|Pema Wangchuk Gyalpo, the Eleventh Tai Situpa, on the occasion of his visit to the Kingdom of Bhutan at the invitation of His Majesty Jigmed Wangchuk, the King of Bhutan, in 1936.|
The lineage of the Tai Situpas is traced to one of the chief disciples of the Gotama Buddha, the Bodhisattva Maitreya. Since that time there have been numerous successive incarnations, first as Indian and later as Tibetan incarnations, whose achievements are recorded in Sanskrit, Chinese and Tibetan annals. An early and important incarnation in Tibet is that of Marpa Lotsawa (1020-1097), a great teacher who helped to revive Buddhism in Tibet, after its decline during the time of the Tibetan king, Long Tharma. Marpa visited India where he learned Sanskrit, received teachings and transmissions and obtained numerous Buddhist texts which he later translated into Tibetan. These teachings form the core instructions of the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism.
After several more incarnations, one of which was the Chinese Emperor, Tai Shen Chay. a person of great spiritual power, the Tibetan incarnation Chökyi Gyaltsen (1377-1448), became the first to bear the title Tai Situ. The title was given in China by the Ming Emperor, Yung LO, in 1407, and though the full title is lengthy it may be shortened to Kuang Ting Tai Situ which contains the essential meaning "far reaching, unshakeable, great master, holder of the command".
|In the early 17th century, the 9th Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje, a great master of the Kagyu School, acknowledged the spiritual mastery of the Tai Situpas when he bestowed the Red Vajra Crown upon the 5th Tai Situpa, Gelek Palzang (1586-1657). This crown may still be viewed when it is worn by the Tai Situpa during a ritual of his lineage, the Red Vajra Crown Ceremony.
The incarnation that is one of the most well known and which typifies the activity of the Tai Situpas, is the 8th Tai Situ, Chökyi Jungne (1700-1774), whose life was characterized by extraordinary accomplishment. He was a consummate scholar and author of many texts. His famous Tibetan Grammar is still the foremost advanced text in practical use today. He taught in Sanskrit, Nepali and Chinese. He was renowned for his spiritual ability in forecasting future events. He founded Palpung Monastery in the Kingdom of Derge, located in eastern Tibet, which became