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6th Dalai Lama

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Tsangyang Gyatso, 6th Dalai Lama

Tsangyang Gyatso (Tibetan: ཚངས་དབྱངས་རྒྱ་མཚོ, Wylie: tshang-dbyangs rgya-mtsho, ZYPY: Cangyang Gyamco) (1 March 1683 – 15 November 1706) was the sixth Dalai Lama.

He was a Monpa by ethnicity and was born at Urgelling Monastery, 5 km from Tawang, Tibet and not far from the large Tawang Monastery in the northwestern part of present-day Arunachal Pradesh in India (claimed by China as South Tibet).

He led a playboy lifestyle and disappeared, near Kokonor probably murdered on his way to Beijing in 1706. Tsangyang Gyatso composed poems and songs that are still immensely popular in Tibet to this day.

Early life

Birthplace of 6th Dalai Lama

, Urgelling Monastery, Tawang Town, A.P., India

Tsangyang was born on 1 March 1683 in Mon Tawang (in modern Arunachal Pradesh, India) to Lama Tashi Tenzin of Urgeling, a descendant of the treasure revealer Pema Lingpa, and Tsewang Lhamo, a Monpa girl hailing from a royal family of Bekhar Village.

There are many stories about the life and death of Tsangyang Gyatso.

There are several legendary tales about the birth of Tsangyang.

Apparently, His mother, Tsewang, had experienced a few miracles prior to the birth of Tsangyang Gyamtso.

One day, within the first month of her pregnancy, she was husking paddy in the stone mortar.

To her surprise, water started accumulating in the mortar. On another occasion, when Tsewang drank water at a nearby place, milk started gushing out in place of water.

Since then, this stream was known as Oma-Tsikang, literally known as milky water.

In the course of time, Tsewang gave birth to a boy who was named Sanje Tenzin, with Tsangyang's grandfather and Nawang Norbu with his father.

Due to this fact, legend said that he would not drink his mother's milk from the day after their birth. One day, when his face began to swell from an infection, Tsangyang could hardly open his eye, two local diviners were summoned.

They prescribed purifactory rite and said that his name should be changed to Ngawang Gyamtso.

His recovery was credited by the regent to the intervention of the Dalai Lama's own guardian deity, Dorje Dakpa.

The grandfather dreamt that the child was constantly being protected by heavenly beings. The mother dreamt, as she took a rest from her weaving, that a great company had arrived to take him off. His paternal grandmother dreamt of two suns shining in the sky.

Historical background

Although Lozang Gyatso, the 5th Dalai Lama, had died in 1682, the Regent Desi Sangye Gyatso (Sangs-rgyas rgya-mtsho) kept his death a secret - partly to continue the stable administration, and partly to gain time for the completion of the Potala.

The monks concentrated their search to the region of Tibetan to find the next incarnation, but later came to conclude that 6th Dalai lama was born outside the Tibetan territory, in a valley whose name ended with "ling".

They searched all places ending with "ling", including three in Tawang (India, bordering with Nagartse country)- Urgyanling, Sangeling and Tsorgeling. The Potala authorities took the Dalai lama from his mother on 1697 from Urgyanling.

The journey to Pota Lhasa from Tawang was 7 days, and they spend first night in Tsona (known as Cona, near Cuona Lake, China) where he slept with girls.

Responding to the strict rules of the Tibetans, he constantly opposed laws which overruled him, and eventually became a drunk.

After arriving to Tibet, Sangye Gyatso sent a delegation to the Chinese Emperor in 1697 to announce that the Fifth Dalai Lama had died and Sixth had been discovered.

The regent invited the Fifth Panchen Lama, Lobsang Yeshi to administer the vows of a novice monk on the young man at Nankartse and named him Tsang Gyatso.

In October 1697, Tsangyang Gyatso was enthroned as the Sixth Dalai Lama.

In 1701 Lhasang Khan, a Mongol king and ally of the Chinese, had the Regent, Sangye Gyatso, killed.

This greatly upset the young Dalai Lama who left his studies and even visited Lobsang Yeshe, the 5th Panchen Lama in Shigatse and renounced his novice monk vows.

Life as a Dalai Lama

As a Dalai Lama, Tsangyang had composed excellent works of songs and poems, but often went against the principles of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism.

For example, he decided to give his Getsul vow to the Panchen Lama Lobsang Yeshi Palsangpo at eighteen, instead of taking the usual Gelong.

The Panchen Lama, who was the abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, and Prince Lhazang, the younger brother of the Po Gyalpo Wangyal, persuaded him not to do so.

Tsangyang Gyatso, enjoyed a lifestyle that included drinking, the company of women and men, and writing love songs.

He visited Lobsang Yeshe, the Fifth Panchen Lama, in Shigatse and requesting his forgiveness, renounced the vows of a novice monk.

He ordered the building of the Tromzikhang palace in Barkhor, Lhasa.

Tsangyang Gyatso had always rejected life as a monk, although this did not mean the abdication of his position as the Dalai Lama.

Wearing the clothes of a normal layman and preferring to walk than to ride a horse or use the state palanquin, Tsangyang only kept the temporal prerogatives of the Dalai Lama.

He also visited the parks and spent nights in the streets of Lhasa, drinking wine, singing songs and having amorous relations with girls. Tsangyang retreated to live in a tent in the park near the northern escarpment of Potala. Tsangyang finally gave up his discourses in public parks and places in 1702, which he had been required to do as part of his training.

Capture and disappearance

Using the Dalai Lama's behaviour as an excuse, Lhazang Khan, the king of the Qośot or Khoshut Mongols, and an ally of the Qing Emperor of China, killed the regent, and kidnapped the Sixth Dalai Lama who was killed or died (and/or achieved nirvana and some believe can still be met as if alive), soon after on the way to China.

On the 28 June 1706, Lhazang Khan deposed Tsangyang, and installed a 25-year-old lama, Ngawang Yeshey Gyatso, as the 6th Dalai Lama in 1707, claiming that he was the true rebirth of Lobsang Gyatso.

The Gelukpa dignitaries and the Tibetan people rejected Lhazang Khan's installation of Ngawang Yeshey Gyatso, and recognised Tsangyang as the true reincarnation.

However, Ngawang Yeshey Gyatso is considered by Tibetans to have been an incarnation of Avalokitesvara.

While being taken out of the country, Tsangyang composed a poem which some say foretold of his next birth.

"White crane lend me your wings. I will not fly far.

From Lithang I shall return." (བྱ་དེ་ཁྲུང་ཁྲུང་དཀར་པོ།། ང་ལ་གཤོག་རྩལ་གཡར་དང་།། ཐག་རིང་རྒྱང་ནས་མི་འགྲོ།། ལི་ཐང་བསྐོར་ནས་སླེབས་ཡོང་།། (cha de jung jung kar po// nga la shog tsel yar dang thak ring gyang ne min dro li thang gor ne leb yong) ).

Tsangyang died mysteriously near Kokonor, on 15 November 1706, which is why there is no tomb for him in the Potala.

Rumours persisted he had escaped and lived in secrecy somewhere between China and Mongolia

The Tibetans then appealed to the Dzungar Mongols who invaded Tibet and killed Lhazang Khan in late 1717.

Tsangyang was succeeded by Kelzang Gyatso who was born in Lithang.


Wikipedia:6th Dalai Lama