Si tu pan chen chos kyi ’byung gnas in History: A Brief Note

Si tu pan chen chos kyi ’byung gnas in History: A Brief Note


Situ Chökyi Jungné’s (1699/1700-1774) history of the Karma Kagyüpa is a vital source for the history of his subsect and for Tibetan history from the beginnings of the subsect up through the late eighteenth century. His historical writing is particularly significant, for in delineating the place of the Karma Kagyüpa in the Inner Asian world, he described a significant aspect of the relations that powerful rulers beyond Tibet’s borders entertained with important Tibetan Buddhist teachers and leaders. These relations were rooted in perceptions of power, political and esoteric. However, with the triumph of the Gelukpa sect its scholars created an historical tradition that let that story pass unmentioned. Situ, writing in a time of turbulence and Gelukpa ascendancy, stood against this politically inspired historical amnesia and helped preserve a crucial element of our understanding of Tibet’s past.


The long and active life of Situ Penchen Chökyi Jungné (1699/1700-1774) is the subject of a number of papers that form this special collection. It is fitting that he is commemorated with scholarship as well as with the superb art exhibition that accompanied the original gathering of scholars whose contributions may be found here. Situ’s trans-sectarian activities in Eastern Tibet, where he clearly saw the possibilities of crossing boundaries in diverse areas of scholarly and sectarian endeavor; his role as a scholar and practitioner of Tibetan medicine and the progenitor of a medical tradition carried on by disciples; and his place as a literati par excellence (he was one of the great polymaths of the eighteenth century) were among the subjects discussed at the symposium highlighting different aspects of the scholarship of this one, single monumental savant.

The original papers presented at the symposium at the Rubin Museum cast well-deserved light on Situ’s achievements in the realms of literature, art, and medicine. One area also mentioned was his work as an historian, though it was noted that his primary accomplishment in this field was the composition of a biographical history of the Karma Kagyüpa tradition, the famous Water Crystal Rosary (Dawa Chushelgyi Trengwa). But even taking into account the fact that Situ did not complete the tome himself (it was a disciple, Belo Tsewang Künkhyap, who did that),[1] it is still a monumental work of Tibetan historical writing. The portion completed by Situ, which is the greater part of the first volume, is singularly important and illustrative of some of what others present at the Rubin Museum have noted about Situ’s style: it is a model of clear exposition, elegant language, and keen research. Situ’s use of source materials is easily discerned from the text which incorporates important narratives derived from standard works, such as A Feast for the Learned (Khepé Gatön), the autobiographical writings of Karma Pakshi (1204-1283), and others. As an example of his appreciation of primary documents we must note that his history of the Karma Kagyüpa includes the full text of the famous scroll presented to the Fifth Karmapa by the Ming (明) court.

Situ, the Water Crystal Rosary, and History

A reading of the Water Crystal Rosary gives clear indications that Situ was very much shaped by his times, both in his view of Tibet’s history and his view of the historical fate of the Karma Kagyüpa, a fate that was, it must be emphasized, very much in play during his lifetime. If one’s environment exerts an influence (and of course it does, though not along the deterministic lines characteristic of many post-modern and post-colonial writings which reduce individuals almost to mere functions of their perceived identities), an important background element for understanding the Water Crystal Rosary is Situ’s milieu, one in which the Karma Kagyüpa, having passed through some difficult straits following the blow to their political standing in Central Tibet, were engaged in an important effort to restore much of what had been lost (Situ, obviously, did not live to see the debacle that the Gurkha War wrought upon the Zhamar lineage).

We find in Situ’s large history much material that is essential for understanding Sino-Tibetan relations in the Yuan (元) and the Ming periods, periods in which the Karma Kagyüpa were central actors. The Water Crystal Rosary effectively stands in opposition to the image of the period, which emerges from the writings of the dominant power in Tibet: the regime of Ganden Podrang, the government of the Dalai Lamas. Intentionally, one assumes, the narrative presented in the work serves as a marked counterpoint to the impression that might otherwise be generated by the loss of prestige and power that befell the Karma Kagyüpa at the hands of the Gelukpa and their allies prior to and during the lifetime of Situ. The intensity of interests that underscores his other endeavors also marks Situ’s historical explorations, even though he was in many ways writing against an orthodox interpretation of the past that was informed by the hegemony of Ganden Podrang.

The period between the ascendancy of the Gelukpa state and Situ’s death saw the emergence of two major global histories of Tibet from the ruling school: the history by the Fifth Dalai Lama Ngawang Lozang Gyatso (1617-1682), A Tibetan Chronicle: The Song of the Spring Queen (Bökyi Depter Chikyi Gyelmö Luyang),[2] and, much later, The Excellent Wish-Fulfilling Tree (Paksam Jönzang) of Sumpa Khenpo (1704-1788). It is the former that exerted a strong influence on the perception of Tibet’s past; its authority continued in Tibetan historiography through the twentieth century, where it is very much felt in modern works by Tsipön Zhagappa Wangchuk Deden (1908-1989) and others. It was also influential in Western Tibetology, having received prominence in the writings of Giuseppe Tucci and much notice in the work of other historians. A translation into Chinese was made during the early1950s.

