The following is taken from a letter Rinpoche wrote to his younger brother about their family history.

Now let me share some research I have done into our Phuntsok Phodrang forebears who held the throne of Sakya before our great-grandfather did.

In earlier times, there was just one branch of the Khön family in Sakya that remained from the four branches established after the time of the great Throne Holder Dagchen Zangpo Pal (1262-1324); it was called the Düchö Lhadrang. When it was just the Düchö Lhadrang, the last great Throne Holder was our ancestor Thuchen Wangdu Nyingpo (1763-1809), who was known as the second Guru Padmasambhava of our time. He had four sons and one daughter; of whom, the two older brothers were white-robed mantradharins and the younger two brothers were red-robed ordained monks. All four brothers lived separately. So eventually the two mantradarin brothers established their own residences in Sakya. The elder brother built his palace next to the Tara Chapel in Sakya. He actually named it Phunpal Phodrang but everyone called it Dolma Phodrang because of its position next to the chapel ("Dolma" being Tibetan for Tara), so that's what we call it nowadays. The younger brother founded the Phuntsok Phodrang nearby; "phuntsok" meaning something like "exquisite" exquisite with the splendour and fortune of an ocean of verbalized and realized Dharma.

Note: Click on the underlined names to see their biographies.

Where dates of birth and death of individual dynasty members are not recorded, the order of age of the siblings has been determined in each case from data in the hagiographies of the dynasty members whose dates were recorded.

Kunga Rinchen

The name of that first Head Lama of the Phuntsok Phodrang was Ngagchang Kunga Rinchen (1794-1856), who was famous for special imprints like the meditation-deity Vajrakila has on his body and even the marks of a tiger that mystically appeared on his lower body, as well as being incredibly learned and accomplished. He was a teacher of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820-1892) and Zimwog Tenzin Nyendrag (1799-1884) among other renowned Masters. When nearing death, he was seen in a pure vision vanquishing bad influences in Sakya and then passed away. Also, since his noble father had some special experience of the Dharma Guardian Magzor Gyalmo, he made her the patron protector of the Phuntsok Phodrang. He had three sons and three daughters, but of them, the eldest son was born before the Düchö Lhadrang bifurcated, so when we explore the history, he is not referred to as part of he Phuntsok Phodrang officially as he did not live in the physical building, but in fact, in terms of genealogy, he was the first son of what we now call the Phuntsok Phodrang branch of the Khön lineage.

Dorje Rinchen

So this first son was the 34th Sakya Throne Holder Ngawang Dorje Rinchen (1819-1867). When his mother, Kalzang Pema Buthri, gave birth to him, there were many wondrous signs. According to ancient custom, there was a great celebration when the Sakya son arrived in the world. A thanksgiving was rendered to the general and specific Dharma Protectors oath-bound to accomplish activities and elaborate offerings were made by the faithful.

When he was small, everyone thought he was so handsome; just like with our famed ancestor Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158), people couldn't stop looking at him. At the age of six, he started studying intensively under his revered tutor Lodrö Gyatso. He mastered many sacred Vajrayana practices, from the regular prayers to the higher meditations like Vajrakila, Hevajra, Guhyasamaja, Chakrasamvara, Vajrabairava, Vajrayogini and many others. In front of his noble father, he performed all the rituals of those practices from memory perfectly to widespread acclaim. He then received the sutra and tantra teachings of the Sakya tradition that elucidate the Buddha's Dispensation like the sun, and which he had demonstrated such capability to preserve and disseminate.

At the age of nine, he began to receive the immense treasury of all the major empowerments, authorizing initiations, upadeshas, reading transmissions, blessings and teachings of the new as well as the old translation movements from his uncle Pema Düdul Wangchug (1792-1853, the 33rd Sakya Trichen), his father Kunga Rinchen (q.v.), his uncle Ngawang Kunga Gyaltsen (1803-1842), his great-great aunt Chime Tenpa'i Nyima (1756-?) and other great masters.

