Nyingma Pa (Red hat) is one of the four major lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. Compared to the other three major lineages (White Sect-Kagyu Pa, Flower Sect-Sakya Pa, Yellow Sect-Gelug Sect), it is the oldest sect of Tibetan Buddhism, its name literally means “ancient,”. It was created by Padmasambhava in 760 AD, whom came to Tibet together with Shantarakshita being invited by King Trisong Detsen. During that time, about 108 translators were brought to Tibet spending years to translate large scriptural of Dharma-teachings. Those translated scripture formed the base of the development of Buddhism in the Tibetan plateau.
Because the monks of this sect wear red hat, so that it is also called “red-hat religion”, however, this title is not very proper. “Ningma” means “ancient” and “old” in Tibetan language. The so-called “Ancient” means that its doctrine was passed down from the 8th century AD and has a long history; the so-called “Old” means that some of its teachings and doctrines are based on the old secret mantra of Tubo kindom inheritaed from Bon religion in ancient times.
Nyingmapa is closely related to the Bon religion which was the orignal local religon in Tibet. From the 8th to 9th centuries AD, Tantra in Buddhism was introduced to Tibet from India and maintained the form of paternal transmission. However, Bon religion has a great influence on the local folks of Tibetan. It just so happens that the mystery of Tantra is very similar to it, as a result, the two gradually combined.
The main inheritance of the Ningmapa are six monasteries known as “Mother monasteries” of the Nyingma Pa lineage, which are as follows: Katok Monastery, Dorje Drak Monastery, Mindroling Monastery, Pelyul Monastery, Dzogchen Monastery, Shechen Monastery. Among those, 4 monasteries of Katok , Palyul , Shechen , Dzogchen , are located in Derge county in the eastern Tibet of Kham, which has made Kham the center of this lineage.
Güshi Khan Period – 1582-1655 AD
In the Gushi Khan period of 17th century, Ningmapa had been further developed in Tibet. The Fifth Dalai Lama supported the Nyingmapa monasteries at the time, and assisting to expand their influence. They also built new Nyingmapa monasteries and taught the Nyingmapa teaching at the monasteries. In addition, the Lalong monastery, which was established by the founder of the Karma Kagyu sect — Düsum Khyenpa , in Loza, Shannan, was changed to be a Nyingmapa’s monastery,
Additionally, ever since the Gushihan period, Tibetan local government asked Nyingmapa sect to send monks performing for divination to defuse disaster whenever they encountered war, plagues….; Thereby raising the focus of Ningmapa in society.
Nowadays, there are Nyingmapa monasteries being built in India, Belgium, Greece, France, and United States of America, all of which continue to publish related teachings
There are 753 Ningmapa monasteries in the entire Tibetan region of China till 2016. In terms of quantity, it is second large only to the Gelug sect monsteries, and far exceeds other sect temples. It ranks second among many denominations in Tibetan Buddhism.
Today the Nyingmapa in Aba County is extremely prosperous. The number of Ningma sect temples in this area far exceeds that of other Tibetan areas. This phenomenon has never occurred in other places, which indicating that Ningma sects not only have a long history in Aba Tcounty, but also There is a certain sectarian power. In addition, the predecessor of the Ningmapa namely Bon religion, was also introduced into the Tibetan area of Shangri La, in Yunnan province today. Although the Ningmapa monastery in this area ranks third in number, however, it has the longest history.