The Imperial Court

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The Imperial Court

by Ben Deitle

The Chinese dynasties and empires have often played significant roles in the course of Tibetan history. While sometimes treated flatly as one homogenous entity called “the Chinese empire,” the history of political power in China is one of change and fluctuation, in terms of both the regional or ethnic groups in control and in terms of the extent of control at any one time. Even if we are to examine just the “renaissance period” (10th-14th centuries), we encounter a range political dynasties within China. There are several major dynasties beginning with the collapse of the Tang (587-907), and continuing through the Song (907-1276), the Yuan (1215/1276-1366), and the beginning of the Ming (1368-1644). There were also several smaller dynasties, who either had short reigns of power or never consolidated large areas under their control. These include the “Five Dynasties” of the Later Liang, Later Tang, Later Jin, Later Han, and Later Zhou which all attempted to assert power after the fall of the Tang. There were also the Liao (907-1125) and the Jin (1125-1234) dynasties. Some of these were ethnic Han dynasties (though even the Tang began as a mixture of Han and northern Xianbei groups). The Liao dynasty was controlled by Khitans and the Jin was ruled by Jurchens. The Mongol Yuan dynasty defeated the song for control of China under Khunilai (r. 1260-94). There were also peripheral states, including the Xia empire of the Tangut people (in the area of modern Gansu province).

In the Blue Annals

The first chapter of the Blue Annals provides, in addition to the Tibetan imperial line, the royal lines of the Chinese and Mongol dynasties. This historical overview includes the Chinese dynasties of the Zhou, Qin, Han, Wei, Jin, Sui, Tang, at least one of the “Five Dynasties,” the Song, and the Ming. The Mongol empire is traced from before its conquest of China through its collapse in 1368, when the Chinese Ming dynasty came to power. The Tang dynasty is traced in detail, the Blue Annals naming all twenty emperors of this dynasty and describing their contacts with the Tibetan emperors.

Beyond the first chapter, the Blue Annals largely focuses its discussion of the Chinese and Mongolian empires on the interactions of Tibetan lamas with the “imperial court” or “imperial palace” during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. One noteable exception is the mention of an early contact between a member of the Shangpa Kagyü school, Kyergangpa Chökyi Senggé (skyer sgang pa chos kyi seng+ge, 1154-1217), and the court of the Tangut empire, located in the vacinity of present-day Gansu province. Kyergangpa Chökyi Senggé is said to have received offerings from both the Chinese and the Tangut courts (Roerich, 740). While the Blue Annals does not elaborate on this meeting, it proved significant in that the relationship between Kagyü lamas and the court was inherited by the Mongols after they crushed (under the leadership of Qubilai) the Tangut empire (see Elliot Sperling, “'Lama to the King of Hsia',” Journal of the Tibet Society 7 (1981): 31-50).

In the thirteenth century, the Blue Annals follows the steady flow of Tibetans to the court of the Mongols. No less than ten different Tibetans are mentioned as either having been invited or made visits to the imperial court in the 13th century. This trend continued into the fourteenth century, when an equal number of Tibetans traveled to either the Mongol or the Ming imperial court, the Mongol empire having fallen to the Ming in 1368. There are also several instances of the emperor providing financial assistance to Tibetans for the building of statues and the repair of monasteries.

References to the Imperial Court, the Imperial Palace, and Emperors in the Blue Annals

Imperial line of China as given in the Blue Annals

R: 47

Zhou dynasty

Ci'u (Chou) dynasty

emperor Chao-wang (T. ci'u dbang)

R 56: “Thirty-six emperors of the Ci'u (Chou) dynasty.”

R: 47

Qin dynasty (Qin Shihuang)

two emperors tshing hri hwang (Ch'in Shih huang-ti and his son, murdered in 207 B.C.)

R: 57: “tshing hri hwang [R:57] (Chin Shih Huang-ti), two emperors”

R: 47-48

Han dynasty

R, 57: “Twelve emperors of the Han…. Twenty-six Hans.”

(Wang mang rebellion, 47)

R: 57: “Two ang mang (Wang-mang).”

1. han kao dzung (Kao-ti or Kao-tsu, 202 B.C)

ang mang (Wang-mang 9 A.D., revolted during the 12th emperor of Han)

13. gle'u (Liu) gong bu (Kuang Wu-ti, 23 A.D.)

14. ming ti (Ming-ti) then became emperor (58-75 A.D.)

- dzu ha la (Chu-Fa-lan, Dharmaratna), a pandita, arrives

24. hwang han te (Hsien ti. 189-220 A.D.)

other dynasty

Wei dynasty

R: 57: “Five tsh'o tsha (the Wei dynasty, 220 A.D.- 265 A.D.)”

tsha bo tsha (Ts'ao-ts'ao, d.220 A.D.), seized the throne, and for five generations ruled over the country. (R, 57)

One ‘u ma (Śsu ma Chao (R, 57)

‘u ma (Ssu (%) ma Chao) (R: 47)

One bsi tsing (Hsi-Chin). Twelve emperors of gyang di yi (Yang Ti) of su'i (Sui), descendants of ching sang (cingsang (%)). In the time of

man min ti (Ming-Ti), the second emperor of the twenty-six emperors of the Han, the Doctrine appeared (in China).

R: 48

Jin dynasty (1125-1234; Ebrey, 164)

One he'u tsing (Hou-Ch'in) (R: 57)

he'u tsing (Hou-Chin) dynasty, [C:74] had two branches: tung tsing (Tung- Chin) and bsi tsing (Hsi-Chin).

R: 48

Sui dynasty

su'i dynasty

gyang ti of su'i (Yang-ti of the Sui dynasty)

Wendi (r. 581-604) and his son ruled the Sui dynasty (Ebrey, 109).

R: 48-55

Tang dynasty

thang (T'ang) dynasty

1. thang ka'o dzung (T'ang Kao-tsu). He seized the throne in the year Earth-Male-Tiger (sa pho stag — 618 A.D.) and ruled for nine


Gaozong (given name Li Yuan, r. 618-26) (Ebrey, 109)

2. thang tha'i dzung (T'ang T'ai-tsung) mounted the throne in the Fire-Male-Dog year (me pho khyi — 627)…. He died in the year Earth-Female-Hen (sa mo bya — 649 A.D.)

Taizong (r. 626-49)

“…in the year Wood-Male-Horse (shing pho rta — 634 A.D.), [R:49] the emperor exchanged presents with the Tibetan king and made a treaty of friendship. The Tibetans requested that a Chinese Imperial Princess may be sent (as spouse for the king), but this request was not granted. The Tibetans then took offence, and for about eight years waged war. On the return of their troops, (the minister) ‘gar stong btsan was sent with presents of gold and various precious stones (to the Imperial Court). wun shing kon jo (Wên ch'êng kung chu), daughter of th'ai dzung (T'ai-tsung), was sent in the year Iron-Female-Ox (lcags mo glang — 641 A.D.).”

R: 55: “In the time of thang tha'i dzung (T'ang T'ai-tsung) there lived a translator called thang zam tshang (Ch. T'ang San-tsang, Hsüan-tsang), who had translated many sacred texts. Till his time there had been two hundred Chinese translators. thang (T'ang) was his family name. zam (<Ch. san) /means/ three. tshang (<Ch. tsang) /means/ "basket" (sde snod, piṭaka). Thus he was called "One possessing the Three Baskets" (sde snod gsum pa). It is said that he had been a disciple of the Indian ācārya Vasubandhu (dbyig gnyen). The last T'ang emperor was a contemporary of the period of the protecting of the Doctrine by grum ye shes rgyal mtshan in khams.”

3. chi ka'u dzung (Li Chih Prince Chin and Emperor T'ang Kao-tsung)

“The emperor chi ka'o dzung (Kao-tsung) ruled for thirty-five years, from the year Earth-Female-Hen (sa mo bya — 649 A.D.) till the year Water-Female-Sheep (chu mo lug — 683 A.D.).”

4. chi ka'o dzung (Kao-tsung)

Gaozong (r. 650-83) (Ebrey, 116)

Empress Wu (683-705, Ebrey, 116-17) (R: 50): ‘u ji then (Wu-tsê t'ien)

“A lady who was formerly in the retinue of the empress of t'ai dzung (T'ai-tsung), and who had become a nun after the death of T'ai-tsung, abandoned her religious vows, and became the queen of chi ka'o dzung (Kao-tsung).” “She waged wars and wrested away much land from Tibet and other kingdoms. This empress was very wicked, and ruled for twenty-one years, from the Wood-Male-Ape year (shing pho spre'u — 684 A.D), and died at the age of eighty in the year Wood-Male-Dragon (shing pho 'brug — 704 A.D.).”