As the great Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, Zimwog Dorje Chang, and other realised masters had said, Dorje Rinchen's great-grandfather Sachen Kunga Lodrö (1729-1783, the 31st Sakya Trichen) received so many teachings and practices, practiced them in meditation and propagated them, and after him, there was no one else like Dorje Rinchen for working in the same way. According to tradition, he undertook a lot of retreats, starting with Vajrapani Bhutadamara to overcome all obstacles. He also did the advanced retreats of Hevajra, Vajrakila, Vajrayogini, the special Mahakala of the Rock Fort transmission (dragzongma) and others. He then qualified as a superior Vajra Master to preside over the annual grand pujas and so forth.

So in 1843, he was enthroned on an auspicious day in the main temple of the Glorious Sakya as Throne Holder. To mark the occasion, over three days, he eloquently explained in detail the classic text "Elucidating the Muni's Intent" by our ancestor Sakya Pandita (1182-1251). Mandalas were offered to him by political and spiritual leaders, and so many people made very grand offerings out of their devotion. During his short tenure, he took a lot of care of Sakya, commissioning renovation of shrines and administrative buildings, and established new buildings too.

Once, he went to the sacred site of Guru Rinpoche's accomplishment in Bhutan, Padro Taktsang. When conducting the ritual of Vajrakila to repel hindering forces with a giant torma, it appeared that blood was coming out of it. When he cast it down, the execration-arrow significantly shot into the cave there. Also in Bhutan there is what's called the ‘burning lake'. He put a treasure-vessel in it and, as he was consecrating it, bubbles came up and the water became like liquid bronze. Everyone who saw it was amazed and became his disciple.

In order to overcome malevolent forces, he displayed many signs and marks as other ancestors have showed in the past.

Considering a way to benefit others by reminding them of impermanence, on the seventeenth day in autumn 1867, welcomed by a host of dakinis, he entered the equilibrium of the dharmadhatu and manifested passing away. After the funerary rites, there were many relics that came from his body and several precious reliquaries were made for future generations to venerate.

He wasn't a monk but retired from the position of Throne Holder early and unfortunately the children he had with his wife Namse Dolma died in infancy. So if he didn't continue the lineage, who did?

Ngawang Kunga Sönam

That was the 36th Sakya Trichen, Ngawang Kunga Sönam (1842-1882). He, his three older sisters and his younger brother were born to Ngagchang Kunga Rinchen's second wife, Dagmo Nyida Wangmo of House Samte. His oldest sister was the accomplished Jetsunma Tamdrin Wangmo Kalzang Chökyi Nyima (1836-1896). Although we generally call daughters who take birth in the Khön family "Jetsunma", in her case we should really use the title "Kyabgön" as we do with the Head Lamas, as she, like Chime Tenpa'i Nyima before her, was given equal training and reached equal standing; she presided as Vajra Master over the annual grand puja of Vajrakila, bestowed the precious teaching of the Lam-dre and many other major and rare empowerments and teachings, and counted the 36th Trichen himself as a disciple among countless others.

The 36th Trichen was recognised as the reincarnation of Jamgön Amezhab Ngawang Kunga Sönam (1597-1659, the 27th Throne Holder) and was therefore named Ngawang Kunga Sönam too. He can therefore be considered the reincarnation of Guru Padmasambhava's disciple Nanam Dorje Düjom (750-?), Thegchen Chökyi Gyalpo (1349-1425), Dorje Denpa Kunga Namgyal (1432-1496), and his own uncle Ngawang Kunga Gyaltsen (q.v.) as well.

