December 27, 2015

Gya-ba Gangs-pa alias Gangs-dkar Rin-chen-’od-zer (1175–1249)

Dus-gsum-mkhyen-pa (1110–1193), the first Karma-pa, had sets of disciples called (a) “the Five Spiritual Sons [to whom his] Teachings Descended” (bka’ babs kyi bu lnga), (b) the “Four Spiritual Sons [who] Upheld [his] Spiritual Lineage” (brgyud ’dzin gyi bu bzhi), (c) the “Four Attendants [bearing the name] Light” (nye gnas ’od bzhi), (d) the “Four [bearing the title] Master” (bla ma bzhi), (e) the “Four Earlier Spiritual Sons” (snga bu bzhi), and (f) the “Four Later Spiritual Sons” (phyi bu bzhi) (Situ, bKa’ brgyud gser phreng, vol. 1, p. 120; Nor-brang, Bod sil bu, p. 395). Gya-ba Gangs-pa  is one of the “Four Spiritual Sons [who] Upheld the Spiritual Lineage” (of the first Karma-pa). But what do we know about him? His full name was Gangs-dkar Rin-chen-’od-zer. He hailed from a place called Shangs. His belonged to Kyung-po clan. He founded a monastery in a place called Gya-ba/pa, between Yangs-pa-can and ’Od-yug. All of this information is provided by Rin-chen-dpal-bzang (mTshur phu’i dka chag, p. 718). He also led mTshur-pu monastic seat for sometime (’Gos-lo, Deb sngon, vol. 1, p. 616). Si-tu gives some more specific information (bKa’ brgyud gser phreng, vol. 1, pp. 124–125). He was born in 1175 (i.e. Shing-mo-lug). His ordination name was Rin-chen-’od-zer. His father was a rNying-ma Tantric adept. His grandfather Seng-ge-rgyal-mtshan is said to have received teachings from the Indian Paṇḍita Phra-la-ring-mo. During the upper part of his life, he was a lineage holder of Phur-pa-lha-nag tradition, which produced many siddhas. He was not quite content with the Vajrakīla teachings and so he met Dus-gsum-mkhyen-pa during the latter’s stay at Jo-mo-gangs, received teachings, and practiced there, and hence he came to be known as Gangs-dkar-ba. He received teachings from various masters including So Ye-shes-dbang-phug and Kashmiri Paṇḍita Śākyaśrībhadra. It was during the end of his life that Mongol army (Hor-dmag) arrived Tibet. He died in 1249 (Sa-mo-bya) at mTshur-pu.


  1. See this entry:

  2. Dear D, many thanks for the link. These seem all based on more or less the same/similar sources. My initial interest for this person was his connection with the Vajrakīla cycle of Tantric teaching.