5. dzung dzung (Chung-tsung)

“mounted the throne in the year Wood-Female-Serpent (shing mo sbrul — 705 A.D.).”

“and died at the age of fifty-five in the year Iron-Male-Dog (lcags pho khyi — 710 A.D.)”

6. wi dzung (Jui-tsung)

“In the year Iron-Female-Hog (lcags mo phag — 711 A.D.) his younger brother wi dzung (Jui-tsung) was installed on the throne. The Tibe¬tan king sent a request for an Imperial Princess, and in the year Water-Male-Mouse (chu pho byi ba — 712 A.D.) the [R:51] kim shing kong jo (Chin-ch'êng kung-chu) was sent to Tibet. In the same year wi dzung (Jui-tsung) died at the age of fifty-five.”

R: 51

7. hen dzung (Hsüan-tsung)

Xuanzong (r. 712-56) (Ebrey, 121)

“In the year Water-Female-Ox (chu mo glang — 713 A.D.) hen dzung (Hsüan-tsung), aged twenty-nine, mounted the throne. He was the third son of wi dzung (Jui-tsung).”

“hen dzung (Hsüan-tsung) ruled for forty-three years till the year Wood-Female-Sheep (shing mo lug — 755 A.D.). He died at the age of seventy-three in the year Fire-Female-Hen (me mo bya – 757 A. D.).”

8. dzung dzung (Su-tsung)

“In the preceding Fire-Male-Ape (me pho spre'u — 756 A, D.) hen dzung's third son dzung dzung (Su-tsung) was installed on the throne. Having ruled for seven years he died at the age of fifty-two in the year Water-Male-Tiger (chu pho stag — 762 A. D.).”

9. tha'i dzung (Tai-tsung) (r. 762-779)

An Lushan Rebellion (755-63) (Ebrey, 108, 127)

“In [F:24b] the next year (763 A. D.), the Tibetan troops invaded (the empire) and (the emperor) fled to shing cu (Shang-chou).”

“The Tibetans installed on the throne the Chinese minister ko'u hi (Kao-hun). Soon after that, Tai-tsung killed him. In all, Tai-tsung ruled for seventeen years, and died at the age of fifty in the year Earth-Female-Sheep (sa mo lug — 779 A. D.).”

R: 52

10. ding dzung (Tê- tsung) (r. 780-805)

“was installed in the year Iron-Male-Ape (lcags pho spre'u — 780 A. D.)”

“died at the age of sixty-four in the year Wood-Female-Hen (shing mo bya — 805 A.D.).”

11. shun dzung (Shun-tsung) (r. 805-806)

12. hun dzung (Hsien-tsung) (r. 806-808)

13. mu dzung (Mu-tsung) (r. 809-826)

“mu dzung (Mu-tsung) was murdered by a minister in the year Fire-Male-Horse (me pho rta — 826 A.D.).”

14. wu dzung (Wên-tsung) (r. 827-841)

R: 54

15. wu dzung (Wu-tsung) (r. 841-845)

16. zwan dzung (Hsüan-tsung) (r. 846-859)

17. ghi dzung (I-tsung) (r. 860-873)

18. hyi dzung (His-tsung) (r. 874-888)

19. je'u dzung (Chao-tsung) (r. 889-903)

20. nga'i ding (Ai-ti) (r. 904-907)

hwang mao (Huang-ch'ao)

“after the end of the T'ang dynasty the imperial throne was transferred to the lyang. (Liang). In the time of the T'ang emperor, a dissolute man (bsi'u tsha <Ch. sui-tsa), called hwang mao (Huang-ch'ao), led a revolt and became king.”

R: 55

Five Dynasties:

lyang (Hou Liang) dynasty [later Liang]

1. ju hun (Chu-wên)

“Fifteen emperors belonging to five dynasties, established by different families, ruled the country for fifty years.”

1. ci'u tha'i dzung (Chao T'ai-tsu)

“the emperor ci'u tha'i dzung (Chao T'ai-tsu) had eight successors in a place called spen lyang (Pien-liang, modern K'ai-fêng)”

R: 56

ta'i gle'u (T'ai-Liao) dynasty

“This passage refers to the conquest of K'ai fêng by the Chin in 1126 A.D.”

1. chi tan ta'i gle'u (Ch'i-tan T'ai-Liao)

Southern Song: This dynasty was called gsung (Sung).

Capitol moved from Nanjing to Hangzhou: “kha dbang went to the country of sman rtse , and took over half of the empire. The Mongols call it nam tha'i (namtai). khyen khan (<Chien-k'ang, Nan-ching) stayed at hwan je'u . This dynasty was called gsung (Sung). [C:81] Then till the "royal priest of sman rtse" (sman rtse lha btsun) there were eight emperors in sman rtse (Man-tzu”

8. shang hwang, father and son,

2. kha dbang (emperor Kao-tsung of the Śouthern Sung dynasty)

Jin dynasty: am tan khan (Altan-qan, the Chin dynasty)

“After the seventh or eighth emperor of the dynasty of the chi tan ta'i gle'u (Ch'i-tan T'ai-Liao), the chief minister called nu'i ji (Nü-chih, ju-chen – Ju-chih) seized the throne. His dynasty was called am tan khan (Altan-qan, the Chin dynasty).”

1. nu'i ji (Nü-chih, ju-chen – Ju-chih)

2. Huṃ-dbaṇ (Wan-yen Hsün, 1213-1223)

Yuan dynasty (1215/1276-1369; Ebrey, 164), the Mongols: ci dben (Chih-yüan, title of reign adopted in 1264 A.D.)

Mongol empire, called ta'i dben (T'ai-Yüan)

1. jing gir (Cingis) (1162-1227; Ebrey, 169)

“In [F:26a] the time of the ninth emperor Huṃ-dbaṇ (Wan-yen Hsün, 1213-1223) appeared the emperor jing gir (Cingis(%)). jing gir (Cingis(%)) conquered the empire.”

se chen (Secen, Qubilai)

gye'u ju

“em¬peror Tu-tsung, 1265-1274.gye'u ju <Yü-ju, of the emperor's father— Chao Yü-ju.”

ge gen (Gegen)

R: 59-60

Ming dynasty

1. ta'i ming (Hung Wu) (d. 1398 A.D.)

2. kyi hun (Chien-wên)

3. ye dbang (Yung Lo)

4. bzhin dzung (Jên-tsung)

5. zon de (Hsüan Tê)

6. cing thung (Chêng T'ung)

7. gyin tha'i (Ching T'ai)

8. then shun (T'ien-shun) (r. 1475-64)

9. ching hwa (Chêng Hua) (1465-1475)

Blue Annals citations


Durning the early years of the reign of Trisong Detsen, because the Buddhists were being persecuted by the minister Mazhang, Sangshi and Selnang went to the Chinese imperial court for assistance. There they met a Chinese monk who prophesied that the Buddhist teachings would flourish in Tibet and suggested that they should invite the Indian pandita Śāntarakṣita to Tibet.

“After the death of the king, khri srong lde btsan mounted the throne. There was a powerful minister called ma zhang, who was an enemy of the Doctrine. He ordered [R:41] the deportation of Buddhist monks to another country, and carried the image of Buddha of lha sa (jo bo) away to skyi rong . He transformed vihāras into butchers' shops, and though the king had faith in the Doctrine, he was unable (to stop the persecution). When the Chinese Buddhist priests (ho-shang), resident at ra mo che, were returning to China, the eldest (of them) accidently left behind one of his shoes, and said: "The Doctrine will again return to Tibet." According to these words, the Doctrine returned. On hearing parts of this story, those who were ready to destroy the Holy Doctrine, used to say: "The shoe that was left behind by the Mahāyāna ho-shang" . The king was assisted by friends of the Doctrine, such as ‘gos rgan, dba' sang shi, dba' gsal snang and others. sang shi and gsal snang proceeded to the Imperial Court of China. On presenting their request to the emperor, [C:67] they met a ho-shang, who was an adept of mystic concentra¬tion (dhyāna, ch'an), and obtained from him instruction in mystic concentration. This ho-shang, endowed with great prescience, said to sang shi ''You are the person indicated in the prophecy found in the scriptures of the Buddha, which say that there will appear a Bodhisattva who will establish the Holy Doctrine in the country of the "Red faced" . Because Tibet is the special field of the propagation of the Doctrine by the Indian upādhyāya Śāntarakṣita, except him, no one else will be able to help you !" Further, another Buddhist priest possessed of supernatural knowledge, prophecised to sang shi in the presence of bum sangs dbang po that sang shi and gsal snang were both manifestations of Bodhisattvas. They brought with them from China about one thousand metrical compositions , but being afraid of ma zhang's persecution, they buried them.”


