Amdo Geshe Jampal Rolwé Lodrö (1888-1944) was a Gelugpa lama who was a student of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Tertön Sogyal and a teacher of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö. was born in Amdo in the Earth Mouse year (1888), in the region of Tsongkha, in a sacred place associated with the mind of Chakrasamvara, near Lake Trishok Gyalmo. His family was descended from Nupchen Sangye Yeshe. His father was a mantrayana practitioner called Khyamru Kuchen, and his mother was Tre’u Nakza. When he reached the age of five, his father took him in his lap and said, “When this son of mine is grown up, by the edict of the emperor of China, he will become lord of Nyinlung with responsibility for all its subjects.” As soon as he heard this, he was filled with sadness and renunciation for samsara, and from that moment on, although he participated in children’s games, he always had a sense of the futility of ordinary actions, and longed to practise the Dharma for the sake of others.
At the age of seven, he accompanied his grandmother to Lhasa and made prayers of aspiration before the sacred Jowo, resolving never to be defiled by the misuse of offerings or by unethical forms of livelihood. Whilst in Lhasa, he received several transmissions from the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, including the guru yoga of Tsongkhapa known as The Hundred Deities of Tushita.
At the age of eight, he took novice ordination from the ascetic master Sonam Gyatso, and was given the name Lobzang Khetsun Tenzin Gyatso. At the age of ten, he grew disheartened by his family’s disagreements over his future, and the following year, aged only eleven, he decided for himself that he would enter the great monastery of Kumbum Jampa Ling. There he studied the most important texts of the tradition with a range of learned and perfectly disciplined teachers such as Harchen Yeshe Gyatso. His teachers were so impressed by his natural intelligence that they likened him to the great Gungthang Tenpé Drönmé. When he studied the Clarifying the Meaning commentary on the Abhisamayalankara with Pariwa Lobzang Rabsal, the prajnaparamita teachings arose in his mind as experiential instructions. With Shamarpa Gendün Tendzin Gyatso he studied the instructions on Lamrim according to Atisha’s tradition.
With Dorje Chang Trika Alak Rinpoche Ngawang Phuntsok, he took full ordination, and received several important transmissions including those of Guhyasamaja and Chakrasamvara. When he received the teacher’s special lineage for the four empowerments for the Thirteen deity Vajrabhairava practice he developed a fearless confidence concerning his knowledge of the infinite sutras and tantras. With Drungchen Jampa Gyatso, he studied the common sciences such as grammar, medicine and astrology, and also many special profound and secret instructions from the aural lineage.
At twenty-five he wanted to travel to Lhasa, but on the way he heard the name of Drakkar Lobzang Palden Tendzin Nyendrak, with whom he felt a connection from previous lives. He went to meet him, and studied Tsongkhapa’s Sutra and Mantra Lamrim texts, and received instructions on Lojong and many other subjects. He did not leave these teachings as mere intellectual knowledge, but went straight into retreat to reflect and meditate on what he had heard, and to train in the development of bodhichitta. During this time, he underwent incredible hardship and deprivation, and had nothing to eat and drink but flour and water. It was also at this time, while in Kham, that he met Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, from whom he received many teachings, including instructions on the Guhyagarbha Tantra. He also received the entire transmission for the Longchen Nyingtik from the supremely realized yogin Ragang Chöpa.
Then, following the instructions of Drakkar Rinpoche, he went to Golok, where he was honoured by the local chieftain Wangchen Dodé, to whom he gave teachings. Then, inspired by a vision of the forms of the five dharma kings, and other visionary experiences, he went to meet the hidden yogin, Tra Gelong Tsultrim Dargyé, whom he saw as glorious Chakrasamvara. As soon as they met, their minds merged as one. From Tra Gelong he received instructions from the great secret aural lineage. At around this time, Tra Gelong and other masters declared him to be an incarnation of Patrul Rinpoche, and he had indeed been born the very year after Patrul Rinpoche passed away. With Wangchen as his patron, and in accordance with the words of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, he laid the foundations for his seat, which was given the name of The Glorious and Pleasant Mountain Sanctuary of Virtue that is Victorious Over All (Pal Nyenmo Ri Namgyal Genden Ling).
He went to meet Tertön Sogyal Lerab Lingpa and received many transmissions, including the empowerment of Vajrakilaya. Soon afterwards, he was injured during the troubles that took place at this time in Xining, but his attackers’ minds became merciful and they did not take his life. He went on to Dzakhok and taught at the new monastery of Ganden Tashi Chöling. He established a teaching centre there and returned several times in the following years to oversee its development.
Then, he travelled to the great Dergé Lhundrup Teng, where some scholars in the vicinity had decided to suppress the Gelugpa teachings. He fearlessly engaged in debate, sending out a letter challenging anyone in the region to debate with him about the works of Tsongkhapa. Through the lion’s roar of scripture and reasoning, he emerged victorious, with the result that the king of Derge became his patron, and he took on many fortunate disciples and oversaw the printing of Tsongkhapa’s collected writings at the famous Derge printing house.
At the age of forty-one, he received invitations to go to Chamdo Champa Ling and teach. He went there and made vast offerings to all the monks. When he visited the Phakpa Lha incarnation, they honoured one another with mutual respect and pure perception. By gathering donations they established a scriptural college for more than a hundred intelligent and disciplined monks. While he was at the monastery, Amdo Geshe not only taught others, but also received transmissions himself, and it was here that he composed his commentary on the Seven Points of Mind Training, entitled The Radiant Light of the Sun.
At the age of forty-four, he went to Central Tibet and met the Thirteenth Dalai Lama once again. He made vast offerings at the three great monastic seats of Sera, Drepung and Ganden, and also in the upper and lower tantric colleges and in other places. During the great festival of miracles at the beginning of the monkey year (1932), he visited the Dalai Lama at the palace of Norbulingka, and offered a mandala and representations of enlightened body, speech and mind. He then went to Drepung Gomang, and with Kashöpa Chögyal Nyima Lhundrup as his patron, made extensive offerings to all the monks. He also received teachings at Ganden Monastery from the heads of the Shartse and Jangtse colleges and other great teachers.
At the Medical and Astrological College (Mentsee-khang) in Lhasa he gave elaborate teachings on Shamarpa’s instructions on Lamrim. To the Tibetan government, the Ganden Podrang, he offered six volumes of writings on Kurukulla to assist them in their activity. Then he went to Rongbo monastery, and gave teachings. At sunrise on the first day of the twelfth month, he said to those around him, “Take the Three Jewels as your refuge, and maintain your vows and commitments purely!” With this, he merged his mind with the dharmakaya and passed away.