Lineage Shrine Room at Mindrolling
  • INTRODUCTION
    A short introduction to the Mindrolling family.
  • PART I
    Origins of the Mindrolling Lineage, Nyö Jachung Karpo, The Nyö Lineage, The Mindrolling Lineage
  • PART II
    Biographical accounts of Sangdag Thrinley Lhundrub, Yum Lhadzin Yanghcen Dolma, Chögyal Terdag Lingpa
  • PART III
    Biographical accounts of Gyalse Tenpa'i Nyima and Lochen Dharmashri
  • PART IV
    The Dzungar Mongol Invasion, Biographical account of Pema Gyurme Gyatso
  • PART V
    Jetsün Migyur Paldrön (Part 1) – Birth and Early Life
  • PART VI
    Jetsün Migyur Paldrön (Part 2) – The Dzungar Mongol Invasion and Exile from Tibet
  • PART VII
    Jetsün Migyur Paldrön – (Part 3) – The Return to Mindrolling
  • PART VIII
    Drinchen Rinchen Namgyal — the 3rd Mindrolling Trichen
  • PART IX
    Zhabdrung Gyurme Yidzhin Legdrub
  • PART X
    Gyurme Pema Tenzin — the 4th Mindrolling Trichen
  • PART XI
    Ögyen Tenzin Dorje — the 3rd Mindrolling Khenchen
  • PART XII
    Trichen Gyurme Trinley Namgyal — The 5th Mindrolling Trichen
  • PART XIII
    Sang Ngag Tenzin — the 4th Mindrolling Khenchen
  • PART XIV
    Trichen Gyurme Pema Wangyal — the 6th Mindrolling Trichen
  • PART XV
    Jetsün Trinley Chödrön
  • PART XVI
    Gyurme Ogyen Chöphel — The 5th Mindrolling Khenchen
  • PART XVII
    Gyurme Sangye Kunga — The 7th Mindrolling Trichen
  • PART XVIII
    Minling Rigzin Zangpo — The 6th Mindrolling Khenchen
  • PART XIX
    Gyurme Yidzhin Wangyal — The 8th Mindrolling Trichen

The History of Mindrolling: Part V

Jetsün Migyur Paldrön (Part 1) — Birth and Early Life

Perhaps one of the most important figures in the lineage of Mindrolling after Chögyal Terdag Lingpa and Lochen Dharmashri is Chögyal Terdag Lingpa's daughter, Jetsün Migyur Paldrön. Her contribution to establishing and spreading the dharma in Tibet and many other areas is regarded with deep gratitude by many masters and students of Tibetan Buddhism. For this reason, fortunately, a great deal of material regarding her life and activities is available. She was a pivotal figure in the propagation, continuity and growth of the lineage and teachings of Chögyal Terdag Lingpa. Many of the termas, teachings and treatises of Terdag Lingpa and the great monastic seat of Mindrolling would not have continued without the courage, exceptional dedication and hard work of Jetsün Migyur Paldrön.

It was thus prophesized within the thal 'gyur rtsa ba'i rgyud

"The one who will bring boundless benefit to all beings of the ten directions,
And uphold and maintain the pure continuity of the termas, in particular of the profound,
instructions on bde gshegs kun 'dus of Sha’ug [main terma of Chögyal Terdag Lingpa:
thugs rje chen po bde gshegs kun ‘dus],
And will be the lord of the profound instructions of the heart essence of the great secret;
Who is Dharmakaya Samantabhadri, Arya Tara in Potala, Yeshe Tsogyal in Palri Padma,
and, after innumerable successive incarnations such as Macig Labdrön, Nangsa ‘Odbum
and so on,
Will be born in a place south of Samye. The name of the place will begin with Dra.
She will be born to a great master who will be the emanation of the great Vairocana. Her name shall have the word Drön."

