Kuyelwa Rinchen Gon

ISSN 2332-077X

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Kuyelwa Rinchen Gon b.1191 - d.1236

Name Variants: Rinchen Gonpo; Taklung Tri 02 Rinchen Gon; Wonpo Karpo Rinchen Gonpo

Kuyelwa Rinchen Gon (sku yal ba rin chen mgon) was born in Rabgang (rab sgang) in a part of the valley of Kuyung Gang Yangsho (ku g.yung sgang g.yang shod) to the patron Goyak (mgo yag) and his wife Joziza Tashi Tso (jo zi bza' bkra shis mtsho).

As a youth he was known as Wonpo Karpo (dbon po dkar po), which is probably just a nickname. While still in his mother's womb, his father went to visit Taklung (stag lung). The master asked him if he could make an offering of his son. As the child was growing up, Taklungtangpa Tashi Pel (stag lung thang pa bkra shis dpal, 1142-c.1209) sent him gifts of monastic equipment, like the monk's cloak, and gave him the name Rinchen Gonpo (rin chen mgon po). When he was thirteen, he was inducted into the monastic order as a novice. In that same year, the village people came to see him off on his journey to Tibet, and his mother said to him, "If you practice dharma, even if you cannot meet me again, it doesn't matter. Practice dharma!"

On the day of Kuyalwa's arrival in Taklung, the Taklungtangpa ordered extraordinarily formal welcoming ceremonies, and greeted the new arrival with gifts and polite inquiries about his health in the respectful form of speech Tibetans know as zhesa (zhe sa).

He soon entered into a six-year period of retreat, broken only when he visited the master, who gave him all the teachings, filling the vessel to the brim, as they say. He began to display signs of success in his meditation practices. At age nineteen he received the complete monastic vows. When Taklungtangpa was about to die he placed Pakmodrupa's rosary around Kuyelwa's neck and gave him Pakmodrupa Dorje Gyelpo's (phag mo gru pa rdo rje rgyal po, 1110-1170) personal walking cane. Even more significantly, he entrusted him with the keys to the monastic library. He is often called the 'nephew' (dbon po) of Taklungtangpa, but probably only in the loose sense that he was a member of the same clan as the master, and belonged to the younger generation.

Kuyalwa was a great teacher, capable of meeting the needs of a large variety of disciples. He was known for his foreknowledge and his miraculous cures of the blind and deaf. In 1224 began the construction of a huge chapel with eighty pillars that took a number of years to complete. He also supervised the building of several memorial stupas and images.

Kuyelwa adhered very closely to the teachings and practices that had been instituted by the founder of the monastery. He kept for himself the extra vow of never lying down to sleep. If people made offerings of weapons, he would immediately have them broken into pieces. He was very generous in giving alms of grain to the poor. When he first became abbot there were only seven hundred monks in residence, but this number steadily increased until it reached five thousand. Of this number, there were always around five hundred staying in sealed retreat. As death approached there were a number of unusual natural signs, like light rays, sounds, rainbows and earthquakes. At the same time, his personal horse came down with a serious case of mange (rngo). He continued his teaching activities until the very end.

As a final demonstration of his foreknowledge, during the year of his death he asked those intending to travel to remain in the monastery. He ordered his attendants to prepare a large amount of tea, sugar and wood for fuel. Of course he was preparing for the large number of people who would attend his funeral rites. When Kuyelwa's body was cremated his heart, tongue, eyes and one finger remained unburned, and there were very many relics. Succeeded him in the abbatial chair was Sanggye Yarjon (sangs rgyas yar byon, 1203-1272).




Roerich, George, trans. 1996. The Blue Annals. 2nd ed. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, pp. 621-7.

Tshe dbang rgyal. 1994. Lho rong chos 'byung. Lhasa: Bod ljongs bod yig dpe rnying dpe skrun khang, pp. 476-92. This source is of special significance since it makes use of two otherwise lost biographies, one by Taklung Yata (stag lung ya ta), the other by Loden Sherab (blo ldan shes rab).

Stag lung zhabs drung ngag dbang rnam rgyal. 1992. Stag lung chos 'byung. Lhasa: Bod ljongs bod yig dpe rnying dpe skrun khang, pp. 248-68.


Dan Martin
August 2008