Brief History of The
Tsur System

of calendrical calculation

Having the realized the ultimate meaning of the tantra of the Adibuddha and specifically of the Kalachakra, the excellent Jinendra His Holiness the 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Dorje (1284-1339) composed the treatise on calculations called Tsikun Dupa (The Calculation of Life that Includes All). Later on, the 2nd Pawo Rinpoche Tsuglag Trengwa (1504-1566) authored a commentary to this work.

H.H. the 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Dorje

H.H. the 7th Karmapa Tchödrak Gyamtso

8th Tai Situ Chökyi Jungne

At the same time of His Holiness the 7th Karmapa Tchödrak Gyamtso (1454-1506), the famed Tsurphu scholar, Jamyang Tchenmo Döndrup Öser composed numerous deep instructions on the 3rd Karmapa's treatise and worked out the fundamental charts needed for the annual calendrical calculations. From then on the Tsur system spread far and wide.

Later, the chief disciple of the 8th Tai Situ Chökyi Jungne (1700-1774), Karma Ngeleg Tendzin wrote a large number of treaties on various system of calculations, the calculation of the calendar, horary astrology and other methods of prognostication. Chief among these treatises is the great Tsishung Nyerkho Bumsang.

1st Jamgön Kongtrul Yönten Gyamtso

H.H. 15th Karmapa Kakyab Dorje

H.H. the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje

The 1st Jamgön Kongtrul Yönten Gyamtso (1813-1899) completed the compilation of the unfinished manual Tsishung Legshey Kuntu and numerous scholars were thus able to employ this astrological system. During the time of His Holiness 15th Karmapa Kakyab Dorje (1871-1922) and of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje (1924-1981), the most learned court master of calculations Ketcho Öser Rabten initiated a new approach to the Tsur system and compiles the data necessary for the yearly astrological almanachs. This method has been used in an unbroken annual tradition of calculation of the calendar ar Rumtek Shedrup Chokhorling, the seat of His Holiness the Karmapa.

Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim, India

Photo/Vikramjit Kakati

According to the instructions of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje, the Karma Kagyu Calendar is calculated according to the Tsur system (since 2146 Losar, which in the Western calendar is February 5, 2019). More details on this can be found here.

This text based on Tsurphu Tradition / Shenpen Tibetan Calendar