Jetsun Dampa Rinpoche passed away in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, at 0835 am Mongolian time on Thursday. He was 81. He passed away after a prolonged illness. He is said to be in the after-death meditative state of thukdam, according to sources close to him.Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa is revered by many Mongolian people as the Bogdo Gegen or Urga the head of the Mongolian Buddhists.
Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa has realised incarnations in all the lineages. Prior to his incarnation as Taranatha, he was known as Jamyang Choje, who helped to establish Drepung Monastery outside Lhasa. In the Nyingma he was known Rongzong Lotsawa Chokyi Gaytsen; in the Kagyu Baromba Dharma Wangchuk; in the Sakya lineage, he was known as Master Kunga Drolchok. It was after this incarnation that he was to be reborn as Taranatha. But at that time, the mother of Taranatha was still only a young girl of fourteen; so instead, he took rebirth as the son of an Indian king. He lived so, until he was fourteen years of age. At that time, as he stood one day on the roof of the king's palace, his dakini mother, whose name was Khadroma Yum Dorje Buka, appeared to him in the sky and bade him come to her. He then took rebirth, as Taranatha.
In his later years, it is said that Taranatha, who was known for his great wit and humor, had joked during a teaching about where he might take rebirth. It was said that a Mongolian student who was present had spoken out and pleaded, "Oh, please come to Mongolia next time!" It was said that this remark set up the conditions for his next rebirth.
Taranatha was his 14th notable reincarnation and directly preceded the First Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa. As the 15th reincarnation, the First Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa, became the head lineage lama of the many monasteries throughout Mongolia.
The First Jetsun Dhampa, Tenpei Gyaltsen, Rangjung Yeshe Dorje, was born the son of a king in Mongolia. He was recognized at an early age to be an incarnate lama and, at the age of fourteen, (ca. 1650), he made a pilgrimage to Kumbum, the birthplace of Je Tsong Khapa. From there, he travelled to Central Tibet to visit the Fourth Panchen Lama, Panchen Losang Chogyen, and the Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Losang Gyatso. It was at this time that the Fifth Dalai Lama recognized the young tulku to be the reincarnation of the saint Taranatha, who was greatly respected as a chief lineage of all traditions with reincarnations going back directly to Shakyamuni Buddha. Both the Fifth Dalai Lama and the Fourth Panchen Lama then became Jetsun Dhampa's teachers and gave to him all the initiations, oral transmissions and commentaries.
The title, Khalkha (the largest district of Mongolia) Jetsun Dhampa (Lord of Refuge) was also conferred upon him at that time. He then returned to Mongolia where he strongly established the Gelukpa school throughout Mongolia and Central Asia.
Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa's close friendship with the Dalai Lama, this lifetime, dates back to earlier years in Tibet, before 1959, when they had shared tutors in their youth and remembered meetings, as well, for play and family gatherings at Norbu Lingka.
It was the Fifth Dalai Lama, Losang Ngawang Gyatso, who recognized the First Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa as the reincarnation of Taranatha when the young tulku first travelled to Tibet from Mongolia, and who also became his lineage lama at that time, conferring on him all his lineage initiations, empowerments and the further teachings, as well as his present title.
The Sixth Dalai Lama recognized Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa as the emanation of Chakrasamvara; as Vajrapani in the Tantric sense; and as Namkai Nyingpo in the Bodhisattva sense. Later, during the time of the Seventh Dalai Lama, the two took rebirth in the same family, making them blood relatives as well.
The Thirteenth Dalai Lama and the Eighth Jetsun Dhampa extended their bond of understanding into the temporal realm, by each exchanging official documents of mutual recognition of the independence of both Tibet and Mongolia, in 1911; and later, in 1913, by having their representatives sign a treaty at Urga (now Ulan Bator) "declaring their independence from China and agreeing to strengthen Tibeto-Mongolian ties."
