Pema Lingpa

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Image of tertön Pema Lingpa in a temple in Tsakaling Gewog, Bhutan

Pema Lingpa or Padma Lingpa (Tibetan: པདྨ་གླིང་པ་Wylie: pad+ma gling pa, 1450–1521) was a Bhutanese saint and siddha of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. He is considered a terchen or "preeminent tertön" (Wylie: gter chen, discoverer of spiritual treasures) and is considered to be foremost of the "Five Tertön Kings" (Wylie: gter ston rgyal po lnga). In the history of the Nyingma school in Bhutan, Pema Lingpa is second only in importance to Padmasambhava.


Courtyard of Könchogsum Lhakhang in Bumthang where Pema Lingpa is said to have placed this stone plug over the subterranean lake below the temple

Pema Lingpa was born in Chel, part of the central Bhutanese region of Bumthang known as the “Wheel of Dharma.” His father was Lama Döndrup Zangpo[1] of the Nyö clan, and his mother, Drogmo Pema Drolma, was bestowed with all the signs of a dakini. Their son was born among many miraculous signs. As an incarnation of the Omniscient One Drimé Ozer (Longchenpa), Pema Lingpa was extraordinary even as a child. He learned everything from reading and writing to ironwork and carpentry without receiving any instruction.

On the tenth day of the first month of autumn in a Monkey Year, Padmasambhava appeared before Pema Lingpa at the holy site of Yigé Drukma, blessed him, and placed in his hands an inventory of one hundred and eight major termas to be revealed. However, due to the karmic disposition of beings at that time, during his lifetime Pema Lingpa revealed only about half of the prophesied treasures. Nevertheless, the revealed treasures of Pema Lingpa contain the essence of all 108 treasures, which are summarized in the cycles of the three heart practices transmitted to Princess Pemasel by Guru Rinpoche: The Lama Jewel Ocean, The Union of Samantabhadra's Intentions, and The Great Compassionate One: The Lamp That Illuminates Darkness.

One well-known story of Pema Lingpa tells of his diving with a burning butter lamp into the Burning Lake in the Bumthang District of Bhutan. He told onlookers that if he was a false spirit his lamp would be extinguished. Disappearing into the bottom of the gorge and feared drowned, he emerged from the water with a statue the size of a fist and a treasure casket tucked under one arm, and the butter lamp still burning in the other.[citation needed]

Pema Lingpa was highly regarded by all four of the principal schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He spent his life revealing the precious treasures of Padmasambhava, giving empowerments and teachings, meditating in isolated locations, building and restoring monasteries, and establishing a tradition that endures to this day. Moreover, Pema Lingpa prophesied that in the future he would return as Longsal Nyingpo in the pure land of Pemako, and that those connected with him would be reborn in Pemakö as his students.[citation needed]

He married twice. His first wife was Yum Tima (alias Sithar) and his second wife was Yum Bumdren.[2]

Notable descendants of Pema Lingpa include the House of Wangchuck[3] and the 6th Dalai Lama.[citation needed]

The Pema Lingpa lineage of empowerments, transmissions and guidance continues today through the three lines of the Body, Speech, and Mind emanations of Pema Lingpa: the Gangteng, Sungtrul, and Tukse Rinpoches, all of who traditionally reside in Bhutan.[citation needed]

Emanation lineages

Pema Lingpa incarnations

Traditionally, there are three main emanation lineages of Padma Lingpa recognized:

  1. the Peling Sungtrul incarnations: The incarnation of Padma Lingpa
  2. the Peling Thuksay incarnations: The incarnations of Padma Lingpa's son Thuksay Dawa Gyeltshen
  3. the Gangteng Truelku or Peling Gyalse incarnations: The incarnations of Gyalse Pema Thinley; son of Thuksay Dawa Gyeltshen.