Tang emperors interact with Tibetan emperor.

“His son thang tha'i dzung (T'ang T'ai-tsung) mounted the throne in the Fire-Male-Dog year (me pho khyi — 627). After nine years had passed, in the year Wood-Male-Horse (shing pho rta — 634 A.D.), [R:49] the emperor exchanged presents with the Tibetan king and made a treaty of friendship. The Tibetans requested that a Chinese Imperial Princess may be sent (as spouse for the king), but this request was not granted. The Tibetans then took offence, and for about eight years waged war. On the return of their troops, (the minister) ‘gar stong btsan was sent with presents of gold and various precious stones (to the Imperial Court). wun shing kon jo (Wên ch'êng kung chu), daughter of th'ai dzung (T'ai-tsung), was sent in the year Iron-Female-Ox (lcags mo glang — 641 A.D.). According to the Chinese Annals seven hundred years have passed from that date till the year Fire-Male-dog (me pho khyi — 1346 A.D.) of ‘tshal pa kun dga' rdo rje's time. [C:75] This appears to correspond to the year Iron-Female-Serpent (lcags mo sbrul — 1341 A.D.), which precedes the Fire-Dog year (me khyi — 1346 A.D.) by five years. thang th'ai dzung (T'ang T'ai-tsung) ruled for twenty-four years. He died in the year Earth-Female-Hen (sa mo bya — 649 A.D.) in his fifty-second year. His son chi ka'u dzung ascended the throne. In the year Iron-Male-Dog (lcags pho khyi — 650 A.D.) of his reign srong btsan sgam po died. His son gung srong gung btsan having died before (in the life time of his father) mang srong mang btsan mounted the throne at the age of thirteen. He befriended the minister ‘gar, who ruled for fifteen years. Then ‘gar died. The sovereigns of China and Tibet at times had friendly relations, at times fought each other about frontiers, with changing fortunes. Especially in the twenty-first year after the coronation of mang srong, in the year Iron-Male-Horse (lcags pho rta — 670 A.D.) Tibetan troops invaded the T'ang empire, and conquered the entire country of the Uighurs (yu gur gyi yul). The king died at the age of forty-two in the year Earth-Female-Hare (sa mo yos — 679 A.D.), [R:50] which was the thirtieth year of his reign. The princess Wên ch'êng, after spending forty years in Tibet, died in the year Iron-Male-Dragon (lcags pho 'brug—680 A.D.). The emperor chi ka'o dzung (Kao-tsung) ruled for thirty-five years, from the year Earth-Female-Hen (sa mo bya — 649 A.D.) till the year Water-Female-Sheep (chu mo lug — 683 A.D.). He died at the age of fifty-six in the year Water-Sheep (683 A.D.).”


A figure named pa shi shAk ‘od is given his title “pa shi” by the emperor.

Can’t find him in TBRC.

“In the khog dbub of g.yung ston pa the list of disciples of sgro sbug pa differs slightly from the one given above. gtsang pa byi ston and sgong dri ngas ¬pa nye ston chos kyi seng ge, [C:189] disciples of sgro sbug pa, taught to gtsang nag 'od 'bar. From the latter the Doctrine was heard by mes ston mgon po. bla ma sro heard it from him. From pa shI shAk 'od and rta nag bdud rtsi. The reason for calling him pa shi: the title was given him by command of the Emperor se chen in order to make him equal in title to the Imperial Preceptors, after he had extracted the "water of life" (tshe chu), hidden by the ācārya pad+ma, from the rock rdo rje tshe brtan, and sent it by envoy (gser yig pa) to the Emperor.”


g.yung ston pa (g.yung ston rdo rje dpal ba, 1284-1365) is invited and goes to the imperial court.

“In his youth he went to China by Imperial command, and performed before the Emperor a religious dance, etc. At that time many villages, which had to pay tribute in grain to the Emperor, were suffering from [R:150] draught. They therefore requested the Emperor to send someone who could cause rain to fall. [C:190] He was sent there. He prayed to the Three Jewels, and rain began to fall. The Emperor was greatly pleased, and gave him numerous presents. With great wealth he returned to Tibet. He did not give anything to his acquaintances or his friends, but offered everything to his teacher and the monastic community in memory of his mother.”


“He (rngo thog pa) visited the Mongol Emperor. The Emperor se chen (Qubilai) behaved towards him in a high handed manner, and ordered him to be placed inside a stūpa, the entrance of which was closed. When at the end of the year, they opened the door and looked inside the stūpa, they found him transformed into an image of Vajrakīla (rdo rje phur bu). This caused great amazement. The Emperor then bestowed on rngo thug pa large presents of [R:155] costly silks, etc. He also owned much land given to him by Imperial command. ”


kun dga’ rgyal mtshan visits Godan Khan. “This latter had two sons: the eldest was sa skya pang chen (kun dga' rgyal mtshan) who was born in the year Water-Male-Tiger (chu pho stag—1182 A.D.), when his father was 33. At the age of 63 in the year Wood-Male-Dragon (shing pho 'brug—1244 A.D.) he visited the Emperor (i.e. Godan in kan su(%)). He died at the age of 70 in the year Iron-Female-Hog (lchags mo phag—1251 A.D.).”


Pakpa (1235-1280) went to the court of Qubalai (Sechen) in Beijing in 1253 to serve as the imperial preceptor. The lama bzang po dpal (1262-1324), who held the seat of Sakya from the year 1306, seems to have resided at the court as well for a time, since his first son, bsod nams bzang po, (1312-1375), was born there. However, bsod nams bzang po died in Amdo while returning to Tibet. The trip between the plateau of Tibet and China was often a difficult one for Tibetans.

The Sakya clan seems to have definitely set up shop in the Mongol capitol at Beijing. bzang po dpal’s fifth son, nam mkha rgyal mtshan dpal bzang po (b. 1324), traveled to the imperial court at age twenty after his father’s death. Another son by a different woman, kun dga' nyi ma'i rgyal mtshan dpal bzang po (d. 1322), was apponted imperial preceptor of the yuan and stayed at the imperial court. A further lama in the Sakya lineage, bla ma kun rin (b. 1349), traveled to the imperial court at the age of 64 in 1412 and was given a title “Great Vehicle Religious King” by the emperor of the Ming dynasty.

“At the age of ten, he proceeded to the North in the retinue of chos rje ba (sa skya paṇḍita). En route, at zul ¬phu he took up the noviciate in the presence of na bza' 'phren gsol. At the age of 18, in the year Water-Female-Ox (chu mo glah—1253 A.D.) he became the Court Chaplain (bla mchod) of Prince se chen (Secen, Qubilai (%)). At the age of 21, in the year Wood-Female-Hare year (śin mo yos¬—1255 A.D.) he took up the final monastic ordination. At the age of 26 in the year Iron-Male-Ape (lcags pho spre'u—¬1260 A.D.), when se chen had ascended the imperial throne, be became Imperial Preceptor. At the age of 31, in the year Wood-Female-Ox (shing mo glang—1265 A.D.) he returned to Tibet. Then again, in the year Earth-Female-Serpent (sa mo sbrul—1268 A.D.) he proceeded to the Imperial Court, and spent there seven years. Then again, at the age of 42, in the year Fire-Male-Mouse (me mo byi ba—1276 A.D.), he returned to his monastery (sa skya). In the year Fire-Female¬-Ox (me mo glang—1277 A.D.) he held a religious assembly at C:mig. At the age of 49, in the year Iron-Male-Dragon (lcags pho 'brug—1280 A.D.) he passed away. His younger brother pḥyag na was born in the year Earth-Female-Hog (sa mo phag—1239 A.D.) when his father was 56. At the age of six, he proceeded to the North in the retinue of cho rje ba (sa skya paṇḍita). At the age of 29, in the year Fire-¬Female-Hare (me mo yos—1267 A.D.) he died. Again, the ācārya rin chen rgyal mtshan was born in the year Earth-Male-Dog (sa pho khyi—1238 A.D.) when his father zangs ¬tsha was 55. At the age of 42 in the year Earth-Female-Hare (sa tno¬yos—1279 A.D.) he died. Further, the ācārya ye shes 'byung ¬gnas and the ācārya rin chen rgyal mtshan were of one age. He (ye shes 'byung ¬gnas) died at the age of 37 in the year Wood-Male-Dog (shing pho kyi—1274 A.D.) at ljang yul. The son of Phyag-na-Dharmapālarakṣita (%) was born in the year Earth-Male-Dragon (sa pho 'brug—1268 A.D.) ten months [F:4b] after Phyag-na's death. At the age of 20, in the year Fire-Female-Hog (me mo phag—1287 A.D.) [R:213] he died. He occupi¬ed the chair (of sa skya) for seven years, from the year Iron-Serpent (lcags sbrul—1281 A.D.) till the year Fire-Female¬-Hog (me mo phag—1287 A.D.). The son of the bla ma ye shes 'byung gnas, the Mahātman bzang po dpal was born in the year Water-Male-Dog (chu pho khyi—1262 A.D.), when his father was 25. At 45, he occupied the chair for 19 years, beginning with the year Fire-Male-Horse (me pho rta—1306 A.D.). He died at the age of 61 in the year Water-Male-Dog (chu pho khyi—1322 A.D.). This bla ma had 12 sons. The first, the ācārya bsod nams bzang po was born at the Imperial Court (in Peking). He died in amdo (mdo khams) en route to Tibet. The second (son) the bla ma kun dga' blo¬ gros was born in the year Earth-Female-Hog (sa mo phag—¬1299 A.D.) when his father was 38. At the age of 29, in the year Fire-Female-Hare (me mo yos—1327 A.D.) he died. The third (son) the great Venerable scholar (mkhas btsun chen po) nam mkha' legs pa'i blo gros rgyal mtshan dpal bzang ¬po (%) was born in the year Wood-Female-Serpent (shin mo sbrul—1305 A.D.) when his father was 44. At 21 in the year Wood-Female-Ox (shing mo glanh—1325 A.D.) he occupied the chair (of sa skya) for 19 years, till the year Water-Female¬-Sheep (chu mo lug—1343 A.D.). He passed away in the same Water-Female-Sheep year, aged 39. He had two younger brothers: The first died in childhood. The second, ācārya nam mkha rgyal mtshan dpal bzang po was born in the year Wood-Male-Mouse (shing pho byi ba—1324 A.D.) after the death of his father. At the age of 20, he proceeded to the Imperial Court. The bla ma kun dga' legs pa'i 'byun¬g nas also proceeded to the Imperial Court. ”

