The History of Zurmang Chö

The History of the Glorious Zurmang Severance Transmission Lineage: The Mirror which Illuminates the Intention of the Wisdom Ḍākiṇī

In Zurmang, regarding the stages of transmission of the Severance Mahāmudrā, first, there is the lineage of the dharmakāya. In that respect, the place is the bhaga of the Vajra Queen, the dharmadhātu which is completely pure by nature. The time is the atemporal time, which is like the fourth time that has transcended the three times. The teacher is the self-arisen teacher, the Bhagavan, the glorious Hevajra, or Samantabhadra. The retinue is that which is non-distinct from the Teacher himself, the five classes of victors. The dharma is the mother, the profound perfection of wisdom, the System of Demon Severance, the Mahāmudrā of the definitive meaning, which is free from words and conceptions.

Regarding the transmission of the sambhogakāya, the place is Akaniṣṭha (Highest Pure Land), the innate ground and essence of Ghanavyuha (Dense Array), which is the Buddha field ornamented by flowers. The time is the the continuous cycle of eternity. The teacher is the sambhogakāya endowed with the fivefold certainty, the Vairocana Immense Ocean. The retinue is that which is distinct from the Teacher himself, only those bodhisattvas who reside on the tenth bhūmi. The dharma is the profound System of Severance of the Mahāyāna, the victorious mother, the perfection of wisdom.

Regarding the transmission of the nirmāṇakāya, the place is Vulture’s Peak in the region of Vaiśālī, at Rājagṛha. The time is during the lifetime of Śākyamuni Buddha. The teacher is the Teacher, the unparalleled King of the Śākya Clan, the Lord of Sages. The retinue is indeterminate, including the Bodhisattvas Mañjuśrī and Maitreyanatha. The dharma is the stainless teaching of Severance, which is the profound union of the two of the signless dharma of the middle turning of the wheel and the final turning of the wheel of dharma which properly differentiates.

Then, in turn, Mañjuśrī the Wisdom Being taught the tradition of the profound view to the Lord Nāgārjuna. The Regent Lord Maitreya taught the tradition of vast conduct to Ārya Asaṅga. Lord Nāgārjuna granted the teachings on the profound view to Āryadeva. Āryadeva bestowed them to the Brāhmin Āryadeva. Ārya Asaṅga granted the teachings on vast conduct to his younger brother, Vasubandhu. The Second Buddha, Vasubandhu, granted them to the Brāhmin Āryadeva. Then, the oral tradition of the two chariots having been singly bestowed upon the Brāhmin Āryadeva, Ārya combined the profound, ultimate twofold intention into the System of Severance, the meaning of Mahāmudrā, and composed the Brief Treatise of Oral Instructions for Practice. Then, the Brāhmin Āryadeva granted it to Phachig dampa in India. Thereafter, this teaching was included among the Father Tantras, or Method Tantras.

The Mother Tantras, or Wisdom Tantras were granted by the Dharmakāya, the Great Mother, the Venerable Vajravarāhī to Āryā Tārā. Venerable Tārā granted them to the Ḍākiṇī Sukhasiddhi. That Ḍākiṇī offered the pith instructions of the perfection of wisdom before the Brāhmin Āryadeva, and it became known as a Mother Tantra.

Then Phachig Dampa Sangye granted it to Kyo the Younger, Sonam Lama. Kyo the Younger, Sonam Lama, granted it with many Kama and Terma teachings to the Glorification of Scripture, Machig the Wisdom Ḍākiṇī, Labkyi Drönme. Machig granted it to Sechog Gyalwa Dondrup. Sechog Gyalwa Dondrup granted it to Je Kyeme Zangthal. Kyeme Zangthal granted it to Gyanag Cherbu. the Mahāsiddha Gyanag Cherbu granted it to Je Sangye Rabtön. Sangye Rabtön granted it to Zalmo Sangye Gelong. Sangye Gelong granted it to Je Sumbha Gomchen. Sumgön Chenpo granted it to Je Drigom Togme. Drigom Togme granted it to Choje Karmapa Rangjung Dorje (3rd Karmapa, 1284–1339). Rangjung Dorje granted it to Togden Senge Pelwa. Togden Senge Pelwa granted it to Je Tsenden Wangchuk Dorje. Wangchuk Dorje granted it to Drubtop Pelden Rinchen. Je Pelden Rinchen granted it to Rupa Özer Gyaltsen. Drubtop Rupa Özer Gyaltsen granted all instructions without exception of the profound Severance to Sangye Rinchen, the great master of the Zurmang Kagyu teachings.

