Biography of Mipham Rinpoché
In his early career, Mipam studied the Bodhicaryāvatāra with Dza Patrul Orgyen Jigme Chokyi Wangpo (1808-1887). The teaching only took five days, but apparently this was enough for Mipam to fully comprehend the words and meaning of this classic. He later composed an important commentary on the ninth chapter—the Wisdom Chapter—of this Indian classic. Patrul was later asked, “Who is more learned, you or Mipam?” To which he replied that they were about even in sutra, but that Mipam was much better in tantra.
Throughout his life, Mipam is said to have read the entire collection of the translated words of the Buddha, in one hundred and eight volumes, seven times. Mipam’s knowledge did not always come without effort. He is reported to have struggled with the Vinaya Sutra, a central text outlining the essentials of Buddhist ethics. Only after he read the entire thirteen volumes of the Vinaya section of the Buddhist canon did he express satisfaction with his understanding.
Mipam studied the wide range of Buddhist scriptures with a number of prominent teachers of his day, such as Dzogchen Khenpo Pema Vajra (1807-1884). He considered the Sakya master Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820-1892), to be his main teacher. He received instructions on the fundamentals of the Buddhist path, and what are known as the common arts such as grammar, from the famous scholar-practitioner, Jamgon Kongtrul Yonten Gyatso (1813-1899). Mipam, along with Kongtrul and Jamyang Khyentse, came to be known as “the three Jamgon of Kham”—jamgon being an epithet for a consummate scholar who embodies wisdom.
Excerpt from the biography written by Douglas Duckworth for The Treasury of Lives