Tsona Rinpoche

A brief biography of H.E. Tsona Gontse Rinpoche


Tsona Rinpoche

13th Tsona Gontse Rinpoche

During his lifetime the famous teacher Nagarjuna prophesied, “I pray  that I may go to Tibet for the purpose of sentient beings there and at that time, you will be among the first group to be trained”.


Arya Nagarjuna

Arya Nagarjuna

Accordingly, when his religious activities attained the highest level in Tibet, Khedrubje, the direct disciple of Je Tsong Khapa (the founder of Gelugpa sect) was born as Rigpai Khujug in India. Rigpai Khujug received the profound teachings of Nagarjuna.  Je Tsong Khapa and Nagarjana are believed to be of one and the same mind but in different manifestations.

It has been prophesied in the Sutras that Nagarjuna would be reborn as Jangsem Norsang. Thereafter at the time of early diffusion of Buddhism in Tibet he would be born as Kawa Drimedo. He would invite many expert Panditas from India and translate their teachings into Tibetan and thereby spread Buddhism to a great extent.

Again, during the period of  the later diffusion of Buddhism in Tibet he was reborn as Nyoton Choebar, who would develop and spread the teachings of Atisha like that of rays of the sun. As prophesied by Geshe Potawa, he erected a great monastery at Yal. He passed away at the age of 63.

It has been said that during the first 21 days after his demise, amazing miracles took place. Many self-arising Buddha statues appeared (at his cremation) and the mandala of Chakrasamvara is said to have also appeared inside the kapala (skull cup) and the 21 Taras outside. Furthermore, a figure of white Miyova is said to have appeared on the right shoulder and Avalokiteshvara on the left. A number of relics were also recovered from his tongue, heart and eyes.




Later he was reborn as Lhari Denod Zinpa. He studied and practised the instructions of Chakrasamvara later had a vision of the mandala.  In his will, he said, “Twenty one to twenty two years after I die, the embers of buddhadharma will flourish a little more”.

Tsonawa Sherab Zangpo is regarded as the reincarnation of Lhari Denod Zinpa. At the age of twenty one, he re-invigorated  the buddhadharma as a whole and more particularly insisted on giving importance to the code of discipline laid down in the Vinaya. He became an unparalleled and unrivalled master.

In the Phelchen Sutra it says, “In the place called Zhiwa Rinchen Choe-kyi-ling where the lake of three realms lie, Tsonawa will be born. This region will become a place of learning. He will be able to dispel the darkness of ignorance and prove to be a great leader of sentient beings to lead on the path of Enlightenment.”  It is evident from this text that he derived his first name ‘Tsona’ from the name of the place and Sherab Zangpo was his ordination name.

Je Tsong Khapa said, “There is no text written that is better than Tsonawa’s Tsotrig Nyimay Odzer and there is no need of another text!” Saying so he proclaimed Tsonawa as a highly qualified master and called him “dul ba ‘bum sDe mNga bdag Tsonawa” (the master of Vinaya).

Later on the great Tsonawa Sherab Zangpo, reincarnated as Jetsun Sherab Zangpo and then as Tsultrim Tashi who reincarnated as Lobsang Tenzin, who then reincarnated as Tenpa Gyaltsen and as Khantse Wangchuk, then as Tenpa Gyaltso, then as Lobsang Paljor, then as Lobsang Wangchuk, then as Ngawang Choekyi Wangchuk, then as Thinley Jampal Tenzin Wangchuk and as Thupten Jampal Wangchuk.

Thupten Jampal Wangchuk was born at Morshing, in the Mon region of Arunachal Pradesh, in 1903. He mastered all the Sutras and Tantras and was a renowned figure in the Buddhist world.  He passed away at the age of 63.


Rinpoche as a child

Rinpoche as a child.

The present Tsona Rinpoche, His Eminence Jetsun Tenzin Jampal Wangchuk is revered as the re-incarnation of Thupten Jampal Wangchuk. He is regarded as the 13th reincarnation of the great Tsonawa Jetsun Sherab Zangpo. He was born on 19th August 1967 at Nyesar Zhungpa Tse, Mon Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.  He was recognized as the reincarnation of Lama Thupten Jampal Wangchuk by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. He started his education at Drepung Loseling Monastery, South India and in due course became well versed in all the Buddhist treatises. He graduated with the degree of Geshe Lharampa (Degree equivalent to Doctorate in Buddhist Philosophy) from Drepung Loseling Monastery.

After the completion of his studies he became the President of the Himalayan Buddhist Culture Association. As the President of the Association he worked towards the development of mutual relationships between various cultures and religions of India and endeavored towards preservation of flora and fauna to maintain a peaceful environment of co-existence of all sentient beings. Furthermore, he assumed the great responsibilities of developing the religious shrines and cultural practices and activities in the Mon region. Numerous monasteries, educational centres, stupas and cottage industries established by him are testimonies of his accomplishments.

Rinpoche performing the Liberation of Life ritual.

He was the Minister of State, Industry, Textile and Handicrafts and Cabinet Minister of Tourism, Chairman of Advisory Council for Tourism Development (ACTD), Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh during his different tenures respectively. At present, he holds the position of Chairman, Department of Karmik & Adhyatmik Affairs, Government of Aruanchal Pradesh and Chairman, Arunachal Pradesh Hydropower Development Corporation, (APHPDC). He is internationally recognised as an excellent social worker and fully accomplished spiritual master. He has received several national and international awards for his tireless efforts and social work for the well being of people around the world.

Rinpoche also had  the privilege of attending the Millennium UN World Peace Summit at the United Nations Assembly Hall as the first ever Buddhist representative from the entire Himalayan region. He regularly visits different countries around the world for dharma activites.



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