Sanggye Won Drakpa Pel

ISSN 2332-077X

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Sanggye Won Drakpa Pel b.1251 - d.1296

Name Variants: Choktrul Sanggye Wonpo; Drakpa Pel Ozer Zangpo; Sanggye Won; Sanggye Won Drakpa Pel O; Taklungpa Sanggye Won; Taklungpa Sanggye Won Drakpa Pel; Wonpo Lama Rinchen Pel; Wonpo Pel

Sanggye Wonpo Drakpa Pel (sangs rgyas dbon po grags pa dpal) was born in Yangsho Bongra (g.yang dhod bong ra steng) in Kham in 1251 into the Taklung Gazi (stag lung ga zi) clan. According to legend, he was the reincarnation of Gampopa Sonam Rinchen (sgam po pa bsod nam rin chen, 1079-1153) and manifested numerous miracles as a young boy, such as creating phantom playmates and a large lake between himself and men who chased him after he playfully snatched the jewelry of a young girl.

He received lay vows at the age of thirteen from his uncle, Sanggye Yarjon (sangs rgyas yar byon, 1203-1272), the third abbot of Taklung (stag lung) Monastery, from whom he also received teachings and the name Drakpa Pel Ozer Zangpo (grags pa dpal 'od zer bzang po).

While still a young man he taught Madhyamaka to the famous Kadam scholar Tangsakpa (thang sag pa ye shes 'byung gnas, d.u.). He also gave teachings on the Pradīpodyatana nāma ṭīkā  and the Guhyasamāja.

Upon the death of Sanggye Yarjon, Drakpa Pel was assigned to the abbot's chair. However, Sanggye Yarjon's other nephew, his cousin Tashi Lama (bkra shis bla ma, 1231-1297) took control of the monastery the following year, and Drakpa Pel was forced out; his name is absent from most lists of abbots of Taklung.

He thus left for Kham, taking with him a number of relics despite continued entreaties from the Taklung monks. According to the Blue Annals, these included the dried excrement from Sanggye Yarjon's latrine and Milarepa's staff and ladle. He did so claiming that Sanggye Yarjon had told him that should he separate himself from the relics he would die.

There he founded Pel Riwoche Monastery (dpal ri bo che dgon) in 1276, serving as the abbot until his death in 1296 at the age of forty-six. Thousands of monks were said to have joined the monastery in its first decades. His nephew and disciple Choku Orgyen Gonpo (chos sku o rgyan mgon po, 1293-1366) took over as the second abbot.

According to some sources a fourteen volume collection of his writings was printed in the fourteenth century by Drakpa Tashi Pelzangpo (grags pa bkra shis dpal bzang po, 1372‑1409), but none of it is extant.




Bshes gnyen tshul khrims. 2001. Lha sa'i dgon tho rin chen spungs rgyan. Lhasa: Bod ljongs mi dmangs dpe skrun khang, p. 197.

Grags pa 'byung gnas and Rgyal ba blo bzang mkhas grub. 1992. Gangs can mkhas grub rim byon ming mdzod. Lanzhou: Kan su'u mi rigs dpe skrun khang, pp. 1741-1742.

Khetsun Sangpo. 1973. Biographical Dictionary of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism. Dharamsala: LTWA, vol. 3, p. 386.

Kossak, Steven, and Jane Casey Singer. 1998. Sacred Visions: Early Paintings from central Tibet. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 130.

Roerich, George, trans. 1996. The Blue Annals. 2nd ed. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, pp. 650-652.


Alexander Gardner
July 2011