The Life of Jamgon Kongtrul the Great
The first-ever extensive biography of Tibet's most famous nonsectarian Buddhist lama
Known as the “king of renunciates,” Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye (1813–1899) forever changed the face of Buddhism through collecting, arranging, and disseminating the various lineage traditions of Tibet across sectarian lines. His extensive treasury collections of profound Buddhist teachings continue to be taught and transmitted throughout the Himalayas by all major traditions and represent the breadth and profundity of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and practice.
Jamgon Kongtrul was a polymath, dedicated retreatant, ritual expert, writer, and teacher from the eastern Tibetan kingdom of Derge. During the nineteenth century, while central Tibet experienced extreme sectarian divides, Jamgon Kongtrul, along with Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Chokgyur Lingpa, set about collecting, teaching, and transmitting the major practice traditions found in Tibet. Their activity—much of which did not adhere to the traditional divides of the Tibetan “schools” and included both tantric lineages coming from India as well as Tibetan treasure (terma) lineages—is one of the finest examples of Tibetan ecumenism, or Rimay, and Jamgon Kongtrul is perhaps the most famous among Tibet’s Rimay masters.
This is the most accessible work available on Jamgon Kongtrul’s life, writings, and influence, written as a truly engaging historical biography. Alexander Gardner provides an intimate glimpse into the life of one of the most important Tibetan Buddhist teachers to have ever lived.