“Of the three sons born to the Lady zha lu ma ma gcig gzhon nu¬ 'bum, the eldest kun dga' nyi ma'i rgyal mtshan dpal bzang po received the title of ta'i dben gu shrī (<T'ai-Yüan Kuo-shih) (%). He died at the "Great Palace" (Peking, Tai-tu—"Great Capital") in the year Water-Male-Dog (chu pho khyi—1322 A.D.). [F:5a] The second son—the bla ma don yod rgyal mtshan was born in the year Iron-Male-Dog (lcags pho khyi—1310 A.D.), when his father was 49. He died at the age of 35 in the year Wood-Male-Ape (sin pho spre'u—1344 A.D). The yougest son the bla ma dam pa bdod nams rgyal¬ mtshan dpal bzang po was, born in the year Water-Male-Mouse (chu pho byi ba—1312 A.D.) at zha lu khang gsar (%). He died at the age of 64 in the year Wood-Female-Hare (shing mo yos—¬1375 A.D.). The son of dbang (<wang) bsod nams bzang ¬po, son of the Mahātman dbang ratna died in Peking ("Great Palace", Tai-tu) at the age of 25. ti shri (ti shih) kun dga' rgyal mtshan had two sons, before he took up ordination. The son of ma gcig byang pa mo—ta'i dben (T'ai Yüan) chos¬ kyi rgyal mtshan was born in the year Water-Male-Ape (chu pho spre'u—1332 A.D.). The son of the sister of the bla ma kun spangs pa, Ta'i ¬dben (T'ai Yüan) blo gros rgyal mtshan was also born in the year Water-Male-Ape (chu pho spre'u—1332 A.D.). The eldest son of the four sons and daughters of dbang kun dga' legs pa, ti shri' (ti shih) bsob nams blo gros was (also) born in the year Water-Male-Ape (chu pho spre'u—1332 A.D.). He visited the Imperial Court, and died at me tog ra ba in the year Water-Tiger (chu stag—1362 A.D.). His youngest brother died in childhood. The younger brother dbang grags pa rgyal mtshan was born in the year Fire-Male-Mouse (me pho byi ba—1336 A.D.). At the age of 44 (41?) he died at stag tshan in the year Fire-Dragon (me 'brug—1376 A.D.).

bla ma kun rin, [R:215] son of the bla ma mkhas btsun pa and chos rje kun bkras pa, son of the bla ma chos kyi rgyal mtshan, were born in the year Earth-Female-Ox (sa mo glang—1349 A.D.). At 64, in the year Water-Male-Dragon (chu pho 'brug—1412 A. D.) he proceeded to the Imperial Court, and remained there for two years. The Ta'i Ming Emperor bestowed on him the title of theg chen chos kyi rgyal po (this is a translation of the Chinese Ta-ch'êng Fa-wang).” 216 Pakpa is made spiritual head of the country. “From the birth of khon dkon¬ mchog rgyal po in the year Wood-Male-Dog (shìng pho khyi—1034 A.D.) [R:216] to the death of the sa skya pang chen in the year Iron-Female-Hog (lcags mo phag—1251 A.D.) 218 years have passed. During that period the shower of both Tantras and Sūtras having fallen, the land of Tibet was well nourished by it. After the grant by the Emperor se¬ chen (Secen) of the three provinces of Tibet as reward for the Initiation to the dbon po 'phags pa rin po che, the bla ¬ma became the spiritual head (of the country), whereas officials (dpon chen) appointed in turn, conducted the secular affairs (of the country).”


Pakpa propogates an imperial edict which gives religious freedom.

“'phags pa rin¬ po che being broad minded, a Mongol Imperial Edict was pro¬mulgated which allowed Tibetan believers to follow their own respective religious doctrines. Most of the Tripiṭakadharas appear to have been satisfied with earthly goods. The chap¬ter on the spread of the teaching of the Tantras belonging to the "Mother" (ma) class of the Anuttara-yoga Tantra, and on the spread of the doctrine of the "Path and Fruit" (lam 'bras) in the life time of the sa skya pas (father and sons).”


sangs rgyas jo bo dbang phyug gzhon nu (1232-1312) rebuilds bya yul with the help of the emperor.

“The next Iron Hare year (Icags yos – 1291 A.D.) is the year of the coming of sangs rgyas jo bo to the abbot's chair (of bya yul). The Emperor [F:28a] se chen presented many measures of gold to sangs rgyas jo bo to cover the expenses of rebuilding (of bya yul). Within one year they had rebuilt the vīhara of bya yul. When he was going to rebuilt bya yul, and was fording the skyi chu, the boatman thought to himself: "This old man has become decrepit. Will he be able to rebuild die monastery?" (sangs rgyas jo bo) having perceived his thoughts, told him: "Uncle boatman! Next year about this time, I shall be placing greyish flags on the roof". ”


Dating relative to emperor Se chen’s birth.

“His successor zhig po rin chen 'byung gnas of 'dul gra was born in the year Fire Sheep (me lug – 1187 A.D.), when jo sras was 25. At 13, he took up ordination in the presence of jo sras. When he was 22, he received final monastic ordination from the yogin byang seng at gro sa. He attended on 'be sangs rgyas sgom pa, rdo rje gzhon nu, [R:307] and tre bo mgon po. At 34, in the year Iron Dragon (lcags 'brug – 1220 A.D.) he became abbot. When he was 29, in the year Wood Female Hog (sing mo phag – 1220 A.D.) the emperor Se chen was born. When he was 49, in the year Wood Sheep (sing lug – 1235 A.D.) the Dharmarāja 'phags pa was born. He was a contemporary of sangs rgyas yar byon of stag lung, lha chen po of spyil bu, zem tshe ring mo ba, rgya spangs pa of se spyil bu, lha dge 'dun sgang pa, gan pa da re, and rgya ma pa sang yon. He died at the age of 68 in the year Wood Male Tiger (sing pho stag – 1254 A.D.).”


’jam pa’i dbyang, a disciple of bcom ldan rig pa'i ral gri (1227-1305), becomes a court chaplain at the court of Buyantu-qan.

“The mahā-paṇḍita ‘jam dbyangs ('jam pa'i dbyangs) has also been his disciple. Once at the end of a class (evening) he disguised himself as a devil and frightened the teacher who scolded him and refused permission for him to remain in his presence. He therefore took up residence at sa skya. After receiving an invitation from the Mongols, he became the court chaplain (mchod gnas) of Buyantu-qan (1311-1320 A.D.). There he wrote a short commentary on the Pramāṇaviniścaya, and sent numerous presents to bcom ¬ldan pa by an Imperial Messenger, but the Teacher did not express pleasure. At last he succeeded in pleasing his Teacher by sending him a box filled with China ink. bcom ldan pa also composed about sixteen volumes of śāstras .”


karma pak+Shi (1204-1283), chos kyi bla ma, the 2nd karma pa, travels to the imperial court.