The interpretation of Tibet’s relationship with the Mongols and with the later Chinese rulers of the Ming that emerges from the pages of the Fifth Dalai Lama’s history came to overshadow other interpretations, even if added information from other sources did make their way into what became the general story. That story was one that allowed scholars to see Tibet reentering the stage of world history, centuries after the fall of the Tibetan Empire, only with the advent of the Mongols and their incursions into Tibet. The mission dispatched by Köden, his summoning of Sakya Pendita to his court, the ascendancy of the Sakyapa and their rule over Tibet until they were ultimately overthrown by the Pakmo Drupa, are all well known. The political role of the Karma Kagyüpa as we can now understand it, especially its role in shaping the “priest-patron” relationship as an element in Tibet’s relations with the outside world, is absent from the Dalai Lama’s history (and from Sumpa Khenpo’s as well).

The Water Crystal Rosary appeared against a background of more than a century of Gelukpa political domination of Tibet and an uneasy situation for the Karma Kagyüpa. The Fifth Dalai Lama’s assumption of power in 1642 followed the defeat of the Tsangpa rulers, patrons of the Karma Kagyüpa. Indeed, for the Gelukpa the preceding period had been one of troubles visited upon them in part by the power of the TsangpaKarmapa alliance. But with the Dalai Lama’s ability to use the forces of his patron and ally, Gušri Qan (1582-1654), the Karma Kagyüpa were placed in a defensive position. The circumstances were threatening and the Karma Kagyüpa, while still a school of great prestige, were forced to take protective measures. Indeed, one might see Situ’s attempts to protect the Zhamar lineage (described by Jann Ronis at the symposium) as illustrative of this. In this context of defensive weakness, Situ’s account of the Karma Kagyüpa sect’s place in Tibet’s history, consciously willed or not, challenges a crucial part of the Gelukpa historical narrative.

When the Fifth Dalai Lama writes of one of the more momentous developments in Tibetan history, the advent of the priest-patron relationship with the Mongols, he describes it quite simply, noting that following the death of glang dar ma, “three hundred years after the system of lord and subjects had thoroughly collapsed, there appeared the imperial writ of the Mongol kings, appointed by heaven to the throne of the Mañjughoṣa Emperor.”[3] Further on he writes, “Not long afterwards, the thought came to the king that he should set about doing wholly pure activities and he sent a Chinese doctor and the official Dorda and [Tibetans] came down to meet with the Mongols.”[4] And then, with the Sakyapa, in the person of Pakpa Lodrö Gyeltsen, seemingly secure in their place at the court of Qubilai (1215-1294), we read the following:

At one time when Karma Pakshi displayed many acts of magical transformation, such as gliding through waters, flying in the heavens, crushing boulders, etc., the King [i.e., Qubilai] said “Although our dishi (帝師) Pakpa is an emanation of the Buddha Amitābha in human form, the old wise one [i.e., Karma Pakshi] is higher in magical transformation and wisdom.” And so the Queen Čabi (1227–1281) repeated this reasoning in front of the lama [i.e., Pakpa], saying that if Pakshi (1204-1283) were made chief Priest [to the emperor] it would be harmful to the Sakya lineage and requesting him to display acts of magical transformation. Amidst the King’s officials, Pakpa, the lama, using a sword, made a display of severing one by one his own head, arms and legs; blessing the Five Buddha Families, etc.; many miraculous transformations which were a feast for the eyes.[5]

This account of the dawn of the Priest-Patron relationship and the manner in which it tied Tibet to the world beyond is reflective of the ruling orthodoxy. Again, given the hostilities that had brought the Gelukpa to power in Tibet and the displacement of the Karma Kagyüpa that came with it, it is hardly unexpected that such an interpretation would stem from the pen of the Fifth Dalai Lama. This is not to say that there were no counter narratives to be found. Earlier global histories of Tibet such as The Red Annals (Depter Marpo), A Feast for the Learned, and others provide sufficient evidence of a prior Priest-Patron relationship between Karma Kagyüpa monks and the rulers of the Tangut state. But the dominance of the account in the Fifth Dalai Lama’s history exerted an influence that obscured the actual origins of the relationship. It was left to contemporary Tibetology to focus attention on them. But in doing so, the field has rediscovered something already in plain sight. And one of the repositories of the relationship’s history has been Situ’s monumental biographical account of the Karma Kagyüpa.

