Trehor Khangsar Rinpoche (1838-1897)

“Sole refuge Manjushrigarbha’s Dharma protector, Wondrous Dorje Shugden Tsel...”

Trehor Khangsar, also known as Lobsang Tsultrim Tenpa'i Gyaltsen (blo bzang tshul khrims bstan pa'i rgyal mtshan), is from a region in northwest Kham called Trehor. The word Hor in Tibetan means Mongolian, and reflects the history of this region. When the Mongol king Gushri Khan defeated the king of Beri, Mongols settled in his domain and eventually assimilated into the Tibetan population. There were five states in this region: Beri, Khangsar, Masur, Trewo and Drango. The largest town in this area was Ganzi (dkar mdzes), and the monastery there was constructed in 1642.

Trehor Khangsar Rinpoche was the holder of the Ganzi monastery seat. This particular incarnation, Lobsang Tsultrim Tenpai Gyaltsen, was born in Ganzi as well. When he was young, he travelled to Lhasa and entered Drepung Loseling College. There he studied the five great classic texts (gzhung chen bka' pod lnga). Later, he became the abbot of Gyumed tantric college at the time of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso. For that reason, he came to be called Trehor Khangsar Lobsang Tsultrim.1

One of his main students was Jampa Choedak, the 90th Ganden Tripa (1920-1926), who was also from the Trehor region.2 He wrote a biography (rnam thar) about Trehor Khangsar Rinpoche, recently republished in 2003 by the Drepung Loseling Library Society (Mundgod, N.K., Karnataka). Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo was a student of Trehor Khangsar Rinpoche as well, from whom he received teachings including the complete initiation, transmission and explanation of Naro Dakini (Vajrayogini) in the tradition of Ngulchu Dharmabhadra.3

Trehor Khangsar Rinpoche’s collected works, published in 1975 by T.G. Dhongthog Rinpoche (New Delhi), consists of four volumes. Various People notes the following examples of his works:

  1. The Chariot Bringing Forth Great Union: Notes on the First Stage of Yamantaka
  2. The Golden Chariot: Notes on the Explanation of the Quick Path Lam-Rim
  3. The Quick Path to Great Bliss: Explanation on the Profound Path of the Six Yogas of Naropa
  4. Explanation of the Kalachakra Tantra
  5. Stages for Walking in the Dark: Comprehending the Practice of the Instructions of the Profound Guru Puja

Another remarkable thing about his collected works is that there are four texts devoted to Kalachakra alone. At least one of these texts has been used in modern Kalachakra studies. In the Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s book Kalachakra Tantra: Rite of Initiation, the two primary texts used to describe the Kalachakra initiation are Khedrup Gelek Pelzang’s (1385-1438) Mandala Rite of the Glorious Kalachakra: Illumination of the Thought and Lobsang Tsultrim Tenpai Gyaltsen’s Initiation Rite of Kalachakra, Stated in an Easy Way. As explained in the book, the latter text was written for the sake of adapting the former text for conducting an initiation ceremony, which is why it is included to supplement Khedrupje’s work. Also, Trehor Rinpoche’s text includes more details on the deities.4

In Trehor Khangsar’s collected works (volume 4), there are three related protector rituals, each written at mgar thar monastery as a thanksgiving (btang rag) for oracle invocations: one for Nechung, one for Setrap and one for Dorje Shugden (pp. 138-140). The Dorje Shugden ritual is a short request for activity called rgyal chen rdo rje shugs ldan rtsal gyi 'phrin bcol bstan srung dgyes byed. One thing from this ritual that should be noted is that Dorje Shugden is described riding a snow lion, as many earlier Gelug works do not explicitly mention this. The invocation mentions him as the Dharma protector of Manjushrigarbha, the name of Je Tsongkhapa’s incarnation in Tushita:

From the bliss-void union jewel palace,
Majestically posed on a fearless lion,
Sole refuge Manjushrigarbha’s Dharma protector,
Wondrous Dorje Shugden Tsel,
Appearing with a monk’s attire
In saffron dyed Benares muslin,
From your vajra palace dwellings
Come here to accomplish my activities.

This is followed by requests to protect the Dharma, to protect the practitioner from premature death and illness, and to accomplish realizations:

In such end-times you promised to protect
The essence of the Tathagatha’s doctrine,
Now accomplish what I entrust to you
And protect me from premature death and decline.

The yellow hats’ essential doctrine of the middle way,
Definite emergence from samsara, bodhicitta,
Quickly accomplishing with great fortitude,
Perform activities for developing these amazing realizations.

