Jampa Puntsok (byams pa phun tshogs) was the born in the late sixteenth century, in Dege (sde dge), Kham (khams). His father was Ponchen Lhuntub(dpon chen lhun thub), the sixth king of Dege kingdom, and the head of the royal family in its thirty-sixth generation. Of his five brothers two others were monks: Kunga Gyatso (kun dga’ rgya mtsho) and Lama Lasung (bla ma lha srung). His brothers Lupel (klu ‘phel), Ponchen Karma (dpon chen karma), and Karma Samdrub (karma bsam grub) married and continued the family line; Lupel was the nominal secular leader of the family for the thirty-seventh generation.
As a youth, Jampa Puntsok became a monk and trained at Ngor Ewaṃ Choden(ngor e waM chos ldan) in central Tibet under guidance of numerous masters, including Sharchen Sherab Jungne (shar chen shes rab ‘byung gnas, 1596-1653), the eighteenth abbot of Ngor.
During his time, Khams was comprised of independent local tribes fighting each other for territory. In his well-known history of the kingdom, the nineteenth century Dege king, Tsewang Rigdzin Dorje (tshe dbang rig ‘dzin rdo rje, b.1786) described the political landscape as follows:
Each tribe was controlled by an independent leader, each valley was possessed by a wild tribe, a castle was built on every hills, the leaders were without laws, people needed to be armed all the time, even to fetch water.
In the early seventeenth century, when the kingdom of Ling (gling), near Dege, was about to collapse due to tribal uprisings, Jampa Puntsok took advantage of the situation and invaded the territory. He succeeded in taking control of Pelyul (dpal yul), Denkok (‘dan khog), and Terlung (gter lung), substantially increasing Dege’s territory.
In 1639, as Gushri Khan (1582-1654), the ruler of the Khoshut Mongol, attacked the Bon King of Beri, Donyo Dorje (be ri rgyal po don yod rdo rje, d.1640) on his way to destroy the King of Tsang, Karma Tenkyong Wangpo (karma bstan skyong dbang po, 1606-1642), and conquer central Tibet. Jampa Puntsok offered military assistance for the campaign against Beri, a small kingdom near Kandze (dkar mdzes), and took advantage of the campaign to add to Dege’s territory.
Tsewang Rigdzin Dorje lists the territories Jampa Puntsok annexed: Mesho (rme shod), Bewar (sbe war), Beri, Khardo Tsuri (mkhar mdo tshu ri), Khardo Pari (mkhar mdo pha ri), Kuse Dening (ku se sde rnying), Kuse Desar (ku se sde gsar), Nyakshi (nyag gshis), Bolu (sbo lu), Gaje (sga rje), Pelbar (dpal bar), Pelyul, Tsamdo (tsam mdo), Wonto Pari (dbon stod pha ri), Yena (ye na), Khrolodo (‘khor lo mdo), Rakchab (rag chab), Dzomtok (‘dzom thog), Chakra (lcags ra), Rabten (rab brtan), Yilhung (yid lhung), Lharupon (lha ru dpon), and Horpo (hor po).
In the middle of the seventeenth century Jampa Puntsok invited Pelchok Gyeltsen(dpal mchog rgyal mtshan, b.1599), who would later serve as the twenty-second abbot of Ngor, and sponsored the construction of Samdrub Tongdrol Chenmo Temple (bsam ‘grub mthong grol chen mo gtsug lag khang) at Lhundrubteng (lhun grub steng), the royal monastery. Although the monastery had been established in the fifteenth century by his ancestor, Botar Lodro Tobden (bo thar blo gros stobs ldan) and Tangtong Gyelpo (thang stong rgyal po, c.1361-1485), it was Jampa Puntsok’s expansions that created the monastery in its current form.
Jampa Puntsok built a residence for Pelchok Gyeltsen that was named Tartse Drubkhang (thar rtse sgrub khang), which served as the residence for subsequent chaplains from Ngor during their time at Dege. The two men established further Sakya institutions in the Dege kingdom, and they established the tradition that monks from the majority of Sakya monasteries under the domain of Dege travelled to Ngor for their studies. Despite his role in constructing Lhundrubteng, he is not numbered as the first abbot; the honor instead goes to his nephew Kunga Phuntsok, who became the head of the monastery after his uncle’s death.
Source: The Treasury of lives