Vajradhara in Human Form


The tantric expert and strict Vinaya advocate Ngor chen Kun dga' bzang po was one of the most outstanding masters of the Sa skya order who flourished during the first half of the fifteenth century. Like Tsong kha pa Blo bzang grags pa (1357-1419), Ngor chen can be considered a reformer who tried to renew his own Sa skya school from within. He made efforts to cleanse the Sa skya teachings from elements he considered to be mistaken, aiming to return to the religious roots of his tradition by transmitting what he perceived to be the pure and untainted teachings of the early great Sa skya founders, such as Sa chen Kun dga' snying po (1092-1158) and his sons, Slob dpon bSod nams rtse mo (1142- 1182) and rJe btsun Grags pa rgyal mtshan (1147-1216). Withdrawing from the worldly distractions of the bustling town of Sa skya as well as from sectarian conflicts, Ngor chen left his traditional alma mater of Sa skya Monastery and set up his new monastic seat in the remote Ngor valley, located about 30 km southwest of bSam grub rtse (present-day gZhis ka rtse), where, based on the observance of a strict monastic discipline, he hoped to go back to traditional Sa skya teaching and practice in a more supportive environment. Immediately, Ngor became a new centre for tantric training within Sa skya pa monastic circles. Ngor chen, as the leading tantric expert, trained a whole new generation of young students, producing some of Sa skya pa's brightest minds, such as the illustrious and controversial figures gSer mdog Pa? chen Sh?kya mchog ldan (1428-1507) and Go rams pa bSod nams seng ge (1429-1489). In doing so, Ngor chen became the founding father of the Ngor tradition (ngor lugs), which quickly developed into the most prominent subdivision of the Sa skya school. At a crucial point in the history of the Sa skya pa, who had lost their political power in the mid-fourteenth century with the collapse of the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368), Ngor chen was one of a few highly influential figures whose activities caused Sa skya's influence on the religious sphere not only continue to flourish but also to strengthen. Furthermore, through his religious activities, he was able to establish new bonds on the political stage with such powerful rulers as the kings of Mustang (Glo bo).

Author: Jorg Heimbel
Weight: 1130 grams


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