Zurchen Shakya Jungne b.1002 - d.1062
Name Variants: Shakya Jungne; Upelungpa Shakya Jungne; Zurchen
Zurchen Shakya Jungne (zur po che shAkya 'byung gnas) was born in 1002 in a region of Kham called either Yardzong (yar rdzong) or Sarmo (gsar mo). The Zur clan traced its ancestry to India, to a man named Osel Lhawang Zhonnu Tsuktorchen ('od gsal lha dbang gzhon nu gtsug tor can). His mother was named Dewacham (bde ba lcam). There is some dispute over the identity of his father and grandfather, with several sources reversing the names of the two. The Blue Annals states that Zurpoche's father was Zang Mikpoche (bzangs mig po che) and that his grandfather was named Zur Acarya Sherab Jungne (zur Acarya shes rab 'byung gnas). However, other sources, such as the Second Dodrak Rigdzin Pema Trinle (rdo brag rig 'dzin 02 pad+ma 'phrin las, 1641-1717) have it that Zurpoche was the son of Zur Acarya Sherab Jungne, who had ordained as a young man and spent ten years in India, and that Acarya's father was Rinchen Gyatso (rin chen rgya mtsho). Dudjom Rinpoche, following Guru Tashi, who cites Jigme Lingpa ('jigs med gling pa, 1729-1798) states that these are both incorrect. According to these sources, Zurpoche's father was Sherab Jungne, his grandfather was Mikpoche, and Zur Acarya, who had spent ten years in India, was his uncle. Dudjom also gives Rinchen Gyatso as a name of his paternal grandfather, suggesting that Rinchen Gyatso was another name for Mikpoche.
Before he was born Zurchen's father and mother both experienced prophetic dreams in which their son was declared to be an emanation, and, predicting that the boy would bring great benefit to beings, they gave him name Shakya Jungne. Zurpoche ordained with Lachen Gongpa Rabsel (bla chen dgongs pa rab gsal, 953-1035), a well-known Vinaya master from Amdo. Gongpa Rabsel gave him no new name, declaring him to be an incarnation already appropriately named.
The list of Zurpoche's teachers is extensive. He studied reading, writing and Māyājāla with his father, and studied logic, Kriyatantra, Vajravidarana, Vairocana, Māyājāla, and Paramadya with his grandfather (or father) Rinchen Gyatso, although for reasons explained above, these teachings might all have been come from the same person. Nyang Yeshe Jungne (n/myang ye shes 'byung gnas, d.u.) from Cholung (chos lung) gave him additional Māyājāla teachings of his paternal lineage and Dzogchen Semde (rdzogs chen sems sde). He obtained additional Dzogchen teachings, including Lama Gongdu (bla ma dgongs pa 'dus), from Namkade (nam mkha' sde, d.u.), who was from Tokharia (tho gar). Nyannak Wangdrak of Yulsar (yul gsar gnyan nag dbang grags, d.u.) and Che Shakya Gyeltsen (lce shAkya rgyal mtshan, d.u.) gave him the secret initiation and taught him “upaya-marga” (meaning sexual yoga). Dretro Chungpa ('bre khro chung pa, d.u.) or Nyangto (myang stod) gave him the Dzogchen teachings on primordial purity and spontaneous presence (ka dag dang lhun grub) as well as Māyājāla. Rok Shakya Jungne of Samye Chimpu (bsam yas mchims phug rog shAkya 'byung gnas, d.u.) and Sherab Tsultrim of Denma (ldan ma shes rab tshul khrims, d.u.) gave him Yangdak Heruka, although the teachings from Rok Shakya Jungne came through Zurchen's disciple, Zangom Sherab Gyelpo (bzang sgom shes rab rgyal po), who Zurchen had sent to meet. Sonam Shakya of Zhuton (zhu ston bsod nams shAkya) gave him the Gongpa Dupai Do (dgongs pa 'dus pa'i mdo), which he also received from Tongtsab Pakpa Jangchub (stong tshab 'phags pa byang chub, d.u.), Gyaton Lodro (rgya ston blo gros, d.u.) and Kado Yeshe Nyingpo (bka' sdod ye shes snying po), who transmitted the empowerments, commentaries, and rituals.
Zurchen also famously studied under Nubchen Sanggye Yeshe (gnubs chen sangs rgyas ye shes, d.u.) and his disciple, Nub Yonten Gyatso (gnubs yon tan rgya mtsho, d.u.).