Khalkha Jetsun Dampa is considered to be one of the most revered teachers of the Kalachakra Tantra, the Tara Tantra, and Maitreya, the future Buddha. All of these lineage teachings descend directly to him from Taranatha, the great historian and Tantric practioner (B. 1575 AD).His Holiness Jetsun Dampa Dorje Chang Jampel Namdrol Chokyi Gyaltsen Chogni was born in Tibet in 1932 amid wonderous, auspicious signs in the northern area of Lhasa called Tramsigkhang, to his father Lobsang Jampel and mother Yangchen Lhamo. At the time of his conception, the 90th Gaden Tripa, Jampa Chodrak, through his miraculous powers, saw that the mother had conceived such a special child and the following morning he went to visit her. When he prostrated three times and offered a khatak, the mother became very frightened, but he explained that it was the child in the womb to whom he was prostrating, saying that this child was to be extremely beneficial to the Geluk tradition, and then he gave the name Sonam Dargyay to the unborn baby.
Later, when His Holiness Khalkha Rinpoche was a young child, he went to see Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche Dechen Nyingpo, who gave him the name Sonam Tenzin Dargyay. When Kharak Yong Dzin Chok saw the young boy he knew without a doubt that this child in a previous incarnation had been one of Je Rinpoche Lama Tsong Khapa’:s disciples, by the name of Jamyang Choeje, who had founded Drepung Monastery. Later the Nechung Oracle of Tibet also confirmed that this three-year-old boy was the authentic incarnation of Jamyang Choeje and like “a jewel of the sky” (Namkhai Norbu), which was a secret code name for the founder of Drepung Monastery.
A little later Radreng Rinpoche (Reting) also confirmed the four-year-old boy was the real incarnation of the Eighth Khalkha Jetsun Dampa Rinpoche counting from Rangjung Yeshe Dorje Ney (First incarnation). The present Khalkha Rinpoche is the 28th incarnation, but the Ninth after Taranatha (b.1575 AD). (The Eighth Khalkha Jetsun Dampa was the spiritual head of the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia and held the same position as religious and secular leader in Mongolia that the Dalai Lama held in Tibet).
His father, Lobsang Jampal, was from Phenpo and his mother, Yangchen was from Kham. At the age of seven, he entered Gomang College, Drepung Monastery, as a simple monk where he studied philosophy for fourteen years, up to the level of Madhyamika. At Gomang he studied primarily with a teacher from Mongolia named Geshe Thupten Nyima. He received his dharma lineages from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
His Holiness the Panchen Rinpoche, Gyabje Trijang Rinpoche, Gyabje Ling Rinpoche, and Gyabje Lhatsun Rinpoche were his teachers in the Gelukpa lineage. H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche was his teacher in the Nyingma lineage; Kalu Rinpoche was his teacher in the Kagyu lineage; and Sakya Tenzin Rinpoche was his teacher in the Sakya lineage. At the age of 21, he left Gomang College and Drepung to engage in a series of Chod meditations, living the life of a yogi, while on pilgrimage to the holy sites of Tibet.
At the age of 25, he gave back his monastic vows, and then went to stay at Ganden Phunstok Ling, established by his predecesor Taranatha, until the age of 29 when the Chinese invasion forced him into exile, along with hundreds of thousands of Tibetans.
In 1952, at the age of 21, he left Drepung Gomang Monastery for Takten Monastery. He stayed there until the 1959 invasion of Tibet, after which he was forced into exile in India, staying at Wolung near Darjeeling. While there, he approached Pema Cholin Rinpoche to request guidance in studying poetry, grammar and the arts.
After many years of dividing his time between North India and South India, at the age of 67, His Holiness the Dalai Lama asked Rinpoche not to spend his time like this, and to carry the name of his previous life. HHDL, along with the Department of Religious Affairs, organised his enthronement, which took place in Dharamsala in 1998. The following year, at the age of 68, he travelled to Mongolia where (in preceeding lives) he was originally from for a second enthronement on the previous Khalkha Rinpoche’s throne in Mongolia.