HH the VI Dalai Lama

Tsangyang Gyatso (1683 – 15 November 1706), who was enthroned as the Sixth Dalai Lama in 1697, was a special Dalai Lama. Born to the renowned Nyingma family of the Terton (treasure revealer) Pempalingpa, and brought up at a late age in the Gelugpa tradition, Tsangyang Gyatso proved to be an uncomfortable blend of the two traditions.

Leaving aside the unfortunate politics that surrounded his desolate life, Tsangyang Gyatso brought to holy Lhasa and Shol taverns some of the purest and most beautiful lyrics of all times.

Extraordinary as a lover of wine and women, melodious as a singer of love songs, and above all, tragic as a national hero of the status of a Dalai Lama, the Sixth Dalai Lama became a legend within his short lifetime. Worshipped and loved by Tibetan people with stainless faith, Tsangyang Gyatso’s songs became famous in every corner of Tibet, receiving once again the fascination of simple folk poetry.

“White crane! Lend me your wings I will not fly far From Lithang, I shall return”

So wrote a desolate and lonely Tsangyang Gyatso (whose name means ’Ocean of Melodious Songs’), the Sixth Dalai Lama of Tibet, wrote to a lady-friend of his in Shol town in 1706, when he was being forcibly taken away to China by the Mongol soldiers of Qosot Lhazang Khan — away from his people and the Potala palace. No one understood the hidden meaning contained in the song nor did anyone suspect that the young Dalai Lama had decided to end his earthly manifestation and yield the Tibetan spiritual and temporal realm to the care of the next Dalai Lama. But when that very year the sad and shocking news of the ’disappearance’ or more probably the ’murder’ of Tsangyang Gyatso at Gunga-Nor lake spread across Tibetan landscape, the secret meaning of last of his many songs dawned on the grief-stricken and bewildered Tibetan masses who dearly longed for his presence during a turbulent turn of history, and anxiously looked towards Lithang for the next incarnation. It may be more correct and safer to state that some of the verses indirectly show his deep knowledge and practice of of tantra, as it is clear from the one song in which he has claimed:

“Never have I slept without a sweetheart Nor have I spent a single drop of sperm”

The claim of control over his flow of sperm openly declared his grasp and mastery of tantric practices. Of exceptional interest in the tale of three sandalwood trees Tsangyang Gyatso planted close to each other before leaving Tawang. He prophesied that the trees would grow identical to each other on the day he would once again visit Tawang. In 1959, the local people noticed to their amazement that the three sandalwood trees were growing equal to each other in size and had become identical in shape. Unfortunately, the trees caught fire which plunged the local people into anxiety and dismay. Soon afterwards they heard of the unrest in Tibet caused by the Chinese invasion, and after a week-long spectacle of crowds of foreign and Indian pressmen, security personnel and unusual suspense, they saw that the Dalai Lama had indeed come to Tawang once again, this time as Great Fourteenth, on his way to exile in India.

Tsangyang Gyatso on TibetWrites

Poetry [1]


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