lama Tsongkhapa

Please join us December 21 from 10:00am to noon in honoring the master Je-Tsongkhapa on the 600th year of his passing.

Geshe Lobsang and Geshe Namgyal will perform traditional chanting,  offer prayers and we’ll do Tsok. 

If you are able, please bring an unwrapped item for our Christmas drive to benefit Academy First, school for Phoenix homeless kids. See the list of needed items on our home page.


Je Tsongkapa, fondly known as Je Rinpoche, was born in the Tsongka valley in northeast Tibet in 1375.  Tsongkhapa was one of the greatest commentators in the history of Buddhism. He is renowned for his works of spiritual practice and philosophy as well as his incisive insights on the classical Indian Buddhist literature, illustrating his points with classical citations as well as with sayings of the masters of the earlier Kadampa tradition. Tsongkhapa clearly demonstrates Tibetan Buddhism carefully preserved and developed the Indian Buddhist traditions.

At the time of Buddha Shakyamuni a young boy offered a crystal mala to Buddha. Buddha gave the boy a conch shell.  Buddha told his attendant Anada he felt the boy would become a profound teacher. Buddha prophesized in the future the boy would be born in the Lannd of Snow and he would become the founder of a monastery he would call the Joyful Place. 

Tsongkhapa was the fourth of six sons born to Dhara Khaje Klubum Ge, his father and Shing Za Ah Choe, his mother. At his birth it is said miraculous events occurred indicating he would become a great master. A sandalwood tree grew from the spot where a drop of his mother’s blood fell to the ground. Each leaf on the tree had an image of the Buddha, and a monastery called Kumbum was later built at the spot. 

At the age of three, Tsongkhapa took Refuge vows and Lay ordination from the 4th Karmapa, Rolpay Dorje.  At that time he received the name Kunga Nyingpo. Knowing of the boy’s extraordinary potential, Master Choje Dondrub Rinchen visited Tsongkhapa’s home and asked his parents if he could take charge of Tsongkhapa's education to which they agreed.

At the age of seven Tsongkhapa went to live in the monastery.  There he took the novice vows from Chöje Döndrup Rinchen. At this time he was given the name Lobsang Dakpa. Tsongkhapa received traditional teachings, trainings and Tantric empowerments until he was sixteen.

At the age of sixteen encouraged to further his quest for wisdom  Tsongkhapa traveled to central Tibet. There he studied with more than fifty great masters and gained a complete understanding of the Perfection of Wisdom. Under the guidance of Chennga Chokyi Gyalpo, the abbot of the Drikung Karguy monastery, he studied a variety of vast topics such as Bodhichitta and Mahamudra. By the age of nineteen Tsongkhapa was a well known, respected and revered as a knowable, wise scholar.

From Master Rendawa Tsongkhapa received teachings on the Madhyamika, Middle Way.  Tsongkhapa later came to revere Master Rendawa as his principal teacher.  Tsongkhapa studied intensively the logic works by Dignaga and Dharmakirti.

At the age of 21 Tsongkhapa took full monk ordination vows from Khenchen Kashi Tsultrim Rinchen.  Many disciples requested teaching from Tsongkhapa and he graciously agreed.

At age 32, Tsongkhapa wrote A Golden Rosary of Excellent Explanation (Leg-shey ser-treng), and a commentary on Abisamaya Alankara. He began traveling widely, teaching and continuing his in-depth studies on the four tantra classes, the five stages and  completion stages (Zog-rim) of Guhyasamaja and Kalacharka.

Tsongkhapa met Lama Umapa Pawo Dorje and they engaged in a traditional teacher/disciple relationship. They shared pure visions of Manjushri and were able to receive teachings directly from him.

At age 36, at Olka Cholung, Tsongkhapa entered a four-year retreat with eight close disciples. During the retreat they had a vision of Maitreya and later restored a great Maitreya statue in Lhasa.

Tsongkhapa was invited by the Nyingma Master Lhodrag Namka-Gyaltsen who offered him the Kadam Lam-rim and the oral guideline lineage transmissions.

At age 46, at Ra Deng, Tsongkhapa went into retreat with his teacher Rendawa where they had a vision of Atisha and the Lam-rim lineage masters. It was during this time that Tsongkhapa wrote most of the Lamrim Chenmo (Graded Stages of the Path).

Once completed and while staying in Namtse Deng during the four month rainy season Tsongkhapa gave extensive teachings on Vinaya (monastic rules of discipline) to the ordained community. These teaching revitalized the tradition of monasticism.

At age 50, Tsongkhapa wrote Ngag-Rim Chen-Mo and many other commentaries on Guhyasamaja. He wrote commentaries on Yamantaka and on Nagarjuna’s Madhyamaka texts.

After hearing of the greatness of Tsongkhapa the Chinese Emperor send him an invitation asking Tsongkhapa to come to the royal palace and be his imperial head tutor.  Tsongkhapa declined saying he too old.