Chinese invasion shattered his dream and he followed His Holiness the Dalai Lama into India bypassing Bhutan.
Having had to feed on ‘beetle leaves himself for several days en-route his escape enhanced his reverence for the Great Yogi Milerapa.
Like his fellow monks, he continued his monastic studies at Buxar, in North-east India post -1959. Above his rigorous studies, he had been taking many lessons for the young aspirants and compounded by acclimatization, unhygienic environment, malnutrition, he suffered lung Tuberculosis (Very much a dreaded one then).
He, along-with other patients were sent to a Christian Hospital in South India for treatment.
During his two years at the hospital, he also learnt some basics of English above being keeping in close touch with his vast and deep Buddhist studies.
Returning to Buxar after full treatment, he was selected among an Elite Group of young monks for further studies at Sampuranand Sanskrit University, Varanasi and received his Archarya Degree (Equivalent to M.A.).
In 1972, he became a Highly Qualified 1st Ranked Lharampa Geshe and through his debate and answers, his reputation as a great scholar got noticed and soared eternally witnessed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and many other renowned scholars at a high level examination conducted at Dharamsala for the Lharampas on His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s behest.
Unquenched yet, he took great effort to master the Tantric teachings and received all the sacred transmissions instructions from scores of spiritual masters like His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and others. His brief study of Sanskrit at Varanasi had made a great difference while studying Tantric, later.
He then moved on to Gyudmed Tantric University (at Dhalhousie then) and made maximum out of his one-year by building on his already sound foundation of Tantra. In fact, gifted with exceptional intelligence and determination, he became to embody a holistic Sutra and Tantra practices in all its forms.
In 1974, he was appointed as the abbot of Gyudmed Tantric University by His Holiness Dalai Lama coinciding the Holy arrival of Jetsun Sherab Senge’s gold-copper stature ( placed in the prayer hall at present) from Nepal was believed to be a very auspicious sign. His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his two supreme Tutors especially Kyabje Trijaang Rinpoche had taken special responsibility in making this statue a very holy one by giving many unbelievably hard to get relics to be placed inside the statue.
On the day of his enthronement as the abbot a statue of Jetsun Sherab Senge got dismantled on it’s own. Many read it as the arrival of Je Sherab Senge in person rendering no need for a statue.
His abbotship saw Gyudmed Tantric University making great stride forward in preserving the old sacred curriculums as he himself is very familiar with all aspects of it.
Many elder monks felt that the sudden disappearance of khar-nga (Drum as a ringing Bell to call prayers etc) on the evening of his successful completion of Abbot reaffirms him as the true manifestation of Je Sherab Senge.
In 1976 (fire-Dragon year), he was summoned to Ladhak by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to attend the Kalachakra Initiation there. Soon, he was appointed as the Abbot of Namgyal Monastery (His Holiness’s Private monastery). The monastery is among many other rich in unique tradition of kalachakra and hence it was very important for him to get familiar and master the Kalachakra Tantra. He was formally enthroned as the abbot of Namgyal monastery in 1976 on the auspicious occasion of Lhabab Thuechen 23rd 9th Tibetan Calendar (Buddha’s Decent from Heaven). During his over 10-years at Namgyal Monastery under the supreme guidance and supervision of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he revamped whole set-up of it into a systematic 10-year studies ranging from Duedra (preliminary collected works on dialectics) to the highest level of Tantra class. And the successful graduation of 1st batch of the monastery in 1985 impressed and won many accolades from all fronts. All these years, he had teachings on all subjects from Duedra to Tantra and going on supervising-rounds at the Debating courtyard whenever time permits him.
In 1983, he, ascended the Throne of Jangtse Choeje (immediate stoppage post to Golden Gaden throne from Gaden Jangtse side) above being the abbot of Namgyal monastery. And in 1986, he was relieved of the responsibility of Namgyal Monastery Abbot and His Holiness the Dalai Lama – showed during an audience with him seeking departure leave great pleasure at his sincere effort and hard work put, giving Namgyal monastery a face-lift and urge him to continue teaching the youngsters at Drepung Loseling monastery University.
Namgyal monastery, in gratitude for his great deeds offered him Tenshuk (Request for Eternal-life) prayers before he left for South India.
Back in Drepung Monastic University reputed to be the 2nd Nalanda University of yore India, he continued his extensive teachings of all five major Texts from Duedra to Abhidharmakosh /Vinaya as per His Holiness’s guidance.
