7th Karmapa, Chödrak Gyatso


During the lifetime of the Seventh Karmapa, the Great Encampment of the Karmapas expanded greatly, earning him the epithet “Chödrak Gyatso of the Great Encampment.” Chödrak Gyatso created the practice of holding massive prayer festivals on the major Buddhist holidays, establishing the precedent for today’s Kagyu Monlam Chenno.

The widely learned Chödrak Gyatso introduced a formal study institute (shedra) into the Great Encampment itself, and similarly created a shedra at Tsurphu Monastery. An accomplished scholar, the Seventh Karmapa authored a number of influential commentaries on Indian philosophical treatises. His text on epistemology, the multi-volume Ocean of Reasoning, remains one of his most important works, alongside his commentary on the Abhisamayalaṅkāra, the Lamp of the Three Worlds.

While these formed his major deeds, Chödrak Gyatso’s varied activities to benefit beings also included bridge construction, the resolution of factional disputes and protection of animals. As had been the case in the Great Encampment since its inception, no meat whatsoever was consumed—or even allowed within the camp.