The Seventh Zhabdrung Karpo, Gendun Tendzin Norbu b.1873 - d.1927
Name Variants: Dorje Tsering Rabten; Gendun Tendzin Norbu ; Lamo 07 Gendun Tendzin Norbu
The Seventh Zhabdrung Karpo Gendun Tenzin Norbu (zhabs drung dkar po 07 dge 'dun bstan 'dzin nor bu) was born in 1873 on the fifteenth of the fifth month according to Tibetan calendar, in the water-bird year, in Ralo Tang (rwa lo thang) near Chubzang Monastery (chu bzang) in Amdo. His family was ethnically Monguor. His father, Osel Kyab (od gsal skyabs), was well-versed in both Chinese and Tibetan. His mother was named Lhamo Jam (lha mo byams). They gave him, the youngest of their five children, the name Dorje Tsering Rabten (rdo rje tse ring rab brtan). His eldest brother was the Fifth Chubzang Tulku, Lobzang Tubten Shedrub Nyima (chu bzang sprul sku 05 blo bzang thub bstan bshad sgrub nyi ma, 1859-1913). Second eldest was named Jigme Tseten, who held the Qing rank of Taiji (tha'i ji 'jigs med tshe brtan, d.u.). Third eldest was Lenpate Tulku Tendzin Khetsun Pelzang (lan dpa'i the'i sprul sku bstan 'dzin mkhas btsun dpal bzang, d.u.); the name Lenpate derives from the Chinese Lianhua tai, a monastery of in Minhe county) The fourth eldest brother was Rakho Hutuktu Ngawang Chojor Tenpai Nyima (rwa kho hu thog thu ngag dbang chos 'byor bstan pa'i nyi ma, d.u.), of Kumbum Monastery.
The Fourth Tarshul, Gendun Chokyong Gyatso (thar shul 04 dge 'dun chos skyong rgya mtsho, 1810-1884) recognized him as the reincarnation of the Sixth Zhabdrung Karpo, Ngawang Chokdrub Tenpai Gyeltsen (zhabs drung dkar po 06 nga dbang mchog grub bstan pai rgyal mtshan, 1832-1872). He initially was enthroned at Chubzang, but soon moved to Lamo Dechen Monastery (la mo bde chen dgon), which had been founded by the Third Zhabdrung Karpo, Lobzang Tenpai Gyeltsen (zhabs drung dkar po 03 blo bzang bstan pai rgyal mtshan, 1660-1728).
At Dechen, while still a young child, he trained with the Fourth Tarshul; Tulku Chechen (sprul sku che chen); Kangtsa Ponlob (rkang tsa dpon slob); Geshe Sherab Gyatso (dge bshes shes rab rgya mtsho, d.u.), also known as Gendun Sherab (dge 'dun shes rab); Kumbum Lharampa Ngawang Tsultrim (sku 'bum lha rams pa ngag dbang tshul khrims, d.u.); Geshe Sanggye Chodrak (dge bshes sangs rgyas chos grags, d.u,); Pelri Geshe Lobzang Rabsel (dpal ris dge bshes blo bzang rab gsal, 1840-1910), and others. He received tonsure at the age of seven from the Fourth Tarshul at Trika Drakar Melong (khri ka'i brag dkar me long dgon), and received from him the name Gendun Tendzin Norbu.
For ten years, from the age of about ten to twenty, he spent summers visiting the major monasteries of Amdo and received teachings from the great lamas of his day. When he was ten he visited Magur (rma mgur) Monastery, which was founded by the Second Zhabdrung Karpo, Lodro Gyatso (zhabs drung dkar po 02 blo gros rgya mtsho, 1610-1659), and Chizang (chi bzang) Monastery. At thirteen he visited Gonlung (dgon lung) Monastery, and toured
Jakog (bya khog), Bashung ('bal gzhung), Mangra (mang ra), Le (los), Kagya (ka rgya), Datsang (rda tsang), Chotsa (chos tsa) before returning to Dechen to resumed his studies. At age fifteen he studied with the Fourth Amdo Zhamar, Gendun Tendzin Gyatso (a mdo zhwa dmar 04 dge 'dun bstan 'dzin rgya mtsho, 1852-1912) and visited Banshul (ban shul) Monastery where he studied with Jedzen Dorje Namjorma (rje dzen rdo rje rnam 'byor ma, d.u.).