He took birth amid auspicious signs with the customary festivities, including the life and activity-enhancing practice of the nine-deity Amitayus. From a very early age, he learned, memorized and comprehended what he was taught with exceptional ease; mastered all the rituals like Vajrakila, Hevajra, Vajrayogini, Cakrasamvara, Guhyasamaja,Vajrabhairava, the greater and lesser Mahakala, and so forth; and qualified as presiding Vajra Master of the many tantras of his paternal lineage. From his uncle Pema Düdul Wangchug (q.v.), he received his paternal lineage of Lam-dre for assemblies, the Hundred Sadhanas (drubthab gyatsa) and many other empowering consecrations, authorizing initiations and blessings. From his father, he received the empowerments of the higher activities of Vajrakila to empower the attainment of awakening and the lower activities for deliverance of the fierce; Guru Dragpo, the Three Wrathful Ones,and many other initiations. From his senior cousin Thegchen Tashi Rinchen (1824-1865, the 35th Sakya Throne Holder), his oldest sister Tamdrin Wangmo (q.v.) and many other great masters, he received the Thirteen Golden Dharmas and other transmissions until he became the owner of the great ocean of sutra and tantra.

The great Protector of Samye had made a prophecy about him:

        "The Bodhisattva-monkey climbs to the top of the tree.

        In the year of the tiger, the victory-banner of the tiger is planted."

Precisely in accordance with what was foretold, he, who was born in the Tibetan lunar year of the monkey, was enthroned as Sakya Trizin in the year of the tiger. When he ascended the Dharma-throne of the Sakya Pandita on an astrologically good day, the political and spiritual leaders, and many prominent figures came to present extensive offerings.

Afterwards, he went to pay homage to the 12th Dalai Lama (Gyalwa Thrinle Gyatso, 1856-1875) in Lhasa. He had a very good rapport with him. While he was there, the Dalai Lama's Ganden Phodrang requested him to conduct an ceremony to clear a negative energy affecting them badly and he obliged. At night, as he was doing it, everyone heard crying sounds as the drums were beaten very fiercely and actually saw a glimpse of a demon. From every direction, dusty winds suddenly blew in hard and everyone saw the negative energy gathered away in the wind from the outside the temple. When he cast the torma, a fire was made and, despite the terrified protests of his staff, he walked right into it. However, when he was ready, he walked back out and was completely unharmed. Everyone felt great devotion and yearned to have him just touch their heads.

At that time, people saw two of his guardian bamos leaping and dancing in the fire. That was the origin of the Phuntsok Phodrang's bamo cham-dance.

Also, while he was in Lhasa he worked very hard to broadly develop the two traditions of Tibetan medicine. Once that was done, he returned to his main seat.

Back in Sakya, he had restoration done on whatever statues, paintings, building fabric and so forth that had deteriorated in the main temple and commissioned new work. He gave and organized many teachings of profound Dharma and, not just nurturing whatever and whoever was already in Sakya, he attracted more and more disciples, lay and monastic. Among the many scholars and siddhas that he helped liberate from becoming by imparting many precious teachings were the Dolma Phodrang's Kunga Nyingpo Samphel Norbu (1850-1899, who became the 37th Sakya Throne Holder), his own younger brother Palden Chogkyi Langpo (1844-1866) as well as the sons and daughters of the Phuntsok Phodrang (his sons and daughters), and the Dolma Phodrang's Dragshul Thrinle Rinchen (1871-1936, who became the 39th Sakya Throne Holder) with the sons and daughters of the Dolma Phodrang too.

To incite the indolent who cling to characteristics to practice the Dharma, he passed away in the manner of displaying transferring into the dharmadhatu through the profound transference yoga in 1882. Two reliquaries were made with the relics that manifested from his cremation for the faithful. They also put some with jewels in a precious statue at Sakya.

His younger brother Palden Chogkyi Langpo was also an excellent master and went with Tamdrin Wangmo to Kham where they spread the Dharma and received rare initiations to bring back and transmit in Sakya. However, the former died in an earthquake in Trehor, and Tamdrin Wangmo and their sister Kalzang Tendzin Wangmo went to perform the funeral and pray for the deceased, making it several years that his siblings taught all over eastern Tibet.

