The current nyingma or nyingmapa (tib. rNying-my-Pa) is oldest of the traditions of the Bouddhisme Tibetan, as its name ( nyingma indicates it: old; Pa : running). Its various lines go back to Padmasambhava which brought Buddhism to the Tibet, the “Country of snows”, and are based on the first wave of translations in Tibetan of the Tantra S and of the Soutra S. the other currents (mainly Kagyupa, Sakyapa and Gelugpa), based on later translations, are sometimes gathered under the term sarmapa (new tradition). The monks nyingmapa are sometimes called red Bonnets , term which can also apply to the sakya and the kagyu, the gelug being the only ones to wear yellow bonnets.

The school nyingma is the branch most directed towards the tantrism with practices sometimes inspired of the shamanism and a direction of the marked secrecy. Following the example Bön which approaches some, it includes/understands many married laic Masters. These characteristics, and the absence of political power rising from the “weakness” of its monastic and institutional tradition, sometimes handicapped it and makes consider with a bit of suspicion by the other currents. It does not make to less part of the five religious traditions Tibetans officially recognized by the Dalaï Lama, and has of them as a such official representative within the government Tibetan in exile. The current holder of the load (since 2003) is Mindroling Trichen Rinpoché. He succeeds Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoché (of the Sixties with 1987), Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoché (1987 - 1991) and Penor Rinpoché (Pema Norbu) of (1991 - 2003).

Two characteristics of teaching nyingma, that the current divides with the bön, are the existence of a direct transmission jumping the generations and the Dzogchen. The direct transmission is done via the termas , texts dissimulated by former Masters, in general Padmasambhava, discovered by the Tertön S (discoverers of treasures) as material objects or visions.

Present first of all in the areas of the central Tibet, the school then developed in the Eastern areas, particularly with the Kham (Eastern Tibet) where the majority of its practitioners are currently. The nyingmapas are also influential with the Bhutan, the Sikkim and in certain areas of the Nepal. Like all the traditions Tibetans, the current essaimé in Occident after the invasion of Tibet.


Until the 11th century, where with the development of new currents it receives its name of “old”, the history of the tradition nyigma merges with that of the whole of the Bouddhisme Tibetan.

The tradition reports that around 433, whereas king Lhatho-Thori-Nyentsen was 60 years old, a Buddhist text (Pang Kong Chag Gya Pa) and crowned objects churent on the roof of its palate. At the 7th century, the king Songsten Gampo (617 - 698) had 2 Buddhist wives, the princess Bhrikuti, girl of the king of the Nepal Amshuvarman, and the princess Wencheng Kongjo, girl of the emperor of China Taizong. He made build many temples, of which the Monastère of Jokhang (Rasa Thrulnang) and the Monastery of Ramoché. Songtsen Gampo sent in India its minister Thonmi Sambhota to study the Sanskrit there. It created the writing Tibetan starting from the Indian alphabet Devanâgarî.

To the 8th century, the king Trisong Detsen (742 - 797) invited Shantarakshita (D. 802), abbot of Nalanda (arrived before 767), to propagate Buddhism, then Padmasambhava (arrived towards 817). The monastery of Samye was founded by Padmasambhava and became the center of diffusion of Buddhism to the Tibet. The king Trisong Detsen ordered the translation in Tibetan of all the Indian Buddhist texts. Padmasambhava supervised the translation of will tantras, Shantarakshita that of will sutras. They were helped by 108 translators and the 25 principal disciples of Padmasambhava. The king Trisong Detsen organized a philosophical debate between the Indian and Chinese monks (chan) who clashed. In 792, at the conclusion of the debate reported by Paul Pelliot under the name of council of Lhassa, Indian Buddhism carried it, and Trisong Detsen declared Buddhism religion of state to the Tibet.

Frictions with holding of the tradition chamane Bön occurred, in particular under the reign of the king Langdharma (836 - 842). During the reign of Sorting Relpachen (866 - 901), the translations were republished and one started to distinguish a sangha (Buddhist community) white layman and a monastic red sangha, named according to the color of their dresses. It is in 978, the great last political disturbances, that Buddhism took again an official existence as a distinct school.

The Masters founders of the tradition nyingma are, in addition to Padmasambhava and Shantarakshita, the 25 disciples of the first of which Yéshé Tsogyal, Vimalamitra and Vairotsana. Buddhaguhya, Shantipa and the Master tantric Dharmakirti, credits at the same period, has also to play a big role in the propagation of Buddhism and the tantrism.

In 1159, Kadampa Déshek (1122 - 1192) founds the monastery of Kathok, second important institution after that of Samye.

