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The Rise of Buddhism in Buryatia through the Prism of the 7th Pandido Khambo Lama Sandelegey Vanchig's Biography by Radnazhab Sodnomov

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The Lord of the Teaching of the North
The Leading Noble Khambo Lama
All the deeds of the Merciful Teacher are countless
As the drop in the ocean here is our story

In the glorious motherland of many good wise man
Famous with the penetrating mind
In the land of Sagaan Burgasun on the bank of the cristal clear water
River Khimny Sandelegey Khambo was born

The 7th Pandito Khambo Lama Vanchuka Sandelegov’s life: achievement of the depth of the northern Buddhism. (Translation from Tibet and old-mongolian languages by Radnazhab bagshi Sodnomov)

The 7th Pandito Khambo Lama Vanchuka Sandelegov was born second among his three brothers in a rich and respectable Sandelegs family. His mother’s name was Galsan Dolgor.

In her kin there were a lot of well-educated and moral lamas, a lot of Tijes – princes who received many signs of thanks from the tsar.

His parents had a deep belief in 3 treasures. Every day they read mantras Maani and Migzem.

Their attitude towards life was direct and kind. Before lamas birth his father saw in his dreams a lot of lamas visiting his house showing him respect and asking for donation.

He also saw Sorzho lama galsan the deputy of the Head of Tamchinsky dazan who gave him a white shell with the words – assist in founding the monastery!

It must be finished by the time a lot of lamas come. In the morning after thinking over his dream he came to an understanding and was glad that they would have a well-behaved son who would be the support to the Teaching. And he continued reading mantras Maani and Migzem.

On the 27th of November in 1816 , in the year of the Fire Mouse, the Teacher with different good signs on his body was born.

The next day Lama galsan Sarjo visited this place and gave him a name Galsan Choirab with the protection amulets and said: Well! Well! In future send him to huvaraks (students).

From the moment of his birth, Galsan Choirab was different from other babies with his ability to keep silence and not to fall down and cry. When he was 7 years old, Shireete lama of Tamchinsky dazan visited him and gave him the vows of huvrak with the words:

“He’ll be a good lama. Let him learn.” Then the old lama Danzan gave him lessons of reading and a text Etigel in which he achieved good results. But he didn’t want to continue his studying. And when his parents were asking him why he didn’t want to study, he answered he would study later.

At the age of 10 according to Sorjo lama’s request, he became a novice.

His teacher saw that the student wasn’t very hardworking and learnt the texts only by looking through them and preferred playing to learning. So he gave him the first list of Namo Samgadi and said: start learning before the evening.

The next morning Galsan Choirab read this text by heart perfectly. His teacher was very surprised and he said to his students: “Don’t criticize him. Let him study the way he wants to.”

At the age of 14, he already knew writing, carving, melodies and recitatives of the meditative texts, proportions and the details of thanka painting.

Several times he confused the old lama Danzan asking him what the word Hung means. The old lama answered: “This word has a very deep meaning.”

Soon after that Galsan Choirab wrote full text Zhinlab Chogzolinvitation of the highest blessing – on the ice the without any mistakes.

When he was 16, Unzad lama Dubshen (a singer) invited Sorzho lama from the Yangazhinsky Dazan to give him spread commentaries, grammar, medicine and astrology.

Also there were rewritten a lot of books of sutras and commentaries from this teacher. Also he copied a lot of books of sutras and commentaries from his teacher.

Then Dubshen Lama and Galsan went to Atsagatsky datsan there was rewritten Gandzhur (the full collected works of Buddha sutras108 books).

The goal of their trip was to help and to gain knowledge of these collected works.

They received oral transmission on Yum – the department of knowledge in Gandzhur consisting of 21 books) - and many other tractates from Shireete lama – the Abbot of Tsugolsky dazan Lubsan Lhundup, who gave a lot of kindness to his noble disciple.

During their return while they were swimming across the river Selenga, Galsan said to his teacher: “You’ve dropped the money received from lama to help us into the water. Lets go to search for it.”

