Ganden Tripa

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Ganden Tripa
Tibetan name
Tibetan དགའ་ལྡན་ཁྲི་པ་
2nd Ganden Tripa Gyaltsab Je (1364-1432) 2nd Ganden Tripa.jpg
2nd Ganden Tripa Gyaltsab Je (1364-1432)

The Ganden Tripa or Gaden Tripa (Wylie : dga’ ldan khri pa "Holder of the Ganden Throne") is the title of the spiritual leader of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, the school that controlled central Tibet from the mid-17th century until the 1950s. The 103rd Ganden Tripa, Jetsun Lobsang Tenzin died in office on 21 April 2017. [1] Jangtse Choejey Kyabje Jetsun Lobsang Tenzin Palsangpo is the current Ganden Tripa.


The head of the Gelugpa order is the Ganden Tripa and not, as is often misunderstood, the Dalai Lama. [2] [3] It is also often misunderstood that the Ganden Tripa is the same person as the abbot of Ganden monastery. Ganden has two abbots, the abbot of Ganden Shartse and the abbot of Ganden Jangtse, and neither of them can be the Ganden Tripa unless they have also served as abbot of Gyumay or Gyuto tantric colleges. See 'Mode of Appointment' below.

The Ganden Tripa is an appointed office, not a reincarnation lineage. It is awarded on the basis of merit which is the basis of his hierarchical progression. Since the position is held for only a 7-year term, [4] there have been many more Ganden Tripas than Dalai Lamas to date (102 as against 14).

Je Tsongkhapa (13571419), who founded the Gelug is the first Ganden Tripa. After Tsongkhapa's passing, his teachings were held and kept by Gyaltsab Je and Khedrub Je who were the next abbots of Ganden monastery. The lineage has been held by the Ganden Tripas.

In January 2003, the Central Tibetan Administration announced the nomination of the 101st Ganden Tripa. An excerpt from that press release gives his background:

The 101st Ganden Tripa, Khensur Lungri Namgyel Rinpoche was born in 1927 in Kham (eastern Tibet). Ordained at eight years old, after fifty years of meditative practices and studies he was elevated by the Dalai-lama as successively abbot of Gyutö Tantric College (in 1983), and as abbot of Ganden Shartse Monastic University (in 1992). In 1986 he was the special envoy of the Dalai-lama to the ecumenical meetings of Assisi in Italy convened by Pope John Paul II. He is a French national and has been living in Paris, France for more than 20 years. He transmits the Buddhist teachings of his lineage in a Dharma Center, Thar Deu Ling [5] which he founded in 1980. [6]

The 100th Ganden Tripa, Lobsang Nyima Rinpoche, [7] retired and lived at Drepung Loselling Monastery with his labrang (office staff) until his death in 2008. [8]

Mode of appointment

6th ganden tripa Chokyi Gyeltsen (1402-1473) 6th ganden tripa.jpg
6th ganden tripa Chokyi Gyeltsen (1402–1473)

The Ganden Tripa is nominated or appointed on the basis of a hierarchical progression based on merit, [9] and the appointee does not necessarily have to have any direct connection with Ganden Monastery, although if he started as a Ganden monk he could have obtained his higher Geshe degree there and risen to be its abbot. [10]

There is a traditional Tibetan saying: “If a beggar’s child has the ability, there is no stopping him becoming the Throne Holder of Ganden.” It means the post is obtained on merit alone, rather than by recognition as the incarnation of a teacher, or other means. [9]

This, and the hierarchy through which any Gelugpa monk can rise up through the ranks on merit to become the Ganden Tripa is briefly described in the November 2011 edition of Me-Long, [9] a journal published by the Norbulingka Institute, which is dedicated to the preservation of the Tibetan culture, and in full detail on "Study Buddhism". [10] The progression can be summarised as follows: first of all, a monk of any Gelugpa monastery, who, after usually 15 to 20 years of study, achieves a Tsorampa or Lharampa (higher) Geshe degree, is obliged to enter either the Gyuto Tantric College or the Gyume Tantric College, depending on his place of origin in Tibet, to continue his studies. If, after one or two years further study he then qualifies as Ngagrampa Geshe, he can rise on merit to become a Geko or disciplinarian, then to become vice-abbot (tenure 3 years); then he can be chosen and appointed by the Dalai Lama as abbot of his respective college, with a tenure of a further 3 years. [10]

