Palyul is one of the six major monasteries of the Nyingma school. The monastery is the seat of the Namcho Terma or Sky Treasure Terma, a teaching hidden by Guru Rinpoche and his consort Yeshe Tsogyal, and discovered by Terton Mingyur Dorje.

the Hidden Treasures of
Guru Rinpoche

Namcho, which translates as sky or space dharma is a terma cycle that forms the basis and foundation of the Palyul lineage of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. Revealed by the terton Mingyur Dorje, a dharmic child prodigy who started receiving visions of deities, dakinis and enlightened masters at a young age 370 years ago, the Namcho cycle is said to have been received when he was 13 years old. These precious revelations were compiled by his root Guru, the Kagyu school master, Karma Chagme, which took 3 years to complete.

Photo Credit:
Terton Mingyur Dorje via Palyul Nyingma Buddhist Association (Singapore)
The compilation of the Namcho filled thirteen Tibetan volumes and is today practiced and revered by many modern Buddhist scholars and practitioners of the Nyingma lineage. A unique attribute of the Nyingmapas is the terma; the treasures concealed by its founder, the much respected Guru Rinpoche and were discovered by the tertons or revealers when the conditions are ripened.

It is well known in this tradition that the terma might be embedded in physical objects like ritual items buried in the earth, hidden in plain sight in trees or found in a crystal or enveloped in the element of water like the sea or lake and even embraced by the sky just like the Namcho. However, one must remember that even when the treasures point to an object, the actual teachings are concealed in the mind of the terton. Therefore, the material reference to a particular secretive object or place can be said to be a trigger point to awaken the dormant teaching that already exists within the mind of the Guru. Should the encrypted teaching or object be in the form of a text, it is common for it to be written in dakini script; a non-human language that only the specific terton can encode for our understanding and practice.

When the terma is accessed, expressed and codified by the terton, it is only natural that the said terton will teach or share the terma with the intended recipients and disciples. Mingyur Dorje recognized Kunzang Sherab as the Lineage Holder of the Namcho terma, who in turn became the founder of the Palyul lineage of the Nyingma tradition. While Mingyur Dorje’s terma are said to have been derived from his visionary encounters with the deities, they also contain instructions based on his own understandings and insights.

The Namcho encompasses an entire cycle of practices ranging from preliminary practice (ngondro) to the “pointing out instructions” of Dzogchen including ritual offerings, funeral rites, long-life empowerments for good health, preliminary tantric practices and Pure land sadhanas and hundreds of meditation practices on peaceful and wrathful deities.

Today the Namcho terma is still upheld by the 12th Throne Holder of the Palyul Lineage, His Holiness Karma Kuchen Rinpoche and practiced by the 5000 monks and nuns of Namdroling Monastery in South India. And not only this, due to the kindness of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, Namdroling is also home to the Ngagyur Nyingma Institue, a shedra or dharma learning centre with a full programme that lasts for 9 years; with the first six years focusing on the study of the sutras and the last three concentrating mainly on the tantra. This clearly shows that the Namcho terma cycle is prospering and spreading in all directions to benefit all sentient beings.

Background Photo Credit:
Untitled via Pixabay