TBRC: hor rgyal po gor be sent a golden letter inviting him to the palace or 'ur tu.

“His fame having spread far, the Mongol Emperor sent an Imperial Envoy (gser yig pa) with a letter of invitation. He proceeded to China, and on his way performed extensive labours, such as assisting monastic communities and repairing ruined temples, etc. He bestowed on the Emperor and his retinue the cittotpāda rite, and introduced them to the Path of the Highest Enlightenment. He visited China and Mongolia (Hor). In particular, he built a large temple in the country of the mi nyag 'ga' (ning hsia). At the same time he exhibited numberless signs of supernatural powers and miracles in all these regions. He converted many followers of evil doctrines of heretics and those who abided in darkness. At the time of the War, he again came to China. (The Emperor) [F:37a] treated him in an improper manner, such as exiling him to the shores of the ocean, but he overcame all these attempts and curbed (the Emperor). The fame of kar ma pa became even greater. In particular, when he was thrown into a fort, the door of which was locked with lead, and he was kept inside without food. He fearlessly exhibited his [R:487] supernatural powers and the Emperor go pe la (Qubilai) became his disciple. The Emperor then promulgated a gracious edict saying that "in Tibet and other countries you may practise your own religion according to desire, and let you offer prayers for me."”


The 3rd Karmapa, rang byung rdo rje (1284-1339), goes to the imperial palace at the invitation of the Mongol emperor in 1332. There he initiates several members of the court. He also passes away in China.

TBRC: in 1331 he was invited to court by the yuan emperor and received by prince rat+na shrI after the prince's demise, his elder brother brought him to sman rtse

“In the year of the Sheep (lug lo 1331 A.D.) he proceeded to dbus. In the year of the Ape (spre'u lo 1332 A.D.) he was invited by the Mongol Emperor (hor rgyal po) to Mongolia and proceeded there. In the tenth month he reached the Imperial Palace (Peking, chung tu) and initiated the Emperor and the Empress, as well as made a prophecy of the accidents which were to befall Emperor rin chen dpal (d. 1332 A.D.). He laboured extensively for the benefit of others. On his return journey to Tibet, in the year of the Dog (khyi lo 1334 A.D.). he visited ri bo rtse lnga (Wu t'ai shan in Shan hsi). Having reached the mi nyag 'ga' country (Ning hsia), he preached religion extensively. Having reached khams, he quelled numerous feuds in khams. After that he journeyed to dbus, and was received by the gods of thang lha and gangs ¬dkar. He retired for meditation to 'chims phu of bsam yas. [F:39b] There, after having prepared a copy of the bka' 'gyur and bstan 'gyur, and having performed the rite of consecration, he got a vision of the recital of these Scriptures by many Bodhisattvas. He again proceeded to China, and there [R:493] passed away. The Dharmasvāmin himself appeared sitting inside the maṇḍala of the Moon, and the Emperor and his retinue were filled with faith. This happened in his 56th year, in the year Earth-Female-Hare (sa mo yos 1339 A.D.).”


The 4th Karmapa, rol pa’i rdo rje (1340-1383), as a child knows he is the reincarnation of the Karmapa. He tells his mother that he is to journey to, among other places, the imperial palace where he has many disciples.

TBRC: in 1360 he was invited to China by the emperor tho gan the mur. returns to tibet via mi nyag and byang ngos


Also on the 4th Karmapa, about his travels to the imperial court at the eager invitaiton of the emperor. On the following pages there is a lenghthy account of his activities during subsequent trips to court.

