The ngakpa style of vajrayana practice has ancient roots which go back at least as far as the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet. This is illustrated in an ancient thanka from which extracts are shown below.
The Ngakpa Pelgyi Wangchuk
|Ngakpa Pelgyi Wangchuk |
Ngakpa Pelgyi Wangchuk (mKhar chen dpal gyi dBang phyug) is shown plunging his phurba into rock in to show his realisation. He wears the costume of a ngakpa with the white skirt of pure vision, the blue shirt of the Dzogchen teachings, long braided hair with two plaits which show his mastery of relative and ultimate skilful means, conch-shell earrings of the heruka costume. This picture shows a ngakpa wearing the costume which is identical to the monastic costume in all but colour - this is an extremely important image in an old thangka because it underlines the fact that ngakpa ordination has ancient roots which go back to the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet.
The Ngakpa Yeshe De
|Ngakpa Yeshe De |
Ngakpa Yeshe De is shown here in full ngakpa costume. Often he is shown as a monk because he was a translator. It was often the case that practitioners would have a ‘monastic phase’ of training, and the Ngakpa Yeshe De may well have been a monk in his earlier life. This picture however, shows him in later life as a ordained non-celibate yogi – flying in the sky to show his accomplishment. He was also a great phurba master.
The Ngakpa Khyechung Lotsa
|Ngakpa Khyechung Lotsa |
Ngakpa Khyechung Lotsa is shown here giving techings. He sits in his cave. There is a bird on his hand and people sit around him listening to the teachings. The bird sitting on his hand displays his capacity to give teaching to birds. His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche is an incarnation of this Lama as is Khordong Terchen Tulku Chime Rigdzin Rinpoche (otherwise known as CR Lama). Both His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche and Khordong Terchen Tulku Chime Rigdzin Rinpoche are ngakpas.
The Ngakpa Yeshe Yang
|The Ngakpa Yeshe Yang |
The Ngakpa Yeshe Yang is another of the twenty disciples usually depicted as a monk. Here is shown reviving a corpse. Ngakpa Yeshe Yang was one of the eight editors of texts under the supervision of Guru Rinpoche. At the end of his life he attained rainbow body. In this picture he is shown wearing a the nagkpa’s costume and a white shawl which indicates that he was a master of inner heat.
The Ngakpa Yeshe Shonu
|Ngakpa Yeshe Shonu |
The Ngakpa Yeshe Shonu was born into the Nyag clan. He was a master of Chemchog Heruka and he is shown here ‘drinking the pure water of the pith instructions’. This lama was important along with Ngakpa Sangye Yeshe as one of the early leaders of the ngakpas after the persecution of the apostate king Langdarma.
The Ngakpa Gyalwa Lodro
|Ngakpa Gyalwa Lodro |
Ngakpa Gyalwa Lodrol was an adminisatrator of the Dharma King Trisongdetsen. He travelled to India where he became a monk as the first part of his training. He then studied with the mahasiddha Humkara after which he became a ngakpa as shown in this painting in which he wears a white skirt. He had the powers of long life and remained in Tibet teaching for over three hundred years after the departure of Guru Rinpoche. He is shown here wearing the pandita’s hat, because he was one of the great translators.