The previous reincarnation of Shakya Shri
Togden Drubwang Shakya Shri lived an extraordinary life, and the recounting of it not only has great meaning, but brings significant benefits as well. Reading his life story will inspire faith in those who have not had the fortune to meet him directly, and will increase the devotion of those who have actually been his disciples, so that their faith will not fade but remain unswerving.
Accordingly, Chandragomin said:
These good deeds, the signs of great renown,
Unveil the path of those gone to bliss, and
Those lacking in conviction will develop faith;
Thus, virtuous stories are a source of joy.
The names of the previous incarnations of the Lord of the Mandala Shakya Shri, whose embodiments as scholar and saint greatly benefited beings, are as follows:
At one time in this age of wrangling, he was born as the arrowsmith Brahmin Saraha, who was the forefather of an ocean of realized beings, an accomplished yogin whose fame still today is widespread in Tibet.
Another time, he was born in India as Mitrayogin, inseparable in his nature from Garland of Skulls, and a magical emanation of Avalokiteshvara, the supremely exalted embodiment of the love and compassion of countless buddhas.
Again he was born in India, this time as the scholar Naropa – protector of the northern gate of the Vikramashila monastic university.
Later in Tibet he was born as Rigdzin Dorje Dudjom of the Nanam family, one of the nine heart-sons or predestined favored disciples of the second buddha, Padmasambhava.
He was also born as Ngamdzong Bodhiraja the mind-son of Milarepa who was like the source of a river for the lineage of attainments, and to whom Milarepa entrusted the lineage of the Oral Transmission of the Dakinis.
Once he was born as Lingchen Repa, called ‘the Saraha of Tibet‘, for his fame as a highly realized being reached the plains of the Ganges.
He was the disciple of Drogon Phagmo Trupa, also known as Desheg Khampa Dorgyal.
He was born as Nyagre Sewo, crown of all realized Kagyu masters, whose real name was Rinchen Gyaltsen.
He was then born as Kunpang Avadhutipa Sherab Gyatso, the master of Perna Karpo, illuminator of the doctrine of the definitive meaning and holder of the secret treasury of profound instructions of the attainment lineage of the glorious Drugpa Kagyu.
He was the yogin Amkar Lhenkye Dorje who, in a single lifetime of practice on the secret path of the dakinis, the swift and blissful ultimate path, flew to celestial realms in his rainbow body without leaving physical remains.
He also took birth as the minister Denma Changtra or Denma Yulgyal Thogo who, armed with bows and arrows, enacted the will of King Lingje Gesar, subduing the enemies of the doctrine and dark, demonic forces. According to the needs of his disciples and beings to
be trained, Shakya Shri, like a single moon reflecting in many ponds, manifested inconceivably infinite emanations both in sequence and simultaneously.
Shakya Shri’s previous incarnations were revealed by indestructible prophecies of the great master of Oddiyana, Padmasambhava. They were partly remembered by Shakya Shri himself, and partly indicated by the two ‘gentle saviors‘, Khyentse Wangpo and Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, by Drugpa Yongdzin, omniscient in the age of decadence, and by other authentic masters, as stated in the long life prayers that they composed for him. To recount the lives of all his previous incarnations would take too long; those who wish to learn about them can read the individual biographies.