12th century at our days

Community of Nyingmapa implied forever in the political power with the Tibet. Nyingmapa produced many texts and works of which most important exerted an influence on the other schools of the Bouddhisme Tibetan. The majority of the great authors are Tertön S. Three Masters contributed significantly to the syncretic movement (not-sectarian) Rimé.
  • Longchenpa (1308 - 1364), prolific author, clarified teaching by writing many works, in particular the Dzôdün (seven treasures) and the Nyingtbik Ubsbi .
  • Urgyen Terdak Lingpa (1646 - 1714), (Tertön), founder of the monastery of Mindroling, was the Master of the 5th dalaï LAMA Lobsang Gyatso. He gathered the oral transmission of the nyingmapa.
  • Jigme Lingpa (1730 - 1798), (Tertön), the teaching of Longchenpa in a cycle of termas called condensed Longchen Nyingthig , which constitutes the principal base of the contemporary Dzogchen.
  • Mipham Jamyang Gyatso (1846 - 1912) “untameable ocean”, was recognized like an emanation of Manjushri, Bodhisattva of wisdom. It structured the philosophy of the school to bring it to the level of the great centers of monastic studies of the time. The school Kagyupa adopted some of its writings.
  • C Khyentse (1800 - 1866), Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, (1820 - 1892) and Patrul Rinpoché (1808 - 1887) contributed in an important way to the movement Rimé.
  • Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok (1933 - 2004), large Tertön deceased with the Tibet in turbid circumstances.
  • Main contemporaries: Thinley Norbu Rinpoché, Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoché (~ 1904 - 1987), Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoché (~ 1910 - 1991), Tulku Urgyen Rinpoché, Penor Rinpoché (Pema Norbu), Khenpo Choga Rinpoché, Khyentse Norbu (wire of Thinley Norbu Rinpoché and scenario writer, also known like Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoché), Chagdud Tulku Rinpoché, Tarthang Tulku, Sogyal Rinpoché.

The school nyingma was established in France in 1977 with the foundation by Düdjom Rinpoché of the center Urgyen Samyé Chöling in the Dordogne, area where the day in 1980 saw the Center of studies of Chanteloube. In 1981, Sogyal Rinpoché founded in Paris the Rigpa center, followed in 1991 of the European center of retirements Lérab Ling in the Cevennes.


The school nyingmapa has a devotion particular for Padmasambhava, considered as a Bouddha with whole share. It is likely to appear under eight different aspects. The 10 and 25 of each lunar month are devoted to him. Its twenty-five disciples are regarded as beings with the extraordinary capacities. Thus Namkhe Nyingpo travels with the light, Khandro Yeshe Tsogyal ressucite deaths, Vairotsana is endowed with an intuition out of the commun run, Nanam Yeshe can fly, Kawa Peltseg reads in the thoughts and Jnana Kumara achieves miracles.

List of the twenty-five disciples: the king Trisong Detsen, Namkhai Nyingpo, Nub Chen Sangye Yeshe, Gyalwa Choyang, the princess of Karchen Khandro Yeshe Tsogyal, Palgyi Yeshe, Palgyi Senge, the translator Vairotsana, Nyak Jnanakumara, Gyalmo Yudra Nyingpo, Nanam Dorje Dudjom, Yeshe Yang, Sokpo Lhapal, Nanam Zhang Yeshe Of, Palgyi Wangchuk, Denma Tsémang, Paltsek Coffee, Shupu Palgyi Senge, DRE Gyalwe Lodro, Drokben Khyenchung Lotsawa, Otren Palgyi Wangchuk, My Rinchen Chok, Lhalung Palgyi Dorje, Langdro Konchog Jungné and Lasum Gyalwa Changchup.


Oldest is the monastery of Samye completed towards 810. The monastic tradition was not as important in the first times of the Bouddhisme Tibetan as today, and it is at the 12th century only that other important monasteries appeared, Kathok in the Kham, founded by Ka Dampa Desheg (1112 - 1192) in 1159 and Nechung with the central Tibet founded by Chokpa Jangchub Palden. From the 15th century, according to the development of the monachism, of great training centres appeared, in majority with the Kham: Mindroling, founded in 1676 by Rigzin Terdak Lingpa - Minling Terchen Gyurmed Dorje- (1646 - 1714), Dorje Drak founded in 1632 by Rigzin Ngagi Wangpo, Palyul established by Rigzin Kunsang Sherab in 1665, Dzogchen established by Dzogchen Pema Rigzin in 1685 and Shéchèn founded by Shechen Rabjampa in 1735. In the province of the Amdo were founded Dodrupchen and Darthang.

One distinguishes 6 monasteries “mothers” (magon) who were first of all Dorje Drak, Mindroling, Palri, Kathok, Palyul and Dzogchen. Later on, Palri was replaced by Shéchèn, and Dodrubchen replaces sometimes Kathok. Monasteries mothers depend on the monasteries “wire” (bugon); from those essaimé “additional” monasteries (yanggon).

The principal founded institutions nyingmapa in India after the Chinese invasion of the Tibet in 1959 are Thekchok Namdrol Shedrub Dargye Ling with Bylakuppe, in the State of the Karnataka); Ngedon Gatsal Ling with Dehradun; Palyul Chokhor Ling and E-Vam Gyurmed Ling with Bir, Nechung Drayang Ling with Dharamsala, and Thubten E-vam Dorjey Drag with Shimla, in the Himachal Pradesh.

