Morchen Kunga Lhundrub (1654-1728)

Morchen Kunga Lhundrub is the epitome of non-sectarianism, known to have upheld and respected many lineages equally and without any problems. As a highly influential master of the Sakya tradition, he was also revered by the Gelugpas as a lineage master of Naropa’s Vajrayogini. Within his own sect, Morchen was revered as a lineage holder of the Sakya Path and Result.

His early life was typical of great masters, having being recognised at a young age and ordained by the 28th Sakya Throne Holder Jamgon Amyeshab who later would confer upon Morchen may initiations and transmissions. These included a long life initiation, rong tsong’s six transmissions of the Perfect Wisdom and an initiation into Mahakala’s practice.

As a young monk, Morchen would travel to Sakya where he met with Padma Trinley. It was then that Morchen took his full ordination vows from this master who, coincidentally, had conducted a fire puja to burn Dorje Shugden at the request of the Fifth Dalai Lama.

Although Padma Trinley was to be Morchen’s ordination master, Morchen was unable to receive Lamdre teachings from him – after receiving his ordination, Morchen fell seriously ill and was unable to recover in time. Thus, Morchen received these teachings from Kenrab Jampa and went on to become his heart disciple.

Until his passing in 1728, Morchen worked tirelessly to spread the Dharma throughout Tibet. He was a model of non-sectarianism through his work. For example, to passed to his Gelug disciple Jamyang Dewa Dorje, the transmission of Marpo Korsum, a Sakya practice which is part of the 13 Golden Dharmas. He was also abbot of many monasteries, including Mor, Rawa Mey and Tashi Chodey.

Morchen bore a close relationship with Dorje Shugden, entrusting activities to the Dharmapala who was happy to accept. He also gave initiations into this Protector’s practice at Trode Khangsar in Lhasa, which were received by the Gyalchen oracle. Also at Gaden Ling, Morchen performed a consecration of the Gyalchen Tenkhang.

Not all of Morchen’s works are not openly available. From what is available however, we know that Morchen wrote a ritual for gyabshi, an obstacle-clearance puja composed by Shakyamuni Buddha himself. He also co-authored the lower volume of Petition to Dorje Shugden Tsel: Granting all Desired Activities, the upper volume having been composed by Drukpa Kunley of the Drukpa Kagyu sect. This text would become very central to the practice, used in prominent Dorje Shugden temples such as Trode Khangsar and Riwo Choeling, and also incorporated into rituals written by Serkong Dorje Chang centuries later.

Morchen’s contribution to this seminal text was an expansion of the foundation laid by Drukpa Kunley, and included the ritual origins of Dorje Shugden, as well as what is probably the earliest iconographic description of Dorje Shugden and his four cardinal emanations. Morchen gave detailed descriptions of the activities of the four cardinal emanations – peaceful, increasing, control and wrathful – as well as wrote praises to them.

His writings were so influential that up to this day, practitioners continue to rely on his descriptions when painting Gelug thangkas and performing rituals to Dorje Shugden. Prior to Morchen’s writings, Dorje Shugden was described as riding a horse and the Sakyas had relied on that description when propitiating him. Morchen however, described Dorje Shugden as being on a lion throne – this has since been the only description of the principle emanation in such a form.

According to Trijang Rinpoche, Morchen also wrote A Presentation of the King’s Three Activities. Copies of it however, have not been found and thus the works only continue to exist in name. Given the calibre of his works which we have access to, it is unfortunate that more of Morchen’s compositions are not available to us.


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