Nyingma sect is Tradition based on old transmission of Buddhism, which mainly based on Berozana’s translation of Indian buddhist text. As system of Esoteric Sect, it is known as Sang Nga Nyingma. Its doctrine was passed down from the 8th century, incorporate local religious practices and local deities and elements of shamanism, which is shared with Bon. This tradition actually comprises several distinct lineages that all trace their origins to the Indian master Padmasambhava, who is lauded in the popular canon as the founder of Tibetan Buddhism in the eighth century, and is still propitiated in the discipline of reciprocity that is guru yoga sādhanā, the staple of the traditions. Initially, the study of logic and philosophy was limited, but much emphasis was put on tantric practice. It must be noted however, that also within the Nyingma school considerable reformation has taken place over the ages.
Nyingma lineage is said to have “six mother monasteries” each of which has numerous associated branch monasteries:
- Mindrolling Monastery
- Katok Monastery
- Dorje Drak
- Dzogchen Monastery
- Shechen Monastery
- Samye the first monastery in Tibet, established by Padmasambhāva and Śāntarakṣita was later taken over by the Sakya tradition.
Nyingma tradition classifies its teachings into Nine Yānas, among the highest of which is Dzogchen. Terma “treasures” (revealed texts) are of particular significance to the Nyingma school. It is held that past masters, principally Padmasambhava, secreted objects and hid teachings for discovery by later tertons at appropriate and auspicious times such that the teaching would be beneficial. These teachings may be physically discovered, often in rocks and caves, or they may be “mind terma,” appearing directly within the mind stream of the terton. Padmasambhava and his main disciples hid hundreds of scriptures, ritual objects and relics in secret places to protect Buddhism during the time of decline under King Lang darma. These termas were later rediscovered and special terma lineages were established throughout Tibet. Out of this activity developed, especially within the Nyingma tradition, two ways of dharma transmission: the so-called “long” oral transmission from teacher to student in unbroken lineages and the “short” transmission of “hidden treasures”. The foremost revelers of these termas were the five terton kings and the eight Lingpas.
The terma tradition had antecedents in India; Nagarjuna, for example, rediscovered the last part of the “Prajnaparamita-Sutra in one hundred thousand verses” in the realm of the Nāgas, where it had been kept since the time of Buddha Shakyamuni.