Ngawang Kunga Sönam was married to Chime Tashi Palgyi Buthri. They had eight children: two sons and six daughters. All of their offspring were very learned and accomplished upholders of the Dharma. Their second son, Jamyang Ngödrub Gyatso (1865-1900) was very active and became famous for miracles in Ngari Khochar and the Black Lake. And their first son was our great-great grandfather, the magnificent 38th Throne Holder, Dzamling Chegu Wangdu (1863-1916).

Dzamling Chegu Wangdu

Just as it says in the litany of Sakya Pandita about his birth,

        "Your mother was unhurt in fact, her bliss only increased!"

In exactly the same way, Dzamling Chegu Wangdu took birth amid many signs of wonder. As part of the majestic celebrations, he obtained the empowering consecration of the nine-deity Amitayus from Thegchen Tashi Rinchen (q.v.) for his long life and accomplishment of activities, and an elaborate thanksgiving to the Dharma Protectors was conducted for his arrival in the Sakya family for the welfare of wandering beings.

Although, in the definitive sense, Dzamling Chegu Wangdu was non-dual with Vajradhara, to sentient beings in training, he appeared to undergo intensive education in reading, writing and so on in his youth, behaving way beyond the manner of ordinary children, having so many natural qualities. He memorized the two-part king of tantric and, just like our other forbears, he also qualified early on to lead the annual grand pujas like Vajrakila and many other rituals for spiritual and temporal healing. He received all the tantric empowerments, upadeshas and so forth of his paternal lineage from his father, like water poured from one vessel into another.

As soon as he received an initiation, he practiced its profound two stages with joyful vigour, meditating so diligently that he beheld the faces of the Tutelary Deities, obtained prophecies and blessings from them, and many doors of samadhi were opened to him. When he was revived, he could control all of apparent existence just like Virupa, the most powerful and prosperous of yogins.

He had a very special connection with our patron protector Magzor Gyalmo. Once, she said to him directly,

        "If you float off the earth, I don't want it!

        If you wish to cross over this water, I won't go!"

Meaning she wanted to serve him in his activities for a long time and didn't want him to pass into nirvana. She said that when she appeared to him at the sacred site of the Samling Protector Chapel when he was conducting a propitiation ritual there. It lasted a few days and on the last day, a show was performed about the life of King Songtsen Gampo. Considering the dependent connection, Dzamling Chegu Wangdu put on the costume of the King's Minister Gar for the performance. During that time, someone poured barley beer into his cup, which he drank and then said, "Keep going!". The drink was poured and poured but it didn't spill over; it rose up and miraculously formed a static liquid mass high above the brim and remained like that for all to see. Everyone who saw that was awestruck and craved his blessings. As in that year everyone had sufficient utilities through his astonishing blessing, the populace had unwavering steadfast faith that he alone was most powerful and prosperous in accomplishment through his realisation of the equality of samsara and nirvana.

Once, two foreigners visited Sakya and took a photograph of Dzamling Chegu Wangdu with his family and retinue in his lounge. They took a few snaps but even though each photo was clean and clear, his image didn't come out. When they wondered why, he said "Ha! Because you didn't ask!" So we don't have any photographs of him, but it nearly happened.

In the Ngari region of Western Tibet, there is a temple of Atisha that he visited, but the great river was raging dangerously in its direction. In order to save everyone from the danger of a flood, he magically deflected the torrent away.

In 1901 he was invested as Throne Holder with ceremonial dignity, receiving grand offerings from temporal and spiritual leaders and his devotees. However, he didn't keep any of the lavish gifts but donated them all for renovations and improvements of the local estate in Sakya. He introduced modern innovations that were a bit controversial at first but proved very successful. I can't recall exactly all of it, but it was some kind of modern sewerage system that he must have learnt about from foreign visitors. Anyway, he was very keen out of his compassion to make living conditions for the monks and laity in Sakya better.