Thus it was that Jetsün Migyur Paldrön, regarded in Tibetan Buddhist history as one of the most extraordinary and realised masters, was born to Chögyal Terdag Lingpa and Yum Phuntsog Palzom, a direct descendent of the Chögyal Dynasty and from the family of the Dumpowa. She was born in Drachi Valley on the 25th day of the 10th lunar month in the year of the Female Earth Rabbit. Yum Phunstog Plazom, herself an emanation of Vajrayogini, gave birth to Jetsün Migyur Paldrön in her own personal chamber, Tashi Nangwa, at Chökhor Lhunpo (ladrang or teachers residence at Og Min Ogyen Mindrolling), amidst many wondrous signs. She was the fourth child of seven (three sons and four daughters) born to Terdag Lingpa and Sangyum Phuntsog Palzom.

Upon her birth, Chögyal Terdag Lingpa proclaimed that she would be an extraordinary person of great benefit to the lineage and hence instructed everyone to maintain strict observance of cleanliness and to serve her with great dedication. He himself performed the bathing ritual as well as the dragmar (Red Guru Drakpo), body, speech and mind abhisheka and the (‘chi med yang snying kun ‘dus) long life abhisheka on the very day of her birth.

It was obvious that Jetsün Migyur Paldrön was different from other children her age, in that from infancy she was already a mature child; always humble, thoughtful and considerate of others. As a baby, without tutoring, she could recognize and speak about great masters such as Padmasambhava, the Omniscient Longchenpa, Sangdag Thrinley Lhündrub and many others in great detail. At the age of five, she selected several bolts of green cloth and asked her zimpön (attendant), Gyurme Chödrön, to make bags out of them saying, "These will make sturdy bags to hold food supplies and must be kept ready for when we escape into exile." Most of the people around her at the time did not understand her or take too much notice of this statement until much later.

At the age of twelve, she commissioned a huge statue of her root teacher and father, Chögyal Terdag Lingpa, in the form of Vajradhara and installed it at the main residence of the Chökhor Lhünpo Ladrang. Thereafter, she offered her hair to Chögyal Terdag Lingpa who performed the gtsug phud (first hair cutting ceremony symbolizing renunciation) and conferred on her the name Migyur Pal Gyi Drönma.

From a very young age, Jetsün Migyur Paldrön received a vast number of teachings, empowerments, oral transmissions and pith instructions from Chögyal Terdag Lingpa and Lochen Dharmashri. It is said that her learning and understanding of the precious teachings of sutra and tantra were like the unceasing flow of the river Ganges.

In particular, she received extensive and detailed transmissions of all the termas of Chögyal Terdag Lingpa, all of which she practiced and accomplished. At the age of twelve, she received the long life mandala of Amitayus amidst wondrous signs. The vase water bubbled and spontaneously overflowed when it was conferred upon her causing Chögyal Terdag Lingpa to proclaim, "Daughter I have great hope in you. Through the force of auspicious tendrel, you will be the holder of the vast teachings of essence. Now come quickly and drink the vase water." Upon Jetsün Migyur Paldrön drinking the vase water, her guru read from the initiation of long life of Thangtong Gyalpo saying, "Master and disciple remain together inseparably."

Then at the age of thirteen, in the third month of the Iron Rabbit year (1711), having just completed a retreat, she received the Ati Zabdön Nyingpo cycle of transmissions in its entirety at the feet of her root guru and father. She then practiced them and attained certainty, realization and experience. In particular, at the time of practicing thögal, Chögyal Terdag Lingpa said, “Daughter, your understanding and realization is as great as that prophesised. Now go into retreat and practice earnestly for a few months. After that, you must practice the great sadhana of Vajrasattava and the profound path of the Complete Gathering of Sugatas (düpa do ‘dus pa mdo).”

By 1712, the Water Dragon year she had received and practiced all the outer, inner and secret practices of the terma teachings of Chögyal Terdag Lingpa. That same year Terdag Lingpa also bestowed what he had previously promised, the profound path of the Complete Gathering of Sugatas. He bestowed upon her both the empowerment with elaborations and the supreme un-elaborate empowerment.