Teaching and practices

The school nyingmapa is the branch of Buddhism Tibetan most directed towards the tantric practice . Directly resulting from first Buddhism which developed on the ground of the shamanism bön, its first representatives were often wandering yogis, of the magicians or the exorcists. This tradition, which incarnates in the laic Masters ngkapas , constitutes the sangha (clergy) white (according to the color of the dress), in opposition to the monastic red sangha become more important at the 14th century with the need for laying out, like the other currents, of a clergy formed in the centers of Buddhist philosophy. The taste of the esotericism of the tradition nyingmapa and its practices of “magic” aspect sometimes made it consider with a certain suspicion by the three other universities of Buddhism Tibetan. Even the translations of texts such as those of the cycle of the Mahayana were done in the greatest secrecy.

In addition, the direct transmission of the teaching of Padmasambhava or another Master of passed via the Terma S, texts redécouverts materially or by a revelation, is with the Dzogchen one of the characteristics of the current nyingmapa. The discoverers of treasures or Tertön S are very numerous. The first was Sangye LAMA (1000 - 1080). Most famous are the “five kings tertöns” Nyangral Nyima Özer (1124 - 1192), Guru Chowang (1212 - 1270), Dorje Lingpa (1346 - 1405), Padma Lingpa (1405 - 1521), Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820 - 1892) and the “eight lingpas” (Sangye, Dorje, Rinchen, Padma, Ratna, Kunkyong, C-ngag and Tennyi Lingpa). Still let us quote Rigdzin Godem (1307 - 1408) and, with the 19th century, Jamyang Khyentse, Jamgon Kongtrul Lodrö Taye and Chogyur Lingpa. The majority are regarded as reincarnations of the one of the twenty-five disciples of Padmasambhava. The ordinary mode of transmission directly of Master with disciple names kama .

The large Masters of the Dzogchen are Prahevadjra (Garab Dordje), Shri Simha, Padmasambhava, Jnana Sutra and Vimalamitra.

Nine ways

The tradition nyingma distinguishes nine ways from practice:
  • Three common ways based on the Sutra S: that of the simple listener, that of the solitary practitioner and that of the Bodhisattva;
  • Three external tantric ways: Kriya Tantra makes it possible to purify its behavior and its language, and teaches simple practices of visualization; Upa Tantra develops internal faculties increasing affinity with the divinity Yidam; Tantra Yoga develops in oneself psychic vitality and the force of Vajrasattva.
  • Three internal tantric ways: Mahayoga aims at the elimination of perception and the attachment by visualization and the identification to the deity (phase of generation); Annuyoga, allows the body Vajra to be used for fundamental perception (phase of completion); Atiyoga makes it possible to transcend time, the experiment and the activity and to receive the teaching of Samantabhadra.
The first six ways are common to several schools, but will tantras them internal nyingmapa are specific for him.

Three transmissions

One can distinguish three levels in teaching, according to the origin of the transmission:
  • Teaching coming directly from the paramount Buddha (Dharmakaya) Samantabhadra, regarded as inaccessible to human ordinary;
  • Teaching of the Sambhogakaya Vajrasattva or Vajrapani, accessible to the “holders from knowledge”, level which the monks after many years of study and practice can acquire. It was initially transmitted to Garab Dorje of the ground of Dakini S Ögyan, then with Manjushrimitra, Shrisimha, Padmasambhava, Jnanasutra, Vimalamitra and Vairotsana.
  • Teaching of the “human whisper” coming from the five Buddhas and transmitted to Shrisimha and Vimalamitra, accessible to all;

Three traditions of the Dzogchen

There exist three schools of Dzogchen: the school of the spirit (Sems-sde) allotted to Shrisimha and Vairotsana; the school of the medium (kLong-sde) which is claimed of Longde Dorje Zampa, of Shrisimha and Vairotsana; the school of the essential instruction (Man-ngag-sde) which is based on Essence of the heart (sNying-thig) allotted to Padmasambhava and Vimalamitra.


The texts on which the nyingmapa is based are numerous. Beside the gun of the Buddhism Tibetan Kangyour - Tengyour one can quote the writings of Longchenpa (1308-1363):
Dzö dün , Ngalso Korsum , Rangdröl Korsum , Yangtig Namsum .
the Nyingthig Yazhi or four branches of the gasoline of the heart made up on the basis of the Khandro Nyingtig allotted to Padmasambhava and of the Vima Nyingtig allotted to Vimalamitra.
the Gyud Bum or Collection of the cent-mille will tantras ''.
Jigme Lingpa (1730 - 1798) condensed the Nyingthig Yazhi in a cycle of termas called Longchen Nyingthig , which constitutes the essential base of the dzogchen Rimé and the contemporary dzogchen.

Another important collection is the Rinchen Terdzod in sixty two volumes, compiled by Kongtrul Yonten Gyatso (1813 - 1899), contains hundreds of termas.

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