Khyungtsangpa Yeshe Lama b.1115 - d.1176
Name Variants: Yeshe Lama
Khyungtsangpa Yeshe Lama (khyung tshang pa ye shes bla ma) was born in 1115 in the Tolung (stod lung) valley to parents of old and prestigious families, the Gar (mgar) and the Nub (snubs). He had one sister.
According to his hagiographies, as he was growing up his behavior went out of control. He loved getting into quarrels, and he never asked his father for permission to do things. He just did what he wanted. One time he took from home a fine horse, a woolen cloak and quite a bit of gold and sold it all. Since he lied to his parents about it, they sent him off to be ordained by a Kadampa teacher, Geshe Jayulwa (dge bshes bya yul ba, 1075-1138). He begged his parents to let him return home, but they told him that unless he continued staying in the monastery he would have to pay them back for the things he had stolen. Contrary to everyone's expectations he turned out to be a very good monk.
Khyungtsangpa studied with a number of mostly Kadampa teachers, as well as a few of the famous lotsawas of his day. At first the subjects were mainly the texts of logic and Madhyamaka, while later he progressed to Guhyasamāja and other tantric subjects. He studied Lamdre (lam 'bras) with the widely renowned woman teacher Machik Zhama (ma gcig zha ma, 1062-1149). Then he met the direct disciple of Milarepa (mi la ras pa, 1040-1123) named Drigom Lingkhawa ('bri sgom gling kha ba, d.u.) who had just emerged from a sealed retreat. Drigom poked fun at him for coming all the way to Tsang (gtsang) to study with him, when the best teacher of the secret precepts was right there in Khyungtsangpa's home province of U. The main secret precepts given him by Drigom were on the practice of tummo (gtum mo).
With Drigom's blessings he returned to U to seek out Rechungpa (ras chung pa rdo rje grags pa, 1085-1161). According to tradition, after spending some time with Rechungpa and receiving from him initiations and secret precepts relating to the ear-whispered teachings (snyan brgyud), Rechungpa told him to go away and never come back, and to keep their teacher-student relationship a secret until his death. Afterward that he could bestow the precepts on anyone he wished, only he was in no case permitted to sell them. After hearing Khyungtsangpa's fervent wish, Rechungpa relented and agreed to a single meeting in the future. Those secret teachings form the basis of the teaching tradition Khyungtsangpa is known for propagating, the Rechung Nyengyu (ras chung snyan brgyud).
Khyungtsangpa stayed unnoticed in retreats for several years, but then while staying at Khyungtsang the secret of his sainthood became known to the world, no doubt largely because of his miraculous powers. It is said that he could transfer his life principle into other bodies. He could move cross-legged in the sky and pass through solid objects without obstruction. They say that he never needed to relieve himself, and his blood turned entirely into milk. He developed his supersensory faculties to an extraordinary degree. He came to have many followers. As far as the transmission of the secret precepts are concerned, he did have three male disciples, but most significant for the historical continuity of the esoteric transmission was the woman Machik Ongjo (ma gcig ong jo, d.u.).
After Khyungtsangpa died at age 62, his body was cremated, and a number of relics appeared in the ashes.
Roerich, George, trans. 1996. The Blue Annals. 2nd ed. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, pp. 441-443.
Gtsang smyon he ru ka. 1971. Bde mchog mkha' 'gro snyan rgyud (Ras chung snyan rgyud). Leh: S. W. Tashigangpa, vol. 1, part B, p. 95 ff.
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- Historical Period