It is said that on one particular occasion, Chögyal Terdag Lingpa remarked to Lochen Dharmashri, "This girl does not need to study the sciences too extensively. Instead, the quintessential instructions must be given to her and she should study and practice these again and again. You and Khen Rinpoche must make the child understand and learn the pith instructions of the Tantra of essence. Not long from now, her purpose for sentient beings, vast as space, will exceed that of her father. She must lead many beings to the Land of Bliss."

In the Female Water Snake year, when Jetsün Migyur Paldrön was fifteen years old, Chögyal Terdag Lingpa bestowed on her elder brother, Pema Gyurme Gyatso the empowerment, reading transmissions and secret entrustment of the Khandro section from the yellow scrolls of the Shawuk Terma. Immediately after that, Gyalsey Rinpoche conferred the empowerment and reading transmission upon his sister, Jetsün Migyur Paldrön.

The following are only some of the teachings and transmissions that Jetsün Migyur Paldrön received and accomplished; the empowerment and oral transmission of all of her revered father's termas starting with dreg pa 'joms byed (Yamantaka, Subduer of Dregpas) as well as the oral transmissions of the thirteen great volumes of Terdag Lingpa’s Collected Works. She also received the empowerment and oral transmissions of the Nyang Ral Nyima Ozer’s great terma, Kagyed Desheg Düpa (bka’ brgyad bde gshegs ‘dus pa), Guru Chowang’s Yangsang Pudri Vajrakilaya (yang gsang spu gri), the Transmitted Precepts of the Eight Commands, the Narrow Path to the Fortress, Hayagriva of the Arrow-wielding Siddha and the Excellent Vase which Fulfils All Wishes.

She also received the empowerment and oral transmission of most of the termas of Drupthob Ngödrup, the twelve "Lingpas" and the three "Stainless Ones," the earlier and later Jangter (northern treasures), the Sutra of Condensed Meaning, the Magical Display of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities (sgyu ‘phrul zhi khro) and Shaking out the Depths of Hell (na rak dong sprugs). Other empowerments and transmissions she received include the extensive empowerment of Machik Labdrön's chod yul (gcod yul) cycle, commentary on the precepts of the bodhisattva vow, the cycle of pure visions of Sangdag Thrinley Lhündrup, the cycle of the Sealed Pure Visions of the Omniscient Fifth Dalai Lama and the cycle of Lhatsün Namkha Jigme's Life Force Attainment of the Vidhyadhara. Jetsün Migyur Paldrön also received the empowerments, instructions and oral transmission of both the Semde and Longde Sections. The teachings and transmissions she received on the Section of the Special Oral Instructions are too numerous to list.

Above all Jetsün Migyur Paldrön received the Special Dharma of Padmakara: the Khandro Nyingthig and Khandro Yangthig empowerments, instructions and reading transmissions, together with the Word Entrustment and Life-force Entrustment of the protectors. She also received these Nyingthig teachings in their entirety including the essential instructions and reading transmission of the Glorious Secret Heart Essence Mother and Son Empowerment, and Essential Instructions, the Word Entrustment and the empowerments for its protectors Ekajati, Rahula and Vajrasadhu. Thus, with the receiving of these Nyingthig teachings (Innermost Unexcelled Cycle of Heart Essence), Jetsün Migyur Paldrön became a holder of the entire profound Dharma.

Chögyal Terdag Lingpa told his daughter, "You must meditate earnestly on the three sections of Dzogpa Chenpo. In the future you will have to explain them to others. I have great hope in you!" With these words he enthroned Jetsün Migyur Paldrön as a lineage holder. Preparing special robes and making a padma kha 'bu sgron pa hat, he bestowed on her the name Drodul Dorje Nyingpo (Vajra Essence Tamer of Beings) and granted her a blessed image of himself as a meditation support, duly consecrated and complete with zung (filling). Later, his words proved to be true as Jetsün Migyur Paldrön had numerous disciples in Ü, Tsang, Ngari, Lho, Mön, Kongpo, the Upper, Lower and Central Kham as well as in Sikkim and other regions. Thus, after Chögyal Terdag Lingpa spoke these words and as long as her revered father and Guru remained in person, and even when the manifestation of his form had dissolved into the peaceful realm, she remained in retreat to accomplish all that she had received until she was forced into exile when the Mongol invasion occurred.

