Tsang-Yang Gyamtso Rinpoche

Tsang-Yang Gyamtso Rinpoche III

Tsang-Yang Gyamtso, the founder of Gebchak Gonpa, was a heart-disciple of the first Drubwang Tsoknyi Rinpoche and known to be an emanation of one of Padmasambhava’s 25 disciples, Gyalwa Choyang. Tsang-Yang Gyamtso was born in the summer of 1848 to a family in the kingdom of the great Dharma King of Nangchen. Many wondrous signs accompanied his birth and at night the baby’s body would glow with light.

His parents wanted him to propagate the family line and therefore didn’t consider sending their son to a monastery. Nor did they send him for any studies. But once Tsang-Yang had become an adult he set out to Central Tibet on a pilgrimage seeking the Dharma. There he met with the All-Knowing Gyalwang Drukpa, who granted him many teachings and meditation instructions, and then informed him, “Return to Nangchen, as your benefit for beings lies there.”

Tsang-Yang Gyamtso followed the lama’s word. On his return to Nangchen he met Tsoknyi Rinpoche, from whom he received many profound meditation instructions. He perfected his practice in all of these, and thus attained extraordinary faith in his lama. He served Tsoknyi Rinpoche unwaveringly through the nine ways of pleasing the lama; no matter what wrathful and annihilating treatment the lama dealt him, Tsang-Yang Gyamtso never once fell into disbelief or despair.

In 1892, following the direction of Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Tsang-Yang Gyamtso established Gebchak Gonpa. As it was the first nunnery in the history of the region, it quickly grew to over 800 nuns who had come from all schools of Tibetan Buddhism to join in its renowned system of retreat practice. This system comprises Tsang-Yang Gyamtso’s Mind Treasure: his 16 volumes of supplementation to the six yogas of Ratna Lingpa, including adaptations for the female body. This is what makes the meditation practice of Gebchak nuns unique.

The life of Tsang-Yang Gyamtso was full of many great Bodhisattva activities and wondrous events. In particular he received profound teachings from Ju Mipam, Dza Patrul, Jamgon Kongtrul, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, and many other great masters. To all the fortunate students who relied on this Crown Ornament of Beings, he bestowed the ripening and liberating instructions. Having fulfilled the benefit of the teachings and beings in his lifetime, he died in 1909 at the age of 63. As if dissolving into space, he spontaneously passed away into the sky-like samadhi of the all-pervading Dharmakaya.

Tsang-Yang Gyamtso Rinpoche surrounded by Gebchak nuns.

Tsang-Yang Gyamtso Rinpoche II was born in 1911 as son to the King of Nangchen, and was named Chodrak Gyamtso. He carried on the Dharma work of his predecessor and revived the Dharma practice tradition of Gebchak Gonpa. In the midst of his increasing activities for the benefit of beings, he passed away in the turbulence of the Cultural Revolution.

Tsang-Yang Gyamtso Rinpoche III, the eminent Kunzang Nyima, was born in 1973 to the sister of the Dharma King of Nangchen and so is in the same royal family lineage as his predecessor. He was indisputably recognized by His Holiness Kyabje Mindrolling Trichen Rinpoche. While young he trained in and mastered all practices and rituals of the Gebchak tradition. The present Tsang-Yang Gyamtso Rinpoche III lives near Gebchak Gonpa and continues to oversee the nuns and their precious practice tradition with great mindfulness and integrity.