Yeshe Rinchen b.1248 - d.1294
Name Variants: Dukorwa Yeshe Rinchen; Sharpa Yeshe Rinchen; Tishri 04 Yeshe Rinchen
Yeshe Rinchen (ye shes rin chen) was born to the east of Sakya Monastery in Tsang in 1248. His father's name was Chukpo Jetsunkyap (phyug po rje btsun skyabs). Yeshe Rinchen was a child prodigy and at an early age mastered his seminary studies in the Sakya tradition. Because of his specialty in the Kālacakra-tantra, in most histories his name is preceded by the title Kālacakra master (dus 'khor ba).
Yeshe Rinchen was a close associate of Pakpa Lodro Gyeltsen ('phags pa blo gros rgyal mtshan, 1235-1280). The latter lived in and around Sakya Monastery from 1264-1269, when Yeshe Rinchen would have been a monk at that great center of learning. Recognizing his scholarship and proficiency in ritual arts, in 1272 Pakpa invited him to the central Asian trading post Shingkun (shing kun; ch. Taozhou). In 1275 Yeshe Rinchen accompanied Pakpa to the Yuan court in Dadu, present-day Beijing, where he met Kublai Khan and gained his favor. When Chogyel Pakpa returned to Tibet Yeshe Rinchen remained behind in Dadu to serve as a chaplain at the court.
The office of Imperial Preceptor (ti shri; ch. dishi) was created for Pakpa in 1270. The ritual traditions for which Pakpa was famous were considered his family's unique heritage, and the succeeding two Imperial Preceptors were members of his family. Most of the subsequent Imperial Preceptors were also descendants of Pakpa. Nevertheless, Yeshe Rinchen proved to be an outstanding ritual specialist and administrator and in 1286 this monk born outside of the Sakya family was made the fourth Imperial Preceptor of the Yuan Dynasty. His tenure lasted from 1286-1291. One early source claims he died in 1291 but most profiles of him date his passing to 1294; all agree that he died at Wutai Shan.
None of his writings – if indeed he did author any texts – seem to be extant. Among his students are two early masters of the Jonang tradition, Kunpang Tukje Tsondru (kun spangs thugs rje brtson 'grus, 1243-1313), Kunpang Zhang (kun spangs zhang, d.u.), and Jangsem Gyelwa Yeshe (byang sems rgyal ba ye shes, 1247-1320).
Petech. Luciano. 1983. “Tibetan Relations with Sung China and the Mongols.” In China among equals: the Middle Kingdom and its neighbors, 10th-14th centuries. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 173-204;
Schaeffer, Kurtis and Leonard van der Kuijp. 2009. An Early Survey of Buddhist Literature: The bstan pa rgyas pa rgyan gyi nyi 'od of Bcom ldan ral gri. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Rinchen Trashi. 1990. “Tibetan Buddhism and the Yuan Royal Court.” Tibet Studies vol. 2 , no. 2, pp. 1-26.
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, p. 824
View this person's associated Works & Texts on the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center's Web site
- Historical Period