Thongwa Dönden, 6th Karmapa Lama

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Thongwa Dönden (1416–1453) or Tongwa Donden (Wylie : kar ma pa 06 mthong ba don ldan), was the sixth Karmapa, head of the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism.

Wylie transliteration Method for transliterating Tibetan script

The Wylie transliteration system is a method for transliterating Tibetan script using only the letters available on a typical English language typewriter. It bears the name of American tibetologist Turrell V. Wylie, who described the scheme in an article, A Standard System of Tibetan Transcription, published in 1959. It has subsequently become a standard transliteration scheme in Tibetan studies, especially in the United States.

Karmapa title

The Karmapa is the head of the Karma Kagyu, the largest sub-school of the Kagyu, itself one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism

The Kagyu, Kagyü, or Kagyud school, which translates to "Oral Lineage" or "Whispered Transmission" school, is one of the main schools of Himalayan or Tibetan Buddhism. The Kagyu lineages trace themselves back to the 11th century Indian Mahasiddhas Naropa, Maitripa and the yogini Niguma, via their student Marpa Lotsawa (1012–1097), who brought their teachings to Tibet. Marpa's student Milarepa was also an influential poet and teacher.


Thongwa Dönden was born in Ngomto Shakyam near Karma Gon in Kham. He was recognized during his first visit at the Karma Gon monastery and joined the monastery to be taught by the Shamarpa.

Kham former Tibet area

Kham is a historical region of Tibet covering a land area largely divided between present-day Tibet Autonomous Region and Sichuan, with smaller portions located within Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan provinces of China. During the Republic of China's rule over mainland China (1911–1949), most of the region was administratively part of Hsikang. It held the status of "special administrative district" until 1939, when it became an official Chinese province. Its provincial status was nominal and without much cohesion, like most of China's territory during the time of Japanese invasion and civil war. The natives of the Kham region are called Khampas.

Shamarpa title

The Shamarpa, also known as Shamar Rinpoche, or more formally Künzig Shamar Rinpoche, is a lineage holder of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and is regarded to be the mind manifestation of Amitābha. He is traditionally associated with Yangpachen Monastery near Lhasa.

Up to then the Kagyu lineage had mainly given emphasis on meditation and considered rituals and prayers of lesser importance and therefore it had been neglected. Thongwa Dönden therefore set out to write many prayers and form many rituals. He was also very active with the printing and copying of Buddhist texts and the founding of a Buddhist university. Thongwa strengthened the lineage by having the Shangpa and Shijay lineage join their lineage and making sure that the different teachings were compatible with each other. [1] [2] [3]

Meditation mental practice of focus on a particular object, thought or activity to improve ones mind

Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. Scholars have found meditation difficult to define, as practices vary both between traditions and within them.

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Karma Gon Monastery monastery of the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism

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  1. "The Sixth Karmapa, Tongwa Donden". The Treasury of Lives: Biographies of Himalayan Religious Masters. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
  2. "Thongwa Dönden - Sixth Karmapa". Drupon Rinpoche. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
  3. "The Sixth Karmapa Thongwa Donden". Karma Triyana Dharmachakra. Retrieved 2013-08-11.

Further reading

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Preceded by
Deshin Shekpa
Reincarnation of the Karmapa Succeeded by
Chödrak Gyatso