Thursday, August 17, 2006

Here is a rare photograph of the Derge Royal Family, from the collection of the late Urgyen Rinpoche.

The 18th century queen of Derge, Queen Tsewang Lhamo, played an important role in the life of Jigme Lingpa, but regretably, she came to a bad end.

Here is a long quotation from Gyurme Dorje's study of the Guhyagarbha Tantra; a passage where he describes events in the 18th century:

"Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa (1730-1798), a native of Chongye Pelri, whose revelations of the Innermost Spirituality of Longchenpa (Klong chen snying thig) are widely practised at the present day, resolved to prepare a new manuscript edition of the Collected Tantras following the destruction of the Nyingma monastic centres of Dorje Drak and Mindroling by the Dzungar Mongols. Backed by numerous sponsors, headed by Chakzam Rinpoche of Chuwori, during the years 1771-2 he did prepare a new manuscript edition in 25 volumes— 26 with the addition of his own catalogue, including altogether 384 texts, with the first five pages of each volume written in ink made of the five precious substances: gold, silver, turquoise, coral and pearl, and the remaining folios in black ink on a white background (skya chos). The manuscript included fifty frontispience icons depicting lineage-holders, two on the first page of each volume, and it was housed at his native residence in Chongye Pelri. The sources that he utilised included the provisional collection from Ugpalung that had been recompiled by Kunpang Drakyel, the aforementioned manuscript from Thangdrok in Kongpo, the 40 volume manuscript of Ratna Lingpa from Drushul, the 23 volume manuscript from Mindroling, and the Fifth Dalai Lama’s Record of Teachings Received (gSan yig). Although his manuscript is no longer extant, he was the first to prepare a detailed catalogue and history of this collection, entitled the Narrative History of the Precious Collected Tantras of the Ancient Translation School; the Ornament Covering All Jambudvïpa (sNga 'gyur rgyud 'bum rin po che'i rtogs pa brjod pa 'dzam gling tha grur khyab pa'i rgyan). All later compilers have relied on this catalogue which is included in the nine volumes of his Collected Works. The structure of this catalogue suggests that the tantra texts of Atiyoga occupied the first nine volumes (in the sequence: Mental Class, Spatial Class and Esoteric Instructional Class). The tantra texts of Anuyoga were contained in volumes 10 and 11, while those of Mahäyoga occupied volumes 12-25. The independent kingdom of Derge was a vital centre for the evolution of the non-sectarian (ris med) movement during the 18th and 19th centuries. King Tenpa Tsering (1678-1738) brought Derge to the zenith of its power by conquering the outlying grasslands of Dzachuka, where Dzogchen and Zhechen monastereies are located. In 1729 he founded the celebrated Derge Parkhang, which was completed in 1750 by his successors. Here, a new xylographic edition of the Kangyur was edited by Situ Chokyi Jung-ne of Pelpung (1700-74) and a new edition of the Tengyur commentaries by Zhuchen Tsultrim Rinchen. Although Derge Gonchen itself espoused the Ngor tradition of Sakya, Nyingma influence reached its height here during this period. The king’s successor Sawang Zangpo died in his 25th year and power was then held by his Queen Gajeza Tsewang Lhamo during the infancy of the crown prince. The queen was closely aligned with Jigme Lingpa’s student Dodrubchen I Jigme Trinle Ozer (1743-1821), who aroused her interest in and devotion to the Nyingma tradition in particular. "

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