Samding Monastery has an odd history. The monastery was probably founded in the 13th century and was associated with the Bodong sect, initiated by Bodong Chokle Namgyel. The sect never gained much prominence, although a number of temple within radius of Samding followed it precepts.
At one time, Samding appears to have had both monks and nuns in residence, and was run by an abbess, one of the only female incarnations in Tibet. The lineage goes back to the 18th century. In 1717, legend has it, the abbess transformed herself and her cohorts into pigs to save them from a Dzungar attack. For centuries, the lineage continued uneventfully, until the year 1937. That year the acting Regent of Tibet announced that the 6th Dorje Phagmo had been recognised in a young girl. He argued that the transference of souls actually took place in this case before death.
The 6th Dorje Phagmo, it appears, hardly took up residence at Samding. In 1959, she went to India but the same year decided to return to Tibet. Yet he made it clear that hse did not wish to be a living Buddha anymore. She married and had 3 children, and held a high government position in Lhasa.