Zarawa Kelden Yeshe Sengge

ISSN 2332-077X

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Zarawa Kelden Yeshe Sengge b.1168? - d.1207

Name Variants: Kelden Yeshe Sengge; Yeshe Sengge; Zangra Kelden Yeshe Sengge

Zarawa Kelden Yeshe Sengge (zwa ra ba skal ldan ye shes seng ge) was born in Mongar (mon 'gar), in the Brahmaputra River valley not very far from Pakmodrupa Dorje Gyelpo's (phag mo gru pa rdo rje rgyal po, 1110-1170) seat, Densatil (gdan sa mthil).

When he was young he worked as a goatherd. Once he gazed out from the hilltop as the goats were grazing and caught a glimpse of the mountain behind Pakmodrupa's monastery in the distance, which induced a spontaneous state of meditation. Another time he overheard two hermits discussing meditation and thought to himself, ‘Well, if that is what meditation is then it's something I can surely do.' So he went to visit Pakmodrupa. Pakmodrupa told him that although he had the results of meditation practices in his previous lives, he had committed a transgression against his vows that would explain why, in this life, he could only sleep with his face downwards. Pakmodrupa introduced him to the true nature of mind and he had exceptional realization. At Drarab (gra rabs) he newly founded Zara (zwa ra) Monastery. He drew scenes from his previous lives on the walls of his monastic cell. He was also responsible for erecting a large dwelling at Pakmodru.

For later generations, Zarawa's greatest importance was that he originated the Yabzang Kagyu lineage. His disciple Yabzang Choje Chokyi Monlam (g.ya' bzang pa chos rje chos kyi smon lam) was a greater organizer and writer, so the founding of the tradition is often credited to him rather than Zarawa. Chokyi Monlam took the Kagyu teachings of Zarawa and systematized them, supplementing them with teachings on Zhije and Chod that would characterize the Yabzang Kagyu lineage from his time onward.




Bsod nams rgya mtsho. N.d. Skal ldan ye shes seng+ge'i rnam thar. In Bka' brgyud chos 'byung nor bu'i phreng ba, vol. 1, pp. 99-100. TBRC W1KG4232.

Chos kyi 'byung gnas. 1990. Za ra ba skal ldan ye shes seng+ge. In Gsung 'bum/_chos kyi 'byung gnas, vol. 11, p. 98. Sansal, Dist. Kangra, H.P.: Palpung Sungrab Nyamso Khang. TBRC W26630.

Roerich, George, trans. 1996. The Blue Annals. 2nd ed. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, pp. 652-3.

Grags pa 'byung gnas. 1992. Gangs can mkhas grub rim byon ming mdzod. Lanzhou: Kan su'u mi rigs dpe skrun khang, pp. 1536-7.


Dan Martin
August 2008