The biography of Karma Pakshi is particularly relevant here. The light in which he is presented by the Fifth Dalai Lama is obvious: he is a siddha, of course, whose abilities are threatening to the position of the Sakyapa. Within the imperial family, Qubilai’s wife Čabi (1227–1281) is concerned that Karma Pakshi not undermine the status of Pakpa. Situ’s biography, drawing on sources that obviously include the autobiographical writings of Karma Pakshi himself, presents a rather different image of Karma Pakshi:

Then, before long, the king of the “Mongol Era” in China, Qubilai, in connection with his previous karma and prayers, heard of the qualities of great physical size of the Mahāsiddha [i.e., Karma Pakshi] and so sent envoys to invite him. At that time when he thought about going or not going he saw a sign manifesting what was like a magical rainbow, no different from the joy of the Nagarāja, lord of mantra and saying that all his karma will be fulfilled. Then, promising to go he sent the envoys back… The prince Qubilai came in a greatly martial manner and they met in a place called rong yul gser stod. Thereupon they went to the Ordu Palace and the subjects all made great obeisance. Those who were anti-dharma, like the heterodox, were subdued by compassion and miraculous transformations. When he blessed the lineage of the prince, his sons and his consorts, many apparitions of the bodhisattvas Norzang[6] and Ludrup appeared. The year in which the Mahāsiddha went to Mongolia and met Qubilai was the Wood-Hare Year [1255/1256], in which the Mahāsiddha himself was fifty years old. Eleven years had passed since sa paN, the uncle and his nephews, the three, were invited by the prince Köden in the Wood-Dragon Year [1244/1245]. Then some audacious later fools, considering the male lineage of the Sakyapa, uttered much nonsense, such as making Pakpa out to be a siddha and grand lama, (which) he was not, etc.; and there developed a very strange situation, made the norm by some similar types.

Those among the Sakyapa who are familiar with the archives and who are intellectually discriminating do not follow along with this.

Then he was requested to remain permanently, as it was considered suitable for him to act with the prince as priest and patron. However, knowing that in the future there would be much jealous strife, even Mahākarūṇa said:

Do not remain here long!

[Otherwise] much jealous strife will arise.

Go to the site venerated by all

The land of Yangpachen in the North.

Gönpo Nakpo rose up in the midst of a heap of fire with twisting swirls of diverse weapons, and said “Don’t remain here, for desire, hatred and strife, the three poisons, will come!” Many lamas, tutelary deities, and ḍākinīs urged him again and again that he needed to go to the North due to the force of earlier ties. Thus, he did not accept [Qubilai’s request] and so the king was somewhat saddened.[7]

As this passage notes, during the period in question Qubilai was still a prince and not yet Qaγan. The supreme ruler of the Mongol Empire at the time was Möngke, and he too figures in Karma Pakshi’s travels. Situ tells us that Karma Pakshi visited Möngke, and when he did so he manifested his abilities in the realm of magical transformations and in the ability to bring the imperial family to the dharma – while simultaneously fending off heterodox doctrines, in this case those of the Christians. In essence, Situ makes Karma Pakshi’s role outside Tibet as an unparalleled Mahāsiddha the prominent part of his activities with the Mongol rulers. Moreover, this is all linked to a karmic relationship between the Qaγan and the Karmapa lineage:

Particularly, when he was close to coming to the king’s palace, the thunderbolts of lightening which fell like rain were vanquished by the ascetic practice of the Tamchok Gyelpo[8] and brought under his domination, after which they were bound by oath. In his mind there rose up various ways in which, in the land called Anggi, he had had links in the three times with the great king, his consort, sons, and entourage. To wit, the king who previously had done evil and had been subdued by [the Karmapa] in the form of an elephant then had moved [to a new life] and become a wealthy Bönpo called Kampo Dza when the lord Dü(sum) Khyen(pa) was dwelling in the area of Kampo. The one who had rendered all services that there were to be performed on behalf of the dharmasvamin (chöjé) and had thus been known as the patron Gönpawa had become the king of all of China, Tangut, Mongolia and Tibet, Möngke Qan. He saw that his former consort, son, close military commanders, etc., had also been born as the lady of the Eljigin[9] (Iljikma), the prince Ariq Böke (Mari Boka), etc. Thus, due to their previous latent karma the ministers and the entourage held to the heterodox Christian [Erga Oyé = Erke’ün > Yelikewen (也里可溫)][10] doctrinal system, and he knew that because they had come under the power of many Christian priests (erké loppön), they had become heterodox. Thereupon he considered his having voluntarily taken up (human) existence solely for the sake of protecting Möngke Qan alone from the perverse road, (to reflect) what the lord Düsum Khyenpa had said: “I will come to (i.e., be reborn in) Tibet for the sake of one sentient being, and it will not be long.”

In the Dragon Year when he went at the time of the gathering of the entire royal lineage at the Ordu Palace, with the bodhi mind and the gaze of Avalokiteśvara he blessed the king Möngke Qan and displayed many pure apparitions. As the king requested him to turn back obstacles, he accepted (and did so). With no poverty of food, wealth, and royal authority, [there was] heavenly worship and as he (Karma Pakshi) proclaimed that the lama’s see was to be restored, (55r) extensive benefit was to be performed for doctrine (-adhering) beings; and imprisoned criminals were to be released (i.e., amnestied), even the king acted in accord with his words.[11]