They are known as "Peling Yab-sey-sum" meaning incarnations of Father, son and grandson, who are considered to be the combined body and activity incarnations. However mistakenly many refer to three of them as incarnations of speech, mind and body. .[4]

Peling Sungtrul incarnations

The incarnations are:[5]

  • Tenzin Drakpa བསྟན་འཛིན་གྲགས་པ (1536–1597)
  • Kunkhyen Tsultim Dorje ཀུན་མཁྱེན་ཚུལ་ཁྲིམས་རྡོ་རྗེ (1680–1723)
  • Dorje Mikyō-tsal རྡོ་རྗེ་མི་སྐྱོད་རྩལ a.k.a. Ngawang Kunzang Rolpai Dorje ངག་དབང་ཀུན་བཟང་རོལ་པའི་རྡོ་རྗེ (1725–1762)
  • Kunzang Tsewang ཀུན་བཟང་ཚེ་དབང a.k.a. Tenzin Drubchog Dorje བསྟན་འཛིན་གྲུབ་མཆོག་རྡོ་རྗེ (1763–1817)
  • Kunzang Tenpai Gyaltsen ཀུན་བཟང་བསྟན་པའི་རྒྱལ་མཚན (1819–1842)
  • Pema Tenzin པདྨ་བསྟན་འཛིན a.k.a. Kunzang Ngawang Chokyi Lodro ཀུན་བཟང་ངག་དབང་ཆོས་ཀྱི་བློ་གྲོས ()
  • Kunzang Dechen Dorje ཀུན་བཟང་བདེ་ཆེན་རྡོ་རྗེ
  • Tenzin Chōki Gyaltsen བསྟན་འཛིན་ཆོས་ཀྱི་རྒྱལ་མཚན (1843–1891)
  • Pema Ōsal Gyurme Dorje པདྨ་འོད་གསལ་འགྱུར་མེད་རྡོ་རྗེ (1930–1955)
  • Jigdrel Kunzang Pema Dorji ཀུན་བཟང་པདྨ་རིན་ཆེན་རྣམ་རྒྱལ (b. 1965)[6] ~ the present Peling Sungtrul or Lhalung Sungtrul Rinpoche.

Peling Tukse incarnations

The incarnations are:[7]

  • Tukse Dawa Gyaltsen ཐུགས་སྲས་ཟླ་བ་རྒྱལ་མཚན (b. 1499) – son of Pema Lingpa
  • Nyida Gyaltsen ཉི་ཟླ་རྒྱལ་མཚན
  • Nyida Longyang ཉི་ཟླ་རྒྱལ་མཚན
  • Tenzin Gyurme Dorje བསྟན་འཛིན་འགྱུར་མེད་རྡོ་རྗེ (1641 – ca.1702)
  • Gyurme Chogdrub Palzang འགྱུར་མེད་མཆོག་གྲུབ་དཔལ་འབར་བཟང་པོ (ca. 1708–1750)
  • Tenzin Chokyi Nyima བསྟན་འཛིན་ཆོས་ཀྱི་ཉི་མ (ca. 1752–1775)
  • Kunzang Gyurme Dorje Lungrig Chokyi Gocha ཀུན་བཟང་འགྱུར་མེད་རྡོ་རྗེ་ལུང་རིགས་ཆོས་ཀྱི་གོ་ཆ (ca.1780 – ca.1825)
  • Kunzang Zilnon Zhadpa-tsal ཀུན་བཟང་ཟིལ་གནོན་བཞད་པ་རྩལ
  • Thubten Palwar ཐུབ་བསྟན་དཔལ་འབར (1906–1939)
  • Tegchog Tenpa'i Gyaltsen ཐེག་མཆོག་བསྟན་པའི་རྒྱལ་མཚན (1951–2010)

Peling Gyalse (Gangteng Tulku) incarnations

The incarnations are:[8]

