Pema Sheja b.19th cent. - d.19th cent.
Name Variants: Gyelrong Khenpo Pema Sheja
Gyelrong Khenpo Pema Sheja (rgyal rong mkhan po pad+ma shes bya) was the fourth abbot of Śrī Siṃha College (shrI sing+ha bshad drwa) at Dzogchen Rudam Orgyen Samten Choling Monastery (rdzogs chen ru dam o rgyan bsam gtan chos gling). He was born in Gyelrong (rgyal rong) near the sacred mountain of Tukje Chenpo (thugs rje chen po) in the nineteenth century. According to his hagiography, he desired to become a monk from a young age, but his parents refused to grant him permission. Regardless, he left home and entered a retreat cave at Tukje Chenpo, sitting in a strict retreat, reciting the six-syllable mantra of Avalokiteśvara (oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ) and not seeing anyone.
At some point the second abbot of Śrī Siṃha, Gyelse Zhenpen Taye (rdzogs chen mkhan rabs 02 rgyal sras gzhan phan mtha' yas, 1800-1855) visited the area to practice meditation for an extended time. He gave instructions that Pema Sheja attended, who soon became a close disciple. Pema Sheja remained close to Zhenpen Taye, accompanying him on pilgrimage tours of U-Tsang in Tibet and Emei Shan in southern Sichuan, China, which is one of the four holy mountains of Buddhism in southern China, sacred to the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra. During these journeys, he received many teachings on the sutras, tantras, and other topics from Zhenpen Taye.
After their journey, Zhenpen Taye and Pema Sheja settled at Śrī Siṃha College at Dzogchen, where Pema Shedra simultaneously taught and continued his studies in more advanced topics. He received both his novice (śrāmaṇera) and full (bhikṣu) monastic vows from Khenchen Pema Tashi (pad+ma bkra shis, d.u.), the then-acting first abbot of the college, who gave him his ordination name "Pema Sheja".
He studied the spoken word and treasure (bka' gter) traditions of the Nyingma tradition, along with their accompanying commentaries, empowerments, instructions, and transmissions, from a number of outstanding teachers including the Fourth Dzogchen Drubwang, Mingyur Namkai Dorje (rdzogs chen grub dbang 04 mi 'gyur nam mkha'i rdo rje, 1793-1870) and Do Khyentse Yeshe Dorje (mdo mkhyen brtse ye shes rdo rje, 1800-1866).
Around the age of forty, Pema Sheja was enthroned as the fourth abbot of Śrī Siṃha College, succeeding the third abbot, Nyidrak Rigdzin Zangpo (rdzogs chen mkhan rabs 03 nyi grags rig 'dzin bzang po, d.u.). He taught on a great variety of subjects, bestowed monastic vows on large gatherings of followers, and paid special emphasis on completely observing all the rules and rituals prescribed by the Vinaya.
Later in life, he settled in a the meditation caves in Rudam, one of which was named Rudam Yangwen Shinje Drubpuk (yang dben gshin rje sgrub phug). He practiced there until he passed away.
He was succeeded as abbot by Dza Patrul Orgyen Jigme Chokyi Wangpo (rdza dpal sprul o rgyan 'jigs med chos kyi dbang po, 1808-1887).
Bstan 'dzin lung rtogs nyi ma. 2004. Rgyal rong mkhan po pad+ma shes bya. In Snga 'gyur rdzogs chen chos 'byung chen mo, pp. 406. Beijing: Krung go'i bod rigs dpe skrun khang. TBRC W27401
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- Historical Period