It is hardly necessary to recall that the backdrop to Situ’s work, including his historiographical work, is the long eighteenth-century reign of the emperor Qianlong (乾隆) and the secure relationship between the Gelukpa sect and the Manchu court, exemplified by the well-known personal relationship between the emperor and the pre-eminent Gelukpa cleric in Beijing, Changja Rölpé Dorjé. This era of Tibetan history can be characterized not only by the Manchu military role in the Dalai Lama’s realm, but also by the role of Qošot Mongol power in the seventeenth century; neither of these factors was advantageous to the Karma Kagyüpa.[12] If one intention of Gelukpa historiography was to let as much of their rival’s role in the creation of the Priest-Patron relationship with those who ruled over China pass unmentioned, Situ’s work seems to be a significant response. It is worth recalling the role of the Karmapa in the Tibetan relationship, not only with the Yuan court, but also with the Tangut State and with the Ming court. We might do well to note, however, that the incarnation lineage that developed for the Changja Lamas, including of course Changja Rölpé Dorjé, bypasses these historical elements and places these important Qing hierarchs in a series of what were for the Gelukpa politically appropriate rebirths, that were particularly centered on Tibetan activity in China. The former lives of the Changja Lamas therefore included not only Pakpa Lodrö Gyeltsen but also Jamchen Chöjé Shakya Yeshé, who travelled to Tibet in Tsongkhapa’s stead.[13] This is all very much in accord with the historical view derived from the Fifth Dalai Lama’s history.

In terms of stature at the Ming court, however, Jamchen Chöjé was hardly the equal of the Fifth Karmapa, Dezhin Shekpa. And Situ’s account of this cleric’s life leaves no doubt about that fact. Unique among Tibetan sources, Situ not only provides an extensive narrative of the Fifth Karmapa’s 1407 sojourn at the court of Ming Chengzu (明成祖), he also incorporates into it the full text of the Tibetan account of the visit contained in the famous five-language scroll presented to the hierarch by the emperor and kept at Tsurpu until the twentieth century.[14] Again, it is unlikely that this represents, in the age of Ganden Podrang, simple disinterested scholarship.

And this brings us to the origins of the form of priest-patron relationship exemplified by Pakpa and Qubilai and indeed by the Changja Lama and Qianlong. The Tangut antecedents of the link between the Sakyapa and the Mongols are clear enough, thanks in part to what we find in the Water Crystal Rosary, but it is something wholly absent from the Fifth Dalai Lama’s history. What mention of Tanguts we do find is a simple passing reference to the Tangut origins of the ruling house ofJang Latö.[15] Situ, for his part, is clear about the Karma Kagyüpa place at the Tangut court, starting with the era of Karma Pakshi’s predecessor, Düsum Khyenpa:

When the king of the Tangut [state of] Xia (夏, Minyak Ga)[16] invited the lord himself (Düsum Khyenpa), he sent Tsangpopa in his stead, having bestowed on him the utpattikrama and saṃpannakrama teachings of (Dorjé) Pakmo and then exhorted him, (saying) “meditate in the mountains of Helanshan (賀蘭山, Hala Shen)!” There he served as lama to the king of Xia and received the appellation “Tsangpa ti shri.” Successively, he presented to the great see of Tsurpu first, cloth for golden vessels and facilities for the erection of an outer stupa; second, a gallery for the divine temple; and third, ritual offering items. And with a series of presentations of thirteen of the monastery’s most extraordinary items, etc., he performed extensive works for the doctrine. Then, in the Earth-Male-Tiger year, he died in Liangzhou (涼州, Jangngö) in [the state of] Xia. As for his students, Drogön Tishri Repa, an adherent of the doctrines of the Baram Kagyüpa, was state chaplain (Ula) to the Tangut king.[17]

And so we arrive at the Tanguts, but not just the Tanguts: Chinese and Mongols also figure in the accounts of diverse figures whose lives are recounted by Situ. He includes interesting information on Karma Rölpé Dorjé and his relationship with the last Yuan emperor, Toγon Temür, information that leaves no doubt that the Karma Kagyüpa had risen once more to the pre-eminent position of empowering lamas that they had enjoyed in the pre-Yuan era.[18]

All of this is heady reading in the eighteenth century, when the Gelukpa are the dominant figures. But it is not simply a question of self-satisfying polemics. This is, as I have noted, essential history, produced by a scholar of wide reading and great learning. In the area of historical writing, which was, as we have been told, a minor portion of his output, Situ displayed the same qualities of curious scholarship that mark his work in medicine, grammar, and the arts. The symposium at the Rubin Museum, from which this and the other papers sprang, paid fitting tribute to this great paṇḍit.


Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
kam po Kampo Place
kam po rdza Kampo Dza Person
karma bka’ brgyud pa Karma Kagyüpa Organization
karma pa Karmapa Person
karma pakshi Karma Pakshi 1204-1283 Person
karma rol pa’i rdo rje Karma Rölpé Dorjé Person
klu sgrub Ludrup Buddhist deity
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
mkhas pa’i dga’ ston Khepé Gatön A Feast for the Learned Text
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
glang dar ma Lang Darma Person
gha Gha Dynasty
dga’ ldan pho brang Ganden Podrang Term
dge lugs pa Gelukpa Organization
dgon pa ba Gönpawa Person
mgon po nag po Gönpo Nakpo Buddhist deity
’ga’ Ga Dynasty
’gro mgon ti shri ras pa Drogön Tishri Repa Person
rgyal dbang lnga pa chen mo Gyelwang Ngapa Chenmo Person
sgrub brgyud karma kaṃ tshang brgyud pa rin po che’i rnam par thar pa rab ’byams nor bu zla ba chu shel gyi phreng ba Drupgyü Karma Kamtsang Gyüpa Rinpoché Nampar Tarpa Rapjam Norbu Dawa Chushelgyi Trengwa The Biographies of the Precious Lineage Holders within the Karma Kaṁ Tshang Lineage: A Rosary of Infinitely Precious Water Crystals Text
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
ngag dbang blo bzang rgya mtsho Ngawang Lozang Gyatso 1617-1682 Person
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
lcang skya Changja Person
lcang skya rol pa’i rdo rje Changja Rölpé Dorjé Person
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
chos rje chöjé dharmasvamin Term
chos ’byung dpag bsam ljon bzang Chöjung Paksam Jön Zang A Dharma Chronicle: The Excellent Wish-Fulfilling Tree Text
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
tā’i si tu pa kun mkhyen chos kyi ’byung gnas bstan pa’i nyin byed Tai Situpa Künkhyen Chökyi Jungné Tenpé Nyinjé 1699/1700-​1774 Person
tā’i si tu pa kun mkhyen chos kyi ’byung gnas bstan pa’i nyin byed kyi bka’ ’bum Tai Situpa Künkhyen Chökyi Jungné Tenpé Nyinjékyi Ka bum Text
rta mchog Tamchok Buddhist deity
rta mchog rgyal po Tamchok Gyelpo Buddhist deity
rta lha Talha Buddhist deity
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
dishi ’phags pa Dishi Pakpa Person
dus [gsum] mkhyen [pa] Dü[sum] Khyen[pa] Person
dus gsum mkhyen pa Düsum Khyenpa Person
de bzhin gshegs pa Dezhin Shekpa Person
deb ther dmar po Depter Marpo The Red Annals Text
rdo rje phag mo Dorjé Pakmo Buddhist deity
rdo rta Dorta Person
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
nor bzang Norzang Buddhist deity
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
pakshi Pakshi 1204-1283 Person
dpag bsam ljon bzang Paksam Jönzang The Excellent Wish-Fulfilling Tree Text
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
phag mo gru pa Pakmo Drupa Organization
’phags pa Pakpa Person
’phags pa blo gros rgyal mtshan Pakpa Lodrö Gyeltsen Person
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
bod kyi deb ther dpyid kyi rgyal mo’i glu dbyangs Bökyi Depter Chikyi Gyelmö Luyang A Tibetan Chronicle: The Song of the Spring Queen Text
bon po Bönpo Organization
byang ngos Jangngö Liangzhou (涼州) Place
byang la stod Jang Latö Place
byams chen chos rje Jamchen Chöjé Person
byams chen chos rje shākya ye shes Jamchen Chöjé Shakya Yeshé 1354-1435 Person
byams chen chos rje shākya ye shes Jamchen Chöjé Shakya Yeshé Person
dbu bla Ula state chaplain Term
’ba’ dbram bka’ brgyud pa Baram Kagyüpa Organization
’be lo tshe dbang kun khyab Belo Tsewang Künkhyap Author
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
mi nyag ’ga’ Minyak Ga Tangut [state of] Xia Place
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
tsong kha pa Tsongkhapa Person
gtsang pa Tsangpa Organization
gtsang pa ti shri Tsangpa Tishri Person
gtsang po pa Tsangpopa Person
rtsis dpon zhwa sgab pa dbang phyug bde ldan Tsipön Zhagappa Wangchuk Deden 1908-1989 Person
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
mtshur phu Tsurpu Place
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
zhwa dmar Zhamar Person
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
zla ba chu shel gyi phreng ba Dawa Chushelgyi Trengwa Water Crystal Rosary Text
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
’ang gi Anggi Place
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
yangs pa Yangpa Place
yangs pa can Yangpachen Place
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
rong yul gser-stod Rongyül Sertö Place
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
shākya ye shes Shakya Yeshé 1354-1435 Person
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
sa skya pa Sakyapa Organization
sa skya paṇḍita Sakya Pendita Person
si tu Situ 1699/1700-​1774 Person
si tu chos kyi ’byung gnas Situ Chökyi Jungné 1699/1700-​1774 Author
si tu paṇ chen Situ Penchen 1699/1700-​1774 Author
si tu paṇ chen chos kyi ’byung gnas Situ Penchen Chökyi Jungné 1699/1700-​1774 Author
sum pa mkhan po Sumpa Khenpo 1704-1788 Person
sum pa ye shes dpal ’byor Sumpa Yeshé Penjor Person
sum pa ye shes dpal ’byor Sumpa Yeshé Penjor Author
slob dpon Loppön Term
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
er ka’i slob dpon erké loppön Christian priests Term
er ga ’o ye Erga Oyé heterodox Christian Organization

[page 14]

Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
ācārya Term
Amitābha Buddhist deity
Avalokiteśvara Buddhist deity
Bodhi Term
Buddha Amitābha Buddhist deity
ḍākinī Term
Hayagrīva Buddhist deity
Indra Non-buddhist deity
Jambhala Buddhist deity
Mahākarūṇa Buddhist deity
Mahāsiddha Buddhist deity
Mañjughoṣa Buddhist deity
Mañjuśrī Buddhist deity
Nagarāja Buddhist deity
saṃpannakrama Term
siddha Term
utpattikrama Term
Vaiśravaṇa Buddhist deity
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
Beijing Place
dishi (帝師) Term
ha la shan Hala Shen Helanshan (賀蘭山) Mountain
Ming () Dynasty
Ming Chengzu (明成祖) Person
Qianlong (乾隆) Person
Qing Dynasty
Yelikewen (也里可溫) Organization
Yuan () Dynasty
Xia () Dynasty
Extended Wylie Phonetics English Sanskrit Chinese Other Date Type
ma ri bo ka Mari Boka Ariq Böke (Mon.) Person
Ärkä’ün (Mon.) Organization
Erke’ün (Mon.) Organization
Čabi (Mon.) 1227–1281 Person
Dorda (Mon.) Person
il jig ma Iljikma Eljigin (Mon.) Clan
Gušri Qan (Mon.) 1582-1654 Person
Köden (Mon.) Person
Küiteni (Mon.) Person
Möngke Qan (Mon.) Person
Möngke (Mon.) Person
Qaγan (Mon.) Term
Qonqïrat (Mon.) Clan
Qošot (Mon.) Ethnicity
Qubilai (Mon.) 1215-1294 Person
Toγon Temür (Mon.) Person



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Ratchnevsky, Paul. Un code des Yüan. Paris: Collége de France-Institut des hautes études chinoises, 1985.

Rgyal dbang lnga pa chen mo. Bod kyi deb ther dpyid kyi rgyal mo’i glu dbyangs [A Tibetan Chronicle: The Song of the Spring Queen]. Beijing: Minzu Chubanshe, 1988.

Si-tu Paṇ-chen Chos-kyi-’byuṅ-gnas [Situ Penchen Chökyi Jungné] and ’Be-lo Tshe-dbaṅ-kun-khyab [Belo Tsewang Künkhyap]. History of the Karma Bka-ʼbrgyud-pa Sect: Being the Text of “Sgrub brgyud Karma Kaṃ tshang brgyud pa rin po cheʼi rnam par thar pa rab ʼbyams nor bu zla ba chu śel gyi phreṅ ba” [Sgrub brgyud karma kaṃ tshang brgyud pa rin po che’i rnam par thar pa rab ’byams nor bu zla ba chu shel gyi phreng ba, The Biographies of the Precious Lineage Holders within the Karma Kaṁ Tshang Lineage: A Rosary of Infinitely Precious Water Crystals]. New Delhi: D. Gyaltsan and Kesang Legshay, 1972.

Sperling, Elliot. “Karma Rol-pa’i rdo-Rje and the Re-Establishment of Karma-pa Political Influence in the 14th Century.” In The Relationship Between Religion and State (chos srid zung ’brel) in Traditional Tibet, edited by Christoph Cüppers. Lumbini: Lumbini International Research Institute, 2005: 229-244.

——— “Lama to the King of Hsia.” The Journal of the Tibet Society 7 (1987): 31-50.

Stein, R. A. “Mi-ñag et Si-hia.” Bulletin de l’Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient 44 (1951): 223-265.

Sumpa Yeshé Penjor. Chöjung Paksam Jön Zang [A Dharma Chronicle: The Excellent Wish-Fulfilling Tree]. Lanzhou: Gansu Minzu Chubanshe, 1992.



