Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Teacher (Lama)

བླ་མ། 喇嘛
(item no. 60613)
Origin Location Bhutan
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Drukpa (Kagyu, Bhutan) and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Interpretation / Description

Yontan Taye, the 13th Je Khenpo (1724-1784).

Ariana Maki 3-2012

The Thirteenth Je Khenpo, Yonten Taye

Yonten Taye (yon tan mtha' yas), 1724-1784, was born to Tsamdrag Choje Ngagwang Drugpa (mtshams brag chos rje ngag dbang 'brug pa) in the family lineage of Churu (cu ru) in 1724, the wood-dragon year.

At the age of eight, in 1731, he was enrolled as monk in the presence of the First Tritrul, Mipam Wangpo (khri sprul 01 mi pham dbang po, d.u.) and received his novice monastic vows from the Eleventh Je Khenpo Ngagwang Trinle (rje mkhan po 11 ngag dbang 'phrin las, 1712-1770). As per his father's wishes, Yonten Taye studied Tibetan poetry, grammar and Sanskrit grammar in Tibet, with from Drug Lotsawa Ngagwang Palzang ('brug pa lo tsA ba ngag dbang dpal bzang, d.u.), and Drepung Losel Ling Khenpo Jamyang Puntsog ('bras spungs blo gsal gling mkhan po 'jam dbyangs phun tshogs), after which he returned to Bhutan where he become the resident lama at Paro Lateng Monastery (spa gro la steng). He was later entrusted as Tsennyi Lobpon (mtshan nyid slob dpon), in charge of the monastic colleges (bshad gra), and after several years returned to his own Tsamdrag Monastery to preside over its religious affairs.

When Yonten Taye was forty-eight years old, in 1771, he was enthroned as the Thirteenth Je Khenpo of Bhutan, taking the responsibility as head of the religious affairs. Soon after, the Thimphu Dzong (thim phu rdzong) was destroyed by fire, and he supervised the rebuilding.

In the wood sheep year at the age of fifty-two, Yonten Taye descended from the throne in order to spend the rest of his life in the hermitage. In 1779, at the age of fifty-six, while giving final teachings to the fortunate disciples, he established the Dodedrag Monastery (mdo sde brag).

Punakha Dzong was destroyed by fire when Yonten Taye was fifty-seven, and yet again he had to take leading role, skillfully completing the reconstruction, which resulted in a monument bestowed with even greater shrine objects than before.

He went on a pilgrimage to Tsari (tsa ri) in Tibet at the age of fifty-eight to continue his mission of safe guarding and propagating the Drugpa Kagyu tradition. After his return, Yonten Taye passed away at the age of sixty-one, in 1784, in the wood-dragon year.


Dge 'dun rin chen. 1976. Lho 'brug chos 'byung. Thimphu: Gges don zung 'jug grub pa'i dga' tshal, pp. 149 ff.

Acharya Karma Rigdzin, April 2011

[Extracted from the Treasury of Lives, Tibetan lineages website. Edited and formatted for inclusion on the Himalayan Art Resources website. March 2012].

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