Sera Tantric College’s Abbot
Namkha Tenkyong (1799-?)

“Collection of Conquerors’ power and capability, Lord of Secrets [Vajrapani], Gyalchen Dorje Shugden...”

Namkha Tenkyong (nam mkha' bstan skyong) was born into the 'phan po shar pa family in the year 1799.1 When he was young, he entered Sera monastery. When he was 48, he went to Ngulchu in Tsang and listened to a vast amount of teachings at the feet of Ngulchu Dharmabhadra (1772-1851) and his nephew Yangchen Drubpe Dorje (1809-1887).2

Namkha Tenkyong was also a lineage holder for several important Gelug lineages as he is also listed in several lineage prayers following Ngulchu Dharmabhadra and Yangchen Drubpe Dorje. This includes the Gelugpa Mahamudra lineage3 and the Five Deity Heruka initiation lineage.4 His collected works has five different texts on various practices of Five Deity Heruka.

He served as the abbot of Sera Tantric College for a long time. At age 68, he wrote a ritual for the Yoga Tantra yidam Sarvavid-Vairochana (kun rig).5 His collected works has seven different texts on the practice of Sarvavid-Vairochana. He also made a compilation for the six preparatory practices and wrote a commentary on a pre-existing text on the six preparatory practices (lam rim sngon 'gro sbyor chos drug gi gsal bar byas pa).6

Namkha Tenkyong has a ritual to Dorje Shugden in his collected works called The Magical, Instant Messenger Summoning the Four Activities: a Brief Method of Fulfillment and Activities for the Great Dharma Protector Shugden Dorje Barwa Tsel (shugs ldan 'bar ba rtsal gyi bskang 'phrin).7 It is six folios in length and has been included in the Dorje Shugden be bum as well.8

In this text, Dorje Shugden is visualized in an immeasurable mansion on a lion throne; he himself possesses a crimson color (dmar ser), holding vajra-marked club (be con) and a lasso. He also possesses the three eyes that see the three times clearly (dus gsum gsal las gzigs pa'i spyan gsum ldan).

Collection of Conquerors’ power and capability, Lord of Secrets
In the form of a dregs for the sake of protecting the Conquerors’ doctrine,
Gyalchen Dorje Shugden Blazing Power,
In the manner of a heroic bodhisattva please come here.

With many different illusory manifestations of wisdom,
Appearing as uninhibited frightful expressions,
Just as the single moon on the lakes,
Manifests in multiplicity please come here.

From the following praises section:

Although unmoving from the Dharmakaya,
You appear in the form of the lord of all dregs,
To the Dharma protector with magical power and retinue
I prostrate and praise with my body, speech and mind.

This is followed by offerings, confession, the fulfillment of pledges (bskang ba) and requests to avert harm (bzlog pa). This in turn is followed by the recitation of the mantra—in this case, Om Begi Sarva Siddhi Hum—which is followed by a torma offering. Next are more praises, including:

For the purpose of averting classes of enemies
Having given your promise to the command of the able father,
Great Protector of the Jamgon Lineage,
Praise to the one who lovingly protects like a father.

Manifesting with the five wisdoms of all Conquerors,
Revealing with a wide spectrum of appearances,
Praise to the one who fills the extent of heaven and earth with
Body, speech, mind qualities, activities, five emanations, and reemanations.

This is followed by the entrustment of activity ('phrin bcol), starting with:

Hum, the chaste Geden doctrine,
Unblemished by many faults,
Clarifying like a pure lotus,
Faultless in every respect
Please spread [this] in the 10 directions.

This is followed by a torma offering and serkyem. Next is an enthronement (mnga' gsol):

Hum, You Dorje Shugden, Chief of the dregs,
Kind root and lineage gurus, yidams,
Infallible Three Jewels, Dakas and Dakinis’ actuality,
I enthrone as the actuality of the collection of all refuge.

The ritual concludes with the author stating that if one wants to do a more extended confession, thanksgiving, request to stay and depart, then they should take it from Dorje Chang Jetsun Gyatso Thaye’s work which is in accordance with the other protectors of the Riwo Geden tradition. In the colophon, the author states this was written in the year 1873 (water bird year).

This text illustrates that Dorje Shugden is considered an emanation of Vajrapani by the author, just as Sera Je Trichen Tenpa Rabgye and other lamas of Sera monastery wrote earlier. In particular, the term shugs ldan 'bar ba rtsal translated in the verses above as Blazing Power is unique and is not found in any other rituals in the Dorje Shugden be bum. This term is similar to that of the Tibetan deity rdo rje 'bar ba rtsal, for whom the Fifth Dalai Lama has rituals in his collected works. This is probably another instance of various deities sharing similar descriptive titles.

