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Northern Treasures


Beginning of the Northern Treasures


Text Preservation Project


Northern Treasures Lineage

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Tenzin Norbu 1589-1668 C.E.

The third rebirth of Shakya Zangpo, Tenzin Norbu, was born in Kongpo. In his youth, he studied the practices of the Karma and Drukpa Kagyu school. Inivited by the king of Yamabu to restore the stupa at Boudhanath in the Kathmandu Valley, he stayed to teach for some time. In Nepal at Manthang, he met Ngagi Wangpo who gave him the teachings of the Nyingma and especially the Northern Treasures. Although he brought forth a few treasures, most remained hidden due to unfavorable circumstances.



Zurchen Choying Rangdrol 1604-1669 C.E.

Zurchen Choying Rangdrol

Born to a family with a father who was an incarnation of Kumaradza and a mother recognized as a dakini, Choying Rangdrol himself was an incarnation of Nyak Jnanakumara. At the age of nine Choying Rangdrol met Rigdzen Ngagi Wangpo who instatntly recognized the young boy as a special incarnation who would greatly benefit beings through the Dharma. From that time he began to receive teachings from all branches of the Nyingma school, but especially the treasures of Rigdzen Godem. From his seventeenth year, he began to study and practice the Guhyagarbha Tantra (The Root Tantra of the Maha Yoga) so that by the age of twenty he was able and ready to teach it himself. After hearing his teaching, Ngagi Wangpo draped a silk scarf around Choying Rangdrol's neck, and his reputation began to spread widely.

His teaching on the Guyagarbha in particular passed to Lhodrak Peling Sungtrul Tsultrim Dorje (the fourth direct incarnation of Padma Lingpa), who taught it even more widely.

The great Fifth Dalai Lama honored Choying Rangdrol as his root teacher, receiving the Northern Treasures from him. In particular, the Great Fifth relied on Choying Rangdrol for teachings on the Great Perfection practices unitl the confidence of nirvana was born within him.

Eventually, he retired to Kungtang where he spent the latter part of his life teaching beings from throughout Tibet, China and Mongolia.



Ngawang Lobzang Gyatso, The Great Fifth Dalai Lama 1617-1682 C.E.

Ngawang Lobzang Gyatso, The Great Fifth Dalai Lama

The Fifth Dalai Lama whose secret name was Dorje Thokmetsel, had been prophesied in many texts. He was the activity emanation of King Trisong Detsen and the embodiment of the compassion of Avalokitshvara. In 11617 he was born and almost immediately given a long-life empowerment by Rigdzen Ngagi Wangpo. The Panchen Lama Lozang Choki Gyeltsen recognized and enthroned him as the incarnation of the Fourth Dalai Lama. He studied the various branches of learning with the greatest masters of that time including Zurchen Choying Rangdrol until he became a mahapandita.

His career as a terton was predicted by Tashi Tobgyel. His two volume treasure Twenty-five Doctrinal Groups Sealed to be Kept Secret was given to great masters such as Terdak Lingpa of Mindroling and Padma Trinley (see below) of Dorje Drak. Numerous accounts elsewhere give details of his activities such as building the Potala and his political activities. He recognized that the Northern Treasures were vital to the well-being of Tibet and Tibetan people and the Buddhist lineages of Tibet, thus the Northern Treasures became one of his main practices. He wrote many commentaries on these treasures and supported Dorje Drak monastery completely.



Ngari Terton Padma Garwang 1640-1685 C.E.

Ngari Terton Padma Garwang

This master has been seen either as an incarnation of both Namkhai Nyingpo and Nyag Jnanakumara, two of Padmasambhava’s heart sons, or an incarnation of Nanam Dorje Dudjom. Padma Garwang, who is also known as Dawa Gyeltsen, was born in Ngari at Nubri-yam in 1640. As a child he practiced the sadhanas of Avalokiteshvara and experienced many visions and auspicious signs. In Kyimolung Valley, he found a text about Vajrasattva, (Tibetan: Dor SemThukyi Melong). This was originally revealed by Rigzen Godem and then rehidden for Padma Garwang to bring forth. Other treasures came from the statue of Avalokiteshvara known as Jowo Pagpa Wati, rescued from destruction in 1960 and now on the shrine of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The six volumes of Garwang Dorje's treasures containing the three categories of guru yoga, Great Compassion (Thuje Chenpo) and Great Perfection (Dzog Chen), were authenticated by the Fifth Dalai Lama.



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