tulku drapka gyeltsen

(1619 – 1656)

They had banned the search for his reincarnation to this day.

They had dismantled and destroyed his ladrang until not a trace of him remained.

They had even tried to “kill him off” many times over.

This most uncommon lama is none other than Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen.

Now, let us take a good look at the illustrious lineage that this Lama stemmed from, as sourced from –

His short “incarnation lineage” includes:
0. Buton Rinchen Drub (1291-1364)
1. Panchen Sonam Dragpa (1478-1554)
2. Sonam Yeshe Wangpo (1556-92)
3. Sonam Gelek Palzang (1594-1615)
4. Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen (1619-56)

Here, it is important to highlight that Pachen Sonam Dragpa had been, among other things, a tutor to the 3rd Dalai Lama. Hence, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen’s incarnation lineage is anything but ordinary. The above lineage tree represents a line of highly attained Lamas or Enlightened Minds.

It was said that after Sonam Gelek Palzang passed away, a very unusual child of about 2 or 3 years of age started speaking and playing ritual instruments. It was also said that rainbows, lights and auspicious signs appeared around the house where this child lived.

At a very tender age, this child could remember his previous lives, recite prayers from memory, and remembered his gurus. It was said that whatever texts you gave this child, he would memorised them instantly. This amazing child was Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen.

By 9 years of age, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was writing commentaries and giving teachings.

By 18, he had already meditated in hundreds of caves, and his students said that he could see the yidams directly.

Whenever Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen went to meditate in a cave, people would often gather at the said cave in order to make offerings and receive blessings. The situation became so “over-crowded” that Tulku Drakpa had to move from one cave to another. Hence, he had to move to hundreds of caves, because he was so sought after even though he was still very young.

It was a well-known fact that Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was not interested in fame, or be revered by people or students. In fact, he did not want to be worshipped or to become famous, or meet with sponsors and etc. However it is due to his extraordinary scholarly knowledge and spiritual practice that people came from far and wide to meet him. Even, as the Chinese emperor would send offerings to him and meet with him.

Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was born during the time when the Tibetan Government were looking for the 5th Dalai Lama. As he showed signs of a most high incarnate lama when he was put under various tests, he was also considered as possible candidate for the 5th Dalai Lama. However, the Tibetan Government soon realised that Tulku Drakpa was of the Drakpa lineage and enthroned him as such.

5th dalai lama in beijing

It is perhaps due to this that Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen will always be regarded as a contemporary of the 5th Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso. They were both of the same age and were students of the 4th Panchen Lama, Losang Chokyi Gyeltsen. They studied together, debated with one another and spent quite a lot of time together.

They both resided in Drepung. Tulku Drakpa lived in the “Upper House” and the 5th Dalai Lama lived in the “Lower House”. Their ladrangs were named as such due to the actual locations of their household.

At this time, Potala Palace was not yet built and Tibet was going through a period of unrest. The 5th Dalai Lama was not recognised as the sovereign ruler of Tibet and had not been given the title of Dalai Lama. Hence, something was needed desperately to unite the country, the people and strengthen the power of a central government.

Hence, it came to be that the institution of the Dalai Lama had to be established to assume complete political and religious authority over Tibet. This is where the title of the Dalai Lam first began. This installation of power took place at a vulnerable time in Tibet. As such, all perceived threats were considered serious potential threats to the Dalai Lama and they had to be removed immediately.

As Tulku Drakpa’s fame grew, it eclipsed the Dalai Lama’s. Tulku Drakpa was often considered to be more popular because he received more sponsorships and had more students than the 5th Dalai Lama. Many people and royalty from all over Tibet, Mongolia and China would come to pay their respects to Tulku Drakpa, and request teachings from him.

As both Tulku Drakpa and the 5th Dalai Lama both resided in Drepung, this caused a lot of jealousy and tension among the attendants of the 5th Dalai Lama. One in particular was Sonam Rabten / Sonam Chopel. He was the regent during the 5th Dalai Lama’s time and became very concerned about his master’s position in Tibet. He was very devoted to the 5th Dalai Lama. Hence, he believed that something had to be done. This led them to plot the murder of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen without the Dalai Lama’s knowledge.

Sonam Rabten/Sonam Chopel and his protégé, Norbu, tried to kill Tulku Drakpa many times without any success. They tried to poison him and stab him but all attempts were unsuccessful. Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen simply did not have the karma to be killed.

When they tried to poision Tulku Drakpa, the poison would be dispelled from his body because his attainments would not allow the poison to affect his body. When they tried to stab him, eyes appeared in the places where they have stabbed him and these eys would stare back at them.

Finally, it was Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen who told his assailants how he could be killed. He could only be killed by stuffing a khatak down his throat. In this manner, Tulku Drakpa was murdered.

Tulku Drakpa has revealed the method to his death because he wanted to fulfil his earlier promise to Nechung to arise as an “Uncommon Protector”.

After his death, Sonam Rabten/Sonam Chopel and Norbu made sure that every trace of this esteemed Lama was removed and future traces of him would never be found. They eradicated Tulku Drakpa’s achievements, “doctored” official documents containing his past incarnations and removed them from his lineage prayer. They even made sure that the highly respected position of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was reduced.

Sonam Rabten/Sonam Chopel and Norbu further ordered the assassination of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen’s family members and seized their properties and lands. To ensure that there would be a future search for his reincarnation, they banned the search and dismantled his ladrang at Drepung. Even his holy relics were thrown into the river.

The Lama, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, then arose as Dorje Shugden, The Protector. It was a choice he made. It was a sacrifice he was willing to fulfil and uphold in order to become the Protector of Our Time.

This Enlightened Mind cannot be silenced.


3) The autobiography of 5th Dalai Lama
4) An Introduction to Dorje Shugden


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