Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Four Schools of Tibetan Buddhism

Buddhism Main Page

Key Subjects & Topics:
- Four Schools Description
- Origin
- Date
- Main Schools/Traditions
- Nyingma (Old School)
- Sarma (New Schools)
--- Major Schools
--- Minor Schools
--- Branch Schools
- Administration
- Doctrine
--- Nyingma
--- Sakya
--- Kagyu
--- Gelug
- Controversy
- Others...

- Four Schools of Tibetan Buddhism
- Five Schools of Tibet

Based on the writings of the 5th Dalai Lama in the 17th century we find the reference to "the four schools [of Buddhism] and the Bon religion." The four schools mentioned are composed of the early Nyingma tradition and three of the new Sarma schools: Sakya, Kagyu and Gelug. From these are many major schools, minor schools and branch institutions. There are also many minor traditions that are no longer considered schools in their own right.

The Nyingma is an anarchic system and has no central administration, central leadership or principal monastery or religious center. The Nyingma functions as a broad based collection of teaching, incarnate teacher lineages and family lines. It would be more accurate to describe the Nyingma as a tradition rather than a school. However within the Nyingma there are a number of large monastic institutions which could properly be termed as schools each with a principal monastery and administrative center along with branch institutions.

The Sakya...

The Kagyu...

The Gelug...

Jeff Watt 10-2020