Ye Shes Rin Chen/ Yi Lin Zhen (1248-1294)

The fourth Imperial Preceptor Ye shes rin chen was born in 1248 to the east of Sa skya Monastery in Central Tibet. He was a child prodigy and mastered his seminary studies at a young age. His specialty was the Kālacakra-tantra. In fact, in Tibetan historiography he is remembered more for his contribution to the Kālacakra lineage than his role as Imperial Preceptor. For instance, in a recently published who's who of Tibetan historical figures his primary title is that of Kālacakra master (dus 'khor ba), not Imperial Preceptor.

Ye shes rin chen was a close associate of 'Phags pa. The latter lived in and around Sa skya from 1264-1269, while Ye shes rin chen would have been a monk at that great center of learning. Recognizing his scholarship and proficiency in ritual arts, 'Phags pa invited him to Lintao in 1272. Ye shes rin chen accompanied 'Phags pa to the Yuan court in 1275. There he met Kublai Khan and gained his favor. 'Phags pa then returned to Tibet, while Ye shes rin chen remained behind in Dadu to serve as a chaplain at the court.

The office of Imperial Preceptor was created for 'Phags pa in 1270. The ritual traditions 'Phags pa was famous for were considered his family's unique heritage, and the succeeding two Imperial Preceptors were members of his family. Most of the subsequent Imperial Preceptors were also relatives of 'Phags pa. Nevertheless, Ye shes rin chen proved to be an outstanding diplomat and ritual specialist, and in 1268 this monk born outside of the Sa skya family was made Imperial Preceptor. His tenure lasted from 1268-1294. The fourth Imperial Preceptor – and Kālacakra master – Ye shes rin chen died at Wutai Shan in the last year of his reign, 1294.

  • Luciano Petech. 1983. Tibetan Relations with Sung China and the Mongols. In China among equals: the Middle Kingdom and its neighbors, 10th-14th centuries. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 173-204
  • Rinchen trashi. “Tibetan Buddhism and the Yuan Royal Court.” Tibet Studies. pp. 1-26; Ming mdzod. 1992. Dus 'khor ba Ye shes rin chen entry. p. 824.

Entry by Jann Ronis, 2/13/07