Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor

Holly Gayley

Second Advisor

Gregory Johnson

Third Advisor

Nicole Willock


Scholarship regarding the complexity of lineage transmission within the Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism is scant. The namthar, or “complete liberation story,” of Do Dasel Wangmo provides many details as to the variety of lineage transmissions that have occurred within what was originally the family-based lineage of the treasure teachings of Do Khyentse Yeshe Dorje. This thesis argues that Do Dasel Wangmo, a living female Tibetan Buddhist master and Tibetan medical doctor, constructs her religious authority primarily through her relationship to the genetic Do family and the Do Khyentse lineage of teachings as a lineage holder. I argue this through a close reading of her namthar, highlighting moments of her religious authority. Despite the fact that many namthars of female Tibetan Buddhist masters emphasize gender, the namthar of Do Dasel Wangmo does not particularly follow this trope and instead focuses on her connection to both the Do family and Do Khyentse’s lineage of teachings. I also provide a detailed analysis of both the genealogy of the Do family, as well as the two forms of lineage transmission, “descendant” and “disciple,” that appear in the namthar. Through a quirk of fate, despite being a genetic member of the Do family, Do Dasel Wangmo herself is a member of the “disciple” lineage for Do Khyentse’s lineage of teachings. The current main lineage holder of Do Khyentse’s treasure teachings is Zenkar Rinpoche, who, despite not being a genetic member of the Do family, is a member of the “descendant” lineage.

The work of this thesis is based on my original translation of “The Namthar of Do Dasel Wangmo,” a 35-page Tibetan language text, as well as partial translations of other members of the Do family line.