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Ngulchu Dharmabhadra

Ngulchu Dharmabhadra (1772–1851) composed many important texts that are widely used to this day. He spent the last nine years of his life in retreat.

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About the Author

Ngulchu Dharmabhadra was born in the upper region of Tsang Ya Ru'i Cha in the region of Rong To Chug Mo, in 1772. When he was eleven years old, he learned the alphabet from his elderly uncle. From then on, whenever he met someone learned, he would seize the opportunity to study the alphabet with them. As he spent most of his time tending sheep, whenever he found a flat, smooth rock or level ground, he would practice his writing using only his fingers, which would often cause them to bleed. This didn't discourage him, and he became an expert at reading and writing. Later on, this Venerable One was to become a holder of the treasury of secrets of all the conquerors.

When still very young, whenever monks came to visit his family, they were all so surprised by his manner of thinking and acting and his exceptional skill at reading and writing that they could not believe he was an ordinary person. Accordingly, they were all convinced that if he were to apply himself to Dharma, he would certainly become an excellent student.

At the age of fourteen he was admitted to Tashi Gephel Monastery, were he was given the name "Losang Tsering" by the Master Losang Gyeltsen. Early on, since he was skilled at writing, he was given one page of text to transcribe, and just by copying the text, he memorized it. Also, just by seeing Khedrup Ngawang Dorje's handwriting, he developed great faith and requested an audience with him; due to his great faith, the moment he met Khedrup Ngawang Dorje, all impure appearances immediately disappeared, and he began to weep profusely. It was from this that Khedrup Ngawang Dorje recognized that Ngulchu was a special being, and so from then on, he gave him very meaningful heart-felt advice. Henceforth, with great love he gave him copious instruction on both the sutras and tantras, like filling one vase with another. In return, Ngulchu protected these instructions as if they were his own eyes. He received the novice vows of individual liberation directly from the great Khedrup and was given the name "Wangchuk Chosang."

From the age of eighteen to nineteen, Ngulchu experienced the loss of three people who were very close to him--his elder brother, his mother, and his aunt. As a result, with the permission of his lama, he went into retreat in an isolated place to practice single-pointedly, where he remained until he was twenty. After this time, he was admitted into the ranks of a gelong and went to Ngulchu Cave, where he listened and contemplated with great effort. In the tenth month of that same year, he received the complete training as a gelong from Lopon Yeshe Paldrup, in the giving and receiving of small gestures, articles, blessings, and so forth. As a gelong he practiced perfectly, maintaining complete moral discipline, and so he became a great Vinaya-holder.

From the age of twenty-two to thirty-two, he returned again and again to Tashi Lhungpo, meanwhile studying with such masters as Drongtse Losang Tsultrim and Guge Yongdzin Losang Tendzin, to name a few. In this way he studied with many learned pandits and listened to many teachings on both the common teachings and the uncommon teachings of sutra and tantra.

From the age of thirty-five on, he mainly practiced meditation but also taught extensively on the three important subjects of exposition, debate, and composition. At this time he also composed various works on sutra and tantra, which constituted six volumes of teachings. He had many disciples such as Yangchen Drupay Dorje, Khenchen Ngawang Nyendrak, Ripuk Tulku Losal Tenkyong, Dechen Tulku Losang Tsultrim, among others.

At the age of seventy, he made offerings to forty-one monasteries in Shay. Throughout his life, up to the age of eighty, he traveled to Truzin to give teachings several times; however, he spent most of his time staying in Ngulchu Cave, where he engaged solely in meditation. When he was eighty, in the eighth day of the fourth month of the Iron Pig year 1851, for the sake of those to be subdued, he passed away into the dharmakaya.