The he added: “There we will find help with a good deal.” They went down the river. Having walked for some distance, they saw a Russian fisherman’s net with their bag full of money. They had managed to take their bag before the fisherman paid attention to them.

After that his old friend was surprised how he had known about everything. Later on there were a lot of examples of his providence.

During his further life, Galsan Choirab visited a lot of monasteries, taught commentaries to Teaching, medicine and astrology. He also helped all the people he met on his way.

At the age of 26 during his 1-year stay at Yangazhinsky dazan, he knew Naldzhorba Chenbo (great yogin) Galsan Sodbo from the place Khorshin senge Rinchen Vana (one of the regions of modern Inner Mongolia, China).

He was educated in the far countries, gave perfect lectures on «Gachoy» and gained wonderful siddkhi and clear vision through the hard work in different practices of meditation. This great yogin Naldzhorpa said that he was going to the north for promoting the way of Shambala.

Then Pandito Khambo Lama Choivan Dorzhe Eshizhamsuev sent Zasag Lama Dopbdan to find a good lama who would be able to receive various vang and zhenang initiations. So, Lama Dobdan went to the border where he met Khorshid Gegen and he invited him.

After crossing the border Lama Galsan Sodbo went up to the big mountain and proclaimed:

“The goal of our traveling will be achieved! In future there woun’t be any obstacles on our way, we will meet good followers, we will pass the initiations and let there be goodness for the Teaching and all the beings!”

Having started the Teachings from Egituysky, Chesansky and Kudunsky dazans Galsan Sodbo reached the Yangazhinsky dazan, where he stayed at Dubshen.

When Galsan Sodbo, great yogin, saw young Galsan Choirab he exclaimed: “It’s wonderful! It’s wonderful! I met a good disciple! Now follow me!” And Galsan Choirab agreed with joy.

Then he (Khambo lama) invited lama Galsan Sodbo in his Tamchinsky dazan Gandan Darzhalin, where Pandito Khambo lama with his assistance met him and wanted to receive the teaching.

Then they visited the monastery Dechen Rabzhalin in Ushod where he taught dharma during 19 days.

They concentrated particularly on the famous initiations of Vajra rosaries according to tradition Acharya Abikara.

There were 36 mandalas of Anuttara yoga tantra, 3 mandalas of yoga tantra, 1 mandala charya tantra and 5 mandalas of kriya tantra.

During the teaching all the present people saw a rainbow once on the blue sky during the transferring of Kalachackra initiation.

Then he was invited to the monastery Choiden Dargalin, situated in Juroo (Selenginsky region of Buryatia) where on the 15th of September our teacher Galsan Choirba obtained the vows of gelong’s full initiation and received a new nameGalsan Choigy Jalsan from Sangha.

The leading master Khambo was Galsan Sodbo, the great keeper of Vinaya Arhats, Chakravartin of initiations of knowledge and of understanding.

The secret teacher was the great keeper of vinaya Gelong Shireete Dandar, keeper of time – Danzan Choizin Dorzhe, the additional gelongs of Pandito Khambo were Danzan Choivan Dorzhe and Gelon Zhambal. Then they received the initiation Namkhi gozhed (opening the door of space).

Since that time teacher Galsan Choirab perfectly kept the prescriptions of his vows not breaking them even slightly.

From Yuroo they visited Atagan Lhundub Dechenlin, Damba Braybulin of Sartulsk, Damchoy rabzhalin of Bultumur, Sanaginsky, Tunkinsky, Barguzinsky dazans where they were giving the initiations of Buddha Odpagmed, Buddha Amitajus and Avalokitešvara many times.

And in 1842 year of Water Tiger he invited Khorshid Gegen into his monastery Gandan Darzhilin, where Gegen gave the initiation of 65 mandalas of tradition Mitra Dzogyue to 3 000 lamas and huvaraks and more than 5 000 other beliviers.

After that initiation, all of them could see rainbows in the sky during the prayer of «Khagon Zhinsreg».

