The Treasury of Lives

The Nyingma (rnying ma) - literally the "ancient" - is considered the oldest tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, although when the disparate institutions and strands of transmission were first conceived as belonging to a singlular and coherent entity is not clear. According to legend, the Nyingma teachings were brought to Tibet in the eighth century by Padmasambhava, a tantric ritual specialist invited to Tibet to subjugate native deities that were obstructing the dissemination of Buddhism. Padmasambhava and other Indian masters such as Vimalamitra, and select Tibetan translators such as Vairocana, propagated the tradition's primary teaching, Dzogchen, a tantric system that has also been adopted to varying degree by other traditions. The Indic scriptures that were translated in the eighth and ninth centuries and the teachings by the masters of that era have come to be known as the "Kama," or spoken word tradition. Since at least the twelfth century Nyingma teachers known as terton, or "treasure revealers" have produced new scriptures said to have been concealed by Padmasambhava or others for the benefit of future eras. The Nyingma maintains both lay and monastic traditions, with six mother monasteries: Dorje Drak and Mindroling in central Tibet, and Katok, Pelyul, Dzogchen and Zhechen in Kham.

Incarnation Lines

Institutions

Images

Padmasambhava

The style of this painting is known as tshal thang, a red background with fine gold lines forming the shapes of the subject deities. Only the eyes are filled with white and black pigments.

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Padmasambhava

An early image of Padmasambhava with Nyangrel Nyima Ozer and masters of various traditions, including Padampa Sanggye.

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Padmasambhava

This eighteenth century painting features Padmasambhava surrounded by his consorts Yeshe Tsogyel and Mandarava. Below are Śāntarakṣita  and Trisong Detsen. 

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Khenpo Jigme Puntsok with Khandro Tāre Lama and Namtrul Jigme Puntsok

Prolific treasure revealers Namtrul Jigme Phuntsok and Khandro Tāre Lhamo are pictured beside Khenpo Jigme Puntsok, who gave them teachings and also authorized them as treasure revealers. 

The First Dorje Drak Rigdzin

A nineteenth century painting featuring the First Dorje Drak Rigdzin, Rigdzin Godemchen Ngodrub Gyeltsen, a Nyingma treasure revealer who discovered the Jangter, or Northern Treasures. 

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Third Karmapa and Lineage Masters

A unique image made with ink shows great Buddhist scholars from multiple traditions. The style is considered unusual and has been associated with the Tenth Karmapa.

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Padmasambhava in Wrathful Form

Nyingma painting of Padmasambhava and other masters. 

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Biographies

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