Kawa Peltsek

ISSN 2332-077X

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Kawa Peltsek 8th cent.

Name Variants: Peltsek

Kawa Peltsek (ska ba dpal brtsegs) was born at Kawa (ska ba) in the Phenbo Valley north of Lhasa. His father was Kawa Loden (ska ba blo ldan) and his mother was Droza Zema ('bro bza' mdzes ma). He was one of the first seven Tibetans who were ordained by Śāntarakṣita. He became a disciple of Padmasambhava, who recognized him as the incarnation of an Indian mahāpaṇḍita, purposely born in Tibet in order to translate the texts necessary for the successful transmission of Buddhism. He also studied with Kache Jinamitra (kha che dzi na mi tra), and is credited with going to India alongside Chokro Lui Gyeltsen (clog ro klu'i rgyal mtshan) to invite Vimalamitra to Tibet on behalf of King Tri Songdetsen (khri srong de'u btsan).

Kawa Peltsek translated many sutras and tantras, including those belonging to the Kriya, Yoga, and Carya classes, becoming one of the three most influential of the early translators at Samye. Among the canonical Indian treatises he contributed in translating was the Abhidharmakośa and the  Abhidharmasamuccaya. With the Indian pandit Sarvajnyadeva he completed the first Tibetan translation of the Bodhicaryāvatara. He also wrote significant commentaries on tantric texts, including the important Seventeen-fold Appearance of the Sequence of the View (lta rim snang ba bcu bdun pa) and his style of calligraphy was widely imitated throughout Tibet.

It is said that through his practice Kawa Peltsek achieved the power of clairvoyance.

Among those said to be his reincarnations are Drapa Ngonshe (grwa pa mngon shes, 1012-1090) and the First Pakpa Lha, Pakpa Dechen Dorje ('phags pa bde chen rdo rje, 1439-1487)




Dudjom Rinpoche. 2002. The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism. Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein, trans. Boston: Wisdom.

Tarthang Tulku. 1975. Bringing the Teachings Alive. Cazadero, CA: Dharma Publishing.

'Jam mgon kong sprul blo gros mtha' yas. 2007. Gter ston brgya rtsa. In Rin chen gter mdzod chen mo. New Delhi: Shechen (v.1 pp. 389-390).

Gu ru bkra shis. 1990. Gu bkra'i chos 'byung. Beijing: Krung go'i bod kyi shes rig dpe skrun khang, p. 173.

Arthur Mandelbaum
Auguest 2007