Biography of Master Je Tsongkhapa

Homage - part three

So as you remember we have gone through the beginning part of this great biography of Je Tsongkhapa, starting with the homage and then also homage to the Guru Je Tsongkhapa and all the lineage masters starting from the Buddha, and also then homage to the meditational deities and also to the Dharma Protectors, at the same time requests for the blessing and the protection activities of all the Dharma protectors to help to accomplish the composition of this work.

These parts have been completed and then also after having made these homages paying these respects then what the author is going to engage in is to compose this biography which he calls "The Beautiful Flower Garland". This is a narration of the biography of the Master Je Tsongkhapa which he gives as the crown ornament for everybody, for all the true seekers of the Dharma. So this verse also contains that vow of composition, the decision to compose the particular text.

Then follow some more verses about the reasons for the composition of this text: why the author decided or made up his mind to compose such a text, why is it necessary. Is it because there does not exist any such biography, such a text? Which is not the case, there exist many biographies before this, so it is not just a repetition, but it has precise purposes and that is going to be made clear in the following verses.

So the reasons and the purpose of this text is as follows:

The responsibility of all those leaders who have appeared in three times, their activity, responsibility taking alone, out of such kind of liberating story, more than that - what one needs to say?

So that means what he is going to write is the biography of Master Je Tsongkhapa which is, as we have seen before, a liberating life story of Je Tsongkhapa. What it actually is all about is nothing else than that Je Tsongkhapa taking upon himself, completely without relying on this or that, or giving it responsibility, sharing with somebody else, taking all upon himself alone the responsibility.

What kind of responsibility? It is the responsibility of the activities of all the leaders, that means all the Buddhas which appeared in the three times. So this is the extraordinary life story of Je Tsongkhapa. Nothing can be said which is more important, or better, or nicer than that activity. He is taking the responsibilities of all the Buddhas of the three times, that is everything – more or better than this or superior to that there is nothing that one can speak about.

So this is also no exaggeration, because Je Tsongkhapa actually carried out all the activities and took all the responsibilities of the Buddhas of the three times, the Buddhas of the past, present, future, which is nothing else than liberating the sentient beings through giving the teaching of Dharma, through turning the wheel of Dharma of the vast aspect and the profound aspect and so on. And exactly this kind of responsibility is fully taken by Je Tsongkhapa upon himself also for the same purpose in the same manner through turning the wheel of Dharma in a most efficient way.

Thereby he fulfils actually the activities of all the Buddhas and this also not in a partial way, but it is done completely. The wheels of Dharma which he turned contain the complete teachings of all the Buddhas, Sutras and Tantras and everything in it in the most complete way. So this is an extraordinary deed which Je Tsongkhapa has fulfilled and that is the greatest activity, the greatest story, there is nothing one can speak more.

So this is in a way like the condensed explanation of the whole body of the text. The body of the text is Master Je Tsongkhapa's deed and when it is explained here in short, in a condensed manner, condensed in these four lines, it means Je Tsongkhapa's activities are nothing else than taking upon himself the responsibility of the three times' Buddhas.

Now some specific reasons why he is composing this text are the following:

However most of the ordinary beings or this-side-seer beings, their mental eyes of wisdom are completely blinded with the ignorance, so the sunlight of the qualities of the holy beings are hidden for them, and so they have also gone in the way of the darkness.

That means the reason for the composition of the text is, although Je Tsongkhapa has appeared in the world and has carried this great responsibility of all the three Buddhas through his extraordinary activity of teaching Dharma and so on, still in many this-side-seers (that means those who only see the conventional side and nothing beyond that and the conventional side also not in a most correct way), in other words, most of the ordinary beings who have not even a glimpse of the reality, their mental eyes are completely blinded due to their ignorance.

They are unable to see because of the ignorance and all kinds of other misconceptions, wrong views and so on. Therefore such beings are unable to see the light of the sun of the true qualities of the great beings. These true qualities of the great beings remain hidden to them, because they do not have that necessary vision. This is the general situation and on top of that they went into the wrong, into the dark ways. That means not only their mind is blinded by ignorance which is always within oneself, but then also there are still many of them gone in the wrong ways, misled by wrong influences, wrong guides and all kinds of wrong views, etc.