So, during 3 years Teacher was following Khorshid Gegen and studying carefully all the aspects of the Way of Lama forgetting about food and sleep.

For example during the preparation to the Yamantaka initiation Gegen was saying just the evening before the teaching: «Tomorrow there will be the initiation so you must rewrite the mantras with the schedule of rites (Choga)».

And even though the task was very big next morning Teacher was showing Gegen the results and his work always was correct.

And when the disciple was going out to the street, Gegen was saying in the presence of people: «My Choirab knows everything! He is a very good and reliable lama

Ochirdara lama was also manifesting amazing actions – for example he was climbing the mountains reaching the tops that no one could reach before, also he wasn’t feeling any cold at the frost, also he could reach the places, that normally took a 3 days trip, in only 1 day, gathering stones there and making prayers and rites.

On 28th of the month of the Snow Leopard in 1843, the year of Water Rabbit, the Teacher with two companions accompanied Khorshid Gegen to his motherland.

That time there was the edict about «the death penalty to anyone crossing the border of 2 states without the special permission». Though our Teacher crossed that border twice there were no negative consequences to that.

The next year when Galsan Choirab was 29 years old he went to Belgeruun Khamnjag Iogozory together with talented Gunsel lama.

There Gunsel took the vows of gelong and other additional teachings and after that he returned to his monastery and stayed there.

The next year, 1845, the year of the Snake, he went to the Egituy and Chesen dazans together with talented lama Sunchog, where they brought a lot of benefit to the Teaching and all the beings.

In 1846, the year of the Fire Horse, Galsan Choirab together with his disciple Zhambal went to Tsugol monastery Dashi Choipelin, where they took part in summer fast named Yarnay and asked for different Teachings and initiations from Shiretuy-lama.

That time Sorzho lama from the Gumbum Monastery from Tibet arrived to Dashi Choipelin and the debates named «Tsoglan» were held between the best students of this University.

And during the debates at the important moment of clapping the hands everybody heard the scream of a baby – this was recognized as a sign of good sequence interdependency.

There Choirab started studying Buddhist philosophy taking the oral initiation «Ontogjen» (The Decoration of the Clear Understanding) from Sorzho lama and starting learning by heart the text Zhenzhug (The Decoration of the Clear Understanding and Entering the Middle).

On the way to his dazan, the Teacher stayed at Egete for 7 days, where he consecrated the big drum Maani Khurde.

After returning to his monastery, he started many traditions: to wipe the dust in all the rooms at least 3 times per day, better 7 or 9 times reciting in mind that cleaning the inner dust the inner pollution is being cleansed;

to wear the face bandage while cleaning the cups and offerings, doing the meditative practice of purification and multiplying the offerings named Chodbrin Soon;

to spend all the time studying the Teaching of Buddha: recite, read, rewrite texts of Lam Rim, Lobzhon ba lavzha – exhortations, Manzishun – the tractate about medicine and astrology, Zhenzhug, all the time, except the period of the morning and evening tea, dinner and night sleep and others.

During that period he reconstructed the little temple of Kalachakra, taking part himself in painting the doors. He also was managing the laying of the sacred texts and other precious ingredients into the statues of Maitreya and 16 Arhats for the main temple Dzogchen in a very careful way.

For example in a clean place specially selected monks gathered materials before that having changed the special clothes and keeping the vegetarian diet. Its impossible to enumerate everything that he gathered for the monastery functions.

In 1847 there was a letter from Ochirdar lama Galsan Sodbo, where it was written: “Galsan Choigi Jalsan, living in the country of white tsarina being a symbol of belief and power from the far country, I am sending you thanks with the crystal pills of the Body, Speech and Mind of the Source of the Teaching Buddha Shakyamuni for the defense from the obstacles!

If you wish to meet disseminate the Teaching, strength the state and aspire to the Teaching together with the Teachers and disciples with your mind, body and speech in accordance with your vows.

All of your good deeds with the happiness, should be aspired to the achievement of Enlightenment of all beings. Don’t forget this request! If you do like that you will be blessed in a short period of time. Always do as I write you!”