Katok Monastery

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Katok Monastery courtesy of Stefan Eckel

Katok Monastery (Tib. ཀཿཐོག, Wyl. kaHthog) aka Katok Dorje Den (Tib. ཀཿཐོག་རྡོ་རྗེའི་གདན་, Wyl. kaHthog rdo rje'i gdan) — the oldest of the Six "Mother" Nyingma Monasteries. It was founded by Katok Dampa Deshek, younger brother of Phagmodrupa Dorje Gyalpo, in 1159, above Horpo, in East Tibet. The site is considered to be one of twenty-five holy places of Eastern Tibet and represents the main holy place of enlightened activity.

After the original monastery had fallen into disrepair, a new monastery was built on the site in 1656 by Tertön Rigdzin Düddul Dorje (1615-1672) and Rigdzin Longsal Nyingpo (1625-1692).

The monastery had a reputation for fine scholarship and produced some of the greatest scholars in Tibetan history, such as Katok Rigdzin Tsewang Norbu (1698-1755) and Getse Pandita Gyurme Tsewang Chokdrup (b. 1761). More recently, Katok Situ Chökyi Gyatso and Khenpo Ngawang Palzang, aka Khenpo Ngakchung, were among the greatest lamas associated with the monastery. Katok Monastery is also known for its preservation of the Kama, or Spoken Word, tradition.[1]

At its height in 1959, the monastery had 1050 monks.[2] During the Cultural Revolution the monastery was destroyed and many of the lamas were imprisoned. After he was released from prison, Katok Moktsa Rinpoche was the principal figure who spearheaded the rebuilding of the monastery with help from other Katok lamas.[3]

Before the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Katok Monastery had more than three hundred branch monasteries, of which approximately 150 remain, both inside and outside of China.

Main Holders of Katok Monastery

There are “Five golden throne holders” of Katok, who continue to reincarnate as the principal teachers to oversee the main monastery.[4] They are the:

There are also the:

His Holiness Katog Lhoga Rinpoche, who was regonised by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö as the reincarnation of Khenpo Lekshé Jorden[6] was enthroned in 1990 as the 84th supreme throne holder of Katok Monastery.

Further Reading

In Tibetan

  • ཀཿཐོག་པའི་ལོ་རྒྱུས་མདོར་བསྡུས་, kaHthog pa'i lo rgyus mdor bsdus
ཀཿཐོག་པའི་ལོ་རྒྱུས་མདོར་བསྡུས་, kaHthog pa'i lo rgyus mdor bsdus

In English

  • Jann M. Ronis, “Celibacy, Revelations, and Reincarnated Lamas: Contestation and Synthesis in the Growth of Monasticism at Katok Monastery from the 17th through 19th Centuries”. Available here.


  1. Reference: Treasury of Lives article
  2. Reference: Alexander Berzin article
  3. Reference: katog.org
  4. Reference: katog.org
  5. check
  6. Reference: katog.org

External Links