K a r m a . K a g y u . T r a d i t i o n

The Sixth Karmapa, Tongwa Donden (1416-1453)

Excerpts from The Garland of Moon Water Crystal by Situ Chokyi Jungnay and Belo Tsewang Kunkhyab

The Sixth Karmapa, Tongwa Donden was born at Ngomto Shakyam near Karma Gon in Eastern Tibet. Many auspicious signs occurred at his birth. When he was only a month old his mother took him on a begging round, during which they encountered Ngompa Chadral, a disciple of the previous Karmapa.

The infant became very excited and smiled at Ngompa Chadral, who asked him who he was. The child sat up and said, 'I'm the Karmapa'. Ngompa Chadral cared for the infant during the following seven months. Then he took him to Karma Gon, one of the three principal monasteries of the Karmapa in Tibet, where Tongwa Donden, at this early age, gave many teachings.

He met Ratnabhadra at the age of three and was given the complete Kagyu transmission. At the age of six he composed many Tantric rituals. During this time the third Shamarpa, Chopal Yeshe, came to Karma Gon. He enthroned the Karmapa and gave him teachings on Kagyu practice.

Tongwa Donden took ordination at the age of nine from Khenchen Sonam Zangpo at the Wolkar Tashi Tang Monastery.

He spent the rest of his life travelling throughout Tibet, teaching the Dharma as well as restoring and constructing numerous monasteries and shrines.

Among his foremost disciples were Bengar Jampal Zangpo and the first Gyaltsap, Goshir Paljor Dondrub. Both became lineage holders and the principal gurus of the seventh Karmapa, Chodrag Gyamtso.

Bengar Jampal Zangpo (15th and 16th centuries)




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