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In Tibetan Buddhism and Bon, a Ngakpa (Tibetan: སྔགས་པ, Wylie: sngags pa; Sanskrit: मन्त्री mantrī), female ngakma or ngakmo, is a non-monastic practitioner of Dzogchen who has received a skra dbang or hair empowerment, for example in the terma lineage of 1st and 2nd Dudjom Rinpoche (Wylie: bdud 'joms gter gsar. This empowers one's hair as the home of the dakinis and therefore can never be cut. The mahamudra equivalent of the ngakpa are called relpa (Wylie: ral pa).
Description and definitions
Ngakpas often marry and have children. Some work in the world, though they are required to devote significant time to retreat and practice and in enacting rituals when requested by, or on behalf of, members of the community.
There are family lineages of Ngakpas, with the practice of a particular iṣṭadevatā being passed through family lineages. However, a ngakpa may also be deemed as anyone thoroughly immersed and engaged in the practice of the teachings and under the guidance of a lineage-holder and who has taken the appropriate vows or samaya and had the associated empowerments and transmissions. Significant lineage transmission is through oral lore.
As scholar Sam van Schaik describes, "the lay tantric practitioner (sngags pa, Skt. māntrin) became a common figure in Tibet, and would remain so throughout the history of Tibetan Buddhism." Scholar Gyurme Dorje defines ngakpas as "a practitioner of the mantras, who may live as a householder rather than a monk."
Kunga Gyaltsen, the father of the 2nd Dalai Lama, was a non-monastic ngakpa, a famous Nyingma tantric master. His mother was Machik Kunga Pemo; they were a farming family. Their lineage transmission was by birth.
- *Terrone, Antonio (2010). Bya rog prog zhu, The raven crest: the life and teachings of bDe chen 'od gsal rdo rje treasure revealer of contemporary Tibet. PhD Thesis, Leiden University.
- Van Schaik, Sam (2004). The term 'lay' however is misleading as ngakpas are all ordained member of the non-celibate wing of the ordained sangha. The term 'lay' means 'non-professional' or 'not of the clergy' and ngakpas (such as HH Dudjom Rinpoche who was the Supreme Head of the Nyingma Tradition) cannot be described as 'not of the clergy'. Approaching the Great Perfection: Simultaneous and Gradual Approaches to Dzogchen Practice in Jigme Lingpa's Longchen Nyingtig. Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-370-2. (accessed: December 20, 2007)
- Dorje (2009), p. 955.
- Thubten Samphel and Tendar, (2004) The Dalai Lamas of Tibet, p. 79. Roli & Janssen, New Delhi. ISBN 81-7436-085-9.
- Gedun Gyatso
- Vajranatha on defense of ngakpas by Nubchen Sangye Yeshe
- The Ngakpa Tradition Interview with Khetsun Sangpo Rinpoche
- Some material here on Bon ngagpas
- Nyernga Ngakde Ngakpa Community headed by Lopon Urgyen Rinpoche