Brief Biography of Kyobpa Jigten Sumgön (1143-1217 AD)
The glorious Phagmo Drupa had five hundred disciples honoured with white parasols. However, he repeatedly proclaimed that it will be an Upasaka of tenth Bodhisattva stage who would succeed him. He was no other than the peerless Kyobpa Jigten Sumgön, emanation of Tathagata Lurik Dronma and Nagarjuna.
Prophesied in many Sutras, Kyobpa Jigten Sumgön was born in a noble family of Kyura clan in Tibet. His father was a great Yamantaka practitioner; Naljorpa Dorje and mother was Rakyisa Tsunma. Many marvellous signs occurred during his birth. He started his formal education under his father at the age of four and later under his uncle; the great abbot Ra-dreng Gom-chen, the reverend Khorwa Lung-khyer and others. He was initially named Tsunpa Kyab and later as Dorje Pal.
When he was eight, he had a vision of Yanamtaka while meditating at Tsib Lungmoche. He saw the nature of Samsara and Nirvana as insubstantial like a reflection in a mirror. He received and mastered various teachings on Luminosity, Mahamudra, Kadampa tradition and Guhyasamaja etc and became a renowned yogi in Kham.
Just hearing the name Phagmo Drupa from Gonda Pandita, great devotion aroused in him and thus he went to Central Tibet to seek his teachings. Travelling day and night, he reached Phagdru Monastery. Escorted by a Khampa, Phagmo Drupa received him by saying, “Now all my disciples are present”. He was then given Upasaka and Bodhichitta vow and named Ratna Shri. He attended Phagmo Drupa for two and half years and soon became his heart son and successor after he passed away.
Receiving four yogas of Mahamudra from Dakpo Gomtsul, he spent 7 years at Echung Cave where he attained enlightenment. With the realization of unity of discipline and Mahamudra, he took the vow of fully ordained monk. He then took over the abbot seat of Phagdru Monastery but left it to benefit more beings.
Arriving at Drikung Thil, the age of 37, he established Drikung Jangchubling; the largest and main seat of Drikung Kagyudpa in Tibet. He miraculously drew many streams to deal with water shortage at Drikung. Many of these streams dried when Drikung Thil caught fire in 14th century. He is also credited for starting Sojong; the purification ceremony. He also built monasteries and special Stupas with many doors.
He also had audience with many great scholars such as Mahapandita Shakya Shri Bhadra, Ngorje Repa, Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa who found him to be Nagarjuna and the Buddha himself and by showing great devotion received many teachings from him.
With the fame, followers grew by thousands where many of whom became great practitioners and realised yogis. Once in a summer retreat at Drikung, number of Tshul Shing or voting stick was recorded over 130,000. His chief disciples were; the two Chengas, the great abbot Gurawa, Nyo Gyalwa Lhanangpa and others.
His most important teaching “Gongchig” that consists of 150 topics and 40 appendices was compiled by his disciple Chenga Sherab Jungne.
At the age of 75 Fire-Ox year (1217 AD), he entered Parinirvana and was cremated on 13th of Vaishaka amidst many auspicious signs. Chengawa Sherab Jungney built a monument of multi door Stupa in which he kept his skull, brain and relics along with 1000 verse Prajnaparamita Sutra brought by Atisha.