Zurchen was among the earliest codifiers of the Nyingma tantras. He is said to have divided them into root and expository tantras, grouped together the root texts with their commentaries, the tantras with their sadhanas, and the sadhanas with their ritual manuals. He also is known to have classified the root scripture of the three upper classes of Nyingma tantra: the Gongpa Dupai Do as the root tantra of Anuyoga, the Guhyagarbha as the Mahāyoga, and the Kunje Gyelpo (kun byed rgyal po) as the root tantras of Atiyoga / Dzogchen. Zurpoche is also said to have been the first to divide the Nyingma teachings into the two categories of Kama (bka' ma), or Spoken Word, and Terma (gter ma), revealed scripture. Together with Nubchen Sanggye Yeshe and the eighth- century Nyak Jñānakumara (gnyags dznyA na ku mA ra), the Zur family is regarded as being one of three founts for the Kama transmission. Unfortunately no writings by him are extant.
Zurchen spent many years in meditation retreat in the Tsang region of Tibet, particularly in the Tanak (rta nag) valley. There he practiced the nine-deity maṇḍala of Yangdak Heruka and had a vision of the deity. There he built a temple that came to be known as Upelung ('ug pa lung) after the numerous owls that inhabited the area. He then came to be known as Upelungpa, the man from Upelung. The main temple was decorated with the maṇḍalas of the Gongpa Dupai Do.
He also spent time at Riwo Godu (ri bo dgu 'dus) and at a place in Shangdar (shangs mdar) at a place called Drak Gyawo (brag rgya bo). A sponsor named Droton (sgro ston) gave him a cave where he established a temple called Dropuk Lhakang (sgro phug lha khang).
Later in his life Zurchen built a temple at Dropuk (sgro phug) in Nyari (nya ri), the northern tip of the Shang valley. As the story is told, a wealthy family invited a Bonpo, a Geluk monk, and Zurchen to all build a temple in the valley. The three could not agree on which figure to install as the central image, so set out to build three separate temples. While the construction was underway Zurchen received Lamdre (lam 'bras) teachings from Dorkmi Lotsāwa Shakya Yeshe ('brog mi lo tsā ba shākya ye shes, c.992-c.1072) in exchange for a large amount of gold. Mastering those teachings, he is said to have resolved that the Dzogchen tantras were superior.
Zurchen passed away in his sixty-first year, near the end of the completion of Dropuk temple. His heir was his younger relative and chief disciple, Zurchung Sherab Drakpa (zur chung shes rab grags pa, 1014-1074).
Zurchen's main disciples were known as the Four Summits (rtse mo bzhi):
1. Zurchung Sherab Drakpa, who mastered the realization
2. Minyak Khyungdrak (mi nyag khyung grags), who mastered the Māyājāla
3. Shang Gongchung (zhang 'gongs chung), who mastered wisdom
4. Zanggom Sherab Gyelpo (bzang sgom shes rab rgyal po) who mastered meditation
To that group a fifth is added, known as the Crown Summit (rtse lkog): Tsag Lama (rtsags bla ma)
Bradburn, Leslie, ed. 1995. Masters of the Nyingma Lineage. Cazadero: Dharma Publications, 1995.
Bstan 'dzin lung rtogs nyi ma. 2004. Snga 'gyur rdzogs chen chos 'byung chen mo. Beijing: China Tibetan Publishing House, 153-156.
Dalton, Jacob. 2002. The Uses of the Dgongs pa 'dus pa'i mdo in the Development of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism. PhD dissertation, University of Michigan, pp. 101-104.
Dudjom Rinpoche. 2002. The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism. Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein, trans. Boston: Wisdom, pp. 617-635.
Grags pa 'byung gnas. 1992. Gangs can mkhas grub rim byon ming mdzod. Lanzhou: Kan su'u mi rigs dpe skrun khang, pp. 1531-1533.
Gu ru bkra shis. 1990. Gu bkra'i chos 'byung. Beijing: Krung go'i bod kyi shes rig dpe skrun khang, pp. 250-266.
Rdo brag rig 'dzin 02 pad+ma 'phrin las. 1972 (1681). Bka' ma mdo dbang gi bla ma brgyud pa'i rnam thar. Delhi: Jayyed Press, pp. 185 ff.
Roerich, George, trans. 1996. The Blue Annals. 2nd ed. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, pp. 109-113.
View this person's associated Works & Texts on the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center's Web site
- Historical Period