On retirement as Abbot of Gyume or Gyuto, he becomes eligible to become, eventually, for former Gyume abbots the Jangtsey Chojey ("Dharma Master of the Northern Peak of Ganden Hill"), or for former Gyuto abbots the Sharpa Chojey ("Dharma Master of the Eastern Peak of Ganden Hill"). These are more elevated positions, above abbots and retired abbots, which are automatically accorded only to the senior-most surviving retired abbot, one from each respective college, with a tenure of 7 years. [10]

The Ganden Tripa is an automatic appointment occurring once every 7 years, from one or the other of these two Chojeys or Dharma Masters, on an alternating basis. The incumbent Ganden Tripa stands down, and one of the two Chojeys is elevated. If the retiring Ganden Tripa is a former abbot of Gyume Tantric College, and thus a former Jangtsey Chojey, his replacement will be a former abbot of Gyuto Tantric College and thus the current Sharpa Chojey (and vice versa). [10]

This appointment is automatic but is apparently confirmed by the Dalai Lama who, being the pre-eminent spiritual leader, publicly announces the appointment or nomination at the time of changeover. [11] The 102nd Ganden Tripa is Rizong Sre Rinpoche and has previously served as the abbot of both Gyume Tantric College and Drepung Loseling Monastery, currently he serves as the patron of the Lam Rim Centres and is a touring Lama of The FPMT

List of Ganden Tripas


#namebiographical datatenure Wylie transliteration further titles
1. Je Tsongkhapa, Lobsang Dragpa1357–14191409–1419tsong kha pa, blo bzang grags paJe Rinpoche (rje rin po che)
2.Dharma Rinchen (Gyaltsab Je)1364–14321419–1431dar ma rin chen
3. Khedrup Gelek Pelzang 1385–14381431–1438mkhas grub rje dge legs dpal bzang1st Panchen Lama
4. Shalu Lochen Legpa Gyeltshen 1375–14501438–1450zhwa lu lo chen legs pa rgyal mtshan
5. Lodrö Chökyong 1389–14631450–1463blo gros chos skyong
6. Chökyi Gyeltshen 1402–14731463–1473chos kyi rgyal mtshan1st Tatsak Rinpoche (rta tshag rin po che)
7. Lodrö Tenpa 1402–14761473–1476(79)blo gros brtan pa
8. Mönlam Legpa Lodrö 1414–14911480–1489smon lam legs pa'i blo gros
9. Lobsang Nyima 1439–14921490–1492blo bzang nyi ma
10. Yeshe Sangpo 1415–14981492–1498ye shes bzang po
11. Lobsang Dragpa 1422/1429–15111499–1511blo bzang grags pa
12. Jamyang Legpa Lodrö 1450–15301511–1516jam dbyangs legs pa'i blo gros
13. Chökyi Shenyen 1453–15401516–1521chos kyi bshes gnyenAlso called Dharmamitra
14. Rinchen Öser 1453–15401522–1528rin chen 'od zer
15. Panchen Sonam Dragpa 1478–15541529–1535pan chen bsod nams grags pa(gzims khang gong ma)
16. Chökyong Gyatsho 1473–15391534–1539chos skyong rgya mtsho4th Lab Kyabgön (lab skyabs mgon)
17. Dorje Sangpo 1491–15541539–1546rdo rje bzang po
18. Gyeltshen Sangpo 1497–15481546–1548rgyal mtshan bzang po
19. Ngawang Chödrag 1501–1551/15521548–1552ngag dbang chos grags
20. Chödrag Sangpo 1493–15591552–1559chos grags bzang po
21. Geleg Pelsang 1505–15671559–1565dge legs dpal bzang
22. Gendün Tenpa Dargye 1493–15681565–1568dge 'dun bstan pa dar rgyas
23. Tsheten Gyatsho 1520–15761568–1575tshe brtan rgya mtsho
24. Champa Gyatsho 1516–15901575–1582byams pa rgya mtsho
25. Peljor Gyatsho 1526–15991582–?dpal 'byor rgya mtsho


