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Northern Treasures


Beginning of the Northern Treasures


Text Preservation Project


Northern Treasures Lineage

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Thangthong Gyalpo 1385-1510 C.E.

Thangthong Gyalpo

Born in upper Tsang at Olwa Lhatse, this great master became one of the most endearing figures in all of Tibetan history. He is famous as "The second Padmasambhava, born from a womb." In his youth, he traveled throughout India and Nepal to study and practice. Returning to Tibet and trying to cross a river, the ferryman knocked him out of the boat and into the water saying, “You are so filthy and disheveled, no one will ride my boat with you and I’ll loose money.” Afterwards, Avalokiteshvara appeared and told him, "Now you understand the need to help ordinary people with the difficulties of their daily lives as well as with spiritual practice."

Accordingly, Thangthong Gyalpo wrote operas, established medical clinics, found various treasures and wrote practices and prayers which are easy to understand. What he is most famous for is the building of chain link suspension bridges across otherwise dangerous rivers to make crossing safe and accessible. He also constructed several major temples and monasteries at such places as Chuwori and Chung Riwoche.

Thangthong Gyalpo had received the Northern Treasures from Kunzang Donyod Gyaltsen, a disciple of one of Rigzen Godem’s close sons. His practice of the secret form of Padmasambhava known as "Tuk Drup" was such that many people said they saw Guru Drakpo when they looked at him. He accomplished the state of deathlessness through the Northern Treasures practice known as "The Iron Pillar" and thus lived 128 years.



Tennyi Lingpa 1480-1535 C.E.

Tennyi Lingpa

Padma Tsewang Gyalpo or Tennyi Lingpa was an incarnation of Trisong Detsen’s daughter Lhacham Pemasal who also carried the blessing of the great master Vairochana. Following various predictions, he found many treasures at various sites where Padmasambhava and his disciples had taught and lived and at places such as Chung Riwoche, built by Thangthong Gyalpo and associated with the Northern Treasures and Paro Taksang (the Tiger Den of Padmasambhava in Paro, Bhutan).

His great contribution to the Northern Treasures was the discovery of a text originally revealed by Rigzen Godem but rehidden for revelation at a later time. This text on Dorje Pagmo was found before a great crowd of people at Riwo Palbar.



Changchub Lingpa, Langpopa Palgyi Gyalstan 14th c. C.E.

Changchub Lingpa, Langpopa Palgyi Gyalstan

Changchub Lingpa was born in the upper region of Ngari. From the view of the Northen Treasures, he was an incarnation of Namkhai Nyingpo or of Gyalwa Chowang, two of Padmasambhava's close disciples. From the view of the Kagyu sect, he was the rebirth of Rechungpa's close disciple who had written that great master's biography. Relying on a treasure guide once owned by Tseten Gyalstan, he began to reveal earth treasures such as ritual objects and holy substances. Finding both a prophecy and instructions to erect a large statue in the treasures he used the substances for that purpose. Many of the texts which he revealed still continue. Later incarnations would head Changchub Ling monastery in central Tibet and head the line of Northern Treasure practice which originated with Rigdzen Godem's consort.



Ngagi Wangpo, Dordrak Rigdzen Chenpo III 1580-1639 C.E.

Ngagi Wangpo, Dordrak Rigdzen Chenpo III

Tashi Tobgyel’s son was the third incarnation of Rigzen Godem, Ngagi Wangpo. Born in 1580, as a young child he could clearly recall his life as Legden Dorje. He received every teaching from his father and later the Drikung master Rinchen Puntsok ordained and enthroned him. After a trip to Kham in which he not only taught but brought an end to war between various small kingdoms, he collected several smaller communities of monks and yogis at Padma Evam Chogar Dorje Drak, becoming the first abbot. In 1610, he began to build a new monastery. It is said that during this time around two thousand disciples gathered at Dorje Drak. At the birth of the great Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngagi Wangpo blessed him.

His main disciple was the rebirth of the Yolmo Shakya Zanpo, Tenzin Norbu. He left instructions with Tenzin Norbu to complete the monastery. In 1639, with no visible signs of illness, Ngagi Wangpo called the community together. He gave them instructions for immediate and future guidance, dedicated the merits of his life for the enlightenment of all beings and then retired to his quarters where he passed from this world. According to his instructions, Tenzin Norbu took up the responsibility of Dorje Drak as his regent.



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