: rang 'byung rdo rje
) (b. 1284 - d. 1339) was the third Karmapa
, an important figure in the history of Tibetan Buddhism
. He reportedly produced a spontaneous black crown
(which would later be a symbol of the line) at the age of three and declared himself to be the mindstream
reimbodiment of Karma Pakshi
. Born to a Nyingma
family, he received the full transmission of the Nyingma
tradition in addition to the Karma Kagyu
Suchan (1998: unpaginated) links Rangjung Dorje to Rigdzin Kumaradza
The third Karmapa Lama, Rangjung Dorje, was a disciple of Nyingma Kumaradza. The latter taught Rangjung Dorje the nying-thig, "heart-essence," teachings transmitted by Padmasambhava and Vimalamitra. Therefore, Rangjung Dorje belongs to the nying-thig lineage of the Nyingma school. As a group, the Karmapa Lamas were among the earliest recognized Tulku, or lamas reincarnated as deities or lineage of deceased teachers. They were particularly influential at the Yuan and Ming courts of China.
Suchan (1998) traces the influence of the first several Karmapas upon the Yuan and Ming courts as well as the Tangut Western Xia Kingdom, and mentions Desum Khyenpa:
The first several Karmapas are distinguished by their important status at the Yuan and Ming courts of China where they served as the spiritual guides to princes and emperors. Their influence also extended to the court of the Tangut Xia Kingdom where a disciple of Dusum Khyenpa was given the title "Supreme Teacher" by a Tangut Xixia King...
Writings and doctrinal development
Rangjung Dorje was a noted scholar who composed many significant texts, the most famous of which is the Profound Inner Meaning
(Tibetan: zab mo nang don
), which concern the Vajrayana
inner yoga practices. Other important texts of his include the Aspiration Prayer of Mahamudra
, Distinguishing Consciousness from Wisdom
, Instructions on Sahajayoga Mahamudra
, and A Treatise on Buddha Nature
. His mastery of both the Kagyu Mahamudra
and Nyingma Dzogchen
was widely renowned, and he was a Kalachakra
master as well.
In 1321 the famous scholar Dolpopa (1292-1361) visited Tsurphu Monastery for the first time and had extensive discussions with Rangjung Dorje about doctrinal issues. It appears that Rangjung Dorje almost certainly influenced the development of some of Dolpopa's theories, possibly including his Zhentong (gzhan stong) method.
According to Karma phrin las, Dri lan yid, 91-92, his teacher, Chödrak Gyatso, the Seventh Karmapa, interpreted the nature of Zhentong (gzhan stong) accepted by Rangjung Dorje.
Yungtön Dorjepel (1284-1365), (the previous incarnation of the First Panchen Lama, Khedrup Je), studied the 'Great Perfection' due to the great inspiration of Rangjung Dorje.
He visited China, where the emperor Toghon Temur became his disciple. Upon his death, Rangjung Dorje's face is said to have appeared in the moon there.