The Second Drukchen, Kunga Peljor b.1428 - d.1476
Name Variants: Gyelwang Je Kunga Peljor; Gyelwang Kunga Peljor; Kunga Peljor
The Second Drukchen Kunga Peljor ('brug chen 02 kun dga' dpal 'byor), the thirteenth abbot of Ralung Monastery, was the son of Sherab Zangpo (shes rab bzang po, 1400-1438), the twelfth abbot of Ralung. He was identified as the reincarnation of Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorje (gtsang pa rgya ras ye shes rdo rje, 1161-1211), the founder of the Drukpa tradition and his ancestor to the tenth generation. The Gya family was evidently adding the institution of reincarnation to further elevate the prominance of the holder of the Ralung lineage. Kunga Peljor was also said to be an incarnation of Avalokiteśvara.
Kunga Pel received his novice vow from Gangchen Kunga Pel (gangs can kun dga' dpal, d.u.) and his bhikṣu vow from Dondrub Pelwa (don grub dpal ba, d.u.), an abbot of Jodan Monastery (jo gdan). From then he received instruction on the Prātimokṣa, bodhicitta, Rechung Nyengyu (ras chung snyan brgyud), and the Jonang teachings of Dmar khrid tshem bu lugs and Snying po don gsum.
Kunga Peljor received the Drukpa teachings from his father, and officially assumed the abbacy of Ralung at age eight, in 1436. After Sherab Zangpo died, in 1438, Kunga Peljor trained with Trulzhik Namkhai Naljor ('khrul zhig nam mkha'i rnal 'byor, d.u.), studying topics such as the Naro Chodruk (nA ro chos drug), Mahāmudrā, and Orgyen Nyendrub (o rgyan bsnyen sgrub).
Over the course of his life Kunga Peljor received teachings from numerous prominent lamas, including Ngok Jangchub Pel (rngog byang chub dpal, d.u.), who taught him Sanskrit and tantric systems, and Go Lotsāwa Zhonnu Pel ('gos lo tsA ba gzhon nu dpal, 1392-1481). He also studied Kadampa teachings with Ngaripa Yongtan Sengge (mnga' ris pa yon tan seng+ge, d.u.) and Taklung teachings with Ngawang Drakpa (ngag dbang grags pa, 1418-1496), the twelfth throne holder of Taklung Monastery.
Kunga Peljor also met the Indian Paṇḍita Vanaratna (paN chen nags kyi rin chen) while the later was leaving Tibet and was able to briefly received teachings from him, both on grammar and tantric subjects. Vanaratna’s treasure revelation, the Pema Tsetri (padma tshe khrid) entered the Drukpa tradition through him. Kunga Peljor also studied with Ratna Lingpa (rat+na gling pa, 1403-1479), receiving his treasure teachings.
Additionally, the biographies of Kunga Peljor list repeated encounters with deities and deceased lamas from whom he received additional transmissions and blessings. These occurred in retreat settings and pilgrimage locations such as Tsari and Yanggon Keu Tsang (yang dgon ke’u tshang), evidence that Kunga Peljor traveled widely on pilgrimage. He also spent time in Bhutan, staying in the Bumtang (bum thang) region for several years.
Later in life Kunga Peljor served as abbot of Daklha Gampo (dwags lha sgam po), remaining on the throne there for six year.
Kunga Peljor’s extant writings, which include many instructions and songs, fill two volumes. He died in 1476 at the age of forty-nine.
Incarnation list of the Gyelwang Drukchen (rgyal dbang ’brug chen)
1. Tsangpa Gyare (gtsang pa rgya ras, 1161‑1211).
2. Kunga Peljor (kun dga’ dpal ’byor, 1428‑1476).
3. Jamyang Chokyi Drakpa (’jam dbyangs chos kyi grags pa, 1478‑1523).
4. Pema Karpa (padma dkar po, 1527‑1592).
5. Pagsam Wangpo (dpag bsam dbang po, 1593‑1641).
6. Mipam Wangpo (mi pham dbang po, 1641‑1717).
7. Kagyu Trinle Shingta (bka’ brgyud phrin las shing rta, 1718‑1766).
8. Kunzig Chokyi Nangwa (kun gzigs chos kyi snang ba, 1768‑1822).
9. Jigme Mingyur Wanggyal (’jigs med mi ’gyur dbang rgyal, 1823‑1883).
10. Mipam Chokyi Wangpo (mi pham chos kyi dbang po, 1884‑1930).
11. Tendzin Khyenrab Gelek Wangpo (bstan ’dzin mkhyen rab dge legs dbang po, 1931‑1960).
12. Jigme Mingyur Wanggi Dorje Trinle Kunkyab Pelzangpo Chokle Namgyel (’jigs med mi ’gyur dbang gi rdo rje ’phrin las kun khyab dpal bzang po phyogs las rnam rgyal (b. 1963).
A ba dhU ti pa rin chen rnam rgyal. 1976 (1479). Dpal ldan bla ma dam pa’i mdzad pa rmad du byung ba ngo mtshar bdud rtsi’i thigs pa. In Rgyal dbang kun dga’ dpal ’byor ba’i gsung ’bum. Thimphu: Kunzang Tobgey, vol. 1, pp. 7‑67.
Bsod nams mchog ldan. 1975 (1771). Dpal ldan bla ma dam pa’i mdzad pa bcu’i tshul du gsal bar ston pa ngo mshar bdud rtsi’i thigs pa. In Rwa lung dkar brgyud gser ’phreng. Pelampur: SNGP, vol 3, pp. 123-214.
’Jam mgon kong sprul blo gros mtha’ yas. 1976. Gter ston brgya rtsa. In Rin chen gter mdzod chen mo v.1 pp. 291-759. Paro: Ngodrup and Sherab Drimay, pp. 203b.6-204a.3.
Roerich, George, trans. 1996. The Blue Annals. 2nd ed. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, p. 672.
Sgrub sprul phrin las rgya mtsho. 2009. Gdams ngag bka’ rgya can lnga yi bla ma brgyud pa’i rnam thar dad gsum chu gter ’phel byed ngo mtshar lza ba’i me long. Swayambhu: Shree Gautam Buddha Vihara, pp. 160-167.
Smith, Gene. 2001. "Pema Karpo and His History of Buddhism." In Among Tibetan Texts, pp. 81-86. Boston: Wisdom Publications, p. 82.
View this person's associated Works & Texts on the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center's Web site
- Historical Period