The General Secretary to the Holder of the Black Crown (Zhanag Dzodpa) Tenzin Namgyal was born in 1933 in the Year of the Female Water Bird in deva-bhumi Todlung Tsurphu into the family line of the 14th Karmapa ‘Nakharsharu Khangsar.’ With peaceful countenance he passed away on the evening of June 8, 2005 in Nepal.
At an early age he entered the Sangha of the Tsurphu Monastery. Under the personal supervision of Woser Wangchuk as his teacher, he began receiving his monastic education of memorizing of scriptures and learning of all the ritual liturgies/sadhanas, music and melodies according to the Tsurphu tradition. Similarly from the learned astrologer, Woser Rabten, he studied and became highly accomplished in the field of the various aspects of the fine art of the Tibetan language such as grammar, etymology, writing and poetry. When His Holiness the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa started a Tibetan Grammar School in Tsurphu, Mr Tenzin Namgyal was appointed as its in-charge.
Later on due to the forces of circumstances in one’s life Mr. Namgyal disrobed, and this he did so after fulfilling all the necessary duties of atonement as per the rules and regulations of monastery. He continued serving His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa in the capacity of His secretary.
DEPARTURE TO SIKKIM
During the 1959 great upheaval in Tibet, he left everything behind, including his immediate family members and as personal security officer joined His Holiness and due to the collective merit of all His Holiness and entourage reached Sikkim, India safely.
After reaching Sikkim, he was promoted to the office of His Holiness’s Private Secretary and accordingly he continued to serve His Holiness. While His Holiness and the former Zhanag Dzodpa Chenmo were away on Dharma teaching tours, in their absence he fulfilled the responsibilities of the Acting Zhanag Dzodpa of the Tsurphu Labrang. He also offered his sincere and tireless service when the new seat of His Holiness was being built in the early sixties at Rumtek in Sikkim, India.
Around that time, His Holiness assigned to him the important responsibility of teaching language and literature to all the eminent Rinpoches. He taught them grammar, poetry and other related fields of knowledge. With the aim of facilitating easier and more approachable study of the Tibetan Language and Grammar for Tibetan youths and international students, he composed three books on the fine art of spelling and grammar. Presently these books are very popular among those who have keen interest in the Tibetan Language.
On February 27, 1981 when the office of International Kagyu Headquarters first opened in Rumtek, His Holiness appointed him to the high post of General Secretary of the Office (IKH).
After the passing away of His Holiness the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa and the former Zhanag Dzodpa Chenmo, Mr. Damcho Yongdu, all the regents unanimously appointed him as the Deputy Zhanag Dzodpa. In this capacity, he completed the construction of the new block of Karmai Sri Nalanda Institute at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, India.
SERVING THE 17TH KARMAPA
Upon hearing the news of the arrival of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa in Dharamshala, in January 2000, he immediately presented himself to His Holiness. Since then in accordance with the wishes of His Holiness he had continued to serve him and the Tsurphu Labrang in the capacity of Zhanag Dzodpa all his life. He passed away in Nepal where he had gone with the hope of recuperating after his initial medical treatment in New Delhi.
The late Mr. Tenzin Namgyal has served His Holiness the 16th as well as the 17th and the Kagyu Lineage all his life with utmost sincerity and one pointed dedication. In brief, he was an accomplished grammarian and thorough gentleman who treated everyone with equal respect and loving care. His wife Tseyak, daughter Tsering Dolma and son Tenzin Norbu, survives him. He has many students and well wishers all over the world.
We offer our heartfelt condolences to his immediate family members. Prayers are being offered by His Holiness the Karmapa, by prominent masters of the different Buddhist Lineages and at Monasteries all over India and Nepal including elaborate prayers at the Seat Monastery in Rumtek.
The office of the Tsurphu Labrang has received numerous messages of condolences from all over the world. We want to thank you all for your kind sentiments of support and concern.
This brief life story of Zhanag Dzodpa Tenzin Namgyal is a token of dedication in his loving memory and expression of our deep appreciation for his life long service for the cause of the Buddhadharma and the Kagyu Lineage.
From the offices of Tsurphu Labrang and the International Kagyu Headquarters.