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Karma Kagyu Refuge Tree Masters ~

The 6th Karmapa - Thongwa Donden

Image from: Thangkha painted by the 8th Kenting Tai Situpa Chokyi Jungne.
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Thongwa Donden (1416-1453) was born in Ngom, in eastern Tibet, near Karma Monastery. Immediately after his birth, he sat up and began to laugh. Celestial fragrance permeated the countryside when his umbilical cord was cut. As an infant, he accompanied his parents to the home of the previous Karmapa's disciple, Lama Ngompa Jadralwa. He became very excited upon seeing Jadralwa's face, and when the lama asked him "Who are you?" Thongwa Donden replied, "I am unborn and ineffable. I am nonabiding. I have come as the glory of all who are born, to guide to liberation all those who wander without abode in the cycle of rebirth, leaving no one behind."

When Thongwa Donden was four months old, a rumor arose that Lama Jadralwa had been killed while traveling. Though many were devastated by the news, Thongwa Donden danced with joy and assured his mother that Jadralwa had not been harmed. Jadralwa indeed returned safely, and again asked the child, "Who are you?" Thongwa Donden replied, "I am the incarnation of Deshin Shekpa, don't you know?"

In time, Thongwa Donden was taken to Karma Monastery and shown images of previous Karmapas. When asked, "Who is that?" he replied, laughing, "That is me!" When shown the Karmapa's black crown, he declared, "It is mine!" and took it in his hands. When an attendant brought tea, the child called him by the name the former Karmapa had used. Thongwa Donden also identified all the images in the various temples, convincing those who witnessed the event that he really was the Karmapa. For three days, local residents saw flowers rain from the sky, and it was proclaimed thereafter that Thongwa Donden was the Lord of Dharma himself.

Other miracles followed. Karmapa ended a smallpox epidemic by conferring blessings, and relieved a drought simply by playing with water. After he consecrated a religious painting with barley, seven grains remained floating in the air. When a former disciple named Lama Kunpangpa, asked him, "Please give a gift to one whom you have held near to your heart," Thongwa Donden called him affectionately by the name he had used in his previous life, and gave him a present. The lama's face followed with tears.

Thongwa Donden took novice ordination at the age of nine. He received the Bodhisattva Vow and the transmissions of the various lineages, which he cultivated for many years in retreat. At the time, many of the liturgies of the Kagyu lineage were fragmentary, drawn from source tantras and Indian texts. Oral instructions were required to explain different stages of practice. Karmapa organized the liturgy and wrote many of the standard versions still used today. He also traveled throughout Tibet restoring monasteries, mediating disputes, and teaching the Dharma. All who saw him received his blessing, which transformed their lives. At the age of thirty-eight, Thongwa Donden suddenly grew ill, and after carefully packing and sealing his books and shrine objects, commanded his disciples not to break the seals until he returned. After his passing, his body was cremated and many beautiful relics were found in the ashes.


Mahamudra Ocean of Definitive Meaning~~

Karma Kagyu Refuge Tree Masters

01 Vajradhara

01 Tilopa

01 Naropa

02 Lodro Rinchen

03 Saraha

04 Nagarjuna

05 Shawaripa

06 Maitripa

07 Marpa

08 Milarepa

09 Gampopa

10 The 1st Karmapa

11 Drogon Rechen

12 Pomdrakpa

13 The 2nd Karmapa

14 Orgyenpa

15 The 3rd Karmapa

16 Gyalwa Yungtonpa

17 The 4th Karmapa

18 The 2nd Shamar Rinpoche

19 The 5th Karmapa

20 Rigowa Rinjung (Ratnabhadra)

21 The 6th Karmapa

22 Bengar Jampal Sangpo

23 The 1st Gyaltsab Rinpoche

24 The 7th Karmapa

25 The 1st Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche

26 The 8th Karmapa

27 The 5th Shamar Rinpoche

28 The 9th Karmapa

29 The 6th Shamar Rinpoche

30 The 10th Karmapa

31 The 7th Shamar Rinpoche

32 The 11th Karmapa

33 The 8th Shamar Rinpoche

34 The 12th Karmapa

35 The 8th Kenting Tai Situpa

36 The 13th Karmapa

37 The 10th Shamar Rinpoche

38 The 9th Kenting Tai Situpa

39 The 14th Karmapa

40 The 1st Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche

41 The 15th Karmapa

42 The 11th Kenting Tai Situpa

43 The 2nd Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche

44 The 16th Karmapa

There are many reference sources for this catagory. Please kindly advise us if there is copyright issue or mistake.
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