  • Gyalse Pema Tinley རྒྱལ་སྲས་པདྨ་འཕྲིན་ལས (1564–1642)
  • Tenzin Lekpai Dondrup བསཏན་འཛིན་ལེགས་པའི་དོན་གྲུབ (1645–1726)
  • Tinley Namgyal འཕྲིན་ལས་རྣམ་རྒྱལ a.k.a. Kunzang Pema Namgyal (d. ca. 1750)
  • Tenzin Sizhi Namgyal བསྟན་འཛིན་སྲིད་ཞི་རྣམ་རྒྱལ (1761?-1796)
  • Orgyen Geleg Namgyal ཨོ་རྒྱན་དགེ་ལེགས་རྣམ་རྒྱལ (d. 1842 ?)
  • Orgyen Tenpai Nyima ཨོ་རྒྱན་བསྟན་པའི་ཉི་མ (1873-1900?)
  • Orgyen Tenpai Nyinjed ཨོ་རྒྱན་བསྟན་པའི་ཉིན་བྱེད
  • Orgyen Thinley Dorje ཨོ་རྒྱན་འཕྲིན་ལས་རྡོ་རྗེ
  • Rigdzing Kunzang Padma Namgyal རིག་འཛིན་ཀུན་བཟང་པདྨ་རྣམ་རྒྱལ (b. 1955) ~ present Gangteng Tulku Rinpoche

Family lineages

Pema Lingpa's family line grew into a pre-eminent class of religious elites, known as Choje, who were pre-dominant in the Bhutanese religious and political sphere. The House of Wangchuck claims direct descent from Pema Lingpa, as do many other Himalayan religious elites.[9]

Tamzhing Chöje

This Chöje family, with its main seat at Tamzhing Monastery, began with Pema Lingpa's son, Drakpa Gyalpo, who died without leaving an heir. The family line continued through Pema Lingpa's youngest son, Sangda.

Prakhar Zhalno

See also


  1. Royal Ark
  2. Bhutan studies
  3. "The Historical Study and Documentation of the Pad gling traditions in Bhutan". Research Councils UK. 
  4. Gangteng (2008) p.15 (English)
  5. Harding (2003) p. 138
  6. H.E Lhalung Sungtrul Rinpoche
  7. Harding 2003 pp.138–39
  8. Harding 2003 p.139-140
  9. "The Historical Study and Documentation of the Pad gling traditions in Bhutan". Research Councils UK. 



  • Aris, Michael (1988). Hidden Treasures and Secret Lives: A Study of Pemalingpa (1450- 1521) and the Sixth Dalai Lama (1683-1706). London: Keagan Paul. ISBN 0-7103-0328-9. 
  • Gangteng Literary Committee (2008). The Rosary of Jewels: Biographies of the Successive Throne Holders of Gangteng. Bhutan: Gangteng Monastery. 
  • Harding, Sarah (2003). The Life and Revelations of Pema Lingpa. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion. ISBN 1-55939-194-4. 
  • Karma Phuntsho (2013). The History of Bhutan. Nodia: Random House India. ISBN 9788184003116. 
  • Tshewang, Padma; Tashi, Phuntshok; Butters, Chris; Sætreng, Sigmund K. (1995). "The Treasure Revealer of Bhutan: Pemalingpa, the Terma Tradition and Its Critics". 8, Biblotheca Himalayica Series III. Kathmandu: EMR Publishing House. 