This entrustment of activity was also written at Garthar monastery, being very happy at the time of oracle invocation these lofty praises were written as a thanksgiving by Lobsang Tsultrim Tenpa'i Gyaltsen.

Garthar (mgar thar) monastery is in eastern Kham, in particular a region known as Minyag. The Seventh Dalai Lama was born in Garthar and was exiled there for a period as well after being enthroned in Lhasa. In the 20th century, Pabongkha Rinpoche wrote a middling-length kangso to Dorje Shugden for a lama from the area as noted in the colophon. As translated by Nebesky-Wojkowitz:5

This book, a condensation of other works, was composed by the so-called Pha bong kha pa sprul sku (inhabiting the small Pha bong kha ri khrod near Sera monastery) upon the request of the mGar thar sprul sku Rin po che Thub bstan 'jigs med grags pa rnam rgyal and his brother rDo rje rnam rgyal. The text was written down by the clerk Ngag ldan dpon lha thub bstan gsung rab.

One notable detail from the colophon of this ritual is that Pabongkha Rinpoche was requested by the lama of this locality of Kham to write the ritual; it was not written as a result of a personal agenda. Dreyfus attributes the spread of Dorje Shugden propitiation in Kham to Pabongkha Rinpoche;6 however, the colophon of Trehor Khangsar’s ritual clearly shows the practice was already present in the region before Pabongkha Rinpoche travelled there. This is further corroborated by a personal account of a public Dorje Shugden religious dance witnessed in Minyag on July 29th, 1924 in A Tibetan on Tibet.7 This and the account written by Joseph Rock of a public oracle invocation of Dorje Shugden in the same region in the late 1920s in a National Geographic article8 also challenges the claim made by Dreyfus that the oracle was only allowed in fixed locations, such as Dromo and Trode Khangsar.9 Whether the Thirteenth Dalai Lama ever restricted Dorje Shugden at all is highly questionable and a claim lacking in verifiable texts, as discussed elsewhere. In any case, all of these events occurred in a timeframe before Pabongkha had travelled to the region, while the Thirteenth Dalai Lama was sovereign of Tibet including this region.

In addition, this particular work is listed in the catalog of Lobsang Tamdin,10 which means it found its way to Mongolia. Another text is also cataloged and attributed to this author, called rgyal chen rdo rje shugs ldan gyi rten mdos kyi cho ga. This is a type of thread-cross ritual called mdos, composed specifically in conjunction with Dorje Shugden.

1 Don rdor and bsTan 'dzin chos grags (1993), pp. 938-939.

2 TBRC Person RID: P250, TBRC Person RID: P5355.

3 dpal ngur smrig gar rol skyabs gcig pha bong kha pa bde chen snying po dpal bzang po'i rnam par thar pa don ldan tsangs pa'i dbyangs snyan zhes bya ba bzhugs so by Denma Lobsang Dorje, folio 137b.

4 Kalachakra Tantra: Rite of Initiation by Btan-'dzin-rgya-mtsho, Dalai Lama XIV, pp. 131-132.

5 Nebesky-Wojkowitz (1956), p. 584.

6 Dreyfus (1998), p. 253:

“The sectarian implications of Pa-bong-ka’s revival movement and the role of Shuk-den therein became clear during the 1940’s, when the cult of Shuk-den spread in Khams and the Ge-luk tradition became much more aggressive in its opposition to the other schools.”

7 Sherap, P., & Combe, G. A. (1926). A Tibetan on Tibet; Being the travels and observations of Mr. Paul Sherap (Dorje Zodba) of Tachienlu; with an introductory chapter on Buddhism and a concluding chapter on the devil dance. London: T.F. Unwin. p. 198.

8 Rock, Joseph F. (1935). Sungmas, the Living Oracles of the Tibetan Church, National Geographic, 68:475-486. Joseph Rock, not well versed in Tibetan language, writes the sungma in question as Chechin, which mostly is a transcription of the word Gyalchen. This can be confirmed in picture caption “A temple banner is adorned with two deities” in which the deity is on the right (which is obviously Dorje Shugden - on a lion holding a sword with a heart to his mouth) is identified as Chechin. “The latter spirit is said to take possession of the Balung chu dje the oracle pictured on the opposite page.” Here Balung chu dje most likely refers to Panglung Choje, who was one of the reknowned oracles of Shugden.

9 Dreyfus (1998), page 244.

10 Lobsang Tamdin (1975), v. X, p. 403.