Serkong Dorje Chang (1856-1918)

“The Chief Dharma Protector of Conqueror Manjunatha [Je Tsongkhapa], Dorje Shugden...”

Serkong Dorje Chang,1 properly known as Ngawang Tsultrim Donden (ngag dbang tshul khrims don ldan), was probably one of the greatest and famous masters at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century.

He was born in 1856 and given the name Yeshe Bar. At the age of ten, he began studies by relying on the 81st Ganden Throne Holder (term 1879-1884), Ngawang Norbu.2 Then, entering Ganden Jangtse College, he studied the five great classics. He heard teachings on sutra and tantra from many masters, including the Trichen Ngawang Norbu, Yongzin Lobsang Tenzin, Rongpo Pandita Gendun Gyatso, Jangtse Choje Tenzin Rabgye. At age 24, he stood for his Geshe Lharampa degree.

To ensure his long life and success in widely benefiting sentient beings and the doctrine, the Ganden Throne Holder Ngawang Norbu told him many times that it was necessary for him to take a wife, which he finally did. At that time, many people made various criticisms. Taking this as an opportunity to practice purely, without attachment to wealth and possessions, he went and stayed in an isolated location. After a few years, he showed signs of attainment.

At age 40, he was invited to Bhutan and the Mon district; by going there, he achieved great benefit for the doctrine. In Bhutan, he served as a main lama (dbu bla) of the Bhutanese ruler Urgyen Wangchuck (1861-1926, o rgyan dbang phyug), who had earlier united the country after much internal conflict, and who became the first monarch of Bhutan in 1907. Serkong Dorje Chang stayed at the Kurje monastery, which is named after the physical imprints Guru Rinpoche left when he visited the area in 746, located in the Bumthang district of northern Bhutan.

In addition, Serkong Dorje Chang had a vision of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (1594-1651), the founder of modern Bhutan and an incarnation of Padma Karpo, when he received the 'chi med lcags sdong ma'i chos skor, a cycle of teachings connected with life longevity. He is credited with an initiation text based on these pure visions for longevity (zhabs drung dag snang gyi dbang bskur), which was contributed to the Drugpa Kagyu tradition,3 as well as another cycle based on these pure visions (zhabs drung dag snang ma'i skor).4 These liturgies have all been retained and recently published in Bhutan.

Upon his return to Tibet, he gave many Dharma teachings on sutra and tantra. At age 63, he was requested by the Ninth Panchen Rinpoche Lobsang Thubten Chokyi Nyima (1883-1937)5 to stay at Tashi Lhunpo. They in turn reciprocated many teachings. Other written works of his consist of over a dozen rituals for Chakrasamvara, especially the sixty-two deity Luipa tradition. He was also the lineage holder of the Gelug Kalachakra lineage, passing it on to Khangsar Rinpoche.

A survey conducted of printing blocks in Central Tibet while sTag-brag Rinpoche served as regent lists Trode Khangsar in Lhasa as possessing wood blocks for the Extensive Fulfillment Ritual for the Dharmapala Dorje Shugden (bskang chog rgyas pa), authored by Serkong Dorje Chang.6

This extensive fulfillment ritual has also been published in the Dorje Shugden be bum as well. Given Serkong Dorje Chang’s diverse qualifications, there was nobody in a better position to incorporate the works of Morchen Dorje Chang and Drugpa Kagyu Dre'u Lhas into an extensive Dorje Shugden kangso. In the notes near the end of the kangso, it says: “Requests to the Protector of Jamgon Tsongkhapa Gyalchen Dorje Shugden Tsel Granting Activities: the upper volume [was written by] the Lord of Siddhis Dre'u Lhas pa and the lower volume [was written by] the learned and accomplished Morchen.” He states that these masters are beyond dispute, the works’ meanings have all the qualities, and their words are especially blessed. He notes this was written at the request of the Dorje Shugden oracle.

Although Serkong Dorje Chang’s ritual contains nearly the complete verses of the aforementioned ritual by Morchen Dorje Chang and Dre'u Lhas, it contains interspersed verses, explicitly citing the origins of some. Serkong Dorje Chang refers to Dorje Shugden as the Dharma Protector of the Conqueror Manjunatha (Je Tsongkhapa).7 There is a modified verse attributed to Sangye Yeshe that says “Lord of Secrets Dulzin Dragpa Gyaltsen, his emanation Dorje Shugden, I respectfully prostrate with my body, speech and mind.” For the short mantra of Dorje Shugden, Rinchen Wangyal’s initiation manual is cited as the source.8

In particular, the verses are very specific for describing Dorje Shugden as a special protector of the Gelug, especially of the hearing lineage (snyan rgyud)9 of “Jamgon Lama Tsongkhapa, Togden Jampel Gyatso, Dulzin Dragpa Gyaltsen, Ensapa, Panchen Lobsang Chokyi Gyaltsen.” A method of reciting the Migtsema is integrated into the ritual as well.10 Also, there is a short verse for offering which was spoken by the Dharma Protector himself.11 Moreover, Serkong Dorje Chang also wrote this verse:12

Fierce collection of all power and capability, clothed in blue,
Showing in the form of a dregs to subdue the unsuitable,
Magic-wielding Dorje Shugden and retinue,
I respectfully prostrate with my body, speech and mind.

