The Life of the 4th lHo rje drung, ‘Bri gung tulku O rgyan nus ldan rdo rje (1849-1902)


Doris Unterthurner

  • Supervisor: Klaus-Dieter Mathes

This thesis offers a glimpse into the life and a partial translation of the biography or liberation story (Tib. rnam thar) of one of the greatly accomplished Buddhist masters of the nineteenth century: the treasure revealer and ris med master lHo O rgyan nus ldan rdo rje, throne holder of the ‘Bri gung bKa’ brgyud monastery lHo lung dkar dgon ‘og min thub bstan bshad sgrub gling situated among alpine meadows along the lCi river in Nang chen, Qinghai.
The thesis begins with an introduction to the ‘Bri gung bKa’ brgyud tradition, treasure revelations and the eastern Tibetan ethnic region Khams in the nineteenth century. This follows a brief outline of Nus ldan rdo rje’s life, his works and incarnation line. Further, a presentation of the monastery lHo lung dkar dgon is provided together with the incarnation lines connected to it. In discussing the biography partially translated for this thesis, a brief biography of the author lHo bstan ‘dzin nyi ma, an outline of the biography as well as available sources on Nus ldan rdo rje’s life are included. The translation itself includes the sections of the biography that tell about his birth place, family line, his birth, youth and early adulthood, as well as the transmission of teachings and further studies and practice. The thesis concludes with the critical edition of the Tibetan.
The study of Nus ldan rdo rje’s life and biography proves valuable in several aspects: Nus ldan rdo rje was from an area that is still fairly unstudied by Western scholarship and it thus provides further information about the nineteenth century Nang chen area of eastern Tibet. The biography, albeit composed by a contemporary Khams pa author, has the make-up of a traditional Tibetan biography. Not only does it shed light on the so far unstudied life of Nus ldan rdo rje, also the life, in particular the early years, of a reincarnated master can be witnessed and insights gained into the Tibetan-Buddhist world-view.