Another place where Dorje Shugden is specifically mentioned with this particular title is in a response to a question written in a letter by Ngulchu Dharmabhadra. In Ngulchu Dharmabhadra’s collected works9 (v. 4, pp. 223-516) there is a compilation of “collected replies to queries on various points of doctrine and practice.” In the table of contents (p. 220), there is an entry called dol rgyal dang dga' ldan lha brgya ma'i skor. This comprises of a letter written to zhabs drung rin po che (a term of general address, unfortunately the recipient cannot be identified) apparently addressing his questions about offering a torma in the practice of Ganden Lha Gyema and Dorje Shugden. The letter starts by addressing the recipient and then says:

Panchen Sonam Dragpa’s reincarnation Tulku Sonam Dragpa, his reincarnation Tulku Sonam Gelek Pelzang, and his reincarnation Zimkhang Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen and his sudden death reincarnation appeared as the Shugden Dorje Barwa Dragpa or Dolgyal.

Ngulchu Dharmabhadra states he has not seen in any of the scriptures or heard from a guru that Dorje Shugden appears as Blazing Manjushri in a torma offering in the Ganden Lha Gyema. Instead, he refers the questioner to a method written in a retreat ritual (bsnyen yig) by Panchen Lama Yeshe Palden in which the torma offering is made to Je Tsongkhapa and his two disciples (rje yab sras gsum).

In any case, this short reference by itself is a historical snapshot into the first half of the 19th century, which indeed confirms the existence of the view that Dorje Shugden, Dolgyal and the reincarnation of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen were considered the same entity. Georges Dreyfus attempts to decouple the reincarnation of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen from the Shugden/Dolgyal entity, maintaining it is part of the Shugden myth created later. In particular, Dreyfus makes the claim that it was Pabongkha himself who later identified Dorje Shugden with Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen in order to legitimize the practice.10 However, this identification most likely had always existed throughout the entire history of the practice. Whether that much is true or not requires more examination; however, this certainly proves that Pabongkha Rinpoche did not fabricate this association, and that the identification existed at least a century before his time.11 This deconstructs one aspect of the accusation that Pabongkha invented the Shugden “myth” as part of a personal agenda, such as feeling victimized by the Thirteenth Dalai Lama.

Finally, some have raised doubts about Ngulchu Dharmabhadra due to a one-sentence reference in his biography, written by his nephew Yangchen Drubpe Dorje (dbyangs can grub pa'i rdo rje). In folio 34, it says12 there was a formless being hitting a boulder day and night, and Lochen Rinpoche said it was harm from Dolgyal and advised reciting the Ganden Lha Gyema scripture. However, one interpretation of the meaning here is that Dolgyal encouraged recitation of this practice through unconventional means. His biography states that Ngulchu memorized this prayer as a result, and of course Ngulchu later became one of the greatest holders of the Ganden lineage.

1 TBRC Person RID: P276.

2 Don rdor and bsTan 'dzin chos grags (1993), p. 890.

3 Willis (1995), p. 109. He is listed as (ser sngags mkhan zur) mKhas-grub bsTan-'dzin-brtson-'grus.

4 Folio 11b from Pabongkha Rinpoche’s bla brgyud gsol 'debs sogs kyi skor phyogs gcig tu bsgrigs pa bzhugs so.

5 Don rdor and bsTan 'dzin chos grags (1993), p. 890.

6 This is commentary on the text published in Ngag-dbang Chos-'byor’a book Jorcho: The Six Preparatory Practices Adoring the Buddha’s Sublime Doctrine (1984, 2001). Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works & Archives.

7 TBRC Work RID: W1GS135531.

8 Guru Deva Rinpoche (1984), pp. 371-383.

9 TBRC Work RID: W20548.

10 Dreyfus (1998), p. 251:

“Pa-bong-ka was aware of the stories surrounding Drak-ba Gyel-tsen’s death but understood them quite differently from the way contemporaries of Drak-ba Gyel-tsen had. For him, the narrative was not about Drak-ba Gyel-tsen but about Shuk-den and the identification of the latter with the former was a way to legitimize the diffusion of a practice that had been previously marginal.”

11 There is more evidence of this as well, considered elsewhere.

12 de skabs dgon pa'i gling stod du gzugs med pa'i rdo rdeg mkhan nyin mtsan ci rigs su byung bar, tsogs spyi nas lo chen rin po cher brtag zhu mdzad par dol rgyal gyi gnod pa yin pas tsogs 'don du dga' ldan lha brgya ma btzugs na legs tsul phebs par brten.