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The Sixth Karmapa
Thongwa Dönden (1416 - 1453)

 

“Through receiving prophecies from great siddhas, yidams and Dakinis,

You display numerous miraculous abilities in yogic conduct.

Protector of gods and humans, your power vanquishes arrogance.

Thongwa Dönden, we supplicate at your feet.”
—from Supplication To The Karmapas (full text)

 

The Sixth Karmapa, Thongwa Donden, a body of liturgies for the Kamtsang lineage. He also joined the lineages of the Shangpa Kagyu and the Shijay (Chöd - "cutting through egotism") into the main Kagyu lineage transmissions - from the thangka collection of HH the Gyalwang Karmapa

The Sixth Karmapa, Thongwa Donden, is
well-known for the body of liturgies he
composed for the Kamtsang lineage. He
also joined the lineages of the Shangpa
Kagyu and the Shijay (Chöd - "cutting
through egotism") into the main Kagyu
lineage transmissions.

The sixth Karmapa was born in Ngomtö Shakyam, near Karma Gön in eastern Tibet, to a family of devoted yogins. Shortly after his birth, while his mother was carrying the young child, he suddenly became very excited when their path crossed that of Ngompa Chadral, a student of the fifth Karmapa. Ngompa Chadral asked the name of the child, who smiled and replied "I'm the Karmapa." Ngompa Chadral cared for the infant for seven months and then took him to Karma Gön.

The young Thongwa Dönden immediately began to teach. Shamar Chopal Yeshe came to Karma Gön during this period to crown the Karmapa. Thongwa Dönden received teachings and Kagyu transmission from Shamar Chopal Yeshe, Jamyang Drakpa, and Khenchen Nyephuwa. In particular, he received the full lineage transmission from Ratnabhadra, who was his principal lineage teacher.

At a young age, he began to compose many tantric rituals, eventually establishing a body of liturgies for the Kamtsang lineage. He also joined the lineages of the Shangpa Kagyu and the Shijay (Chöd - "cutting through egotism") into the main Kagyu lineage transmissions.

He dedicated his activity to composition, teaching, restoring many monasteries within Tibet, printing books and strengthening the sangha. He began to develop the shedra system, the monastic university, in the Karma Kagyu lineage.

Realizing that he would die at an early age, he entered retreat, and conferred a regency on the First Gyaltsab, Goshir Paljor Döndrup, indicating where he would next take birth. The sixth Karmapa's main spiritual heir was Pengar Jampal Zangpo, author of the "Mahamudra Lineage Supplication." This renowned prayer of the Kagyü lineage represents his spontaneous utterance upon realizing mahamudra. Thongwa Dönden passed into parinirvana at the age of thirty eight (1453).

 

Bengar Jampal Sangpo
(15th - 16th century)

Bengar Jampal Zangpo was born to the family of Nyemo Dzongpa, siddhas in Damshang (most likely located in eastern Tibet). He began study and practice at a very young age. At the age of twenty, he began studying Sutrayana and Vajrayana scriptures with the maha-pandita Rongton. Later, he received the Kagyu lineage transmissions and teachings such as the Six Dharmas of Naropa from the Sixth Karmapa, Thongwa Dhönden and followed his instructions one-pointedly. He became a highly realized master of the lineage.

Bengar Jampal Sangpo became the principal teacher of the Seventh Karmapa. He gave the full transmission and training of the Kagyu lineage to the young Karmapa, who became learned, disciplined, and with noble heart, just like Bengarwa himself.

These details about Bengar Jampal Sangpo are compiled from Pawo Tsuklak Trengwa's Feast For Scholars (chos 'byung mkhas pa'i dg'a ston), Beijing edition, vol. 2, pp. 1032. May this be virtuous!

Goshir Paljor Dhöndrup
(1427 - 1489)

Goshir Paljor Dhöndrup was born at Nyemo in Central Tibet. Under the guidance of the Sixth Karmapa Thongwa Dhönden, he received transmissions of the Kagyur, Tengyur, and many others. He was fully trained in buddhist philosophy and meditation by Karmapa, as well as by Bengar Jampal Sangpo and other lineage masters. Later, he was appointed as the General Secretary of the Karmapa. He offered his service to the activities of Karmapa and the lineage. Paljor Dhöndrup is the first incarnation of Gyaltsab Rinpoche.

He passed into parinirvana when the Seventh Karmapa reached twenty-five-years, with many wondrous signs of accomplishments. He received the full lineage transmission from the Sixth Karmapa, which he fully passed on to the Seventh Karmapa, Chödrak Gyatso.

 

These details about Goshir Paljor Dhöndrup are compiled from Pawo Tsuklak Trengwa's Feast For Scholars (chos 'byung mkhas pa'i dg'a ston), Beijing edition, vol. 2, pp. 1031. May this be virtuous!