Ralung Monastery (Tibetan: རྭ་ལུང་, Wylie: Rwa-lung), located in the Tsang region of western Tibet, south of the Karo La (pass), is the traditional seat of the Drukpa order of Tibetan Buddhism. It was founded in 1180 by Tsangpa Gyare who was the First Gyalwang Drukpa, a disciple of Lingje Repa, and the founder of the Drukpa Kagyu school.
Ralung is one of the most sacred places in Tibet, for it is here that the great Dugpa school of red-hat monks originated, a school still influential with numerous adherents in Southern, Northern, and Eastern Tibet, and in Bhutan, which latter country is, in fact, called Dugpa owing to the preponderance of this sect. The Ralung-til, the head monastery of the Dugpa, is to the south-east of this village. This monastery owes its name to the fact that it is surrounded by mountains as the heart (mt'il) of a lotus is by the corolla.
The monastery is located in present-day Gyantse county several kilometers south of the road connecting Nakartse and Lungmar, immediately north of the Gasa district of Bhutan. In previous times, trade could be conducted across the Yak La pass across the high Himalayas, extending the influence of Ralung to the south.
The monastery is surrounded by the towering peaks and glacier fields of Gyetong Soksum (6,244m), Jangzang Lhamo (6,324m) and Nojin Gangzang (7,191m). From the beginning the location was recognized as especially auspicious:
The eight auspicious symbols adorned the surrounding: The mountain in front of the monastery appeared in the form of a white conch turning clock-wise; the peak of Rala pass appeared like a precious open parasol; the peak behind Pokya appeared like a brimming vase; the Tsenchu peak appeared like a victory banner hoisted high; the Yangon hill appeared like a pair of golden fish; the ground at Gormo appeared like a golden wheel; the hill in the direction of Penthang appeared like an open lotus stem with the twin streams appearing like two birds facing each other; and Gyamo meadow appeared like an auspicious knot.
The founder of Bhutan, the first Zhabdrung Rinpoche, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, was the 18th Abbott of Ralung monastery. In 1616 he fled Tibet when his recognition as the reincarnation of renowned scholar Kunkhyen Pema Karpo was challenged by the governor of Tsang province. Ngawang Namgyel proved to be a worthy incarnation of Pema Karpo, as he unified the warring valleys of Bhutan, fending off attacks from Tibet, forming a national identity, and establishing a Drukpa dual system of government that continues to this day in modified form as the Royal Government of Bhutan.
Other names for Ralung Monastery include Shedrub Chokhar Ling Gompa (the original name), Druk Ralung, and Ralung Gompa.
Early Drukpa lineage
Chart of the hereditary Palden Drukpa lineage (དཔལ་ལྡན་འབྲུག་པའི་གདུང་བརྒྱུད་) of Ralung from the founder Tsangpa Gyare (12C.) to the last hereditary throne holder, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (17C.), who moved to Bhutan where he unified the country and established the Southern Drukpa school. Successive throne holders are numbered with their names in bold text.
|Gya Zurpo Tsape|
|Kalden||Lhanyen||Lhabum||Mangtsen||Jotsul||Gomped||1. Tsangpa Gyare[c 1]|
|2. Dharma Senge[c 2]||Lhatsen||Chogo|
|3. Zhonnu Senge[c 3]||Rinchen Pel||Lopon Ontag|
|4. Nyima Senge[c 4]||DL Senge Sherab||5. Senge Rinchen[c 5]|
|6. Senge Gyalpo[c 6]|
|7. Jamyang Kunga Senge[c 7]|
|8. Lodro Senge[c 8]|
|9. Sherab Senge[c 9]||10. Yeshe Rinchen[c 10]|
|11. Namkha Palzang[c 11]||12. Sherab Zangpo[c 12]||Dorje Gyalpo|
|13. Kunga Paljor[c 13]||Lhawang||Rinchen Zangpo|
|14. Ngawang Chögyal[c 14]||Drukpa Kunleg|
|Ngawang Dragpa||15. Ngagi Wanghuck[c 15]||Ngawang Tenzin|
|16. Mipham Chögyal[c 16]||Tsewang Tenzin|
|17. Mipham Tenpai Nyima[c 17]||Tenzin Rabgye|
|18. Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal[c 18]|
- Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorje (gtsang pa rgya ras ye shes rdo rje) (b.1161-d.1211)
- Dharma Senge Sangye Önre (dhar ma seng ge sangs rgyas dbon ras)
- Zhonnu Senge (gzhon nu seng ge) (b.1200-d.1266)
- Nyima Senge (nyi ma seng ge) (b.1251-d.1287)
- Pökyapa Senge Rinchen (spos skya pa seng ge rin chen) (b.1258- d. 1313)
- Senge Gyalpo (seng ge rgyal po) (b.1289-d.1326)
- Jamyang Kunga Senge ('jam dbyangs kun dga' seng ge) (b.1289-d.1326)
- Lodrö Senge (blo gros seng ge) (b.1345-d.1390) -
- Sherab Senge (shes rab seng ge) (b.1371-d.1392)
- Yeshe Rinchen (ye shes rin chen)
- Namkha Palzang (nam mkha' dpal bzang) (b.1398-d.1425)
- Sherab Zangpo (shes rab bzang po) (b.1400-d.1425)
- Gyalwang Je Kunga Paljor (kun dga' dpal 'byor) (1428–1476) – Drukchen II
- Ngawang Chögyal (ngag dbang chos rgyal) (b.1465-d.1540)
- Ngakyi Wangchuk Trakpa Gyaltsen (ngag gi dbang phyug grags pa rgyal mtshan)(b.1517-d.1554)
- Mipham Chögyal (mi pham chos rgyal)(b.1543-d.1604)
- Mipham Tenpai Nyima (mi pham bstan pa'i nyi ma) (b.1567-d.1619)
- Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (zhabs drung ngag dbang rnam rgyal) (b.1594-d.1651)
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- Gyurme Dorje (2004). Footprint Tibet. Bath: Footprint Handbooks. p. 266. ISBN 1903471303.
- Dowman, Keith. 1988. The Power-places of Central Tibet: The Pilgrim's Guide, pp. 268–269. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London and New York. ISBN 0-7102-1370-0.
- Lhasa and Central Tibet, p. 129. (1902). Sarat Chandra Das. Reprint 1988: Mehra Offset Press, Delhi.
- Dorje, Gyurme; (1999). Footprint Tibet Handbook with Bhutan (2nd Ed.) Footprint Handbooks. ISBN 0-8442-2190-2. p. 253.