Then in the Wood Horse year, (1714) when she was sixteen, on the second day of the second month: the great root Guru, her father, Chögyal Terdag Lingpa transferred his wisdom consciousness to the pure realm amidst many wondrous sings. That evening, at dusk in the black darkness of the sky in front of her, while her mind was overwhelmed with boundless sorrow, her revered father appeared before her in the midst of a rainbow of light and gave her many future prophecies.

From the great Lochen Dharmashri, Jetsün Migyur Paldrön received her ordination as a nun and at the age of seventeen she received the entire zab lam bde kun 'dus kyi 'khrul 'khor sku lus kyi 'gyur dang sgo gnad rtsa thig rlung gsum gyi man ngag. Upon completion Lochen Dharmashri said, "The Dargye Chöling lineage will not be carried by the desired sons. This unwished for daughter will carry it. Do not forget this and look after her."

Lochen Dharmashri also conferred many other empowerments and teachings upon Jetsün Migyur Paldrön and these include the complete empowerments, instructions and reading transmissions of her revered father’s termas, as well as the reading transmission of the complete cycle of explanations on those composed by Lochen Dharmashri himself. She received empowerments, instructions and reading transmissions on the whole of Machig Labdron’s Cöd Yul and teachings on the Mahamudra Amulet Box (phyag chen ga’u ma). Lochen Dharmashri also bestowed upon her the essential instructions on Shaking Out the Depths of Hell (na rak dongs sprug), the essential instructions and empowerment for the practice of the Essence of the Three Kayas of Chenrezig, the blessing empowerment for the Palmo Tradition as well as the reading transmission and the complete empowerments for the Excellent Vase Bestowing All Wishes, the Sutra of the Great Gathering of Sugatas, Nyangter Kagyed and many others.

From her elder brother, Gyalsey Padma Gyurme Gyatso she received the empowerments and reading transmission of the three Termas: The Play of Awareness Empowerment of Ati, Vajrapani, and Yamantaka. She also received the empowerment and reading transmissions for Kalachakra, Cakrasamvara, Hevajra, Guhyasamaja, the Vajra Garland and the Yuthog Nyingthig.

From her elder brother Rinchen Namgyal, she received empowerments and transmissions on the extensive and medium version of the Eight Sections and the Six Sections of Accomplishment of the Jangter Mind Accomplishment, the termas of Dorje Lingpa, the Combined Pronouncements, the Razor Kilaya and many more.

Also from numerous other teachers, such as the Heruka Jigme Dorje, Kathok Rigzin, Shabdrung Gyurme Zhenphen Wangpo, Shenyen Ogyen Rabtan, Sotön Thutob Namgyal, Duldzin Kunga Lodrö and the Lord of the Gongkar Chöde Sonam Lodrö Gyaltsen she received many special instructions on both the Mind and Space sections of the Dzogpa Chenpo, the Cöd Yul of Machig Labdrön, various dharma precepts of the Zhije, the blessing empowerments for Aghora and Chagdrugpa, the Jangter Black Thröma, Naro Khachöma, the Special Instructions for the Nyida Sangye Lineage, Phowa Jagtsugma and so on. These are but a few of the many special oral instructions Jetsün Migyur Paldrön received within kama and terma teachings. They are not listed as extensively here as they are contained in her extended biography under the chapter of List of Dharmas Received.

Also of importance, bearing in mind the prediction of her root Guru, Chögyal Terdag Lingpa, Jetsün Migyur Paldrön memorized the entire commentary on the Guhayagarbha tantra, the Ornament of the Mind of the Lord of Secrets. This is one example of her intense dedication to the precious dharma, to her lineage and to benefiting all sentient beings.