[1] See D. Gyaltsen and Kesang Legshay, “Preface,” in Si-tu Paṇ-chen Chos-kyi-’byuṅ-gnas [Situ Penchen Chökyi Jungné] and ’Be-lo Tshe-dbaṅ-kun-khyab [Belo Tsewang Künkhyap], History of the Karma Bka-ʼbrgyud-pa Sect: Being the Text of “Sgrub brgyud Karma Kaṃ tshang brgyud pa rin po cheʼi rnam par thar pa rab ʼbyams nor bu zla ba chu śel gyi phreṅ ba” [Drupgyü Karma Kamtsang Gyüpa Rinpoché Nampar Tarpa Rapjam Norbu Dawa Chushelgyi Trengwa, The Biographies of the Precious Lineage Holders within the Karma Kaṁ Tshang Lineage: A Rosary of Infinitely Precious Water Crystals] (New Delhi: D. Gyaltsan and Kesang Legshay, 1972), hereafter referred to as the Water Crystal Rosary (Dawa Chushelgyi Trengwa).
[2] Gyelwang Ngapa Chenmo, Bökyi Depter Chikyi Gyelmö Luyang (Beijing: Minzu Chubanshe, 1988).
[3] rje ’bangs kyi go rim rnam par zhig nas lo sum brgya [89] lhag pa ’das pa’i dus/ ’Jam dbyangs gong ma’i khri la gnam skos hyi rgyal po ḥor gyi lung byung ba yin no/ / (Gyelwang Ngapa Chenmo, Bökyi Depter [Tibetan Chronicle], 88-89).
[4] de nas mi ring bar rgyal po rnam par dkar ba’i las la ’jug pa’i bsam pa skyes te rgya sman dang / dpon po dor rta bod du btang bar sog mjal mor babs/ (Gyelwang Ngapa Chenmo, Bökyi Depter, 90).
[5] skabs shig karma pakshis chu la ’dzul ba/ mkha’ la ’phur ba/ pha bong brdzi ba sogs rdzu ’phrul du ma bstan pa na/ rgyal pos/ rang re’i ti shri ’phags pa ’di sangs rgyas snang ba mtha’ yas mi’i gzugs su sprul pa zhig yin kyang / rdzu ’phrul dang rtogs pa rtogs ldan rgya bo ’di mtho bar ’dug gsungs pas/ btsun mo cha’us bla ma’i drung du rgyu mtshan rnams bskyar te/ pakshi la mchod [98] gnas kyi gtso bo bcol na sa skya’i gdung brgyud rnams la gnod pas rdzu ’phrul ston par zhus pas/ rgyal blon gyi dbus su bla mas ral khris dbu dang phyag zhabs rnams so sor phral te/ rgyal ba rigs lngar byin gyis brlabs te btsan pa sogs sprul pa ngo mtshar ba du ma ’dren byed kyi dga’ ston du stsal/ (Gyelwang Ngapa Chenmo, Bökyi Depter, 97-98).
[6] Norzang is linked to the deities of wealth Vaiśravaṇa, Jambhala, etc. Vaiśravaṇa, of course, is associated with the northern reaches of the world (including the Mongol realms) much as Avalokiteśvara is associated with Tibet and Mañjuśrī with China. See René de Nebesky-Wojkowitz, Oracles and Demons of Tibet (Graz: Akademische Druck-u. Verlagsanstalt, 1975): 68-9, 71, 73-4.
[7] de nas mi ring bar rgya nag hor dus kyi rgyal po go be las sngon gyi las dang smon lam gyi ’brel pa dang / grub thob chen po nyid kyi sku che ba’i yon tan rnams thos par brten/ gser yig pa btang nas gdan ’dren du byung ba’i dus su/ ’byon nam mi ’byon dgongs pa la/ klu rgyal sngags kyi bdag po dang dga’ pot ha dad med pa’i rdzu ’phrul ’ja’ ’od lta bu bstan zhing ’phrin las thams cad rdzogs par ’gyur zer ba’i ltas gzigs nas ’byon par zhal gyis bzhes te gser yig pa slar btang / rgyal bu go be la dmag chen po’i tshul gyis byon pa dang / rong yul gser stod ces bya ba’i sa char mjal zhing / de nas pho brang ’u tor phebs nas rgyal ’bangs thams cad kyis bsnyen bkur rgya chen po byas/ mu stegs lta bu’i chos log yod pa rnams/ thugs rje dang rdzu ’phrul gyis btul/ rgyal bu sras dang btsun mor bcas pa rnams kyi rgyud byin gyis brlabs pa’i tshe/ byang chub sems dpa’ nor bzang dang klu sgrub la sogs pa’i dzigs snang mang po byung / grub chen hor yul du pheb cing / go be la dang mjal ba’i lo ’di grub chen nyid kyis dgung lo lnga ubcu bzhes pa shing yos kyi lo yin zhing / shing ’brug lor sa paṇ khu dbon gsum rgyal bu go dan gyis spyan drangs nas lo ngo bcu gcig song bar snang / des na phyis kyi blun po snying phud can ’ga’ zhig gis/ sa skya pa’i pho rus la bsam nas/ grub thob bla chen ’phags pa’i min pa mdzad pa sogs cal col mang du smra ba la rigs mthun ’ga’ zhig gis tshad mar [53r] byed pa ni ches ya mtshan pa’i gnas su snang la/ yig tshang mkhyen pa’i sa skya pa dpyod ldan dag ni de’i rjes su ’brang bar mi snang ngo/ der rgyal bu dang yon mchod ’phrod pas rtag tu bzhugs par gsol ba btab kyang / ma ’ongs pa na chags sdang gi rtsod pa mang po ’ong bar mkhyen cing / thugs rje chen pos kyang / ’di nay un ring mi ’dug cing / / chags sdang mang po ’byung bar snang / / byangs phyogs yang ba can gyi yul/ / kun gyis bkur ba’i gnas su ’dongs/ / zhes gsung pa dang / mgon po nag po me’i phung po dang / mtshon cha sna tshogs ’tshub ma ’khyil pa lta bu’i nang na bzhengs nas dug gsum chags sdang rtsod pa ’ong bas ’dir ma bzhugs gsung ba dang / bla ma yi dam mkha’ ’gro mang pos kyang sngon gyi ’brel ba’i stobs kyis byang phyogs su ’byon dgos par yang yang bskul bas/ zhal gyis ma bzhes pas rgyal po yang cung zad yi chad/ (Si-tu paṇ-chen, Dawa Chushelgyi Trengwa, f 52v-53r).