Finally, he passed away in 1916 with many other wondrous signs. Some say he went to the Copper Coloured Mountain of Glory (zaldog palri), the pureland of Guru Padmasambhava, as a member of staff from the Dolma Phodrang called Zurpa Khedrub went into his chambers in the Phuntsok Phodrang and had a vision of Guru Rinpoche on the ceiling flanked by the Shantarakshita and Trisong Detsen in a rainbow pavilion. Also, Dzamling Chegu Wangdu himself put a testament before the statue of Padmasambhava known as "Looks Like Me" (as that was what Padmasambhava said when he consecrated it) in Chökhor Lhunpo. When he did that, a five-coloured rainbow-light shot out like an arrow from the statue, which many people witnessed. However, our great-grandfather Trichen Ngawang Thutob Wangchug actually teleported his father to Shambhala, the pureland of Kalacakra, and returned with a flower never seen before on Earth. So it seems that finally Dzamling Chegu Wangdu transferred to Shambhala. His devotees built a Victory Stupa with a statue of him inside to house his relics.

He was a very accomplished practitioner of the Khön lineage of Vajrakila, which is why he is always depicted in art holding a kila in his right hand. The material-kila that he used in his personal practice was therefore considered very precious and fortunately it was brought out of Tibet before the cultural revolution. This is the kila that I always keep with me and use now.

With his wife, Chönyi Wangmo of the Thunmi family, Dzamling Chegu Wangdu had two sons. The first was our great-grandfather Ngawang Thutob Wangchug (1900-1950) who became the 40th Sakya Throne Holder; the second was Thubten Khedrub Gyatso.

I couldn't find the exact dates for Thubten Khedrub Gyatso as there's no written biography of him. From what I could find out from oral accounts that our older relatives told me, he was considered a bit wild! He used to go off on adventures with his cousin Ngawang Kunga Tenpai Gyaltsen (1904-?), living outside the institutional routine. However, although he acted like that, he was a real Mahasiddha who trained very diligently in his youth. Sometimes people were scandalized, seeing him hanging out in taverns, but even when he drank alcohol, no matter how much he drank, he would be completely unaffected by it. He also displayed the miracle of manifesting multiple illusory bodies around Sakya. He used to give blessings like kago with his shoe! Once he went to town and warned the folk there that a calamity was coming. I think they were a bit dubious and said, "OK, then what should we do?" and he just took off one of his shoes and said, "Here," and went on his way. The next day, a huge avalanche came crashing down the mountain, threatening to wipe out the whole town. Not knowing what to do with the shoe, they just threw it in the direction of the avalanche and it came to a complete halt, inexplicably. There are several such stories of his astounding deeds.

I hope this short account of the early masters of the Phuntsok Phodrang provides some inspiration. Inspiration alone is perhaps not so formidable, but if it causes us to follow in the footsteps of the Lineage Masters by striving to develop knowing, love and abilities, and to bring about the temporal and ultimate welfare of wandering beings, then it can be very useful.


The following is taken from a letter Rinpoche wrote to his younger brother about their family history.

Our great-grandfather Ngawang Thutob Wangchug was the 40th Throne Holder of Sakya. He was born into the Phuntsok Phodrang in 1900 in Palden Sakya. His noble father was the 38th Throne Holder, Dzamling Chegu Wangdu Nyingpo (1855-1919). His mother was from the aristocratic dynasty of Thunmi Sambhota (the progenitor of the Tibetan script long ago); her name was Chonyi Wangmo.

His mother experienced no discomfort giving birth to him and people beheld many wondrous signs of auspiciousness when he was born. His noble father was the one who named him and his full name was Ngawang Thutob Wangchug Dragshul Yonten Gyatso Tashi Dragpai Gyaltsen Pal Zangpo.

