Tsangyang Gyatso
6th Dalai Lama
Reign 1697–1706
Predecessor Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso
Successor Kelzang Gyatso
Tibetan ཚངས་དབྱངས་རྒྱ་མཚོ་
Wylie tshang dbyangs rgya mtsho
Cangyang Gyaco
Chinese 倉央嘉措
Born 1 March 1683(1683-03-01)
Tawang, Tibet
Died 15 November 1706 (aged 23)
Kokonor, China

Tsangyang Gyatso (Tibetan: ཚངས་དབྱངས་རྒྱ་མཚོWylie: tshang dbyangs rgya mtsho) (1 March 1683 – 15 November 1706) was the sixth Dalai Lama. He was a Monpa by ethnicity and was born at Urgelling Monastery, 5 km from Tawang,[1] and not far from the large Tawang Monastery in the northwestern part of present-day Arunachal Pradesh in India.[2]

He led a playboy lifestyle and disappeared, near Kokonor probably murdered on his way to Beijing in 1706. Tsangyang Gyatso composed poems and songs that are still immensely popular in Tibet to this day.

Early life

Tsangyang Gyatso birth place

Birthplace of 6th Dalai Lama, Urgelling Monastery, Tawang Town, A.P., India

Tsangyang was born on 1 March 1683 in Mon Tawang (in modern Arunachal Pradesh, India) to Lama Tashi Tenzin of Urgeling, a descendant of the treasure revealer Pema Lingpa, and Tsewang Lhamo, a Monpa girl hailing from a royal family of Bekhar Village.[3]

There are many stories about the life and death of Tsangyang Gyatso.

There are several legendary tales about the birth of Tsangyang. Apparently, His mother, Tsewang, had experienced a few miracles prior to the birth of Tsangyang Gyamtso. One day, within the first month of her pregnancy, she was husking paddy in the stone mortar. To her surprise, water started accumulating in the mortar. On another occasion, when Tsewang drank water at a near by place, milk started gushing out in place of water. Since then, this stream was known as Oma-Tsikang, literally known as milky water.

In the course of time, Tsewang gave birth to a boy who was named Sanje Tenzin, with Tsangyang's grandfather and Nawang Norbu with his father.[clarification needed] Due to this fact, legend said that he would not drink his mother's milk from the day after their birth. One day, when his face began to swell from an infection, Tsangyang could hardly open his eye, two local diviners were summoned. They prescribed purifactory rite and said that his name should be changed to Ngawang Gyamtso.

His recovery was credited by the regent to the intervention of the Dalai Lama's own guardian deity, Dorje Dakpa. The grandfather dreamt that the child was constantly being protected by heavenly beings. The mother dreamt, as she took a rest from her weaving, that a great company had arrived to take him off. His paternal grandmother dreamt of two suns shining in the sky.

Historical Background

Although Lozang Gyatso, the 5th Dalai Lama, had died in 1682, the Regent Desi Sangye Gyatso (Sangs-rgyas rgya-mtsho) kept his death a secret - partly to continue the stable administration, and partly to gain time for the completion of the Potala. The five-year-old reincarnation was discovered in 1688, but immeditely sent to Nankartse, not far from Lhasa, where he was kept concealed by the Regent until 1697 when he sent a delegation to the Chinese Emperor in 1697 to announce that the Fifth Dalai Lama had died and Sixth had been discovered.[3]

The regent invited the Fifth Panchen Lama, Lobsang Yeshi to administer the vows of a novice monk on the young man at Nankartse and named him Tsang Gyatso. In October 1697, Tsangyang Gyatso was enthroned as the Sixth Dalai Lama.[3]

In 1701 Lhasang Khan, a Mongol king and ally of the Chinese, had the Regent, Sangye Gyatso, killed. This greatly upset the young Dalai Lama who left his studies and even visited Lobsang Yeshe, the 5th Panchen Lama in Shigatse and renounced his novice monk vows.[3]

Life as a Dalai Lama

As a Dalai Lama, Tsangyang had composed excellent works of songs and poems, but often went against the principles of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism. For example, he decided to give his Getsul vow to the Panchen Lama Lobsang Yeshi Palsangpo at eighteen, instead of taking the usual Gelong.

