The First Zhuoge Rinpoche, Benluobu Kunga Palsang

The First Zhuoge Rinpoche, Benluobu Kunga Beisang was born in Aba, Amdo in 1629. At his early age, Rinpoche demonstrated many extraordinary qualities such as good faith in the Triple Gem, compassion toward all living beings and renunciation,and so on. And he dreamed to learn the Buddha's teachings in Lhasa, Tibet. Upon arriving at Lhasa, Rinpoche visited and paid homage to Buddha Shakyamuni, a twelve-year-old life-size image in the Jokhang Temple and an eight-year-old life-size image in Ramoche Temple, and he made a vow at the time to save all setient beings and propagate the Buddha's teachings.

Rinpoche visited Drikun Monastery, Gade Monastery, Samye Monastery and many other monasteries in southern Tibet. In Drepung Monastery, Rinpoche completely accomplished the study of Pramanavarttika, Great Sutra of the Perfection of Wisdom, The Great Exposition of the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, Treaties on the 'Middle Way', Treasury of Metaphysics or Abhidharma-kosa and The Vinaya Pitaka. As Rinpoche studied and grasped Buddhist scriptures so well and thoroughly, and very soon He was granted Geshe Degree and became famous among the area.

At that time, the Tibetan emperor invited Him as State Preceptor and entrusted all the state affairs to Him when the emperor went to India one year. When the emperor returned and requested more about the Buddhist doctrines from Him. Hence, Rinpoche taught and explained many thoughts about the Buddha's teachings specifically on The Great Exposition of the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment. Having given many more on the Buddha's teachings, Rinpoche was officially conferred a honor of State Preceptor and was offered with the seven-inch eleven-headed Avalokiteshvara image made of sandalwood by Songtsen Gampo himself, imperial seal, a complete set of ornament for throne and ritual implements and, very high quality silk and monastic robe (above picture), and so on. And some of the treasured objects have been well preserved in the Zhuoge Monastery till now.

Since then, Rinpoche has been addressed as "Benluobu" Kunga Beisang. "Benluobu" is transliterated sound of Tibetan language, literally means "state preceptor". At that time, there were only two persons addressed respectfully as "Benluobu" in Aba, Amdo and Rinpoche was one of them.

Rinpoche had ever visited and paid homage to two precious pagodas in Kathmandu, Nepal and, offering many lotus flowers and butter lamps. And there he vowed "to save all sentient beings and propagate Jonangpa's doctrines, including Jetsun Taranata's The Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, and Kunkyen Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen's The Supreme Kalachakra of Six-fold Yoga and Mountain Doctrine, Ocean of Definitive Meaning: Final Unique Quintessential Instructions of the 'Middle Way and Other Emptiness', etc."

During his learning and practicing the Buddha's teachings in UIterior Tibet, Rinpoche stayed at Thubten Samdo Monastery for several months when he discussed issues, exchanged views and, debated and argued on Buddhist studies with local Geshe. Rinpoche was so eloquent and convincing on debates and arguments that no one could surpass him. One day, Rinpoche came upon an idea of visiting Jonang Monastery, and simultaneously Jetsun Taranata learned the idea. And Jetsun Taranata told his attendants that there would be two monks coming from Amdo area in near future and the two monks would make tremendous contributions on the Jonangpa development, and asked his attendants to hand its monastic robe to Zhuoge Kunga Beisang Rinpoche. After Jetsun Taranata's parinirvana, Rinpoche and his same-lineage monk happened to arrive at Takten Dhamcholing Monastery (later was changed to the name of Ganden Phuntsokling of Gelupa School). Now Jetsun Taranata's monastic robe?(above picture) has been still treasured in the Zhuoge Monastery.

When Rinpoche arrived at Takten Dencholing Monastery, he learned from Lama Yeshe Namdro and Jamyang Kunga Sangye Gyatso, Jetsun Taranata's heir and received the empowerment and lineage of Kalachakra Tantra and Vajrabhairava. During the learning and practicing, Rinpoche came to be more and more devoted to all successive lamas, and worked out a prayer for successive lamas of the lineage. Two years later, Jamyang Kunga Sangye Gyatso passed away and his successor is Kunga Rinchen Gyatso, another great practitioner. Under Kunga Rinchen Gyatso's guidance, Rinpoche, Kunga Chosang (Jetsun Taranata's disciple), Trinley Wangmo (Jetsun Taranata's younger sister) and Lodro Namgyal learned a lot of Buddhist doctrines and scriptures and they all regarded him as respectfully as Jetsun Taranata. Rinpoche received ordination from Kunga Rinchen Gyatso and was named as Kunga Palsang by him. Since then, Rinpoche became one of the most proud and mental transmission disciples of him.

