The Life and Times of 'Gos Lo tsā ba gZhon nu dpal: The Master's Early Years


Jamie Gordon Creek

In many ways, the fifteenth century occupies a crucial role in the intellectual history of Tibet. 'Gos Lo tsā ba gZhon nu dpal (1392-1481 ), a master of the bKa' brgyud tradition most famous for having penned the Blue Annals, witnessed the unfolding of events of this century almost in its entirety and can be argued to be a crucial figure to understand the intellectual climate of this period. To trace how Tibet could produce such an exceptional thinker, this thesis aims to take a close look at the early stages of his life - i.e., his formative years and scholarly training­ - appreciating the historical and political circumstances of this period that allowed him to flourish in his studies and practice. The present work seeks to analyze the first part of 'Gos Lo tsā ba's rnam thar, which contains his upbringing, family background, and early scholarly formation - ­i.e., the masters he trained with and the works he studied - and to demonstrate the factors that were involved in him becoming the high-caliber and broadly positioned scholar he was. The main part of this thesis contains an annotated translation of the first part ofhis biography entitled Yon tan rin po ehe mchog tu rgyas pa 'i ljon pa, written by his most prominent disciple, the 4th Zhwa dmar pa Chos grags ye shes (1453-1524).