Jamchen Chojey Sakya Yeshe: Founder of Sera Monastery and Legacy

Jamchen Chojey Sakya Yeshe (1352-1435), one who founded Sera Monastery, is from Zel Gungtang, Lhasa. Having dedicated his life to Buddhism since childhood, he possessed innate wisdom. Initially, he served as Master Tsongkhapa’s secretary and later became his disciple. Known for his eloquence, Tsongkhapa regarded him highly.

After the establishment of the Gelug Sect by Tsongkhapa, Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty sent envoys to Tibet in 1409 and 1414 to invite the master to Beijing for teachings. Due to his advanced age, his disciple Shakya Yeshi was sent as his representative. In April of the subsequent year, Emperor Chengzu of the Ming Dynasty granted him the title of “the Great National Teacher.” The emperor also bestowed upon him a seal and a gold-rimmed black monk’s hat.

Upon his return to Tibet in 1416, Emperor Chengzu gifted him with Buddha statues, Buddhist scriptures, arts, monks’ robes, silk, gold, silverware, and personally composed praises. Following his teacher’s instructions, he established Sera Monastery in 1419 and served as its first head. In 1434, he visited Beijing once again, and Emperor Xuanzong Zhu Zhanji (reigned from 1426 to 1435) granted him the title of “Great Compassionate Dharma King” in Tibet. On October 24 of the following year, Jamchen Chojey Sakya Yeshe passed away in Dolma Kaa(now in Qinghai Minhe Hui and Tu Autonomous County) while returning to Tibet.

 Jamchen Chojey Sakya Yeshe was also posthumously referred to as the Great Mercy Dharma King. Emperor Xuanzong of the Ming Dynasty rewarded him with a tapestry statue of the Great Mercy Dharma King. The figure measures 109 centimetres long and 64 centimetres wide, with a frame measuring 180 centimetres long and 90 centimetres wide. The Fawang wears a five-square Buddha hat, a cassock, and a canopy on his head, sitting upright on the Dharma bed. Despite the passage of more than 500 years, the statue retains its vibrant colours and holds significant value in craftsmanship.

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