Zaya Pandita

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Zaya Pandita


(real name, Namhayjamtso). Born in 1599 in Western Mongolia; died September 1662. Political and religious figure in Dzungaria and Eastern Mongolia.

At the age of 17, Zaya Pandita gave up his rank in the Khoshot nobility and was ordained a lama and sent to Tibet, where he studied Buddhist dogma. In 1639 he returned to the Oirots and the Eastern Mongols to preach Buddhism. Zaya Pandita translated approximately 200 works into Mongolian. In 1648 he reformed the Old Mongolian writing system, creating the Oirot writing system known as todo bicig (“clear writing”) and bringing it closer to the spoken language. In 1640 he was a member of the congress of princes, at which the Mongolian-Oirot Code of Laws (Tsaajiyn-bicig) was ap-proved. He died of paralysis on the way to Tibet. Zaya Pandita’s biography was written by his pupil Radnabatoroy (1690).


Golstunskii, K. F. Mongolo-oiratskie zakony 1640 g. St. Petersburg, 1880. Footnotes, pp. 121-30 (biographical account).
Badmaev, A. V. Zaia-Pandita. Elista, 1968.
Rinchen. “Oiratskie perevody s Vi\\.” Rocznik orientalistyczny. Warsaw, 1966, vol. 30, fasc. 1, pp. 59-73.
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The biography completed by 1702 by Zanabazar's disciple Zaya Pandita Lobsang Phrinlei (Blo bzang 'phrin las, in Modern Mongolian Luvsanprinlei, 1642-1715) entitled: Blo bzang bstan pa'i rgyal mtshan dpal bzangpo'i khrungs rabs bco lnga'i rnam thar seems to be the most reliable source, not only on Zanabazar, but on the whole situation of Tibeto-Mongolian relations of that time.
It is well understandable that Zaya Pandita who was educated in Tibet in the Gelugpa order could omit those facts in the biography of his teacher which were not convenient for the Gelugpa tradition.
24) However, there is no such statement in the biography of Zanabazar written by Zaya Pandita, contemporary to the events described and hence more reliable.
72) in which he mentions his dream that he be wearing a yellow hat, and which actually refers to Budon (bu ston, 1290-1364) rather than to Gelugpa, is not included in the biography of Zanabazar written by Zaya Pandita.
She translated the expression rgyal ba yab sras--'Victorious Father and Son' used in his biography of Zanabazar by Zaya Pandita (p.
The name Jampa Lingpa is mentioned again in the biography of Zanabazar composed by Zaya Pandita when he describes the return of the first Jetsundampa from Tibet accompanied by 50 monastic specialists sent by the fifth Dalai Lama in order to help him to establish properly the monastery in Khalkha.
He was a teacher both of Zanabazar and of his biographer, Zaya Pandita Lobsang Phrinlei.
In the biography of Zanabazar by Zaya Pandita it was mentioned that Namkha Sonam Drakpa was the one famed for making prophecies from the Bka' gdams glegs bam.
The very person of Bensa Tulku, who probably was the mastermind of the recognition of Zanabazar, is mentioned both in the biography written by Zaya Pandita and in the biography written in 1839 as the incarnation of Khedub Sangye Yeshe, as well as by his name Lobsang Tenzin Gyatso (52) and the title of Bensa Tulku.
Bensa Tulku bestowed in 1639 also the title of rab 'byam pa Qutugtu on an important Buddhist scholar and missionary from the Western Mongolian tribes (otherwise known as Jungars), famed as the Oirat Zaya Pandita Namkhai Gyatso (nam mkha'i rgya mtsho, 1599-1662).
Through careful reading of the biographies written in Tibetan by Zaya Pandita (1702), Ngaggi Wangpo (1839) and Ngawang Lobsang Dondub (1847) it becomes clear, however, that Zanabazar was surrounded from his early childhood by masters connected with the Gelugpa tradition, such as Bensa Tulku Lobsang Tenzin Gyatso and educated by Namkha Sonam Drakpa, until he went to Tibet.