The Panchen Lama, who was the abbot of Tashilhupo monastery, and Prince Lhazang, the younger brother of the Po Gyalpo Wangyal, persuaded him not to do so.

Tsangyang Gyatso, enjoyed a lifestyle that included drinking, the company of women, and writing love songs.[4][5] He visited Lobsang Yeshe, the Fifth Panchen Lama, in Shigatse and requesting his forgiveness, renounced the vows of a novice monk.[3]He ordered the building of the Tromzikhang palace in Barkhor, Lhasa.

Tsangyang Gyatso had always rejected life as a monk, although this did not mean the abdication of his position as the Dalai Lama. Wearing the clothes of a normal layman and preferring to walk than to ride a horse or use the state palanquin, Tsangyang only kept the temporal prerogatives of the Dalai Lama. He also visited the parks and spent nights in the streets of Lhasa, drinking wine, singing songs and having amorous relations with girls. Tsangyang retreated to live in a tent in the park near the northern escarpment of Potala. Tsangyang finally gave up his discourses in public parks and places in 1702, which he was required to do so as part of his training.

Capture and disappearance

Using the Dalai Lama's behaviour as an excuse, Lhazang Khan, the king of the Qośot or Khoshut Mongols, and an ally of the Chinese Emperor, killed the Regent, and kidnapped the Sixth Dalai Lama who was killed or died or achieved Nirvana (and some believe can still be met as if alive) soon after on the way to China.[6]

On the 28 June 1706, Lhazang Khan deposed Tsangyang, and installed a 25-year-old Lama. Ngawang Yeshe Gyatso, as the next Dalai Lama in 1707, claiming that he was the true rebirth of Lobsang Gyatso. However, the Gelukpa dignitaries, and the Tibetan people, rejected Lhazang Khan's installation of Ngawang Yeshe Gyatso, and recognised Tsangyang as the true reincarnation.[6][7]

While being taken out of the country, Tsangyang composed a poem which some say foretold of his next birth. "White crane lend me your wings. I will not fly far. From Lithang I shall return." Tsangyang died mysteriously near Kokonor, on 15 November 1706, which is why there is no tomb for him in the Potala.[8] Rumours persisted he had escaped and lived in secrecy somewhere between China and Mongolia

The Tibetans then appealed to the Dzungar Mongols who invaded Tibet and killed Lhazang Khan in late 1717.[6]

Tsangyang was succeeded by Kelzang Gyatso who was born in Lithang.


  1. [
  2. The Dalai Lamas of Tibet, p. 93. Thubten Samphel and Tendar. Roli & Janssen, New Delhi. (2004). ISBN 81-7436-085-9.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "The Sixth Dalai Lama TSEWANG GYALTSO."
  4. Alexandra David-Neel, Initiation and Initiates in Tibet, trans. by Fred Rothwell, New York: University Books, 1959
  5. Yu Dawchyuan, "Love Songs of the Sixth Dalai Lama", Academia Sinica Monograph, Series A, No.5, 1930
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Stein, R. A. (1972). Tibetan Civilization, p. 85. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-0806-1 (cloth); ISBN 0-8047-0901-7 (paper).
  7. Chapman, F. Spencer. (1940). Lhasa: The Holy City, p. 127. Readers Union Ltd. London.
  8. Buckley, Michael and Strauss, Robert. (1986). Tibet: a travel survival kit, p. 45. Lonely Planet Publications. South Yarra, Vic., Australia. ISBN 0-908086-88-1.

Further reading

  • Mullin, Glenn H. (2001). The Fourteen Dalai Lamas: A Sacred Legacy of Reincarnation, pp. 238-271. Clear Light Publishers. Santa Fe, New Mexico. ISBN 1-57416-092-3.


Upon the discovery of a new monkey species hanging in the forest of West Kameng, the Indian government has now created a new protected area in 2003, which is known as the Tsangyang Gyatso Biosphere Reserve. [1]


Tsangyang Gyatso is a subject in the Chinese new age singer Dadawa's song "The Sixth Dalai Lama's Love Song".


External links

Buddhist titles
Preceded by
Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso
Dalai Lama
Recognized in 1688
Succeeded by
Kelzang Gyatso