#namebiographical datatenure Wylie transliteration further titles
26. Damchö Pelbar 1523/1546–15991589–1596dam chos dpal 'bar
27. Sangye Rinchen 1540–16121596–1603sangs rgyas rin chen
28. Gendün Gyeltshen 1532–1605/16071603–?dge 'dun rgyal mtshan
29. Shenyen Dragpa 1545–16151607–1615bshes gnyen grags pa
30. Lodrö Gyatsho 1546–16181615–1618blo gros rgya mtsho5th Lab Kyabgön
31. Damchö Pelsang 1546–16201618–1620dam chos dpal bzang
32. Tshülthrim Chöphel 1561–16231620–1623tshul khrims chos 'phel
33. Dragpa Gyatsho 1555–16271623–1627grags pa rgya mtsho
34. Ngawang Chökyi Gyeltshen 1571/1575–1625/16291623, 1627/1628(?)ngag dbang chos kyi rgyal mtshan
35. Könchog Chöphel 1573–16441626–1637dkon mchog chos 'phel
36. Tendzin Legshe ?–16641638?bstan 'dzin legs bshad
37. Gendün Rinchen Gyeltshen 1571–16421638–1642dge 'dun rin chen rgyal mtshan
38. Tenpa Gyeltshen ?–16471643–1647bstan pa rgyal mtshan
39. Könchog Chösang ?–1672/16731644(?)/1648–1654dkon mchog chos bzang
40. Pelden Gyeltshen 1601–16741651/1654/1655–1662dpal ldan rgyal mtshan
41. Lobsang Gyeltshen 1599/1600–16721658/1662–1668blo bzang rgyal mtshan
42. Lobsang Dönyö 1602–16781668–1675blo bzang don yodNamdak Dorje
43. Champa Trashi 1618–16841675–1681byams pa bkra shis
44. Ngawang Lodrö Gyatsho 1635–16881682–1685ngag dbang blo gros rgya mtsho
45. Tshülthrim Dargye 1632–?1685/1695–1692/1699tshul khrims dar rgyas
46. Ngawang Pelsang 1629–1695?ngag dbang dpal bzangChinpa Gyatsho
47. Lobsang Chöphel * 17th century1699–1701blo bzang chos 'phel
48. Döndrub Gyatsho * 17th century1702–1708don grub rgya mtshoThe 1st Ling Rinpoche
49. Lobsang Dargye * 17th century1708–1715blo bzang dar rgyas
50. Gendün Phüntshog ?–17241715–1722dge 'dun phun tshogs


#namebiographical datatenure Wylie transliteration further titles
51. Pelden Dragpa ?–17291722–1729dpal ldan grags pa1st Hortsang Sertri (hor tshang gser khri)
52. Ngawang Tshephel 1668–17341730–1732ngag dbang tshe 'phel
53. Gyeltshen Sengge 1678–17561732–1739rgyal mtshan seng ge1st Tsötritrül (gtsos khri sprul)
54. Ngawang Chogden 1677–17511739–1746ngag dbang mchog ldan1st Reting Rinpoche (rwa sgreng)
55. Ngawang Namkha Sangpo 1690–1749/17501746–1749/1750ngag dbang nam mkha' bzang po1st Shingsa Rinpoche (shing bza' )
56. Lobsang Drimed 1683–?1750–1757blo bzang dri med
57. Samten Phüntshog 1703–17701757–1764bsam gtan phun tshogs
58. Chakyung Ngawang Chödrag 1707–17781764–1778?bya khyung ngag dbang chos grags
59. Chusang Ngawang Chödrag 1710–17721771–1772?chu bzang ngag dbang chos grags
60. Lobsang Tenpa 1725–?6 Jahreblo bzang bstan pa
61. Ngawang Tshülthrim 1721–17911778–1785ngag dbang tshul khrims1st Tshemon Ling Rinpoche (tshe smon gling)
62. Lobsang Mönlam 1729–17981785–1793blo bzang smon lam
63. Lobsang Khechog 1736–17921792 (6 months)blo bzang mkhas mchog
64. Lobsang Trashi 1739–18011794–1801blo bzang bkra shis
65. Gendün Tshülthrim 1744–1807?dge 'dun tshul khrims
66. Ngawang Nyandrag 1746–18241807–1814ngag dbang snyan grags
67. Jamyang Mönlam 1750–1814/18171814 (3 months) 'jam dbyangs smon lam
68. Lobsang Geleg 1757–18161815–1816blo bzang dge legs
69. Changchub Chöphel 1756–18381816–1822byang chub chos 'phelYongzin Trijang Dorje Chang
70. Ngawang Chöphel 1760–18391822–1828ngag dbang chos 'phel
71. Yeshe Thardo 1756–1829/18301829–1830ye shes thar 'dod
72. Jampel Tshülthrim * 19th century1831–1837 'jam dpal tshul khrims1st Khamlung Rinpoche khams lung
73. Ngawang Jampel Tshülthrim Gyatsho 1792–1862/18641837–1843ngag dbang 'jam dpal tshul khrims rgya mtsho 2nd Tshemon Ling
74. Lobsang Lhündrub * 18th century?blo bzang lhun grub
75. Ngawang Lungtog Yönten Gyatsho * 19 century–1853?1850–1853ngag dbang lung rtogs yon tan rgya mtshoThe 4th Ling Rinpoche