During learning from Kunga Rinchen Gyatso, Rinpoche studied and practiced all theories and scriptures of The Ultimate Third Turning of the Wheel of the Doctrine, Five Works of Maitreya, Nagarjuna's Six Treatises, The Kalachakra Tantra, Mountain Doctrine, Ocean of Definitive Meaning: Final Unique Quintessential Instructions which was written by renowned Jonangpa Patriarch Kunkyen Dolpopa and, Kalachakra empowerment of lineage and esoteric instructions. Besides, Kunga Rinchen Gyatso specially taught The Essence of Other-Emptiness (Shentong) which was written by Jetsun Taranata and explained it in details to Rinpoche. After mastering the essence through comprehensive study, Rinpoche made a commentary on The Essence of Other-Emptiness, which was compiled as Treatises on 'Middle Way' by Zhuoge Kunga Beisang. Having gained a thorough understanding on all of scriptures and the wonderful truth, Zhuoge Kunga Beisang came to realize the true meaning of "Other-Emptiness" and became one of the most encyclopedic disciples of Kunga Rinchen Gyatso.

Besides of learning from Kunga Rinchen Gyatso, Rinpoche also received many empowerments and practices from Lama Drakpa Palsang, Jetsun Taranata's close disciple. Lama Drakpa Palsang specially and esoterically conferred Great Red Commander Empowerment to Rinpoche at Nectar Cave during which many incredible and auspicious phenomena appeared. Ever since, the Great Red Commander has become Protector of Zhuoge Kunga Beisang and also Protector of the whole Zhuoge Monastery.

In addition, Zhuoge Kunga Beisang was given many empowerments and, wonderful and esoteric instructions by the most respected Yogini, Trinley Wangmo (Jetsun Taranata's younger sister). During which one of the most worthy to mention was when giving esoteric instructions of circulated chakra, Trinley Wangmo suddenly flied into the night sky in cross-legged posture, and conferred initiation of Chakrasamvara to Zhuoge Gonga Beisang and instructing him, "My dear disciple, for the sake of benefiting sentient beings and propagating the Buddha's teachings, you should go to Amdo area." Zhuoge Kunga Beisang replied humbly to his guru, "Yes, I should. Please kindly specify the most extraordinary place to propagate the Buddhist doctrines." Trinley Wangmo indicated, "You might go to the place where you were born and find there would be a small lake and blossomed in the winter time and that would be the right place for the Monastery you are going to construct." Having said that, Trinley Wangmo granted him the Chakrasamvara Mandala painted by Jetsun Yogi Jamtrin Namgyal himself whom appeared as nirmanakaya of Vajrabhairava and was Jetsun Taranata's ancestor, the Great Red Commander's Tangka consecrated by Jetsun Taranata himself and the Great Red Commander text written by Kunga Rinchen Gyatso himself. Having made a vow in front of guru, Zhuoge Gonga Beisang started out on the return journey to his hometown.

During the trip back whenever there was any danger, Protector Mahakala and Great Red Commander came in different appearances and helped Zhuoge Kunga Beisang smoothed away obstacles. As everything going smoothly, Zhuoge Kunga Beisang quickly got back hometown and easily found the place that guru indicated. And Zhuoge Gonga Beisang kept chanting sutras and prayed for blessings from the Triple Gem and guru at the place where the monastery was going to construct. During the time, there were various-colored lights and different-shaped rainbows appeared in the sky, and Amitayus and many other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas came and supporting. Amitayus said, "That constructing monastery here will be conducive to propagate the Buddha's teachings and therefore you will be able to get to the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss." Meanwhile, Protector Mahakala and Great Red Commander showed up and said, "It is good to build monastery here and we will help you. Starting from now we will never leave you but help you eliminate all obstacles and facilitate you to accomplish whatever you wish." Having heard all of these words, Zhuoge Kunga Beisang was greatly encouraged and excited, and started up the construction. Within three years and with support of local residents and lay followers, the monastery was finished completely. On the day of the opening ceremony, there were myriad of rays of beautiful light shining through clouds; many protectors came and chanting Buddhist scriptures and giving blessings; melodies and music resounding in the sky; colorful rains falling down and rich fragrance of flowers giving out from the ground. People present there were all greatly surprised and could not help rising more devotion in the Triple Gem.

Upon the completion of Zhuoge Monastery, Zhuoge Kunga Beisang taught the Buddhist doctrines and took many students among which were four mental transmission disciples: Awa Jamyang Tamdrin, Khar Lama Kunga Dargye, Tsakho Yeshe Gyatso (from Gyarong) and Sogpo Tashi Gyatso (Mongolian). Also Zhuoge Kunga Beisang conferred Kalachakra empowerment and many other empowerments to his nephews of Chokyong Dongdrup and Kunga Yonten Nangdrup. In 1696, Zhuoge Kunga Beisang passed away.