Around the age of twenty he had a crisis of faith and considered disrobing. Shingza Rinpoche and other lamas counseled him, and he took full ordination under the Third Shingza, Lobzang Tenpai Wangchuk (shing bza' 03 blo bzang bstan pa'i dbang phyug, 1825-1897); Gomang Khenpo (sgo mang mkhan po, d.u.); Choje Ngawang Puntsok (chos rje ngag dbang phun tshogs, d.u.) Ngawang Tsultrim (ngag dbang tshul khrims, d.u.); and Tsangnga Choje Ngawang Tsondru (tsang nga chos rje ngag dbang brtson 'grus, d.u.). For the rest of his life he shifted his residence between the three monasteries belonging to his incarnation line: Datsen (mda tsan), Dechen and Magur.
He continued to travel in Amdo to receive teachings, and he began to invite his teachers to Lama Dechen. He went to Kumbum, Trilkha, Nyigon Lhundrub Chordzong (rnye dgon lhun grub chos rdzong), Karing (kwa ring), Tongkor (stong skor) Monastery, and Detsa (sde tsa) Monastery, where he studied with Amdo Zhamar. At the age of thirty he invited Amdo Zhamar to Magur Monastery and discussed a possible relocation of the institution. Zhamar agreed to make an annual visit to Lamo Dechen; they continued to meet elsewhere, coming together at Namtang (gnam stang) in 1905.
That year he went to Adar Chaga (a 'dar cha gha), via Xining, to meet with Amdo Zhamar to discuss an invitation he had received from the Guangxu Emperor (r. 1875–1908). Amdo Zhamar advised him to decline the invitation, and so instead he remained in Magur Monastery for the year, going to Dechen when Amdo Zhamar visited.
When a second invitation to Beijing arrived in 1907 or 1908, he accepted it. On his journey he met the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, Tubten Gyatso (tA la'i bla ma 13 thub bstan rgya mtsho, 1876-1913), who was on his way back to Lhasa from self-imposed exile in Mongolia. Gendun Tenzin Norbu arrived in Beijing at the beginning of 1906. He had an audience with the emperor on the fifth day after arriving, exchanging elaborate gifts with him. After a month and a half in Beijing he requested permission to leave; one and a half months after that he left. On the return he stopped at Wutai Shan, and then at Kumbum, where the Thirteenth Dalai Lama had stopped. Taking teachings from the Dalai Lama, he then returned to Lamo Dechen.
In 1909 the Fourth Jamyang Zhepa, Kelzang Tubten Wangchuk ('jam dbyangs bzhad pa 04 bskal bzang thub bstan dbang phyug, 1856-1916) visited Magur and gave Zhamar Karpo teachings.
Two years later Gendun Tenzin Norbu went again to Xining in preparation for another trip to China. This was the year following the Chinese general Zhao Erfeng's (趙爾豐1845-1911) invasion of Tibet and the Thirteenth Dalai Lama's flight to India, and the same year that the Qing Dynasty collapsed. One might reasonably speculate that the Zhabdrung Karpo embarked on the journey out of a need to clarify the place of Amdo in the new Chinese Republic.
He stayed in Alakshar (a lag shar) for one month at the request of a Dargye Nominhan (dar rgyas no min han), before moving south through the Tibetan-Mongolian border regions. He and his attendants arrived at Hanan Hata (ha nan ha ta) Monastery in early 1912, where he was a guest of a certain Rakho Rinpoche (rwa kho rin po che). He served the community by giving ordination vows. He met the Seventh Changkya Hutukhtu, Tenpai Dronme (lcang skya 07 bstan pa'i sgron me, 1891-1958), at Rongwo Gonchen (rong bo dgon chen) in Rebkong (reb kong). He next went to the Tsodun (mtsho bdun) section of Gyarong (rgyal rong). From there he went East to Wutaishan and Beijing.
During his journey he received word that the new Chinese Republican president, Yuan Shikai (袁世凱1859-1916), requested a meeting. At the trading city of Zhangjiakou, known in the West as Kalgan, a gate city on the north side of the Great Wall, he stayed with an acquaintance, Yang Hang. On Yang Hang's recommendation Gendun Tendzin Norbu informed the local officials, who supervised his travel from that time onwards. Two representatives of Yuan Shikai met him in Zhangjiakou, and soon after he took a train to Beijing. There he met with government officials, and the day after his arrival in Beijing the President sent a representative with a gift of 2,000 silver dollars. He was able to have a meeting with the last Qing emperor, Xuantong (1906-1967) who offered him substantial gifts.
His meetings with Yuan Shikai and his officials took place over many months. He stayed in the Yonghegong temple, and received a monthly stipend of six hundred silver dollars. The President was apparently displeased with the state of affairs in Amdo, and he gave Zhabdrung Karpo greater authority to rule there. In addition, he received 10,000 silver dollars, a silver seal, and a yellow wooden carriage.