#namebiographical datatenure Wylie transliteration further titles
76. Lobsang Khyenrab Wangchug ?–18721853–1870blo bzang mkhyen rab dbang phyug
77. Tshülthrim Dargye ?1859?–1864?tshul khrims dar rgyas
78. Jamyang Damchö * 19th century1864?–1869?jam dbyangs dam chos
79. Lobsang Chinpa * 19th century1869?–1874?blo bzang sbyin pa
80. Dragpa Döndrub * 19th century1874?–1879?grags pa don grub
81. Ngawang Norbu * 19th century1879?–1884?ngag dbang nor bu
82. Yeshe Chöphel * 19th century1884?–1889?ye shes chos 'phel
83. Changchub Namkha * 19th century1889?–1894?byang chub nam mkha'
84. Lobsang Tshülthrim * 19th century1894?–1899?blo bzang tshul khrims
85. Lobsang Tshülthrim Pelden 1839–1899/19001896–1899/1900blo bzang tshul khrims dpal ldanYongzin Trijang Dorje Chang
86. Lobsang Gyeltshen 1840–?1901–1907?blo bzang rgyal mtshan
87. Ngawang Lobsang Tenpe Gyeltshen 1844–19191907–1914ngag dbang blo bzang bstan pa'i rgyal mtshan3rd Tshemon Ling
88. Khyenrab Yönten Gyatsho * 19th century1914?–1919mkhyen rab yon tan rgya mtsho Drigungpa Khyenrab Yönten
89. Lobsang Nyandrag Gyatsho * 19th century1919?–1924?blo bzang snyan grags rgya mtsho
90. Champa Chödrag 1876–1937/19471920/1921–1926byams pa chos grags
91. Lobsang Gyeltshen ?–19321927–1932blo bzang rgyal mtshan
92. Thubten Nyinche ?–1933?1933thub bstan nyin byed1st gtsang pa khri sprul
93. Yeshe Wangden * 19th century1933–1939ye shes dbang ldan1st mi nyag khri sprul
94. Lhündrub Tsöndrü ?–19491940–1946lhun grub brtson 'grus Shangpa Lhündrub Tsöndrü
95. Trashi Tongthün * 19th century1947–1953bkra shis stong thun
96. Thubten Künga 1891–19641954/1958–1964thub bstan kun dga
97. Thubten Lungtog Tendzin Thrinle 1903–19831965–thub bstan lung rtogs bstan 'dzin 'phrin lasThe 6th Ling Rinpoche [12]
98. Jampel Shenpen 1919–19891984–1989 'jam dpal gzhan phan
99. Yeshe Dönden [13] ?–1995?ye shes don ldan
100. Lobsang Nyima Rinpoche * 1928-20081995–2003blo bzang nyi ma
101. Khensur Lungri Namgyel * 19272003–2009lung rig rnam rgyal
102. Thubten Nyima Lungtok Tenzin Norbu 19282009-2016thub bstan nyi ma lung rtogs bstan 'dzin nor buRizong Sras Rinpoche (2nd ri rdzong sras sprul)
103. Jetsun Lobsang Tenzin 1937-20172016-2017rje btsun blo bzang bstan 'dzinTo be advised
104. Kyabje Jetsun Lobsang Tenzin Palsangpo 1935-2017-2023skyabs rje rje btsun blo bzang bstan 'dzin dpal bzang poTo be advised

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