In particular those with golden eyes of partiality, holding to the side, some of them with a dark motivation (or intentions), then various kinds of fabricating and abusing words are spoken, spoken like the chattering of a crazy person.

'Golden eyes' is a kind of poetic name, it sounds nice, but this is not a good name. Golden eyes is generally the name for fish, or also for owls. Here it is not to be applied to the fish, but to the owls - owls have yellowish eyes. That refers especially to some people who have a mind, which is very biased and sectarian; so that way they are like owls who stay in darkness and move about in the night. Similar to that there a persons whose mind is completely biased or sectarian.

So that means in particular those whose mind is completely influenced by some misconceptions like sectarianism or biase etc. Because of that they have an evil, very negative intention, such as dislike etc. towards the great masters. And then they speak also very negatively or fabricate things, applying faults on the masters, criticising or abusing, which is so meaningless like all the chattering of a crazy person.

That kind of false criticism of the great Masters like Je Tsongkhapa is what happens in the lives of all the great masters, starting from Buddha Shakyamuni himself. There were some crazy people criticising Je Tsongkhapa and saying all kinds of things, even repeating some self made quotations and saying that Je Tsongkhapa is an emanation of a devil or whatsoever, out of sheer dislike or hatred or jealousy, which may be mentioned in the biography too. So this kind of things are like the senseless chatter of a crazy person. Therefore it says:

The power of distinguishing what is right and false being weak, the ignorant ones also follow after them; and then they enter in the unbearable, terrifying door of unfortunate existence in the way of a herd of animals.

So that means there are some who out of their delusions criticise and so on and there are also others who are lacking the power to distinguish what is really right and wrong. Not having that power, or this power being very weak, some also believe and follow out of their ignorance that kind of persons. So altogether then they all enter into the door of unbearable, terrifying unfortunate existence in the future, just like a herd of animals entering into the door of the ranch or whatsoever. Like that then such criticisers and their followers enter altogether into the door of unfortunate existence.

Those who enter in the manner of a herd of animals, for them, led by an unbearable superior motivation, showing clearly for everybody this narration of the realisation (this biography), like the moon which reflects smilingly with all these wonderful designs.

Therefore the author, so moved by unbearable concern, with sincere motivation and thoughts of compassion to these beings, is going to - as he puts it into a poetic way - to show off very clearly for everybody this moon-like face of the narration of the realisation. That means: 'I am going to show to everybody this wonderful face of the moon of the narration of this biography, which reflects smilingly all these wonderful designs.'

This last verse until here shows the purpose of composing. The next verse is calling the intention for the readers, so it says:

Those with intelligence are holding the Lotus flower of faith and respect in the centre of their heart; to the sound of the melodious queen of this narration of the realisation it is then suitable to listen with respect.

So this is calling for the attention of the listeners. He is going to show very clearly all these wonderful activities of Je Tsongkhapa, so he is calling the attention of anybody with intelligence. With what state of mind should one listen to it? One should listen to it not only just out of curiosity or not again to find faults in it, or just simply as an object of knowledge, but one should listen to it while holding in the centre of one's heart this Lotus of faith and respect. That means one should generate the attitude of faith and respect to the Guru and holding this in the depth of one's heart one should listen to this narration of the realisation which is so eloquently explained here. Therefore it is called here the sound of the melodious queen; one should listen to it while generating respect, rimdro is like service or respect, with that one should listen to it.

Thus preceded by the arrangement of the garland of the verses of paying homage and taking the vow of the composition, and calling the attention of the listeners, what is to be explained at this moment is the following.

So until here all this very well arranged garland of verses has been completed. These contain the homage and the composition vow and are calling for the attention. So this has been done and now what follows is the actual explanation.

So with regards to what is to be discussed is the following:

Thus it is said in the word of the glorious Khedrup Geleg Päl Sangpo, the sun of the speech: the vast wave of the conducts of the two collections at the top of the Eastern mountain, the heroic victorious son, the moon of the speech has climbed; the one who is with the glorious quality of opening the Kumudu flower of the teaching of the Buddha, the Venerable Master, the dispeller of the darkness of heart, may he be victorious.

Geleg Pelsang is the personal name of Khedrup Rinpoche, and Mawä Nyima (sun of the speech) is a title very often given to him because he is such a great teacher.

