Sonam Gelek b.1817
Name Variants: Drukpa Khenpo Sonam Gelek; Drukyul Khenpo Sonam Gelek
Drukpa Khenpo Sonam Gelek (rdzogs chen mkhan rabs 06 bsod nams dge legs) was the sixth 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 Bhutan in 1817, the fire-ox-year of the fourteenth sexagenary cycle, near Tarpaling (thar pa gling). He became monk at a young age and studied the Kagyu and Nyingma (bka' rnying) traditions with many teachers in his region, receiving instructions, empowerments, and oral transmissions.
It is said he first heard of the Fourth Dzogchen Drubwang, Mingyur Namkhai Dorje (rdzogs chen grub dbang 04 mi 'gyur nam mkha'i rdo rje, 1793-1870) around the age of twenty, and was so inspired he traveled from Bhutan to Kham on foot to meet him. Mingyur Namkhai Dorje became Sonam Gelek's teacher and gave him many tantric transmissions and teachings, including the oral transmission (snyan brgyud) of the Dzogchen Khandro Nyingtik (rdzogs chen mkha' 'gro snying thig), which Sonam Gelek used as his practice. He also received instructions from a number of other notable teachers, including the second abbot of Śrī Siṃha College, Zhenpen Taye (rdzogs chen mkhan rabs 02 gzhan phan mtha' yas, 1800-1855); Dza Patrul Orgyen Jigme Chokyi Wangpo (rdza dpal sprul o rgyan 'jigs med chos kyi dbang po, 1808-1887) and the treasure revealer Chokgyur Lingpa (mchog gyur gling pa, 1829-1870).
Sonam Gelek became a noteworthy teacher himself, and was eventually enthroned as the sixth abbot of Śrī Siṃha College based on the recommendation of Mingyur Namkhai Dorje. He taught at the college and frequently visited the monastery's branches. He is also known for promoting the tradition of observing the three basic practices (gzhi gsum) of the Mahāyāna Vinaya: the confession ceremony, summer retreat, and conclusion ceremony.
His principal disciple was Minling Khenchen Tsultrim Dorje (smin gling mkhan chen tshul khrims rdo rje, d.u.), who went on to become the tutor of the seventh abbot of Śrī Siṃha College, Lingtrul Tubten Nyinje Gyeltsen (gling sprul thun bstan nyin byed rgyal mtshan, d.u.).
He spent his later life in meditation retreat at various caves around Dzogchen Monastery, including Guru's Cave at Rudam (ru dam gu ru'i sgrub phug). His date of death is unrecorded.
Lingtrul Tubten Nyinje Gyeltsen succeeded him as the seventh abbot of Śrī Siṃha College.
Bstan 'dzin lung rtogs nyi ma. 2004. 'Brug yul mkhan po bsod nams dge legs. In Snga 'gyur rdzogs chen chos 'byung chen mo, pp. 419. Beijing: Krong go'i bod rigs dpe skrun khang. TBRC W27401
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- Historical Period