“He also knew about sixty different kinds of scripts. After that he jour¬neyed to se mo do, as well as towards the North, to mtsho mo ru khyung [R:500] and other localities. Then at bde chen he gave to the mahā-ācārya a description of the Imperial Palace at ta'i tu (Tai tu), stating the number of inhabitants, etc. He said: "Keep this in your mind, and later when you will reach there, you will find it to be true!" Then the great Emperor tho gan the mur (Toyon% Temür, d. 1370 A.D.) and his son having heard of the fame of the Dharmasvāmin, sent many Mongol and Tibetan envoys to him, such as the ding hu dben dpon and the sde dpon dkon mchog rgyal mtshan and others, with an Imperial command and great presents from the royal prince 'i li ji inviting him to visit (the Imperial Court). Mindful of the great benefit for living beings, the Dharmasvāmin left 'tshur phu on the 20th day of the fifth month of the year Earth-Male-Dog (sa pho ¬khyi 1358 A.D.), aged 19. When a lightning struck at gnam, snying drung and other places, without doing harm to either the inhabitants, or their cattle, he understood it to be an auspicious omen. At the court of the Emperor and in the countries of the North he laboured extensively for the benefit of others, as well as composed numberless treatises. After that he returned to kar ma, where he showed that his usual preoccupations were not disturbed (by such jour¬neys), etc. The regional chiefs of khams received him well and attended on him. They begged him to remove the threat of locusts (cha ga ba) and immediately he removed it. After that he proceeded to tre and composed a treatise named the chos kyi gtam dam pa dges pa'i sgron ma. When he visited kam C:gling (Kan¬chou in Kan-su), there appeared near the preacher's chair [F:43a] (chos khri) a flower unseen previously in that region, with a hundred stalks springing up from one root, each stalk having a hundred flowers, each flower having a thousand golden leaves with a red centre and yellow stamen. All onlookers [R:501] on seeing it became filled with amazement. The region was afflicted by plague. He subdued the disease for many years. When he had reached ga chu he received another invitation from the Emperor, but thought that a change (gyur bzlog) of events was imminent. Journeying through the country of tsha 'phrang nag po, he reached the mi nyag rab sgang. He arranged for a twenty five years' truce in the war between sgo and ldong. When he was residing on the mountain of 'an 'ga bo, many officials came to him with an invitation from the Emperor, among them shes rab gu shrI and others, who brought with them large presents. He then proceeded towards Amdo (mdo smad). In the Imperial letter brought by 'jam dbyans gu shrI it was said: "Great ācārya rol pa'i rdo rje, please come for the benefit of us and of the multitude of living beings...." He started immediately from rab sgang. On reaching shing kun mkhar (Liang-chou), he established in salvation numberless people, headed by the (monastery's) abbot dpal ldan mchog. Then he proceeded towards sprul pa'i sde (one of the four monas¬teries in the vicinity of Liang-chou), the residence of the sa skya paN chen. Before a multitude of people speaking different languages (he delivered a sermon). On the right side of (his) throne stood Mongol (sog) and Uighur (yu gur) translators, to the left side of the throne stood mi nyag (Hsi¬-hsia) and Chinese translators. The interpreters translated (his sermon) into each language separately, and thus his dis¬ciples were able to understand his words. After that, in the year Iron-Male-Mouse (rags pho byi ba 1360 A.D.) he proceeded to ta'i tu (Tai-tu). On the mere seeing of his face and hearing of his voice, the Emperor and his retinue were filled with faith. In particular, he bestowed on the Emperor and his son the initiation into the Vajravārahī [R:502] (Yoginī, rnal 'byor ma) Cycle, the upāya marga of the "Six Doctrines" of nA ro and other texts. To the eldest Imperial Prince (rgyal bu chen po), he expounded the skyes rabs brgya rtsa, [F:43b] the basic text of the Uttaratantra and its commentary, the basic text of the Sūtrālaṃkāra, toge¬ther with its commentary, the basic text of the Kālacakra, and its commentary, and all the Indian basic texts which form part of the Kālacakra Cycle. He also bestowed the initiation of rgyal ba rgya mtsho (Avalokiteśvara). Further, he established on the Path of the highest Enlightenment (bodhi) numerous district officials and important personalities from China, Mongolia, Uighuria, mi nyag (Hsi-hsia), ka'u li (Korea) and other countries, headed by members of the Imperial House and governors of provinces. Prior to the coming of the Dharmasvāmin, a famine occured, because imports ('dab sgo) from South China (sman tse<Man-tzŭ) had been interrupted for nine years, so that for one measure of silver one was getting not more than five measures (ljag) of rice. Epidemics spread, and many revolts took place from without and within, and the Empire felt afflicted. The Presence (drung) having subdued the asuras, pacified the revolts. Having exhorted the compassion of the Bhaiṣajyaguru (sman bla), he also brought to an end the epidemics. Thanks to the assistance of Kuvera, the imports from various provinces were resumed, and for each measure of silver one was able to get fifty bags (ljag) of grain, and thus the course of the famine was brought to an end. The Prince Maitripāla having been born, the whole Empire was made happy. [R:503] When a draught (took place), the Dharmasvāmin proceeded towards the East in order to bring forth rain, and a heavy rain fell about mid day. Then all people felt contented, but he said to the mahā-ācārya gu'i gung pa: "The life of the Emperor is in danger. Harm will arise to the Imperial Throne. So now I must go to the Western Country (Tibet)." Accordingly he made repeated requests to the Emperor and the Royal Prince. The Eldest Prince wept and earnestly begged him to stay, but he did not agree. Again, the la'o byang ching sang (Lao chang ch’êng-hsiang) and zhi ra¬ mu ching sang (Širemün ch’êng-hsiang) told His Holiness; "Prior to the coming of the Teacher, there had been revolts in many regions, imports had decreased and numerous epidemics took place. Since the arrival of the Teacher, the authority of the Emperor is again recognized by all, imports began to come in and the number of bags of grain (given for one measure of silver) increased to eighty. Now people are proclaiming: "Fortune giving Teacher, increaser of grain, it is better for you to remain here!." The [F:44a] Dharmasvāmin replied.: ''Marvellous is indeed the play which comes to its end before, a large audience! (by this he meant that it was better for him to leave China while his deeds were being admired). I have no knowledge of admi¬nistration.. The duty of a monk is to go wherever a peace¬ful place is to be found, and to help the Doctrine and the living beings." His words were written down by the two officials and preserved as a sacred relic. Then again he presented an earnest request, and the Emperor granted him permission to return (to Tibet), and gave him the right to avail himself of the relay service (u lag<mong. ulaya) on the way. He proceeded northward via a place called tha¬ thal in the country of the mi nyag. There he met Prince Ratna and Princess Puṇyadharī, and established them on the Path of the Mahāyāna. Then at zhor dgon mo che he erected a large vihāra and spent some time at a hermitage belonging to that monastery. In the neighbourhood of kam C:[R:504] (Kan-chou in Kan-su) numerous people gathered from distant places. He made the rule that those who had received his blessing to day should not come again tomorrow. He used to dispense blessings without interruption from morning till sunset, and continued to do so for nineteen days. About that time he received an invitation from the king of stod hor (Mogolistan) tho lug the mur (Tuyluy% Temür, 1347-1363), but declined it. A great epidemic having spread in the province of kam C:(Kan-chou), people were apprehending its spread towards other localities. gu'i gung pa requested him to drive away the epidermis and the Dharmasvāmin said: "Well then don't wake me up!" and for sometime he pretended to be asleep. Then a loud knock was heard on the roof, and he awoke, saying: "Just now I had assumed the shape of a big garuda and have devoured the demons who had sent the epidemic. I came down on the roof of the house and because of it the loud knock was heard! At present the old disease has been driven away and a new epidemic will not come again." After that he proceeded to gtson kha and be ri. The offerings, which had been gathered in these places, were spent in offer¬ing seven tea ceremonies to monasteries, which had at least ten monks, in dbus and gtsang. He despatched the bla ma ri po sgang pa to supervise the distribution of offerings. In [F:44b] this manner he served the Doctrine. He offered a votive lamp made of eleven large measures of silver to the image of the Lord (jo bo) in lha sa. To the great image of 'tshur phu he offered several golden leaves made of five measures (bre chen) of gold. He also presented five lamps made of thirty one silver measures. To dge 'dun sgang pa he offered a lamp made of three mea¬sures of silver. To bde chen he offered a lamp made of three [R:505] measures of silver. Further, he offered silver lamps and a considerable sum of money for the maintenance of eternal votive lamps in the vihāras of Lower khams, such as the monastery of kar ma and others. The Princess Puṇyadhari told him that she had had a dream that if one were to make an image of Buddha of the size of yang dben mountain for the sake of Prince Ratna, he would be successful. The bla ma said: "Make it! I shall also assist you." He spent (on it) considerable money, to the value of 1019 srangs. When the imagemakers did not know how to do it, the Dharmasvāmin himself laid out the outlines (of the image) with white pebbles on the slope of that moun¬tain, and thus outlined a large image of the Saint (Muni). After this model, 700 imagemakers worked on the image for 13 months. The image had eleven spans ('dom) between the right and left ears. By this, one can judge of the size of the (image) of the Muni. To the left and right of the image were images of Mañjuśrī and Maitreya. Below (the central image) devaputras and devaputrīs were seen making offerings. Below the lotus throne (pad gdan) beautiful birds were embro¬idered. The Dharmasvāmin performed the consecration ceremony, during which many auspicious signs were observed. This image ('phan) was presented to the Dharmasvāmin and is now preserved at myang po. After that (Princess) Puṇyadhari invited the Dharmasvāmin to lu pe shan (Liu-pin-shan). When strong rumours spread that the troops of li ¬tsi tsi were coming, he said: "If it is true that I did not harm living beings, then let the troops not come!" By saying so, he comforted them. When the Dharmasvāmin proceeded to Tibet, his followers did not know the road, but following the Dharmasvāmin's indications, they were able to avoid mistakes and reach ldan. From there, the Dharmasvāmin proceeded towards kar ma and preached the Doctrine exten¬sively. Then he proceeded to Upper and Lower khams, and stayed there. After that he again journeyed to kang po [F:45a] and laboured extensively for the benefit of others. He visited [R:506] spo bo and then again returned to kong po. On the road he met spyan snga chos kyi rgyal po of 'bri khung. He recited to him the "Six Doctrines" of nA ro, the Bodhisattvāvadā¬nakalpalatā and other texts, and pleased him. At the foot of the rdza a ban gangs kyi me long he felt somewhat indisposed and said. ”I shall not die this time! You shouldn't be frightened! But afterwards, if I were to fall ill in a pure place, where numerous stags and kyangs were roaming, then do not scatter the books!" He showed great concern about the great embroidered image (gos sku or 'phan chen mo) and the books. He also said: "The remains of the former Dharmasvāmin had been cremated in China with sandal wood and aloe wood. I suspect that here is a scarcity of fire wood in the North, therefore cut a large quantity of Juniper wood and take it along!" He then jour¬neyed towards a solitary mountain situated in the far North. He is also known to have said at that time: "Should the remains of a strict monk be cremated on the summit of this mountain, Chinese troops wouldn't invade Tibet." There, at the age of 44, beginning with the 4th day of the seventh month of the year Water-Female-Hog (chu pho phag 1381 A.D.), he showed signs of being slightly indisposed. In the night of the 5th day of the same month, having circumambu¬lated 55 times the Holy objects of worship (sku gsung thugs rten), at dawn he gathered his earthly body and passed away. His remains were cremated there, amidst numerous auspicious signs, such as rainbows, glow, earth tremours; showers of flowers, etc. Devotees saw numerous visions of him, such as the Dharmasvāmin sitting inside a circle formed by a rain¬bow in the sky, or riding a lion, or again sitting on the Sun, Moon and stars. Then the acārya gu'i gung pa erected caityas made of eighty measures (bre chen) of silver adorned by images, at both 'tshur phu and kar ma, and spread the [F:45b] Doctrine.”


de bzhin gshegs pa (1384-1415), 5th Karmapa at the imperial palace.

“At that time the messengers with the invitation from the Emperor arrived in dbus. He gradually proceeded towards the famous kingdom of dbus. He visited lha sa and 'tshur phu, and then received the Emperor's command through an Impe¬rial envoy (gser yig pa). He slowly journeyed towards khams, maintaining the interest of others on his way to the Imperial Court. During that time the country of China was filled with light, over his mansion a rainbow pillar was (seen) standing, inside a cloud Buddhas and Bodhisattvas appeared clearly, devaputras and devaputrīs were seen making offerings from the sky, etc. Many similar wonderful signs were seen. The great Emperor and his retinue were filled with perfect faith and were established on the Path of Purity. The Emperor gave him the name of Tathāgata. He had numerous visions of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, tutelary deities [R:509] [F:46b] and guardians of the Doctrine. He also bestowed on others numerous sādhanas for propitiating them. In general, it is stated that he had manifested 108 wonderful and excellent deeds, and established his disciples on the Path of Purity. The Emperor presented him with about 700 measures of silver objects alone. He returned to Tibet and established living beings on the Path of Purity”


nam mkha' rgyal mtshan (1370-1433) goes to the imperial palace as an attendant of the Indian Virūpa. Maybe Tibetans are not the center of the world, since the imperial court is inviting Indians to come and teach. Maybe more Tibetans went because they were simply closer in distance to China and not because they had become the “center of a mandala.”

