The 7th Karmapa, Chodrak Gyatso

“Tamer of deceptive one’s negative friends,
You made vast numbers of representations of the three jewels.
Your disciples’ attainment of siddhi spreads your fame in all lands.
Chödrak Gyatso, we supplicate at your feet. ”
—from Supplication To The Karmapas (full text)

Born to a family of tantric practitioners in Chida in northern Tibet, the seventh Karmapa was heard to say Ama-la (mother), while he was being carried in the womb. At birth he spoke the Sanskrit mantra “AH HUNG,” a sanskrit mantra, which symbolizes the ultimate nature, emptiness-luminosity. At five months of age, he said “There is nothing in the world but emptiness.”

At nine months of age, his parents took him to Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche, who recognized him as the seventh Karmapa, in accordance with the instruction letter of the Sixth Karmapa, Thongwa Dönden. At four, he was given a series of empowerments by Goshir Paljor Döndrub, and at eight, he was given the Kagyu teachings from Pengar Jampal Zangpo and Goshir Paljor Döndrub at Karma Gön.

Chödrak Gyatso dedicated much of his life to retreat. He was also an extremely accomplished scholar, who authored many texts, such as a commentary on Abhisamayalamkara called The Lamp Of The Three Worlds. His most famous text is The Ocean Of Reasoning, his commentary on pramana (logic and reasoning) literature.

The Karmapa formally established monastic universities at Tsurphu and other places. He also restored the large Buddha statue commissioned by Karma Pakshi at Tsurphu. Something of an activist, he settled disputes, worked to protect animals, initiated bridge construction, and sent gold to Bodhgaya for the gilding of the statue of the Buddha at the place of the Buddha’s enlightenment. He also convinced numerous people to recite millions of Om Mani Padme Hum mantras as a universal cure for all ills. Before passing into parinirvna at the age of 53, he provided details of his next incarnation and passed on the lineage to Tashi Paljor.