External links

Historical people list

Historical people

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Masao Abe Robert Baker Aitken Ron Allen (playwright) B. R. Ambedkar Ananda
Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Thero Angulimala Aniruddha Mahathera Anuruddha Nauyane Ariyadhamma Mahathera
Aryadeva Asai Ryōi Assaji Atiśa Nisthananda Bajracharya
Benimadhab Barua Joko Beck Sanjaya Belatthiputta Charles Henry Allan Bennett Hubert Benoit (psychotherapist)
John Blofeld Bodhidharma Edward Espe Brown Polwatte Buddhadatta Thera Buddhaghosa
Acharya Buddharakkhita Marie Byles Ajahn Chah Rerukane Chandawimala Thero Channa
Chokgyur Lingpa Edward Conze L. S. Cousins Brian Cutillo 1st Dalai Lama
2nd Dalai Lama 3rd Dalai Lama 4th Dalai Lama 5th Dalai Lama 6th Dalai Lama
7th Dalai Lama 8th Dalai Lama 9th Dalai Lama 10th Dalai Lama 11th Dalai Lama
12th Dalai Lama 13th Dalai Lama Bidia Dandaron Alexandra David-Néel Marian Derby
Devadatta U Dhammaloka K. Sri Dhammananda Dharmaditya Dharmacharya Dharmakirti
Dharmapala of Nalanda Anagarika Dharmapala Dharmottara Dignāga Dōgen
Dongchu Dongshan Liangjie Khakyab Dorje, 15th Karmapa Lama Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, 16th Karmapa Rangjung Dorje, 3rd Karmapa Lama
Heinrich Dumoulin Düsum Khyenpa, 1st Karmapa Lama Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö Walter Evans-Wentz Family of Gautama Buddha
Frederick Franck Gampopa Gelek Rimpoche Gö Lotsawa Zhönnu-pel Gorampa
Maha Pajapati Mahapajapati Mahapajapati Gotami Rita Gross Gurulugomi
Phagmo Drupa Dorje Gyalpo Tsangpa Gyare Gendun Gyatso Palzangpo Jamgon Ju Mipham Gyatso Dolpopa
Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen Gyeongbong Han Yong-un Thich Nhat Hanh Walisinghe Harischandra
Eugen Herrigel Ernő Hetényi Marie Musaeus Higgins Raicho Hiratsuka Shin'ichi Hisamatsu
Hsuan Hua Huiyuan (Buddhist) Christmas Humphreys K. N. Jayatilleke 2nd Jebtsundamba Khutughtu
9th Jebtsundamba Khutughtu Jeongang Kadawedduwe Jinavamsa Mahathera Ken Jones (Buddhist) David Kalupahana
Dainin Katagiri Katyayana (Buddhist) Bob Kaufman Kaundinya Jack Kerouac
Bogd Khan Khema Ayya Khema Dilgo Khentse Dilgo Khyentse
King Suppabuddha Jamgon Kongtrul Kukkuripa Kumar Kashyap Mahasthavir Kunkhyen Pema Karpo
Drukpa Kunley Trevor Leggett Arthur Lillie Karma Lingpa Robert Linssen
Longchenpa John Daido Loori Albert Low Luipa Taizan Maezumi
Mahakasyapa Mahākāśyapa Mahamoggallana Mahasi Sayadaw Jyotipala Mahathera
Nagasena Mahathera S. Mahinda Gunapala Piyasena Malalasekera Marpa Lotsawa Peter Matthiessen
Maudgalyayana Maya (mother of Buddha) Maya (mother of the Buddha) Gustav Meyrink Edward Salim Michael
Milarepa Mingun Sayadaw Sōkō Morinaga Hiroshi Motoyama Mun Bhuridatta
Myokyo-ni Nagarjuna Nagasena Soen Nakagawa Bhikkhu Nanamoli
Matara Sri Nanarama Mahathera Nanavira Thera Nanda Naropa Nichiren
Kitaro Nishida Gudō Wafu Nishijima Nyanaponika Nyanaponika Thera Nyanatiloka
Thothori Nyantsen Ōbaku Toni Packer Padmasambhava Sakya Pandita
Paramanuchitchinorot Pema Lingpa Prajñāvarman Punna Rāhula
Thotagamuwe Sri Rahula Thera Walpola Rahula Paul Reps Caroline Rhys Davids Sonam Rinchen (Buddhist geshe)
Hammalawa Saddhatissa Kazi Dawa Samdup Chatral Sangye Dorje Ajahn Sao Kantasīlo Sariputta
Sayadaw U Tejaniya Seongcheol Seungsahn Shantideva Shavaripa
Sheng-yen Zenkei Shibayama Takamaro Shigaraki Silabhadra Sīlācāra
Shin Maha Silavamsa Śrāvaka Subhashitaratnanidhi Subhuti Suddhodana
Śuddhodana D. T. Suzuki Shunryū Suzuki Taklung Thangpa Tashi Pal The ten principal disciples
Tiantong Rujing Tilopa Chögyam Trungpa Tsangnyön Heruka Yeshe Tsogyal
Upali Uppalavanna Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo Xuanzang Yasa
Yashodhara Yasodharā Linji Yixuan Zanabazar Śāriputra

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