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The Ngakpa Tradition
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 Ngakpas and Ngakmas 
 The Ngakpa tradition is an ultimate knowledge of having a
perfectly balanced life! 
The Ngakpa is the cultural and non-monastic spiritual tradition of the Tibetan people. Padmasambava (Tib. Guru Rinpoche) founded it in the 8th century so that lay people could receive spiritual and cultural education. The king Trisong Detsan not only made large contributions to the development of the Ngakpa tradition but, as an example to the people, became a Ngakpa himself.

Ngak-Mang (large group of Ngakpas) are commonly called 'Gokar Chanlo De' which literally means 'The community with white dress and long hair' or more simply 'The group of white Sangha'. The first group of Ngakpa was called 'Je Bang Nyirnya'. They were 25 disciples of the Master Padmasambava and they were all trained by him to a very high degree.


The first Ngakpa College was a branch of Samye Monastery and was called the Ngakpa 'Dud dul Ling'. Here, people were trained in the subjects of Language, Literature, Translation, Agriculture, Medicine, and Astrology, Meteorology and especially Vajrayana studies and practice. Later the Ngakpa culture continued to develop, spreading all over Central Tibet and formed some of the following groups: 30 Sheldrak Ngakpa groups, 108 Chuon Ngakpa groups and 80 Drag Yir Pa Ngakpa groups.


Many Ngakpas have shown their great abilities by becoming highly educated people and practitioners. An example of this, is the founder of Traditional Tibetan Medicine (TTM), Yuthok Yongten Gonpo. He was a Ngakpa, as were many of his lineage physicians. In the 9th Century, Tri Ralpa Chan, the 3rd Tibetan Dharma King, became involved in the Ngakpa Tradition. Through his dedication and support the Ngakpa culture grew all over Tibet. The last King, Lhang Tharma, did his best to eradicate the Buddhist tradition in Tibet but he was not able to destroy the Ngakpa tradition. It is fundamental to native Tibetans.




Tibetan women are recognised as one of the largest contributors to the Ngak-Mang. Ngakmas (female Ngakpas) such as Yeshe Tsogyal, Machin Labdron and Chusep Jetsun were highly respected practitioners and were an inspiration to many Tibetan women. Yeshe Tsogyal (777 - 837 CE), the First Tibetan "Ngakma", is also considered the first female Tibetan Doctor, as she uncovered many mantras and therapies relating to Tibetan Medicine.






Free from any sectarian beliefs, the Ngakpa tradition continues today in China, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Mongolia and more recently in the West, with men and women studying and practicing throughout their daily life.




The Ngakpa lineage


The Ngakpa lineage continues today and there are many Ngakpa Masters, recognised reincarnations, scholars and greatpractitioners who continue this ancient tradition. In Amdo, there are approximately 250 Ngakpa houses and about 6000 practicing Ngakpas including men, women and children.


In the 10th century, Lhalung Paldor, a famous Ngakpa, traveled to Amdo and planted the Vajra seed of the Ngakpa tradition in Rebkong. He was particularly skilled in the practices of Lodorje Drag, Namong and Tongtso.


The descendants of Lhalung Paldor, known as the Eight Great Ngakpa of Rebkong, practiced in eight different places. All of them successfully completed their practices and achieved realisation.


Those places of retreat are now known as the 'Eight Accomplished Retreat Places'. The disciples of the Eight Great Ngakpa continued their ancient and secret spiritual knowledge, integrating it into their daily life.


Adron Khetsun Gyatso (1604-1679)  A highly qualified Ngakpa Master. He founded one of the first Ngakpa houses in Rebkong, known as 'Adron Nangchen'.


Rigzin Palden Tashi (1688-1743)  Born into the rLang family, one of the four ancient Tibetan families. He was trained in both the Nyingma and Gelug Buddhist schools. In his 20s, he traveled to central Tibet, where he studied his Nyingma practice. After completing his spiritual education and practice in Mendro Ling and Kham Srinmozong, he returned to Rebkong and became a great ambassador for the Ngakpa tradition. He traveled during the period 1727-1742, giving teachings to many lay people. He eventually formed the Great Group of Rebkong Ngakpa, known as Rebkong Ngak-Mang. Through his dedication, thousands of Ngakpas & Ngakmos came to Amdo to settle, building hundreds of homes. His followers referred to him as the King of the Ngakpa tradition.


Chögyal Ngawang Dargye (1740-1807 A Mongolian king of the Tseshung area in Amdo. He was a highly accomplished scholar, well versed in languages, literature, medicine and astrology. Fulfilling the ancient prophecy of Padmasambhava, he studied the practice of Kunsang Tapak Tersar. He successfully completed all practices and also wrote commentaries on them. He trained great Ngakpas, such as Shabkar Tsokdrug Rangdrol and Padma Rangdrol. His wife, Rigzin Wangmo, was a Rebkong Ngakmo.


Changlung Palchen Jigmed (1757-1821)  One of the heads of Rebkong Ngak-Mang. In his time, the Rebkong Ngak-Mang developed into a Southern group called Nyinta Ngak-Mang, and a Northern group called Sribta Ngak-Mang. He founded the Kyung Gon Ngakpa house, which was the main centre for the Northern group. Their lineage is the tradition of Min Ling and Nyid-rag Terma. One thousand nine hundred (1900) Ngakpas attended his initiation of the 'Eight Herukas'. He gave each of them a Phur-ba (dagger) as a Ngakpa symbol. These 1900 Ngakpas became known as the 'Rebkong Ngak-Mang 1900 Phur-ba Holders'.


Megsar Kunsang Tubdan Wang Po (1781-1832) Specialised in Vajrayana studies, particularly Vajrakilaya Tantra. He wrote many books about Vajrakilaya Tantra. He also founded Padma Namdrol Ling, a very important Ngakpa house in Rebkong.


Shabkhar Tsodruk Rangdrol (1781- 1851) The most well known Rebkong Ngakpa. He founded Tashi Kyil Ngakpa House and wrote 22 volumes including his Autobiography, Spiritual Songs, Vajrayana philosophy and practices. His works are now known outside Tibet and have been translated into several Western languages.


Dzogchen Choying Tobdan Dorje (1785-1848) A brilliant Vajrayana master and founder of the Dzogchen Namgyal Ling Ngakpa house. He wrote 'The Treasure of Sutra and Tantra' which contains 'The Tibetan Ten Studies'. This text has become the main text studied by Ngakpa.

Khamla Tragthug Namkha Gyatso (1788-1851) Born in Kham, he was an extraordinary Ngakpa master and Terton (revealer of hidden treasures). He became head of the Southern Ngakpa and founded Gonlakha Ngakpa house, the main centre for the southern Ngakpa region. The Gonlakha Ngakpa's special lineage is the tradition of Longchen Nyingthik and Khamla Tesar.

Terton Natsok Rangdrol (1796-1861) Revealed many Termas (hidden treasures) in Dzogchen practices. He wrote 6 volumes of commentaries and explanations about Vajrayana. He founded Terton Chögar Ngakpa house.

Nyankyi Nangzad Dorje (1798-1874) One of the chief disciples of Shabkar Tsokdrug Rangdrol. He collected and completed Shabkar's work and founded a library of Ngakpa texts.