Sacred Art

Sacred Art Preservation at the Nyingma Institute


The Nyingma Institute has been actively engaged in Tibetan sacred art preservation projects since its inception. Recently, Institute students, staff, and volunteers completed a project to make hundreds of small Stupas that are replicas of the enlightenment Stupa at Bodh Gaya India (pictured at right). Currently, we are completing castings of images of the form of Padmasambhava known as Dorje Drolod (below).

 The Sacred Image of Dorje Drolod

These small gilded images are known as Tsa-tsas. The production of Tsa-tsas was traditionally said to increase the harmony and well-being of living beings in the areas where they were created and where they were placed. They DORJE DROLODwere also credited with restoring the balance between man and nature and for healing.

There are eight major forms, or manifestations, of Padmasambhava, all of which appear solely to benefit beings. Dorje Drolod is one of them. As Dorje Drolod, the great master appears riding on a tiger and “fearlessly treading underfoot the ever-deceptive ego and severing karmic entanglements by wielding his three-edged dagger (phur-bu).” (Crystal Mirror, Vol. IV, p. 5). In the eighth century, Padmasambhava manifested as Dorje Drolod to subdue the wild and untamed forces that opposed the building of the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet. Dorje Drolod not only conquered these demonic forces, but bound them under oath to support and defend the compassionate teachings from that time forward. In working on this sacred art project we also resolve to bring the healing power of compassionate action to life for all beings in the universe. The finished images will be placed in our country retreat center, Odiyan.

As Tarthang Rinpoche has written, “Padmasambhava, the renowned saint and scholar of the eighth century, became a central figure in shaping Buddhism’s history in Tibet. Born from the lotus of compassion and revered as the ‘second Buddha’, he entered this world to enlighten all beings. Padmasambhava is the manifestation of the mind of Avalokiteshvara, the speech of Amitabha, and the body of Shakyamuni Buddha. . . Just as the Buddha’s teaching is the same for all but is interpreted variously by those on different stages of the spiritual path, so Padmasambhava appears in different ways according to the receptivity of those seeking liberation.” (Crystal Mirror, Vol. IV, p. 3.)


Volunteers are welcome to come and help work on the Institute’s sacred art projects. There is casting, finishing, and painting work to be done. Call the Institute for more information and to find out how you can help. In this photo, Nyingma Institute resident Airi Kandel is shown painting a small Tsa-tsa.