Sokpo Pelgyi Yeshe

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Sokpo Pelgyi Yeshe 8th cent.

Name Variants: Sokpo Lhapel

During the Imperial period blacksmiths were commonly referred to as “Mongolians.” Thus Lhapel (lha dpal), who was born in Yardrok (yar brog), who worked as a blacksmith, is known as Sokpo (sog po) Lhapel. He was also popularly known as Sokpo Pelgyi Yeshe (sog po dpal gyi ye shes). Although Lhapel is counted among the twenty-five disciples of Padmasambhava (rjes 'bangs nyer lnga), it was Nyak Jñānakumara who was his primary religious master. Sokpo Lhapel is also said to have studied with Ma Rinchen Chok (rma rin chen mchog).

Nyak Jñānakumara discerned in him the appropriate signs for becoming a Vajrakīlaya practitioner and took him on as a disciple. The story told is that Nyak came from behind while Lhapel was working in his shop, and expounded the nine vehicles doxography of Buddhist teachings. When he taught the three causal vehicles (those of the śāravaka, the pratyekabuddha, and the bodhisattva), Lhapel paid no attention. When Nyak expounded on the three outer tantric classed (Kryiya, Carya, and Yoga) the blacksmith listened occasionally but mostly only heard the clanging of his hammer. When Nyak taught the three inner tantra classes (Maha, Anu, and Ati) he also swallowed scraps of hot iron, to Lhapel's amazement. The blacksmith asked how Nyak acquired such an ability; Nyak replied “I acquired it by practicing the doctrine I was just explaining.” Lhapel developed faith, offered Nyak all of his tools, and became his disciple.

It is said that through the practice of Vajrakīlaya Sokpo Lhapel could catch wild beasts with a gesture and even restrain wild tigers. With miraculous powers he pacified the enemies of his teacher Nyak Jñānakumara. When Nyak was imprisoned by his villainous brother, Nyak Geton (gnyags dge ston), also known as Nyakmar (gnyags dmar), Lhapel killed two prison guards and freed his master. He later participated in the murder Nyak Geton, ripping his heart from his chest.

Lhapel transmitted the tantric teachings to Nubchen Sanggye Yeshe (gnubs chen sangs rgyas ye shes).

Sokpo Lhapel lived outdoors in the forests along running streams until he passed away. Pema Lhundrub Gyatso (padma lhun grub rgya mtsho), considered to be his reincarnation, was the second throne holder of Pelyul Monastery.




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Arthur Mandelbaum
August 2007