Also, had Tantra lessons for Geshes bringing daily classes up to 7-8 periods of 1 hour. He bestowed hundreds of novice vows and many Bhikshu (fully ordained) vows to the monks.
He, seeing the urgent need to have Geshe Lharampas worth the prestigious title and in consultation with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, took the pioneering initiative and responsibility to make the exams very authentic, transparent and strict one, introducing a 3 debates per subject of the Five Major Texts. This was certainly a great milestone in the long glorious history of Gelugpa order of Tibetan Buddhism paving way for later more systematic present day Annual Gelug Monastic University Examination appeared only by top cream layers of all major Gelug Monasteries mainly Sera Drepung Gaden.
And in 1994, he deservingly ascended the Golden Throne of Lama Je Tsongkha and thus became the 100th Gaden Tripa Rinpoche. There is a popular saying among our predecessors that 100th Gaden Tripa would be a manifestation of the great Je Tsongkha in person, gaining an added significance. In 2001 (iron-Dragon year), he was conferred the coveted Honorary Doctorate Degree by Tibetan Institute of Higher Studies, Varanasi for his all-round knowledge on both Sutra and Tantra.
Backed by unwavering, rational and reasoned faith, he has always been a staunch supporter of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s supreme vision and lent helping hand whenever necessary. His sincerity and wholehearted shouldering of every responsibility won him the heart of everyone. It was no different when the ugly ‘Shukten controversy’ wreaked havoc in Tibetan society. He stood solidly behind His Holiness and made several public statements making clear of his and the official support of the Gelugpa Order to His Holiness the Dalai Lama on this issue.
Later that year, he on behalf of His Holiness gave discourses on LamTso Nam-soom (3-principal paths to enlightenment) and White Tara Long-life Initiations to over 4 lakhs of people from around the globe at a special Monlam Chenmo of SeDreGa-soom at Both Gaya.
And a great misfortune befell us around that time in the form of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s severe food poisoning, rendering all Tibetans senseless in desperation. He very much moved and saddened at the grave prospect, fore-going many prostrations and kneeling in front of him, with tearful eyes pleaded with His Holiness to live eternally muttering the following spontaneous sincere words from the core of his heart
“Helpless people of the Snow Land (Tibet)
Until the very end of Samsaric world
With unmatched three divine deeds of yours
Be provided the four excellences (of dharma, wealth, wish
And nirvana) with your Eternal-living.”
This, His Holiness had reiterated on several occasions, had been a real Tenshuk (prayer for Eternal-Living) and a catalyst for his intentional speedy recovery. He is not only well versed in spiritual matters but also mastered the intricate arts of poetry and grammar. His great work of writing includes
Religious history and prayers for Lineages of abbots of Gyudmed Tantric Monastery.
An eulogy of Maitreya (Gyalwa Jampa)
Prayers for rebirth in the Land of Blissful.
Eulogy of Rigchema.
Three-realms-summoning iron-hook of Fortune summoning Ritual.
Prayers for long-life and swift return of incarnations of many high Lamas
and many others.
His teachings have effected many spiritual masters of the caliber Gyutoe Khensur Tsulkhang Gen Dorje, Tehor Trungsar Tulku, Tsawa Lhading Tulku and most of the present young Tulkus of the monastery and beyond.
Even after his retirement from Gaden Tripa in 2002, above being meticulous practitioner of a holistic Buddhism, he continued to take several lessons on Sutra and Tantra daily. He did raise the Crown of Gelugpa Order higher and higher through extensive teachings of initiations, transmissions and instructions lineages.
In short, right from his enrollment, he made every effort to simultaneously practice what he learns and he took every responsibility reposed on him in right stride, standing up firmly for the challenges coming along. All the while, quenching the spiritual thirst of thousands of devout followers of different nationalities in according to their taste and level of understanding.
All the more, at this critical juncture, he has been a reliable helping-hand to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a source of great inspiration and divine object of reverence and merit-cultivation for us followers.
Let’s pray ad wish him a very long and healthy life ahead, so vital for the Buddha Dharma and well fare of all sentient beings.
On 14 September 2008, he passed away after a brief illness at Kles Hospital and MRC at Belgaum in southern India, on the 14th day of seventh Tibetan lunar month. He was 79. Expressing condolences on behalf of the CTA, the department of religion and culture and Buddhist followers in general, Kalon Ven. Tsering Phuntsok described the Ganden Trisur as “one of the most accomplished masters of Tibetan Buddhism, who has offered great service to the spiritual and temporal heritage of Tibet.”
Source: www.loselingmonastery.org and tibet.net