The origin of Geluk Tradition
Buddha Shakyamuni prophesied that, “Manjushri would be born as a boy in Tibet, would found Gaden Monastery, and would present a crown to my statue.” Buddha gave the boy the future name Sumati-kirti (LozangDragpa,Blo-bzanggrags-pa). Guru Padmasambhava also prophesied that a monk named LozangDragpa would be born near China, would be regarded as an emanation of a great bodhisattva, and would transform the Holy statue of Buddha into a Sambhogakaya or Enjoyment Body.
Thus, the great master TsongKhapa was born in Tsongkha, in the northeasternAmdo region of Tibet, in 1357. He received a great many Dharma teachings and lineage blessings from masters of all Tibetan Buddhist traditions. He was deeply inspired by the life and teachings of the 10th century Indian master Atisha and his Kadampa followers, which led him to establish a system of study and practice based on Kadampa teachings.
By founding Gaden Monastery in 1409, TsongKhapa laid down the foundation for which the Geluk or Virtuous Tradition was named. Based on his teachings two unique characteristics of the Geluk tradition emerged: Sutra and Tantra were seen to be mutually supportive practices; and training in morality based on Vinaya and a graded path to enlightenment through the stages of wishing to attain liberation, generating bodhicitta and developing insight into emptiness was emphasized.
In his two main treatises: The Great Treatise on the Stages of Path to Enlightenment, LamrimChenmo and The Great Treatise on the Stages of Mantra,SngagsrimChenmo, Tsongkhapa meticulously sets forth a graduated path to the attainment of complete enlightenment along with the method by which a practitioner proceeds along the Paths of Perfections and Paths of Mantra.
The tradition of the Gaden Tripas (throne holder of the Geluk tradition) begins with Tsongkhapa. Before passing away he passed down the baton of leadership authority over the newly established Geluk tradition to Gyaltsab Je (1364-1432), who then passed it on to Khedrub Je (1385-1438). Since then the precious legacy established by Master TsongKhapa is alive up to today, in the form of the 102ndGaden Tripa, RizongSrastrulThubtenChokyiNyima.
Hierarchy in the Geluk Tradition
Gaden Tri Rinpocheis the Supreme Spiritual Head of the Geluk Tradition. Tri Rinpoche is the most senior of the ex-abbots of one of the two Tantric colleges of Gyuto and Guymed. Shartse Choeje Rinpoche and Jangtse Choeje Rinpoche, are the next most senior ex-abbots of each of the Tantric colleges, and will each, in turn, assume the Geluk leadership as Gaden Tripa.