Starting with the first tertön, Sangyé Lama (1000–1080) and Drapa Ngönshé (1012–90), discoverer of the Four Medical Tantras, there have been hundreds of masters who specialized in the discovery of terma, continuing up until the present day with Kyabjé Dudjom Rinpoche and Kyabjé Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
There are said to be one hundred great tertöns and one thousand minor ones, of whom five in particular are known as the ‘Five Sovereigns’:
- Nyang Ral Nyima Özer (1124–1192),
- Guru Chöwang (1212-1270),
- Dorje Lingpa (1346-1405),
- Pema Lingpa (1450-1521) and
- Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820-1892).
Other famous terma masters were:
- the lady Jomo Menmo (1248–1283), the spiritual consort of Guru Chöwang;
- Orgyen Lingpa (1323–c.1360), discoverer of the biography of Guru Rinpoche, the Sheldrakma, and the Kathang De Nga;
- Rigdzin Gödem (1337–1403), discoverer of the Northern Treasures;
- Sangyé Lingpa (1340–1396), who revealed the Lama Gongdü cycle;
- Karma Lingpa (14th. century), the discoverer of the Shyitro Gongpa Rangdrol cycle, from which come the teachings on the ‘Six Bardos’ and the Bardo Thödrol Chenmo;
- Ratna Lingpa (1403–1478) who compiled the Nyingma Gyübum;
- Thangtong Gyalpo (1385–1510), the extraordinary mystic and engineer who lived to the age of one hundred and twenty five;
- Jatsön Nyingpo (1585–1656), who revealed the Könchok Chidü cycle;
- Lhatsün Namkha Jikmé (1597–c.1650), the discoverer of the Rigdzin Sokdrup teachings;
- the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso (1617–1682), who received the twenty-five teachings known as Sangwa Gyachen in pure vision and
- his disciple and teacher Terdak Lingpa (1646-1714).
Teachings on Tertöns
- Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche, Lerab Ling, 26 August 1997 (Q & A session, includes teaching on the nature of tertöns)