Chögyel Phagpa

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Tibetan name
Tibetan script :
འགྲོ་ མགོན་ ཆོས་ རྒྱལ་ འཕགས་ པ་ བློ་གྲོས་ རྒྱལ་ མཚན་
Wylie transliteration :
'gro mgon chos rgyal' phags pa blo gros rgyal mtshan
Pronunciation in IPA :
[ pʰák̚pa ]
Official transcription of the PRCh :
THDL transcription :
Other spellings:
Phagpa, Pagpa, 'P'ags-pa, Passepa
Chinese name
Traditional :
Simplified :
Pinyin :
Chögyel Phagpa

Drogön Chögyel Phagpa Lodrö Gyeltshen (* 1235 ; † 1280 ) is one of the "Five Venerable Masters" who brought the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism to full development. These five masters include Chögyel Phagpa, things Künga Nyingpo , Sönam Tsemo , Dragpa Gyeltshen and Sakya Pandita Künga Gyeltshen . Chögyel Phagpa was the most important political figure in the Sakya school. He was the viceroy of Tibet until the end of his life after the death of his predecessor and uncle Sakya Pandita in 1251.

Deputy King of Tibet

The Mongol rulers tried in the 13./14. Century to control Tibet without extensive campaigns or negotiations, since the small states of that time were no notable opponents anyway. So they relied on a religious head recognized in all small states, to whom a dozen military ("khri-skor") and administrators ("khri-dpon") were made available, census , tax collection, the exchange of envoys and higher jurisdiction finally put a civil administrator ("dpon-chen") at his side. The Tibet question was initially incumbent on Godan Khan († 1251), a son of Ugedai .

Chögyel Phagpa's uncle Sakya Pandita had traveled to the Mongol court at Prince Goden's express request, where he was appointed Viceroy of Tibet in Karakorum in 1247/9 . Sakya Pandita's nephews, Chögyel Phagpa and Chagna Dorje (phyag na rdo rje, * 1239; † 1267), were quickly noticed at the Mongol court and became highly respected teachers of Kubilai . When Sakya Pandita died before his return to Tibet, he appointed Chögyel Phagpa as the new Upper Lama on the Roof of the World (1251).

Insecure rule in Tibet

In Tibet, Chogyel Phagpa's rule was not unchallenged. A Mongolian army under the general Uriang-kadai had to "accompany" him home and deal with 40 different hill tribes and fortresses on the way to Lhasa (1253/4). The second important head lama, the Karmapa Pakshi ( Karma Kagyu School), an opponent of the Sakyapa, traveled to Kubilai's court, where he could no longer do anything against the Sakyapa sect and left without permission . Then the Karmapa went to Möngke Khan .

Ultimately, the fratricidal war between Kubilai and Arigkbugha decided which school would take control of Tibet. The rival Upper Lama Karmapa Pakshi had contacts with Karakoram and was supporting Arigkbughas accused so that it Kublai arrest and had banished. The dispute was soon amicably settled and the Karmapa Pakshi († 1283) taught for a long time, but Phagpa and Chagna were now invulnerable as regents of Tibet . Chagna Dorje married z. B. one of Kubilai's daughters.

The new regents were presented with 16,000 kilograms of silver, gold and thousands of silk dresses, dressed in Mongolian (to the displeasure of the monks) and always had an impressive delegation around them. Chögyel Phagpa and Chagna Dorje returned to Tibet in 1264/5 and apparently wanted to share the administration (with an unclear division of competencies), but Chagna Dorje died unexpectedly in 1267. The Drigung School used this as an opportunity for a revolt, which was crushed by a new Mongolian army in 1267/8.