In the winter of 1914 he prepared to leave Beijing, informing the government that he intended to first make a pilgrimage to Wutaishan, after which he arrived in Lanzhou. He was received there by the governor-general (Ch. zongdu) of Shanxi and Gansu provinces, representatives of the Fifth Tarshul, Nangra Ponbo (thar shul 05 nang ra dpon bo, d.u.), a local Tibetan leader in the area where Dechen Monastery was located) and monks from his own monasteries. He left for Xining in the company of the governor-general's representatives and fifty soldiers.
Despite returning with Chinese Republican authority and the support of the local Chinese officials, the Zhabdrung Karpo faced disputes over the territory over which he had authority. He ultimately had to return to Lanzhou to procure an official document from the governor-general there, with stamps from the Beijing representative, mapping his domain. On his way he visited a monastic encampment, Datsen (mda' tshan), of which he was the leader, and Kumbum. He returned to Lamo Dechen on a sedan chair, a traditional signal of government authority. He returned to Lanzhou the following year, at which time he cured the governor-general's son's eye disease, returning to Magur Monastery with soldiers and representatives of the governor-general. That year he also traveled to the Bayan (ba yan) region, which was under his under his administration, to settle some disputes among the Hui Muslims there.
During the last decade of his life he continued to move across Amdo, shifting between his various monasteries and the centers of Chinese authority in Xining and Lanzhou. He met with Geshe Tsultrim (dge bshes tshul khrims, d.u.) at Detse, whom he invited to Lamo Dechen to teach. In 1920, at Datsen Monastery, he ordained the Fifth Amdo Zhamar (a mdo zhwa dmar 05), giving him the name Lobzang Shedrub Tendzin Gyatso (blo bzang bshad sgrub bstan 'dzin rgya mtsho, d.u.). The Fifth Amdo Zhamar and the Fifth Tarshul were his two primary disciples.
He received teachings from the Amdo Zhamar, and met the Ninth Paṇchen Lama, Lobzang Tubten Chokyi Nyima Gelek Namgyel (paN chen bla ma 09 blo bzang thub bstan chos kyi nyi ma dge legs rnam rgyal, 1883-1937)
In Lanzhou and Xining as well as at his own monasteries of Lamo Dechen, Datsen and Magur, he engaged in monastery-building projects. In Xining he completed, with Chinese sponsorship, the Three Scholars Temple (mkhas pa mi gsum) that had been left unfinished by Gurong Tsang (dgu rong tshang), taking control of its administration. He brought in a painter named Tendzin (bstan 'dzin) from Sengge Shong (seng ge gshong) in Rebkong.
In 1927, Zhabdrung Karpo Gendun Tenzin Norbu prepared for a journey to U-Tsang. He went to Labrang and received teachings, and met with monk officials at Dechen Monastery to charge them with his responsibilities during his absence. Before he was able to leave, he fell ill and passed away suddenly.
Anon. N.d. La mo dge 'dun bstan 'dzin nor bu'i rnam thar mdor bsdus. In Gang can mkhas dbang rim byon gyi rnam thar mdor bsdus, vol. 2, pp. 190-202.
Bla nag pa ye she’s bzang po. 2001. Mang ra'i lo rgyus. Hong Kong. Zhang kang then mA dpe skrun khang.
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. 321-323. TBRC W19801.
'Jigs med 'phrin las rgya mtsho. 1987. Srid zi'i gtsug rgyan dam pa rje btsun dge 'dun bstan 'dzin nor bu dpal bzan po'i rnam par thar pa gtam du brjod pa rnam sad lha'i rna chen skal bzan gdul bya'i re skon. Dharamsala: Library Of Tibetan Works And Archives.
Khams sprul bsod nams don grub. 2006. Gangs can mi snag rags can gyi 'khrungs 'das lo tshigs re'u mig. Beijing: Mi rigs dpe skrun khang.
Mgon po dbang rgyal. 2000. Rgyal rabs lo tshigs shes bya mang 'dus mkhas pa'i spyi nor. Beijing: Mi rigs dpe skrun khang, pp. 431, 442.
Mi nyag mgon po, et. al. 1996-2000. La mo dge 'dun bstan 'dzin nor bu'i rnam thar mdor bsdus. (1873-1927). In Gangs can mkhas dbang rim byon gyi rnam thar mdor bsdus, vol. 2, pp. 361-384. Beijing: Krung go'i bod kyi shes rig dpe skrun khang. TBRC W25268.
Yong 'dzin blo bzang mkhas grub rgyal mtsho, ed. Lwa mo tsha gan no min han hu thug khu thog. Manuscript.
View this person's associated Works & Texts on the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center's Web site
- Historical Period