The Second Pawo, Tsuklak Trengwa

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The Second Pawo, Tsuklak Trengwa b.1504 - d.1566

Name Variants: Mapam Chokyi Gyelpo Don Yongsu Drubpa ; Pawo Mipam Chokyi Gyatso

The Second Pawo, Tsuklak Trengwa (dpa' bo 02 gtsug lag phreng ba) was born into the Nyak clan (gnyags dung rus) at Ganggyu in Nyetang (snye thang gi sgangs rgyud) in 1504, the wood-mouse year of the eighth sexagenary cycle. His father's name was Lama Dar (bla ma dar) and mother was named Lamnye Dolma (lam rnyed sgol ma).

In 1508, at the age of five he was identified by Genyen Chelungpa (dge bsnyen che lung pa, d.u.) as the reincarnation of the First Pawo, Chowang Lhundrub (dpa' bo 01 chos dbang lhun grub, 1440/1455-1503 ).

He was then escorted to and enthroned to seat of the lineage, Sekhar Gutok (sras mkhar dgu thog), the tower that Milarepa famously built at his master Marpa Chokyi Lodro's command.

At Sekhar Gutok Tsuklak Trengwa was taught reading by Lama Tokden Gendun Gyatso (bla ma rtogs ldan dge 'dun rgya mtsho, d.u.). At the age of nine, the Fourth Zhamar, Chodrak Yeshe (zhwa dmar 04 chos grags ye shes 1453-1524) granted him the vows of upasaka (dge bsnyen), primary monk (rab byung), and novice monk (dge tsul) and gave him the name Mipam Chokyi Gyatso (mi pham chos kyi rgya mtsho). At the age of twelve, he received many tantric teachings in both Nyingma and Sarma (gsang sngags gsar rnying) traditions from Dakpo Paṇḍita Chogyel Tenpai Gyeltsen (dwags po paNDi ta chos rgyal btsan pa'i rgyal mtshan, d.u.) who was also well-known by (chos rgyal bstan pa'i rgya mtsho). He then received extensive commentarial teachings on Mahāmudrā (phyag chen) from U-Nyon Heruka Kunga Zangpo (dbus smyon he ru ka kun dga' bzang po, 1458-1532).

Mipam Chokyi Gyatso studied under Dakpo Chokle Namgyel (dwags po phyogs las rnam rgyal, 1456-1539), receiving teachings on both sutra and tantra along with many transmissions and instructions, for about twenty years, from the age of nine to twenty-eight. Thereafter he travelled to Lekshe Ling (legs bshad gling) Monastery where he took active part in religious discussions and memorized texts. Zhalu Lochen Chokyong Zangpo (zhwa lu lo chen chos skyong bzang po, 1441-1527/1538) assisted by Khenchen Chodrub Sengge (mkhan chen chos grub seng ge) and Namkha Pelden (nam mkha' dpal ldan) granted him the vows of full ordination (dge slong) at the age of twenty-three.

At the age of twenty-nine, while on his way to Kongpo, Mipam Chokyi Gyatso had audience of the Eighth Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje (ka rma pa 08 mi bskyod rdo rje, 1507-1554) at Zingpo Bumpa Gang (zing po bum pa sgang). He and the Karmapa exchanged teachings and empowerments, and the Karmapa gave him the name Pel Tsuklak Trengwa (dpal gtsug lag phreng ba).

At some point he established a second monastic seat, Lhalung Monastery (lha lung dgon). This remained the seat of the Pawo line of incarnations until 1673 or 1674, when the Fifth Pawo, Trinle Gyatso (dpa' bo 05 'phrin las rgya mtsho, 1649/1650-1699) moved to Nenang Monastery (gnas nang dgon), also in Lhodrak, which had been founded by the First Zhamar, Drakpa Sengge (grags pa seng+ge, 1283-1349) in 1333. The monastery was given to him by the Fifth Dalai Lama, who confiscated it from the Seventh Zhamar, Yeshe Nyingpo (zhwa dmar 07 ye shes snying po, 1631-1694).

For the following three years and nine months Tsuklak Trengwa sat in intensive meditation at various holy sites in southern Tibet, including Tsari, Kharoi Sangpuk, and Tsokar Kyung-dzong (rtsa ri, mkha' ro'i gsang phug, mtsho dkar khyung dzong gi gnas rnams su). Tsuklak Trengwa continued to travel widely to places in U-Tsang, Dakpo, and Kongpo for pilgrimage and to give audience, teachings, initiations, and empowerments to local devotees.

In general Tsuklak Trengwa lived a very simple live, and he used the offerings he received to help his students and the communities of practitioners, giving them provisions and books when necessary, and he also gave to sponsor statues and other religious items for monasteries.

Following the death of the Eighth Karmapa in 1554, Tsuklak Trengwa went to Lhokha Yarlung and supervised the traditional cremation with rites and rituals according to Kagyu tradition. He also enthroned the Fifth Zhamar, Konchok Yanlag (zhwa dmar 05 dkon mchog yan lag, 1525-1583) as the Karmapa's successor as leader of the Karma Kagyu tradition.

After the confirmation of identification of the Ninth Karmapa, Wangchuk Dorje (karma pa 09 dbang phyug rdo rje, 1556-1601/1603), Pawo Tsuklak Trengwa organized the traditional enthronement ceremony at Tsurpu (tshur phu) the seat of Karmapas.

Pawo Tsuklak Trengwa is well known for his written works. He spent a great part of his life in writing texts in various subjects such as history, medicine, astrology, general Buddhism, and so forth. Of his many works, he is best known for his religious history of the Kagyu tradition, the Chojung Khepai Gaton, or Scholars Feast (chos 'byung khas pa'i dga' ston). He began the work in 1545 and finished in 1564. His books on the medicine and astrology also continue to be widely used.

Of Tsuklak Trengwa's many students, his chief disciples included the Ninth Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje, the Fifth Zhamar Konchok Yenlag, and the Third Tsurpu Gyeltsab, Drakpa Peljor (mtshur phu rgyal tshab 03 grags pa dpal 'byor, 1519-1549).

Pel Tsuklak Trengwa passed into nirvana at the age of sixty-three in 1566, at dawn on the sixteenth day of the tenth month of the year of fire-tiger of the ninth sexagenary cycle.




Chos kyi 'byung gnas. 1990. Dpa' bo gnyis pa/ rgyal ba gtsug lag phreng ba. In Ta'i si tu pa kun mkhyen chos kyi 'byu gnas bstan pa'i nyin byed kyi bka' 'bum. Vol. 12, pp. 55-63. Sansal: Pelpung sungrab nyamso khang.

Grags pa 'byungs gnas and Blo bzang mkhas grub. 1992. Gangs can mkhas sgrub rim byon ming mdzod. Lanzhou: Kan su'u mi rigs dpe skrun khang, pp. 995-996.

Gtsug lag phreng ba. N.d. Dge slong gtsug lag phreng ba rang nyid kyi rtogs pa brjod pa 'khrul pa'i bzhin ras 'char ba'i me long.

Mi nyag mgon po. 1996-2000. Dpa' bo gtsug lag phreng ba'i rnam thar mdor bsdus. In Gangs can mkhas dbang rim byon gyi rnam thar mdor bsdus, Vol. 1, pp. 237-242. Beijing: Krung go'i bod kyi shes rig dpe skrun khang.


Samten Chhosphel
October 2010