He was an expert in the meaning of the Tripitaka and four classes of

It is said in many hidden termas by Guru Padmasambhava that in his previous lives Ngawang Thutob Wangchug was: Acarya Manjusrimitra (of the eight great Vidyadharas, he was the progenitor of the Yamantaka teachings), the great Pandit Vimalamitra (who caused the Dzogchen teachings to flourish in Tibet), the mighty Dharma King Trisong Detsen, Ngadag Nyangral, Guru Chöwang and other Tertöns in twelve successive incarnations. The thirteenth of these was Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820-1892).

He was also the Mahasiddha Ghantapada (a great yogi of the Cakrasamvara teachings), Vanaratna (a master of the Kalacakra Tantra), Pandit Pratiharanandamati, Drom Tonpa (who founded the Kadam tradition of Atisha in Tibet), the great Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen (one of the most important founding masters of the Sakyapa), the matchless Dagpo Lhaje (a.k.a. Gampopa, the founding father of the main Kagyu traditions), Longchen Rabjampa (one of the greatest masters of the Nyingma tradition), Thangtong Gyalpo (the renowned Mahasiddha mainly associated with the Shangpa lineage), the first Dalai Lama Gedun Drub, as well as Lhatsun Namkha Jigme and other great scholars and practitioners without any sectarian biases. He also reincarnated as the abbot of the main Ngor Monastery, Thartse Namkha Chime, and then as "the one who possesses the seven amazing teaching transmissions" – that is Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo.

While still in this world, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo gathered his emanations into the heart of Vimalamitra in the Five Peaks in China, which are the sacred mountains like Wu Ta'i Shan. He really wanted to help sentient beings, so he then emanated in five incarnations. One of those emanations was Ngawang Thutob Wangchug, as was directly foretold in terma-prophecies and attested to by the great Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye (1813-1899), Dodrubchen Tenpai Nyima (1865-1926) and so on. The five emanations were of body, speech, mind, qualities and activities. Of these, he came to be known as the emanation of the qualities of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo.

From the tender age of six, he began to master the Buddhist teachings without great hardship – he could even control the mamos, the fierce female spirits that could perhaps be compared to harpies in Western folklore. Under the tutelage of Ponlob Dragpa Namgyal, he mastered all the ritual practices of the main Sakya Monastery, as well as the cham Lama-dances, ritual-music, melodic chants, line-marking of mandalas and all the other such specialist Buddhist practices, and all of them he mastered with extraordinary ease and perfection, so his vision and knowledge increased a great deal.

As he grew up, his teachers were his noble father, Dzamling Chegu Wangdu, as well as the great 39th Sakya Throne Holder, Dragshul Thrinle Rinchen (from whom he received the Lam-dre); also Khangsar Khenchen Zhenphen Nyingpo; Khyabgön Jamyang Thubten Zangpo; Ngor Luding Gyalse Chökyi Nyima, and many other amazing masters. He received all the precious teachings of Sakya from them as well as the vast ocean of sacred teachings of the Old and New Translation Movements that flourished in Tibet.

After studying at their lotus-feet, then contemplating and mastering these holy instructions, it was just like water from one jewelled vase being poured into another jewelled vase, without any sectarian biases or errors. Through abandoning what needs to abandoned and perfecting his meditation, he attained the actual results of his practice on the basis of the authentic Dharma.

He was able to train his own mind because he undertook intensive retreats. He undertook the Vajrayana retreats of Vajrapani Bhutadamara, Hevajra, Vajrakila, Mahakala Panjaranatha, Mahakala Caturmukha and many others. He completed them all properly with fire-pujas and continued through his life to cultivate the meditation of the two stages, which are the stages of generation and completion of Vajrayana practice.

In 1937, he was majestically enthroned on an astrologically virtuous day in a great celebration with a huge assembly at the main Northern Monastery of Sakya as Throne Holder, which he held until he passed into parinirvana.