Font development

Chögyel Phagpa is known for the development of the Phagspa script , a Mongolian script that was designed as a uniform imperial script for all important languages ​​of the Mongolian Empire. However, this script could not sustainably prevail against the alphabet and the Chinese script already adopted by the Uyghurs . Chögyel Phagpa had received the order to design this font from the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan after he had conquered all of China. The emperor liked Phagspa's writing so much that he ordered its general introduction in all countries dependent on him. This writing did not completely disappear with the fall of the Yuan Dynasty in 1368. It was still used in Tibet as seal script, for inscriptions on the entrances and walls of Tibetan monasteries and for inscriptions on coins. It probably formed the basis for the development of the Korean Hangul script.

Calendar reform

Chögyel Phagpa wrote several treatises on calendar calculation and astronomy .

In all cases, they are practical arithmetic books. These scriptures are the oldest known representations of the Kālacakra astronomy in the Tibetan language, which are not translations from Indian. In terms of content, Chögyel Phagpa still largely followed the explanations of the Kālacakratantra.

Chögyel Phagpa introduced the calendar based on the Kālacakratantra in Tibet and established it as the authoritative calendar taught by the Buddha . At the same time he introduced the Tibetan monthly counting according to the so-called Hor months, which is still in use today.

Chögyel Phagpa laid the political basis for the later development of Tibetan astronomy and calendar calculation.

Relations with China

In Chögyel Phagpa's time, the then mutual relations between China and Tibet were strengthened . Phagspa was appointed imperial teacher ( guoshi國 師) under the Yuan Dynasty in China in 1260 . In addition to the Buddhist affairs of the Yüan , Tibet was also subordinated to this office , which once again became dependent on the Mongols. In addition, Chögyel Phagpa claimed a higher position at court than the ruler himself held. Kubilai's (second) main wife Chabi († 1281) is said to have brokered a compromise, according to which Chögyel Phagpa should have the higher rank in spiritual matters.

The Yuan emperors helped the Sakyapa administration manage Tibet against rival groups such as the Drigung School (1267, 1282–91 with the destruction of the Drigung Thil Monastery in 1290/1), and donated rich gifts to the dignitaries. In return, they assisted them in religious affairs in China. Mention is z. B. the rivalry between Buddhists and Taoists in China, which was expressed in several religious disputes and a book burning in 1280.

Chögyel Phagpa lived at court ( Khanbalyq ) in China for a long time and only returned to Tibet four years before his death. In Tibet, a civil administrator ("dpon-chen") named Künga Sangpo (Tib .: kun dga 'bzang po) was in charge of the actual government. After Chögyel Phagpa's death in 1279/80, this civil administrator was executed by the Sakyapa or the Mongolian commanders for allegedly poisoning Phagpas, as the hostility of the two was known.

Chögyel Phagpa's successor as the religious head of the Yuan Empire was Phagpa chosen monk student Senge († 1291), who had caught his eye because of his talent (languages, etc.). Senge and his deputy Yanglianzhenja are described negatively in Chinese history because of their money collections, financial speculation, murders and looting (1278 Prince Song tombs ). In Tibet he was followed by a Sakyapa as viceroy, in 1281/2 his child nephew Dharmapalaraksita .

See also


  • Tashi Densapa: A short biography of 'gro-mgon chos-rgyal' phags-pa In: Bulletin of Tibetology, November 3, 1977, Sikkim Research Institute of Tibetology, pp. 5–14 (THDL; PDF )
  • Morris Rossabi: The reign of Khubilai Khan. In: Herbert Franke , Denis Twitchett (eds.): The Cambridge History of China , Vol. 6, Alien regimes and border states, 907-1368 (Cambridge University Press 1994), ISBN 0-521-21447-5 , p. 414 -489.
  • Dieter Schuh: Studies on the history of the Tibetan calendar calculation . Wiesbaden 1973
  • Dieter Schuh: Politics and Science in Tibet in the 13th and 17th Century. Central Asian Studies of the Department of Linguistics and Cultural Studies of Central Asia at the University of Bonn, 33, 2004, pp. 1–23.

Web links


  1. blo gros rgyal mtshan
  2. Rossabi 1994, p. 461.