So this is in Khedrup Rinpoche's praise to Je Tsongkhapa, which is quoted here. He compares Je Tsongkhapa to the moon, like the moon which shines from the top of the Eastern mountain. Like that Je Tsongkhapa has also climbed on the top of the mountain, but this mountain is not an ordinary mountain, but this is the mountain of the great wave of the deeds of the two collections. That means Je Tsongkhapa has completely fully accomplished, reached to the peak to the top of the mountain of the Bodhisattva's activities of the two collections, collection of merits and collection of wisdom. All those vast practices of the Bodhisattva he has climbed all of them and reached on the peak of it.

So this is called Eastern mountain also because Je Tsongkhapa came from the East and in general the East in the world, but especially the East of Tibet also has some symbolic meaning here. But anyway here the mountain is the activities of the Bodhisattva, so he has reached to the peak, that means has attained the resultant state, in other words enlightenment.

So you are the heroic son of the Buddha and great moon of the speech or sun of the speech, that means a great teacher, great speaker, a great proponent. He has climbed on the top of such a mountain, that means he has attained enlightenment and he is endowed with such glorious qualities, especially through his teaching, composing, and debating, etc., all this service that he rendered to the teaching of the Dharma, so he caused the teaching of the Buddha, which is like a Kumuda flower, fully to open. Like when the moon shines the Kumuda flower opens, like that Je Tsongkhapa appears in the world and then the teaching of the Buddha once again blossoms itself completely, so he is endowed with this kind of quality. Who is this? This is the venerable master. So Khedrup Rinpoche says: 'Oh venerable master, who dispels all the darkness of one's heart, that is all the darkness of ignorance and everything, may you be victorious!' Then it continues:

Lobsang, the noble minded who endows the glory of Sarasvati's melodious speech, and whose drum of fame is beaten by all the beauties of the directions, and the one who is respected by the heads of all the glorious sages, to your feet I also will prostrate.

So these are also Khedrup Rinpoche's words, here he is praising Je Tsongkhapa with his name. Je Tsongkhapa's name is Lobsang Dragpa that means noble minded famous (or well renowned). Lobsang, the noble minded who is endowed with the glory of Sarasvati's speech. Je Tsongkhapa is called Lobsang, the noble minded; that is also very meaningful, because he is one who is noble minded because he has attained all these qualities of compassion, wisdom and ability in his mind, so therefore he is indeed noble minded.

And also he is particularly endowed with this glory, like the best of the melodious speech. That means his teaching of Dharma is particularly outstanding among the teachings of the Dharma. It is as if he is endowed with the speech of the Sarasvati and that is also very true: Sarasvati is the speech of Je Tsongkhapa, Sarasvati is the speech emanation of the Buddhas. Je Tsongkhapa has also this quality of the speech.

And his second name is famous, he is famous or well renowned. And his fame spreads not only just one corner on a little place, but it is renowned all through the world in all directions, so therefore he puts in a poetic way his fame, zang nga is a special kind of earth drum, this is one Indian music instrument which has a very loud resounding sound. So such is Je Tsongkhapa's fame and reputation which is like such a drum and this drum is beaten by the beauties of the directions, that means all over in all ten directions it is heard. And also because of him being noble minded, because of him being also endowed with this special power of the speech, he is also renowned all over the world.

Therefore he is also respected by all the glorious sages, and this is very true: at the time contemporary to Je Tsongkhapa all the true sages and the real great scholars of any kind of any tradition, they altogether, after having seen his extraordinary qualities, they all with one word have praised Je Tsongkhapa. Even some who were at the beginning a little bit critical about him or who criticised in some ways some aspects of his teachings, later on, after having realised his real qualities and his teachings, they altogether have respected him. So therefore it says 'he is respected by the heads of all the sages', so therefore Khedrup Rinpoche says: I also offer my prostrations to his feet.

Then it says further:

The one who is well bound in the supreme behaviour, and whose analysis is highly subtle, and in all the treatises of the Mighty One (the Buddha) to classify precisely, you are completely without any rival and that way who delights in the single practice - this is indeed wonderful!

Also Khedrup Rinpoche praises further the qualities of Je Tsongkhapa. So here first of all what he praises the behaviour Je Tsongkhapa lived. His body, speech and mind are completely well bound, well restrained with the un-inferior superior behaviour. 'Inferior behaviour' means degenerate behaviour which is very much soaked in all kinds of negative actions and transgressions. So Je Tsongkhapa's behaviour is not at all degenerate, not inferior in that way. That in general what un-inferior means.