So by then, since he had received so many precious teachings, empowerments, aural transmissions, pith-instructions, guiding instructions and so forth from his precious masters, then he became the greatest master for giving these teachings himself, and gave them tirelessly to unfathomable gatherings of disciples. They didn't just sit and listen to the teachings like casual spectators, but were matured, ripened and placed in liberation through his guidance.

One sign that showed his inner realization was that when he bestowed the blessing-initiation of the Vajrayogini to Dhiphu Choje Tulku from Amdo, that Tulku experienced the actual "descent of primordial wisdom", which means that just from receiving the blessing from Ngawang Thutob Wangchug, he attained an extraordinary inner experience. When that happened, the Tulku levitated about fifteen inches from his cushion, remaining in levitation for a long time and his seat shook vigorously below him as a result. Word about this spread and the fame of Ngawang Thutob Wangchug's power as a master became legendary.

Also, when he conferred the major empowering consecration of Hevajra according to the Lam-dre to the great abbot Ngaggi Wangchug of Tanag Monastery, the abbot gained the power of connate primordial wisdom.

He once went to Ganden Phodrang at the request of Tagdrak Rinpoche and attended a conference on problems that were occurring. The retired regent Reting Rinpoche wanted to resume his tenure and some had sided with him in an armed rebellion. So in order to purify this so that peace would prevail, Ngawang Thutob Wangchug conducted ceremonies for them. During one of these practices, when he threw white mustard seeds at a torma, it produced sounds and nectar came out of it. That evening, everyone heard a booming roar like thunder, which was the presence of the Dharma Protectors who then caused a ritual vessel to spontaneously combust into many pieces. The outcome was that peace did indeed prevail.

I remember one of my great-aunts told me that he once insisted that everyone in his retinue, including his young children, participate in the full propitiation-rites of the Dharma Protectors over many days due to some obstacles happening in Tibet. As she was quite young then and perhaps would rather be doing other things, she thought to herself, "Oh, I wish we didn't have to do this long puja every day…" The next day, as they were awaiting their noble father's arrival in the Protector Chapel, he stopped in his tracks, looked at her and said, "If you don't want to practice every day, then you're not my daughter." This might sound very harsh, but since that time, my great-aunt has practiced very diligently and it showed that he could really read minds.

During one of those pujas, as he beat the drum during part of the chanting, countless sparks of fire issued out of the beater, and as he played the cymbals, huge flames blazed out of the cymbals, filled the room and then gathered back into the cymbals. Many of our relatives witnessed this and then had the spontaneous faith that this was not just their biological father but their spiritual father, their holy guru, refuge and protector.

He was once invited to the Sera monastery to conduct a fire-puja because of haunting sounds heard below the monastery by the locals. So he travelled there, performed the puja and a huge clamour was heard in the area as the dangerous forces were successfully driven away.

Also, when he was at Palmo Palthang, he went to a stupa on the mountain and extracted water; something he could do because he was a Tertön. At that time, a song of yearning was sung on the circumambulation-path, comparing him to Guru Padmasambhava:

        "Great Throne Holder of the Glorious Sakya,

        You who are the real Acharya Padma:

        On the parched planes of Palthang

        You magically produced water for us to drink."

        This was a cause of further renown.

In another instance, he was travelling westwards when an avalanche began. Since he was very powerful and fearless, he wasn't worried but telekinetically repelled the avalanche back up the mountain.

At the main temple of Palden Sakya, he commissioned renovation work, but not in an ordinary kind of way. He did miraculous work, like discovering hidden stone pillars, staircases and the suchlike of the finest materials. Since he was a Tertön, he revealed a triangular treasure too, which radiated white light and thereby cast any doubts away like rain-clouds dispersing into the sky.

When his noble father Dzamling Chegu Wangdu passed into final nirvana, Ngawang Thutob Wangchug was nowhere to be found. This was a great cause of concern – everyone wore themselves out trying to find him. Suddenly, after three days had passed, he appeared out of nowhere. When he was asked where he had been all that time, he replied that he had been with his noble father and that, in fact, he had dropped him off in Sambhala, the pureland of Kalacakra. To prove that he was telling the truth about this, he brought back a wondrous flower that no-one had ever seen before, because it was a flower from a pureland. Everyone was stunned and it never wilted.

