The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Six Great Seats of the Nyingma lineage
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Lower Eastern Tibet:
Other historically important seats
Tradition has held that there are six monasteries known as "mother monasteries" of the Nyingma lineage, although there have been slightly different formulations of the six. At one time they included Dorje Drak, Mindrolling monastery and Palri monastery in Upper Tibet; and Kathok, Palyul and Dzogchen monasteries in Lower Tibet.
After the decline of Chongye Palri Thegchog Ling monastery and the flourishing of Shechen, the mother monasteries became Dorje Drak and Mindrolling in the upper region, Shechen and Dzogchen in the center, and Kathok and Palyul in the lower part of Tibet. Dodrubchen is often substituted for Kathok in the list. Out of these "main seats of the Nyingma" developed a large number of Nyingma monasteries throughout Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal.
Unlike the Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug lineages, the Nyingma were for a long time based less on centralised institutional structures than on individual lines of transmission. Apart from Samye, no major monasteries were built until the founding of Kathok in 1159, and it wasn't until the 15th century that Nyingma teachers really began to build the great Nyingma monastic centres. The most important monasteries are known as the Six Great Seats or the Six Great Mothers of the Nyingma lineage: Kathok (above), Mindrolling, founded in 1676; Dorje Drak, founded in 1632; Dzogchen, founded in 1685; Shechen, founded in 1735; and Palyul, founded in 1665.
After many of these were destroyed during the changes of the mid-twentieth century, they have now been either fully or partially rebuilt. At the same time, the heads and masters of these monasteries have also established their seats outside of Tibet, in India, Nepal, and Bhutan.