“One known as the ngom ascetic nam mkha' rgyal mtshan was distinguished by a profound trance. His labours were great. He was a disciple of the Dharmasvāmin mthong ba don ldan pa. In the beginning he shot an arrow at a stag which was standing on the other side of a mountain, having rested his knee on a boulder and the stag was killed. It was said that imprints appeared on the boulder. Later he was immured in a monastery and spent his time meditating. Once the monks discovered that his cell was empty. They peeped through a crack in the door, and discovered that he had proceeded to Heaven without leaving behind his physical body, and had left behind his vest¬ments only. He thus became known as mkha' spyod pa or "Heaven gone." When the Emperor ye dben (Yün wên) had sent tha'i skyam chen po as Imperial Envoy, and had invited Virūpa from Southern India, it was told, that (mkha'¬ spyod pa) went along as an attendant of Virūpa, wearing a mantle, to the roof of the Imperial Palace of China.”


mthong ba don ldan (kar ma pa VI), 1416-1453.

“When he was invited to lha stengs at the time of the eclipse of the Moon, he related in detail about the personality of the Chinese Emperor and even men¬tioned the length of his beard, etc.”


Two disciples of Karma Pakshi are burnt as punishment by the emperor.

TBRC: rin chen dpal (1229/1230-1309)

1202. Invited to Hor yul by Gong-ma Hu-pi-li Se-chen Rgyal-po.

“[The disciples of kar ma pa shi] The disciples of kar ma pa shi: ye shes dbang phyug and rin chen ¬dpal. It is said that when in Mongolia, the Emperor had accused kar ma pa, and ordered to be inflicted on him and his retinue the eight kinds of punishments, these two had been burnt.”


bla ma chos rgyal recieves seals from the emperor.

de bzhin gshegs pa (1384-1415), 5th Karmapa at the imperial court.

“After him, the bla ma chos rgyal, the second son of a dpal, occupied the chair for a long time. At first he held a golden seal with [F:52a] a crystal tho shu (<t'u shu) and the title of gu'i gung (Kuei¬-kung). Later (he received) the crystal seal of a kon ting gu shrI (Kuan ting kuo shih) accompanied by a 'ja' sa 'khor ma (Imperial letter of office with the images of eight or nine dragons). After his death, his brother chos blo (chos kyi blo gros) took over the chair and inherited the title. After his death, his younger brother dka' thub's eldest son—the rin po che kun dga' blo gros pa inherited the chair and the title for about fifteen years. He entrusted the chair to his brother chos kyi ‘od zer who took it over and the title for 24 years. After his death, his brother the bla ma bsod nams rgya mstho's eldest son 'jam dbyangs don grub ‘od zer took over the chair and title. When he occupied the chair, the Dharmasvāmin de bzhin gshegs pa proceeded to the Imperial Court. He received a golden seal and the title of kon ting ta'i gu shrI, as well as that of Ka'o min (Kuan-ting Ta Kuo-shih; Kao-ming), and then continued to act as abbot for 43 years. After that (the chair was occupied) by the present gu shrI ba. The Chapter on the Lineage of abbots of 'tshur phu. The story of the Second Lineage of Incarnated bla mas.”


On grags pa seng ge (dbang gu ras pa ) (1283-1349), of the Zhamarpa lineage.

“After that he entrusted his mansion to ston pa. He made him give instructions and founded the mansion of yang dgon . There he practised meditations for one year without [R:531] seeing anybody. After that he received a message from the Precious Dharmasvāmin from the Imperial Palace (Peking), saying that he should take up residence at bde chen. He therefore settled at bde chen. Here he built a spacious mansion and spent a summer. Then he felt slightly indis¬posed, and thought that gnas nang was a healthier place. He moved there and soon recovered. In the Hare year (yos lo¬ 1339 A.D.), while he was staying in strict seclusion at bde chen, he perceived that the Precious Dharmasvāmin had passed away at the Imperial Palace.”


On the reincarnation of grags pa seng ge, mkha' spyod dbang ¬po (karma zhwa dmar pa) (ye shes dpal ) (mi pham dpal Idan ) (1350-1405)

Deshin Shekpa (1384-1415), 5th Karmapa at the imperial palace.

“When he was nearing the end of his labours, he met the Dharmasvāmin de bzhin gshegs pa who was returning from the Imperial Palace (Peking ). He bestow¬ed on the Dharmasvāmin many religious instructions at rtse¬ lha sgang and other places.”


chos dpal ye shes (1406-1452), in the Zhamarpa lineage, recieves gifts from the Ming emperor.

“On being invited to spo bo (S.E. Tibet), he proceeded to ye gong and other places. At the age of 8, he met the Dharmasvāmin de bzhin gshegs pa at bang mdo on the border of kong po and dbus, took the upāsaka vows and was praised greatly. He was ordained at stag rtse, the Dharmasvāmin acting as upādhyāya and blo gros rgyal¬ mtshan dpal bzang po as ācārya. At the feet of the Dharmasvāmin he heard numerous expositions, initiation rites, permissions (to read a sacred text—lung) and others. From the Ta'i Ming (Ming) Emperor he received an image of Vajradhara, a vajra and bell, a gan dkar (a kind of vestment) and other presents.”


’gro mgon chos rgyal 'phags pa (1235-1280) a sakya lineage holder, returns from the imperial palace.

TBRC: the fourth of the five patriarchs of the sa skya tradition (sa skya'i gong ma rnam lnga)

in 1244 he was invited to china by go dan with sa skya paNDi ta

“When ’gro mgon chos rgyal 'phags pa was returning from the Imperial Palace, Maṅgala guru came to phon¬g mdo to invite him. ‘phags pa said to him: "If your teacher sangs rgyas yar byon will attend the assembly, I shall come. If not, I shall proceed to klung shod." When sangs rgyas yar ¬byon [F:99a] was asked to attend the assembly, he said: "It was my intention not to cross the threshold of yang dgon until my death, but now I cannot disobey the bla ma's command", saying so, he proceeded towards bla ye thang, and they greeted each other by touching their foreheads. ‘phags pa said to the assembly: "No one had seen sangs rgyas yar byon and (his) nephew. Today you have seen them. This was a present (to you) on my part!" Sangs rgyas yar byon pa said to 'phags pa: "I beg you to take charge and protect the monastery of stag lung and its branches, headed by my nephew bkra shis bla ma."”


stag lung khri 04 bkra shis bla ma (1231-1297), mang+ga la gu ru, recieves donations from the emperor to build a statue of the Buddha.

“Many stories about his great prescience were current. For example, when he was erecting a statue of the Buddha, called stong gsum zil gnon (“Conquer¬ing the 3000 Worlds"), his advisers told him: "We are unable to spend so much gold! You had better erect a brass statue of the size of the Lord of Lhasa." He replied : "I have no gold, but the Emperor has it!" Later, the Emperor se chen (Secen, Qubilai) sent him six measures of gold.”

More of Pakpa’s travel from the imperial palace.

“After the lapse of 16 years, he went to meet the Dharmarāja 'phags pa who was returning from the Imperial Palace, and had arrived at phon mdo, and invited him to stag lung. In the meanwhile ‘gro mgon 'phags pa accompanied by his nephew and five attendants, had gone to ka drug. He obtained from him blessings, some sādhanas and many instructions (bka' lung). Sans rgyas yar ¬byon requested 'phags pa to take charge and protect the monastery (stag lung), and 'phags pa promised to do so. Then at the time of the death of sangs rgyas yar byon, he said to Maṅgala guru "to look after stag lung, its supporters and monks, in the same manner as had been done by me." "You will follow my example in the matter of monastic rules and practice ,” saying so, he placed, his foot on Maṅgala guru's head. This latter became abbot at the age of 43 in the year Water Female Hen (chu mo bya 1273 A.D.). Maṅgala guru followed his predecessor in all his works.”


bkra shis dpal brtsegs (1359-1424)

“He was requested to come again, but replied: "Now I shall not come." He returned (to stag lung). From the Emperor ye dbang (Yung lo, 1403-1424) he received the title [R:646] of Gu shri (Kuo shih), the silver seal, the kao min (kao ming, letter patent) and many presents. After that he suddenly fell seriously ill caused by some defiling influences , and performed an elaborate rite. He appointed the Dharmasvamln byang chub rgya mtso ba to the abbot's chair.”


u rgyan pa rin chen dpal (1229/1230-1309) goes to see the emperor.