He helped to renovate three of the temples and one of the colleges in the south of Sakya, and attracted many students there. Many people flocked to see him wherever he went. He expanded temples in many places. He commissioned an inconceivable amount of representations of the body, speech and mind of our ancestors, the great founding fathers of Sakya.

He also undertook pilgrimages, including an extensive pilgrimage to the sacred sites of the Buddha in India. During his visit there, he met with Mahatma Ghandi. I can't remember all the details, but I remember they took a car-ride together and naturally shared mutual respect.

In 1950, on the anniversary of Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen and in the very room he was born in, he passed into final nirvana in a whirl of auspiciousness. The local officials in Sakya and other men who usually appear rather stern were reduced to tears; even the hills crumbled down by day and by night as though the land itself was in mourning. People witnessed the sun form a canopy in the sky that was pervaded by rainbow-clouds as dakinis made offerings and many other inconceivable signs of wonder. During the cremation, after he had come out of the state of thugdam (the yogic post-death meditation) and absorbed his mind into the expanse of reality, the body was totally burnt yet the whole skull, tongue, eyes and hair of the head remained intact and an enormous amount of relics were discovered once the fires died down.

Ngawang Thutob Wangchug left behind another special legacy in the form of his disciples, particularly his own eminent children, the senior-most being our noble grandfather, the late Jigdal Dagchen Dorje Chang, Ngawang Kunga Sonam (1929-2016). In fact, my noble grandfather was recognised as the reincarnation of one of Ngawang Thutob Wangchug's own teachers, Ngor Luding Gyalse Chökyi Nyima, by Ngawang Thutob Wangchug himself.

I feel so fortunate that Ngawang Thutob Wangchug bestowed so many precious teachings on my noble grandfather, especially the unbroken ancestral lineage of Vajrakila and the Lam-dre, and that out of his great kindness, our noble grandfather passed those teachings onto us.

It was also so special that not only was my noble grandfather the senior-most disciple of Ngawang Thutob Wangchug, but also of the two other most famous emanations of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo: that is, Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö (1893-1959) and Dilgo Khyentse Rabsal Dawa (1910-1991).

The younger son of Ngawang Thutob Wangchug was our eminent great-uncle, Sakya Duldzin Ngawang Kunga Thrinle Tashi (1934-1997). Our great-aunts, Jetsun Thubten Wangmo (1924-?), Jetsun Kelzang Chödrön (1926-2007), Jetsun Tsejin Wangmo (b.1936), Jetsun Chime Wangmo (b.1939) and Jetsun Könchog Yangkyi (b.1944) were his daughters, and the younger three are still with us today. Their mother – our great-grandmother, the wife of Ngawang Thutob Wangchug – was called Mushang Jarigpa Dechen Drolma (1901-1954).

Taking his example to heart, I always think that we must aspire to follow in the footsteps of our great-grandfather as much as we can; that we must not let our family down but strive to study and practice with diligence, just like he did. Reflecting on his extraordinary life can inspire us as to what we can achieve through the practice of Dharma. All of us – every sentient being – is endowed with the "Seed of the Sugata" in our hearts, so if we practice the authentic Dharma, then we really can accomplish great realizations and benefit many wandering beings.

All that Ngawang Thutob Wangchug did – the many miracles and so on – were from and out of bodhicitta, his aspiration for awakening based on great compassion. The most crucial thing we must cherish in our Dharma-practice, in our whole life in fact, is just this – bodhicitta. On this basis, I can feel confident that if we practice in the right way, we will be able to honor the heritage of the Phuntsok Phodrang and do our very best to help the liberating teachings of the Buddha flourish in our world.