Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Teacher (Lama) - Tashi Paltseg

བླ་མ། 喇嘛
(item no. 65168)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Kagyu and Taklung (Kagyu)
Size 48.26x34.29cm (19x13.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc. #2002.34.2
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

TBRC: P8425

Interpretation / Description

Tashi Paltseg (1359-1424), 9th Throne Holder of Taglung.

Biographical Details (TBRC P3757).

At the top center is Avalokiteshvara with eleven faces and eight arms. At the right and left sides are seated Buddhas. Descending at the viewers right are the Tibetan teachers Buton Tamche Khyenpa, Sholo Tanpa, Lochen Jang Tsel, and Choje Bodongpa. Descending at the left side are Kunkhyen Dulbupa, Shongton Dorje Gyaltsen, Panglo Chenpo, and Lochen Dragpa. Each figure is accompanied by a written inscription.

At the bottom center is the wealth deity Pita Jambhala, yellow in colour, holding a bijapuraka fruit in the right hand and a mongoose in the left.

Jeff Watt 7-2003


Biography:
Taglung Tripa 09 Tashi Paltseg, 1359-1424, (stag lung khri pa 09 bkra shis dpal brtsegs) was born in 1359. His father was Kunga Shenyen (kun dga' bshes gnyen) and his mother was Jampel Kyi ('jam dpal skyid). As a child he was blessed by the Dharmasvamin Ratnakara (d.u.). At age six he studied reading and writing with Gompa Rinshon (sgom pa rin gzon, d.u.) and learned sutra and tantra in the Kagyu tradition from Rinchen Palwa (rin chen dpal ba, d.u.) starting at age eleven, particularly the Chakrasamvara, Kalachakra, and Hevajra, the last of which became one of his specialties.

At the age of seventeen he took preliminary ordination with the 8th abbot of Taglung, Namkha Palzang (stag lung khri 08 nam mkha' dpal bzang, 1333-1379), who gave him the name of Tashi Paltseg Nyimai Wangpo Sungwai Gocha (bkra shis dpal brtsegs nyi ma'i dbang po bsrung ba'i go cha). His education continued, receiving teachings on the Naro Chodrug (na ro chos brug) and the complete Kagyu teachings held by Namkha Palzang, as well as Cho and Lamdre teachings.

The following year Namkha Palzang passed the abbacy of Taglung to the eighteen year old Tashi Paltseg, despite still not having received full monastic ordination. Two years later he went to Lhasa where he met with Tsalpa Situ Kunga Dorje (tshal pa si tu kun dga' rdo rje, 1309-1364) and the Pagmodrupa governor, Dragpa (grags pa), who arranged a grand reception for him. There, at Raka Drag (ra ka brag), he took final ordination with Lochen Jangchub Tsemo (lo chen byang chub rtse mo, 1303-1380), who taught him Kalachakra and Chakrasamvara according to the Krishnacharya tradition, among other teachings. Also participating in his ordination were Lotsawa Dragpa Gyaltsen (lo tsA ba grags pa rgyal mtshan, d.u), who taught him a number of tantric cycles mostly relating to the Kalachakra and Guhyasamaja, further illustrating Tashi Paltseg's ecumenical collection of lineages and teachings.

In 1379 Namkha Palzang passed away, and Tashi Paltseg oversaw the funeral rites. Soon he became enmeshed in the wars between the former Sakya myriarchies which had fallen to Tai Situ Janchub Gyaltsen (ta'i si tu byang chub rgyal mtshan 1302-1364) of the nascent Pagmodru Dynasty. In 1380 it would seem that a Drigung leader, Jongji Sonam Rinchen (jong ji bsod nams rin chen, d.u.) attacked Khartsewa (mkhar rtse ba), a fort in Penyul, and Tashi Paltseg tried to mediate a cease to hostilities. He later repeated his attempts to mediate between Jongji and his victims, in this case unsuccessfully on behalf of the people of Rongpo who had been levied with severe fines.

Tashi Paltseg sat a four year retreat at some point during his long life, but otherwise was extremely active, both at Taglung and across Tibet. He made a number of expansive offerings to monasteries in U and Tsang, such as statues, tea, garments, and butter lamps. He became quite famous, and yet seems to have continued to receive teachings from other masters well into his career. He received teachings on Nairatmya and Nigu Chodrug (ni gu chos drug) from the Sakya master Tegchen Choje Kunga Tashi (theg chen chos rje kun dga' bkra shis, 1349-1425), whom he met at the Kadampa monastery of Reting (rwa sgrengs).

In addition to extensive pilgrimages, it would seem that Tashi Paltseg was an active missionary. The natives of Menshang (men zhang), a region in Ngari, sent gifts and expressed their faith in the Kagyu tradition, which had made inroads there some fifty years earlier. The Menzang had earlier been dissuaded from a practice of sacrificing human beings as part of funeral services, but had returned to the custom, which they referred to as a "fire wheel" (me 'khor). Tashi Paltseg was able to secure from them an oath to cease the custom.

Tashi Paltseg oversaw the funeral of Chennga Sonam Zangpo (1380-1416), the abbot of Densatil (gdan sa thil) from 1403 to his death in 1416, and installed his successor, Chennga Sonam Gyaltsen (spyan snga bsod nams rgyal mtshan, d.u.).

In the last year of his life Tashi Paltseg received the title of guoshi (national preceptor) from the Yongle Emperor (r. 1402-1424), as well as a number of gifts. Suffering from paralysis, he appointed Taglung Shamar Jangchub Gyatso (stag lung zhwa dmar byang chub rgya mtsho, 1403-1448) to the abbacy of Taglung. He passed away in 1424 at the age of sixty-six.

Sources:
Roerich, George, trans. 1996. The Blue Annals. 2nd ed. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, pp. 638.

Gtsug lag 'phreng ba. 1980. Chos 'byung mkhas pa'i dga' ston. New Delhi: Karmapae Chodhey Gyalwae Sungrab Partun Khang, vol, pp. 855.6-

van der Kuijp, Leonard W. J. 2000. ?On the Fifteenth Century Lho rong chos 'byung by Rta tshag Tshe dbang rgyal and Its Importance for Tibetan

Political and Religious History.? In Aspects of Tibetan History edited by R. Vitali and T. Tsering. Special issue, Lungta 14: 57-76, p. 66.

Alexander Gardner, November 2009

Extracted from the Treasury of Lives, Tibetan Lineages website. Edited and formatted for use on the Himalayan Art Resources website.

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Tradition: Kagyu Teachers (Paintings)
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery I
Tradition: Taglung Kagyu Main Page