Lopön Sangye Rinchen was born at Tashi Zurmang in Kham in the Zidö clan. He was given the name Sangye Rinchen Nam Buddha Ratna. After that, he famously received the entire instructions of the Kagyu tradition. Je Tenzin Legshe Drayang granted him all the teachings of Zurmang, including Zurmang Cakrasaṃvara, the Whispered Lineage of the Ḍākiṇī (Khandro Nyengyu), Four Armed Mahākāla, and the teaching cycle of Ratna Lingpa (1403–1479). He became the holder of the Zurmang teachings, possessed of infinite supreme qualities like the signs of accomplishment and attainments. Then, Lopön Sangye Rinchen granted the entirety of the profound instructions and texts for Severance, to Trung Karma Kunga Namgyal (the 4th Trungpa, 1567–1629), the great founder of the profound teachings of the System of Severance of the Zurmang Tradition.

Furthermore, Zurmang Trungpa Karma Kunga Namgyal was the student of both Rupa Özer Gyaltsan and Lopön Sangye Rinchen. He was born as the son of Adro Chöpa Sangye Tashi, his father, and Drolma, his mother. At his seat in Zurmang, Je Legshe Drayang gave him the name Karma Kunga Namgyal. He received the lifetime lay (upāsaka) vows from Shamar Könchog Yanlag (the 5th Shamar, 1526–1583) and Gyaltsab Dragpa Dondrup. In the presence of 9th Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje (1556–1603) and Pawo Tsuglag Trengwa, he received bodhisattva vows. From Gyalse Lodrö Namgyal (the 4th Zurmang Gharwang) and, in particular, from Lopön Sangye Rinchen, he received the Threefold Jewel of the Zurmang Whispered Lineage, the teachings of Ratna Lingpa, and the entire cycle of instructions on the profound System of Severance without exception. At the age of twenty-five, he meditated cross-legged uninterruptedly for six years in Weré Cave.

He went to the 108 haunted places, and bound all the gods and demons under oath. In particular, this master became renowned for possessing the blessings of the close lineage of the explanation of Machig. Then, from the Shamarpa and Karma Tenkyong, he received full ordination as well as many profound teachings, including Mahāmudrā and the Six Dharmas (of Nāropa). He received many instructions in Severance from his father Adro Chöpa Sangye Tashi. He went to Ü, and, having taken up the position as a tutor to Shamar Chokyi Wangchuk (6th Shamar, 1584–1630), he granted him the instructions of the Whispered Lineage. He went to Kham, and by means of teaching and practice, he extensively enacted the benefit of the teachings and sentient beings. Having composed many treatises, instruction manuals, and so forth, on Severance, he spread and upheld great waves of the Severance teachings. He showed many signs of accomplishment, including depositing text volumes and mālas in the sky, and leaving handprints in stone. Ultimately, this miraculous manifestation departed as a sambhogakāya on the fifteenth day of the waxing moon.

Both Zurmang Lopön Sangye Rinchen and Trung Kunga Namgyal granted these teachings to Zurmang Gharwang Karma Tenkyong (the 5th Zurmang Gharwang). Gharwang Karma Tenkyong was prophesied by both the 6th Gyalwa Shamar and Gyalwa Shanag (10th Karmapa) to be the rebirth of Gyalse Lodrö Namgyal. Je Kunga Namgyal granted him the cycle of the Zurmang Whispered Lineage and the Dzogchen Heart Essence of the Ḍākiṇīs (Khandro Nyingtik), and exceptional experience and realization arose in him. He enlisted as his servant the Mantra Protectress Yukyang. Lopön Sangye Rinchen granted him the teaching cycle of Ratna [Lingpa]. In particular, both Sangye Rinchen and Trung Kunga Namgyal granted him the cycle of profound instructions on the Zurmang Tradition of the System of Severance in its entirety. He received full monastic ordination from Shamar Konchog Yanlag and was given the name Karma Tenkyong. He composed many treatises, such as the Notes on the Zurmang Whispered Lineage. Zurmang Gharwang Tenkyong granted these teachings to both Chetsang Sonam Gyurme and Zurmang Konchog Tenzin.

Furthermore, Chetsang Sonam Gyurme was born into the same family lineage as the Saru Chöpa father and son, Khenpo Ngawang Tenpay Dorje, and so forth. He relied on such teachers as the 6th Shamar Chokyi Wangchuk and the 10th Karmapa Chöying Dorje. Zurmang Gharwang Karma Tenkyong granted him the Whispered Lineage of the Ḍākiṇī and limitless instructions on the Zurmang Severance Tradition. When the Bon King of Beri (d. 1640) imprisoned him, he displayed the manifestation of two bodies and was expelled by an army of a phantom troop of murderers. Having enlisted all the gods and demons as his servants, he gained siddhis such as the accomplishment of fulfilling all requested activities.