“Later, he was invited by the Emperor go pe la (Qubilai), and proceeded to hor yul (Mongolia). He bestowed on the Emperor the initiation into the Kālacakra mandala which was prepared with precious substances only. (At the each of the rite) all the precious stones, which were used in the preparation of the mandala, were thrown into water. He then spoke of his intention to return immediately to Tibet. The Emperor was disappointed, and begged him to stay on, but (u rgyan pa) said: "I had cut (my hair) at bo dong rin rtse, and I am praying to rgod tshang pa (therefore I respect only these two). Even if Indra, the Lord of Gods, were to appear before me, I would cut open his skull, and lick his brain." Saying so, he overruled the Emperor, who wept profusely. On his return from China, he did not bring back with him any property, even a needle; This precious mahā¬siddha passed away at the age of eighty in the Earth Female Hen (sa mo bya, 1309 A.D.).”


An abbot of Tsel Gungtang, 'jam dbyangs rin rgyal (??), goes to the imperial palace in 1303.

“In the same year, rin po che Śākya 'bum pa, born [R:717] in the year Wood Female Ox (shing mo glang, 1265 A.D.), aged thirty-seven, was appointed to the chair. After him, in the 12th month of the Water Male Tiger year (chu pho stag, 1302 A.D.) Ti śrī. (Ti shih) grags pa 'od zer passed away. This Water Male Tiger (chu pho stag, 1302 A.D.) is the (birth) year of the ācārya byang rgyal. In the year Water Female Hare (chu mo yos, 1303 A.D.) 'jam dbyangs rin rgyal. pro¬ceeded to the Imperial Palace. rin po che Śākya 'bum pa occupied the chair for ten years and passed away in the year Iron Male Dog (Icags pho khyi 1310 A. D.).”


ko brag pa is said to have been honored by the imperial family.

“In short, all bowed before his feet masters of the Old and New Tantras, kings, Mongol nobles of the Imperial family, officials, land owners, [F:2a] and others. Among these, one named pho rog mdo ¬sde mgon or bya skyungs pa was born in the year Wood ¬Female Hare (sin mo yos 1195 A.D.), and died at the age of 63 in the year Fire Serpent (me sbrul 1257 A.D.). The Chapter on ko brag pa and his disciples.”


skyer sgang pa chos kyi seng+ge (1154-1217) recieves offerings from king of Tanguts and emperor of China.

“He received large offerings from the king of 'Ga' and the Emperor of China . When he intended send¬ing a large offering to the monastery of his Teacher, the monks said to him: It is improper to send offerings from the monastery of 'Bal, the All Knowing, to another place.”


kun dga' rgyal ba (b. 13th cent.) serves the emperor.

TBRC: Old TSD Schools table tree:

    • Kalacakra
    • Jo-nang-pa

“sron pa kun dga' rgyal has been the zu gur che of the Mongol Emperor, and was ordained by bla ¬ma 'phags pa, who introduced him to the study of the Piṭaka. Later he obtained guidance from kun spangs pa, and obtained perfect results (in his meditation). He met Avalokiteśvara and sha ba ri dbang phyug. His precepts which were known as the "Method of sron" (sron lugs), slightly differed from others, and through them he benefitted others. dpal ldan bla ma obtained the "Method of sron" (sron lugs) from the following three: sron pa kun dga' rgyal, his disciple chos dpal, and the mahā-upādhyāya bsod nams grags pa.”


mkhas btsun yon tan rgya mtsho (1260-1327) traveled with 'jam dbyangs pa to the imperial palace.

“mkhas btsun yon tan rgya mtsho, a disciple of byan¬g sems pa: he was born in the year Iron-Ape (lcags spre 1260 A.D.). [F:10b] At the age of 61, he occupied the abbot's chair. He handed over the chair in the year Fire-Male¬Tiger (me pho stag 1326 A.D.), and died at the age of 68 in the year Fire-Female-Hare (me mo yos 1327 A.D.). His native place was speng pa of mdog. In his childhood he followed on numerous scholars at sa skya, such as 'jam¬ dbyangs pa and others, and studied well the Piṭaka. He journeyed to the Imperial Palace in the retinue of 'jam dbyangs ¬pa. With 'jam dbyangs pa's, permission, he soon returned to dbus and gtsang. Having come to jo mo nang, he thoroughly absorbed the initiation rite (of the Kālacakra system), and the Tantra from both kun spangs pa and byang sems pa, and received their guidance. His Mind concentration acquired a lofty character, and he became the object of worship of all living beings.”


dpal ldan byang chub rtse mo (1243-1320 ; TBRC: 1303-1380) attends dpal ldan bla ma dam pa, who is of uncertain identity, part of the to the imperial court.

“dpal ldan byang chub rtse mo obtained, (the system) from the scholar dpang, whose nephew he was. He was born in the year Water-Female-Hare (chu mo yos 1243 A.D.) in Sou¬thern la stod. In his childhood he became the disciple of the Venerable dpang and mastered the three Piṭakas, the precious class of the Tantras, and the Sanskrit language. He also studied the lesser sciences, and mastered them all. By order of dpal Idan bla ma dam pa he became abbot of bo dong. When dpal ldan bla ma dam pa proceeded to the Imperial Court, he attended on him as far as stag lung. The stag ¬lung rin po che Ratnākara made the following request to dpal¬ ldan bla ma dam pa: Let this lo tsā ba rtse mo act as preceptor of my nephew. bla ma dam pa agreed, saying he was at liberty to do so.”


rdo rje rgyal mtshan (1283-1325)

“bla ma shes rab seng ge having died, he took over Śambhar (%) and dben dmar. For a long time he carried on the preaching of the Kālacakra. After that he was invited by the Great Emperor, because his fame had encompassed all quarters. He proceeded to the Imperial Court in the Dog year (khyi to 1310 A.D.), and installed faith in the Great Emperor and all his ministers. He died at the age of 43 in the year Wood-Female-Ox (shing mo glang 1325 A.D.).”


ye shes gzhon nu (1257-1327) of the Zhije lineage is invited to the imperial court, but he refuses.

“In the beginning, though he did not engage in extensive studies, (his) wisdom shone forth from inside him, and he was able to preserve the Lineages of many scholars. He became famous, and when he received an invitation to the Imperial Court, he ignored it; and remained at his own residence. When the Dharmasvāmin, the All¬-knowing (kun mkhyen) jo nang pa came to lha sa, he said: "You have come here! Let us discuss the Doctrine." But he replied: "I have removed all my doubts regarding the Cause, the Path and Effect of Enlightenment in front of my teacher, the Buddha. It is not necessary for me to put any questions to any one", and so he did not go. After this all the inmates, including the gu-ru dkon gzhon and others, followed the example of this Teacher. They did not keep any monastery lands for the upkeep of the above two monasteries (in tsa ri), but gained their livelihood by begging for alms. However they were able to distribute food to not less than a hundred hermits observing the annual seclusion (lo mtshams pa).”


Pakpa goes to the imperial court.

“dang re, the second of the five sons of the military commander chos rdor, had three sons: sangs rgyas rdo rje, chos kyi bla ma of tsa ri, and brag 'bur ba. brag 'bur ba in his youth became a dis¬ciple of sangs rgyas dbon. On ordination, he received the name of rin chen 'bum. He practised diligently the precepts of the upāya-mārga at the hermitage of rdo 'on, and a wonderful understanding and experience of bliss, and of the [F:13a] "Inner Heat" (bde drod) was produced in him. He became abbot of shug gseb. When ‘gro mgon 'phags pa was pro¬ceeding to the Imperial Court, the Masters of the Doctrine (chos dpon) of dbus came out to meet him, and he was pleased with the signs of the "Inner Heat of the Precious one (brag 'bur ba), and ('phags pa) listened to his exposition of hidden precepts.”


sangs rgyas ri pa (12-13th c.?)

“He bestowed (the Doctrine) on sangs rgyas ri pa, whose native place was Yar¬ kluns. At the age of 20, he met spyan snga chos bzhi pa and followed after every good Teacher. He heard the ‘khor ba rgyun gchod (the doctrine of Mitra). He acted as Vajradhara for five years at Kailasa. He became the Teacher of dbOn po deal ldan grags and of Upper hor (stod hor) and received the title of Imperial Preceptor (Ti Śrī, Ti shih).”


chag lo tsA ba chos rje dpal (1197-1263/1264) is to old to accept the invitation to the court.

“When the invitation of the Mongol Emperor arrived, the great men of Mongolia and Tibet held a consultation between themselves, as a result of which he was permitted to remain (in Tibet) because of failing health.”


Ebrey, Patricia Buckley. Cambridge Illustrated History of China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.