The initial epithets obviously refer to Vajrapani, and Dorje Shugden is Vajrapani with the same characteristics of possessing both power and strength (mthu stobs). This verse and Serkong Dorje Chang’s reference to Rinchen Wangyal indicate that he was influenced by the tradition of Dorje Shugden at Sera monastery that viewed Dorje Shugden as Vajrapani.

In the final pages of the kangso is a well known bsangs or fragrant offering to Dorje Shugden. Actually, as a verb bsang means to purify, much the same as a bathing ritual but with scent as the purifying medium. Of course, the deities themselves do not require purification; the visualization of purification is done for the sake of the practitioner. This has also been published separately as noted below in the translation.

'Jam mgon rgyal ba'i bstan srung Rdo-rje Shugs-ldan rtsal chen po'i bsangs mchod [dge legs mchog stsol] bzhugs so13

At the time of wanting to make a bsang offering, collect the incense substances; repeat the refuge and bodhi mind generation verses three times.

Hum, visualizing myself as the yidam, from the heart,
Light emanates clearing all faults from incense,
Scent having the five desirable qualities complete in perfection,
Granting uncontaminated bliss fills the extent of awareness.

Om Ah Hum (repeat as many times to bless)

Hum, Root and lineages gurus, Three Jewels,
Dakas, Dakinis and Dharma Protectors,
Especially Dorje Shugden and retinue,
By boundless magical power come here.

Also, birth, warrior and patron deities
Local deities, spirits and guardians with the eight classes,
Assembly of guests worthy of offering please come here.

Each happily dwelling on their seats
For the sake of fulfilling the yogi’s entrusted activities
Outer, inner clouds of offerings, commitment substances and presents,
Accept these and accomplish the entrusted activities.


Agar, sandalwood, six medicinal ingredients14 and plants,
By the smoke cloud from the burning wisdom fire
Completely filling the sky
Purifies the root and lineage lamas, yidams and Three Jewels.
Purifies the dakas, dakinis and dharma protectors.

Purifies especially the Chief Dharma Protector of Conqueror Manjunatha
Dorje Shugden and four cardinal emanations.
Purifies birth, war and five patron gods.
Purifies local deities, spirits, guardians and the eight classes.
By the power of offering incense to worthy guests
May all obscurations of quarrel and samaya be purified.
May lifespan, merit and power all increase.
Pacify all diseases to humans and animals, famine, war and dispute.
May the crops be good and the rain be timely.
Conquer classes of demons of the dark side, increase the positive,
And having befriended spontaneously and effortlessly
Attain all goals just as wished.

Ki ki so so, Lha gyel lo!

Hum! Being pleased and satisfied, guests return to their abodes
Returning again upon request for activities.
By this virtue may I myself and all mother beings
Have perpetual auspiciousness of happiness and benefit.

This bsang offering bestowing excellence was composed by the yellow hat lineage holder bearing the reincarnation name Ganden Serkong.

This particular publication was published at Buxa, West Bengal in India, in 1967 where the first center to preserve education for reincarnate lamas was established after everything in Tibet was lost. In particular, this publication of the ritual was requested by the Gyalchen monthly ritual group of Zong Rinpoche.

1 TBRC Person RID: P243.

2 TBRC Person RID: P25.

3 TBRC Work RID: W4266.

4 TBRC Work RID: W23615.

5 TBRC Person RID: P215.

6 Three Karchacks (Gedan sungrab minyam gyunphel series, v. 13), published 1970, New Delhi: Gangs can gyi ljongs su bka' dang bstan bcos sogs kyi glegs bam spar gzhi ji ltar yod pa rnams nas dkar chag spar thor phyogs tsam du bkod pa phan bde'i pad tshad 'byed pa'i nyin byed.

7 Guru Deva Rinpoche (1984), p. 511.

8 Guru Deva Rinpoche (1984), p. 527.

9 Guru Deva Rinpoche (1984), p. 515.

10 Guru Deva Rinpoche (1984), p. 526.

11 Guru Deva Rinpoche (1984), p. 524.

12 Guru Deva Rinpoche (1984), p. 516.

13 Sbag-sa: Nang-bstan Shes-rig 'dzin skyong slob gnyer khang (1967).

14 Bamboo juice, nutmeg, marigold, cardamon, cardamon, and cloves.