This series of blog posts are meant to be resources guides to complement the biographies of the great masters and scholars on the Treasury of Lives site.
Nyak Jñānakumara, also known as Yeshe Zhonnu was ordained by Santarakshita and was a student of Guru Rinpoche, Vairotsana, and Yudra Nyingpo but is better known for his Vajrakilaya practiced he received through Vimalamitra.
He worked alongside Vimalamitra translating the mahyoga and atiyoga tantras, including The Guhyagarbha Tantra, the root of the eighteen great tantras. As Jamgon Kongtrol relates in volume 2 of the Treasury of Knowledge, where Nyak Jnanakumara is brought up repeatedly,
Lalitavajra, Shri Singhaprabha, and Buddhaguyha explained this tantra
Vimalamitra, Ma RInchen Chok, and Nyak Jnana Kumara translated and taught it
Rongzom Chokki Zangpo, Longchenpa, Chomden Rikpe Raldri, and others spread it.
Zurpa’s especially exalted doctrinal tradition dwindled to become a slender hair
The brothers of Mindro Ling Monastery revived the doctrine’s dying embers
Jamgon Kongtrul continues a bit later:
“Moreover, as the saying relates, ‘The vajra way’s doctrine was first transmitted to Nyak, then to Nup, and finally to Zur.’ Four doctrinal transmissions’ streams from the great masters Padmasambhava, Vimalamitra, Bérotsana, and Yudra Nyingpo collected in Nyak Jnana Kumara.
[The four streams are] the stream of scriptures of explanatory texts, accompanied by major commentaries and [summaries of ] the main points; the stream of profound instructions for meditation from the oral lineage, accompanied by texts on crucial points of instruction and direct guidance; the stream of empowerments’ blessings, accompanied by techniques for their conferral and pointing out instructions; and the stream of the practical instructions for accomplishing activities, accompanied by [rituals for] the doctrine’s guardians and wrathful mantras. Nyak Jnana Kumara’s principal disciples were eight whose name included Pal, among whom Sokpo Palgyi Yeshé imparted every profound instruction to Nupchen Sangyé Yeshé.”
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche had a strong association with Nyak Jñānakumara. In Brilliant Moon, the Autobiography of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Nyak’s his cycle and teachings are brought up repeatedly, including how when Khyentse Rinpoche was at Karma Monastery “there was a statue of the four-armed protector Mahakala, which was the practice support of the Seventh Karmapa. It was kept in a sandalwood box and only shown to special people. I asked to see it and discovered a yellow scroll with dakini script in its arms, which I took and gave to Khyentse Chökyi Lodro. From this scroll I wrote down the Nyak Kilaya.
In Sacred Ground, Jamgon Kongtrul identifies Chogyur Lingpa as a manifestation of Yeshe Zhonnu.
TBRC Reference: http://tbrc.org/#!rid=P6525
Treasury of Lives Site: http://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Nyak-Jnyanakumara/9121