[8] A reference to a form of Hayagrīva. Cf. Nebesky-Wojkowitz, Oracles and Demons, 306, on Talha, as horse protectors, but even more pointedly, see Sarat Chandra Das, A Tibetan-English Dictionary (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1973), 531, in which Tamchok is the legendary horse associated with Indra.
[9] See John Andrew Boyle, The Successors of Genghis Khan (New York: Columbia University Press, 1971), 198: “(Möngke’s) other concubine was called Küiteni, of the Eljigin bone.” Note 17 on the same page glosses Eljigin as “Apparently a branch of the Qonqïrat.”
[10] On Erke’ün (or “Ärkä’ün,” transcribed into Chinese as Yelikewen) as a common Mongol term for Christians, more specifically Nestorian Christians, see Paul Pelliot, Notes on Marco Polo (Paris: Librarie Adrien-Maisonneuve, 1959), 49; Paul Pelliot, “Chrétiens d’Asie centrale et d’Extrême-Orient,” T’oung pao 15 (1914): 636; and Paul Ratchnevsky, Un code des Yüan (Paris: Collége de France-Institut des hautes études chinoises, 1985), I 208.
[11] khyad par rgyal po’i pho brang du pheb par nye ban na/ gnam lcag kyi thog char bzhin du phab pa rta mchog gi rgyal po’i brtul zhugs kyis zil gyis mnan cing dbang du bsdus nas dam la ’dogs par mdzad/ ’ang gi bya ba’i yul du rgyal po chen po yum sras ’khor bcas dang dus gsum du ’brel tshul sna tshogs thugs la shar/ de yang sngon glang po che’i gzugs kyis sdig spyod kyi rgyal po btul nas gnas spar ba de/ rje dus mkhyen kam pa gnas nang na bzhugs tshe kam po rdza la bya bar bon po ’byor ba can zhig tu gyur/ zhabs thog thams cad bsgrubs ji yod chos rje’i phyogs su btang bas yon bdag dgon pa bar grags pa da/ rgya my nyag hor bod thams cad kyi rgyal po mon gor gan tu gyur te/ sngon gyi btsun mo sras nye du dmag dpon la sogs pa rnams kyang dpon mo il jig ma dang / rgyal bu a rib o ka sogs skyes par gzigs/ des na sngon gyi bg chaga kyis rgyal blon ’khor bcas kyis mu stegs er ga ’o yi grub mtha’ ’dzin cing / er ka’i slob dpon mang po’i dbang du gyur pas mu stegs su ’gyur ba mkhyen nas/ mo gor gang cig pu lam log pa las bskyab pa’i ched kho nar rje nyid kyis bsams bzhin du srid pa bzung ba ste/ rje dus gsun mkhyen pas sems can gcig gi don du bod yul du ’ongs shing / yun ring du mu ’dug gsungs pa der dgongs/ ’brug gi lo la pho brang ’ur rdor rgyal brgyud thams cad ’tshogs pa’i dus su pheb pa’i tshe/ byang chub kyi sems dang spyan ras gzigs kyi lta stangs kyis rgyal po mo ’gor gan byin gyis brlabs shing dag pa’i snang ba du ma bstan/ rgyal pos bar chad bzlog par gsol ba btab pas zhal gyis bzhes/ zas nor dang rgyal srid la phongs pa med par gnam mchod cing / bla ma’i gdan sa gso ba dang / [55r] bstan ’gro’i don rgya chen bsgrub pa dang / btson rar gnas pa’i nydes can ’don par bka’ stsal pas/ rgyal pos kyang gsung bzhin du mdzad/ (Si-tu paṇ-chen, Dawa Chushelgyi Trengwa, 54v-55r.
[12] One may note also the various references to the depredations of the Karma Kagyüpa mentioned by Sumpa Yeshé Penjor, Chöjung Paksam Jön Zang [A Dharma Chronicle: The Excellent Wish-Fulfilling Tree] (Lanzhou: Gansu Minzu Chubanshe, 1992), 317-321.
[13] On the previous lives of Changja Rölpé Dorjé, see the major study by Karl-Heinz Everding, Die Präexistenzen der lCaṅ skya Qutuqtus (Wiesbaden: Harrasowitz Verlag, 1988). On Shakya Yeshé’s (1354-1435) trip to China, see 147.
[14] The text of the scroll is found in Si-tu paṇ-chen, Dawa Chushelgyi Trengwa, 232r-235r.
[15] See Gyelwang Ngapa Chenmo, Tibetan Chronicle, 113; cf. Sumpa Yeshé Penjor, Dharma Chronicle, 313.
[16] On the transcription of Chinese “Xia” by Tibetan “Ga” (as well as by “Gha”), see R. A. Stein, “Mi-ñag et Si-hia,” Bulletin de l’Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient 44 (1951): 226.
[17] Si-tu paṇ-chen, Water Crystal Rosary, 26v, as translated in Elliot Sperling, “Lama to the King of Hsia,” The Journal of the Tibet Society 7 (1987): 33.
[18] See Elliot Sperling, “Karma Rol-pa’i rdo-Rje and the Re-Establishment of Karma-pa Political Influence in the 14th Century,” in Christoph Cüppers, ed., The Relationship Between Religion and State (chos srid zung ’brel) in Traditional Tibet (Lumbini: Lumbini International Research Institute, 2005), 229-244.