Zurmang Konchog Tenzin was born at Zurmang Üpatsang. He was renowned as the rebirth of Lodrö Kunga. Kyodrag Lama gave him the name “Konchog Tenzin.” He received many instructions from the Karmapa father and his seven sons. In particular, Zurmang Gharwang Karma Tenkyong granted him the teaching cycle of the Zurmang Whispered Lineage, the terma teaching of Ratna Lingpa, and the entirety of the instructions for the Zurmang tradition of Severance. The fame of his accomplishment blazed radiantly. King Arö Güshi (Güshi Khan of the Khoshut Mongols, 1582–1655) venerated him, and his power was renowned far and wide. Both Chetsang Sonam Gyurme and Konchog Tenzin granted these teachings to their brother, Karma Drupgyü Tenpa Namgyal.

Karma Drupgyü Tenpa Namgyal (5th Trungpa, 1633–1712) was renowned as the rebirth of Trung Kunga Namgyal. The great Tertön Rolpay Dorje said that he was the emanation of Dombhi Heruka and the Buddha Aspiration. Both Chetsang Sonam Gyurme Nyingpo and Je Konchog Tenzin extensively granted him the Zurmang Whispered Lineage, the teaching cycle of Ratna Lingpa, and in particular the Zurmang Severance tradition. He received many oral instructions from the Karmapa Chöying Dorje (10th Karmapa, 1604–1674). He served as the tutor to King Lobsang Tenkyong (Tsangpa King, 1606–1642). On account of some threat to the Zurmang teachings, he remained cross-legged in meditative equipoise for sixteen years at Chabdo Jampa Ling. Moreover, according to the terma prophesy of Lhagsham Nüden Dorje, “Lhalung Dorje will come to Zurmang Monastery, and will gain perfect attainment on account of [renouncing the world] due to false accusations.” He mastered the profound oral instructions of the system of Zurmang Tradition of Severance, and showed many signs of accomplishment. For instance, the day after a fox died from being impaled by a spike, through the force of his concentration, he raised and released the fox healed of all injury. Trung Karma Drupgyu Tenpa Namgyal bestowed these teachings to Chetsang Karma Rigzin Sungrab Gyatso.

Chetsang Sungrab Gyatso was born to the a local leader in Zurmang Dzi. Rolpa Dorje said that he was the emanation of the glorious Śāvaripa. Having taken monastic ordination in the presence of the Eleventh Karmapa Yeshe Dorje, he was given the name, Karma Rigzin Sungrab Gyatso. From Karma Drupgyu Tenpa Namgyal he received the Threefold Jewel of the Zurmang Whispered Lineage (Zurmang Nyengyu) and the teaching cycle of Ratna Lingpa, the Zurmang Tradition of Severance, together with the profound practice manual, feast offering, and text. From the Secretary of Chab mdo, he received the Kalāpa Sanskrit Grammar (Kalāpasūtra), Commentary on the Mirror of Poetry (Commentary on Daṇḍin’s Kāvyadarśa), and the Precious Garland of Metrics. From Namling Paṇchen Konchog Chödrak, he received teachings on the Kālapa Sanskrit Grammar, Commentary on the Mirror of Poetry, synonymics (abhidhāna), Phugpa tradition of astrology, and metrics. Becoming the holder of dharma of the great tertön Rolpa Dorje, he received the teaching cycle in its entirety. He served as tutor to Rigzin Tsewang Norbu (1698–1755), Kunkhyen Situ Chöjung (8th Situ, 1700–1774), and Khamtrul Kunga Tenzin (3rd Khamtrul, 1680–1728). On account of his limitless good qualities of learning, virtue, and nobility, he was renowned as the establisher of the five branches of knowledges in Amdo and Kham. He had many scholar-adept disciples, including Situ Chökyi Jungne, Rigzin Tsewang Norbu, Khamtrul Ngawang Kunga Tenzin, and Zurmang Gharwang. Zurmang Chetsang Rigzin Sungrab Gyatso granted these teachings to Situ Chökyi Jungne.

Situ Chöjung’s biography is well-known by all, so there is no need to elaborate. Je Situ Chöjung granted these teachings to Je Gelek Rabgye, Je Gelek Rabgye granted them to Je Chökyong Gyurme, Je Chökyong Gyurme granted them to Je Karma Gyurme Tenphel, and Je Karma Gyurme Tenphel granted it to Je Tenzin Geleg Nyima. In this way is recounted a summary of the lineage succession of the Zurmang Tradition of Severance.

This was written by Zurmang Kunzang Gawa at the behest of the holder of the complete Zurmang Teachings, the supreme Kyabje Gharwang Rinpoche Chökyong Tenpa Namgyal. Please note that this is a preliminary English translation


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