But also un-inferior means Je Tsongkhapa's behaviour is also superior for example to the ethical conduct practiced in the small vehicle, because his behaviour is not only free from all kinds of downfalls corresponding to the rules of the Vinaya, but also it is a completely superior behaviour, it is the ethical conduct of the Bodhisattvas. So that way also his behaviour is a superior one and completely not at all an inferior level of ethic. That means his behaviour is completely bound with all the ethics of the Pratimoksha and Bodhisattva as well as Vajra behaviour. That way he abides in such kinds of perfect ethics.

This is the ethics and the second is the wisdom. He has that kind of wisdom, that kind of analytical faculty which is extremely subtle, which can completely penetrate into the most subtle level of the aspect of the ultimate reality. So because of that he is also completely without any rival in classifying the treatises of the teaching of the Buddha, their subtlest meaning about everything. He is so unexcelled, completely without any comparison in explaining the most subtle and profound aspects of the teaching of the Buddha. So this is the quality of the wisdom.

And because he is endowed with such wisdom, he is also somebody who always delights in the single practice. That means that he is not only a great scholar and great teacher and speaker, but at the same time he is somebody who delights in the practice of meditation so completely and one pointedly; that means in the Sutra and tantric meditations. That shows the quality of the concentration, in other words Je Tsongkhapa has the quality and is completely and fully accomplished in these three aspects of the three trainings - ethics, wisdom and concentration. Therefore Khedrup Rinpoche says: 'this is very wonderful'.

Because of these reasons it is indeed something very wonderful - that is what Khedrup Rinpoche says here. So the author says:

Only a few verses from Khedrup Rinpoche have been quoted, but it is endless.

Khedrup Rinpoche has composed so many praises of Je Tsongkhapa, but only a few important verses were mentioned here and then he concludes:

The one who is the supreme object of praise and compliments and who is the great unfamiliar friend of all sentient beings including the Devas.

That means, so as Khedrup Rinpoche has praised that way, as exactly as the Khedrup Rinpoche has said, Je Tsongkhapa is truly a supreme object of praise and compliments of all the great sages and great masters and he is also the great friend, great unfamiliar friend. Unfamiliar friend means: one calls the Buddha also an unfamiliar friend, because he is the friend of every sentient being regardless whether on their part the sentient beings are familiar with Buddha or not, whether they know him or not, whether they are kind to him or not, or they completely pay any attention to the Buddha or are completely negligent - it does not make any difference, Buddha is the closest friend, most loving and dear friend to all sentient beings. And this is the same with Je Tsongkhapa, he is also a great, unfamiliar friend of all beings without exception including the Devas.

So Je Tsongkhapa is the one who carries one pointedly all the infinite responsibility of the activity of all those who are endowed with the ten glorious powers; and who is completely matchless in his generation of motivation and also in the strength of his heart (his courage) and fully perfected.

So Je Tsongkhapa is somebody who is completely matchless and also who is completely fully accomplished, completely fully perfected. In what? - In his capacity of carrying upon himself one-pointedly all alone all the responsibility and all the activities of all those endowed with the ten glorious powers. That means: the ten powers are the exclusive special qualities of the fully enlightened Buddhas, as we have seen also as it is explained in the seventy topics and so on. The ten qualities of the Buddhas we mention also during the Maitreya prayer. So those ten glorious powers are the special qualities of the Buddhas.

And 'the one who is endowed with the ten powers' means the Buddhas. So Je Tsongkhapa carries the responsibility of all the Buddhas, and in fulfiling this responsibility his generation of his mind is so matchless, his courage is so matchless. This will come in the text itself how Je Tsongkhapa generated his mind. At the beginning he has generated his mind in a very special way to help the sentient beings and to cause the Dharma to flourish in a very particular way, in a very courageous way, this will come later. So in these ways he is completely matchless and completely fully perfected.

When Je Tsongkhapa has first generated his mind as a Bodhisattva in front of the Buddha Wangpö Tok he has generated his mind in a very special way, so therefore it says here he is matchless. It is not an exaggeration, but it has a very special meaning, but anyway this will come later. So we will stop here for today.