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Nyang Tingdzin Zangpo

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Nyang Tingdzin Zangpo

Nyang Tingdzin Zangpo (Wyl.myang ting 'dzin bzang po) (eighth-ninth centuries) — a key figure in the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet and more particularly in the early transmission of the Vima Nyingtik.

He was one of the few masters in history said to have attained the rainbow body of great transference.

In Words of My Perfect Teacher he is credited with suggesting to King Trisong Detsen that he should invite Shantarakshita to Tibet[1], and in the early accounts of the Vima Nyingtik lineage,

he is also credited for having suggested to invite Vimalamitra to teach in Tibet[2].

After being a court priest during the reign of King Trisong Detsen, he also continued to be a royal minister during the reigns of Tridé Songtsen and Tri Ralpachen, further supporting the establishment and flourishing of Buddhism in Tibet.

Nyang Tingdzin Zangpo was one of the five Tibetan disciples who received the cycle of the Innermost Secret Nyingtik of Dzogpachenpo from Vimalamitra, in strictest secrecy in the room known as Ütsé Barkhang in Samyé. The tradition of Nyingtik which came down from this transmission became known as the Vima Nyingtik.

Nyang Tingdzin Zangpo practised these teachings for fifty-five years, totally purifying his mind and attaining ultimate realization.

After having built the temple of Zhai Lhakhang (Wyl. zhwa'i lha khang), he hid the texts (the explanatory tantras, Wyl. bshad rgyud) of the Vima Nyingtik in various places of the temple, so that the teachings would remain intact for future generations.

He also transmitted the aural lineage (Wyl. snyan rgyud) to Bé Lodrö Wangchuk. Thus, the lineage of the Vima Nyingtik became partly 'hidden' (terma), and partly 'oral' (kama).


  1. Patrul Rinpoche, The Words of My Perfect Teacher (Boston: Shambhala, revised edition, 1998), p. 342
  2. See Wellsprings of the Great Perfection, compiled and edited by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath, Hong King & Esby: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2006), page 150.

Further Reading


External Links


RigpaWiki:Nyang Tingdzin Zangpo

Nyang Tingdzin Zangpo. Royal priest under Trisong Deutsen, suggested the king invite Shantarakshita as well as Vimalamitra to Tibet. Devotee of Padmasambhava and one of five to receive the Innermost Dzogchen teachings from Vimalamitra at Samye. He practiced the Vima-nying-thig for decades, enjoyed vast realization and in the end, was the first Tibetan to display the rainbow body.


Nyangben Tingdzin Zangpo Biography

Nyangben Tingdzin Zangpo (myang ban ting 'dzin bzang po) was a member of the illustrious Nyang clan. He was a monk, hence his title Nyangben (myang ban), or “monk of the Nyang clan. His grandfather was Nangzang Dukong (snang bzang 'dus kong), held the official post of drungpa (brung pa) in 745 but fell from power and was executed. Tingngedzin Zangpo made up for this by helping to ensure the succession of King Trison Deutsen's (khri srong lde'u btsan), son, Senalek Jinyon (sad na legs mjing yon), also known as Mutik Tsenpo (mu tig btsan po), in 798, and he served as tutor to prince Tride Songtsan (khri lde srong btsan).

Nyang is credited in some sources with advising King Trison Deutsen to invite Vimalamitra to Tibet from India. Nyang became one of Vimalamitra's closest disciples, receiving from him the Nyingtik teachings. Despite Tingdzin's affiliation with the Indian teacher, the Nyang family was on the losing side during the so-calledSamye Debate, siding with the Chinese religionists, where their more powerful rival, the Ba (sba / 'ba' / dba) family, supported the Indian Buddhists. Nevertheless, Nyang Tingngedzin seems to have suffered no ill effects of the apparent defeat.

When Tride Songtsan ascended the throne in c.800 Nyang Tingdzin became court minister. The new king gave his tutor land in Uru (dbu ru) where he constructed the Zha temple (zhwa lha khang) during the reign of Relpachen (ral pa chen). The king praised Nyang Tingdzin in an inscription he had carved on two stone pillars (800-815 CE) that can be still seen today. The pillars describe the monk as a humble and faithful servant who attempted to decline the gift of the land out of modesty.

The name of the temple relates to the deity Nyang Tingdzin assigned as its guardian. Nyang subjugated the deity Dorje Legpa (rdo rje legs pa), who offered grain to Nyang Tingdzin to pay for the construction, pouring a continuous stream of hail-turned-barley into Nyang's hat.

Following Vimalamitra's exile to China and his long absence from Tibet, Nyang is said to have practiced the Nyingtik for fifty years, mastering it, and transmitting it to Drom Rinchen Bar ('brom rin chen 'bar). He also transmitted the teachings to Ku Changchub O (khu byang chub 'od), who taught them Kyungpo Yik O (khyung po dbyig 'od), who transmitted them to Rongzom (rong zom). More famously, however, Nyang Tingngedzin concealed the Nyingtik texts in his Zha Temple, placing some in a clay pot above the gatehouse lintel, and others in the three-tiered capital of the central pillar. There they were discovered there by Dangma Lungyal in the eleventh century.

In the year 814 Nyang also participated in the Mahāvyutpatti, the great Imperial translation dictionary.

Some sources record that Tingngedzin was executed during the reign of Langdarma, but most agree that he died in his fifty-fifth year, his body dissolving into rainbow light in the Drak Lhalu (brag lha klu) cave on Chakpori Hill, just across from the Potala. He was the first Tibetan recorded as displaying this level of attainment.



The following biography is fromthe Treasury of Lives, a biographical encyclopedia of Tibet, Inner Asia and the Himalaya. The biography is written by Jakob Leschly.