Padmasambhava, the Lotus-born popularly known as Guru Rinpoche, the Precious Master is revered throughout the Himalayan ranges as a Second Buddha. Invited from India in the eighth century to subjugate the forces inhibiting the spread of Shakyamuni's teachings, he managed to transform hitherto hostile powers into guardians and protectors of the pure dharma and, in the process, left an indelible mark on the entire Himalayan region.

In quite a literal sense, Guru Rinpoche's mark is to be found throughout the Himalayan ranges in and around the many caves he used for meditation. At these sites one can still see handprints and footprints of the Precious Master impressed into solid rock, mute testimony to the extraordinary power this fully accomplished yogi and tantric magician exercised over the external and internal elements.

Now, in the pure depth of the heavens,
Vajrasattva, allowing the Metamorphic Body to be seen,
seared upon an elephant, holding a golden vajra to his heart
with his right hand, and with his left hand
holding a silver bell at his side,
crowned with the ornaments of the Five Transcendent Buddhas,
his body covered with all the perfect ornaments,
decorated with bones at the shoulders, at the wrists,
and at the ankles, brilliant with the white glitter of crystal.
Perfectly learned in the Mahayoga, Vajrasattva
reveals as a dwelling the celestial palace of the three Baskets,
reveals as gods and goddesses the whole internal essence,
reveals as Mantra the entire murmur of the words,
reveals as enchantments everything which is of body, speech, and mind.
And he sets forth the Tantras of the Mahayoga,
which are, according to the whole classification, five hundred thousand,
and the whole of which forms the eighteen root Tantras.

  Life of Padmasambhava        

DHAMCHEN DORJE LEGPAGuru Rinpoche embodies the ultimate attainment of the Vajrayana and the power, both temporal and spiritual, associated with this peerless attainment. These powerful attributes show Guru Rinpoche wearing an expression of great force and concentration while holding various implements of power such as the vajra scepter, skull-cup and trident staff. He is dressed not only in the robes of a monk but also in the garments of a king to indicate that he is a member of both worldly and religious royalty. Concerning his birth, Guru Rinpoche himself said:

"Some people believe that I revealed myself upon the pollen bed of a lotus in the Dhanakosha Lake in the country of Orgyen; some people believe I was born as Prince of Orgyen; and others believe that I came in the flash of a thunderbolt to the Namchak hilltop; there are many distinct beliefs held by different individuals and peoples, for I have appeared in many forms. However, twenty-four years after the parinirvana of the Buddha Shakyamuni, the Adibuddha of Boundless Light Amitabha, Ekajaticonceived the Thought of Enlightenment in the form of the Great Compassionate One [Avalokiteshvara], and from the heart of the Great Compassionate One, I, Padma, the Lotus Born Guru, was emanated as the syllable HRI. I came like felling rain throughout the world in innumerable billions of forms to those who were ready to receive me. The actions of the Enlightened Ones are incomprehensible! Who is to define or measure them!"

As his biography relates, Guru Rinpoche was adopted by King Indrabhuti of Orgyen who made him his heir. This set the stage for Padmasambhava, as Prince of Orgyen, to perform many of the same deeds that Shakyamuni performed as Prince Siddhartha.

Finally he met Ananda, who had been the personal attendant of the Buddha, received ordination as a buddhist monk, and practiced both the sutra and tantra aspects of Buddha's teachings. From the guru Garab Dorje, an emanation of Vajrasattva, he received instructions on the Great Perfection, "the path of directly experienced intrinsic freedom." His experience of these Great Perfection (Tib. dzog-chen) teachings has been described as follows:

Garab Dorje, good fountain of the Dharma, knew everything, and Padma assimilated it.
He concentrated on the Absorption in the Pure Void
And on the Plane of Essence which proceeds from it.
He practiced abstention from accepting or rejecting pain or Awakening.
He obtained, as fruit, salvation through oneself, free from renouncing or acquiring".

PRINCESS MANDARAVAHaving become proficient in subduing hostile and destructive forces, Padmasambhava manifested in many different regions of in India, China and Nepal where he established many beings in the pure practice of the buddhadharma. Because his methods went far beyond what society conventionally deemed acceptable behavior for a religious practitioner, he often outraged the sensibilities of local rulers. On one famous occasion, after rumors were spread that Padmasambhava had acted improperly while giving instructions to Princess Mandarava and her attendants, her father the king of Zahor ordered her to be cast into a pit of thorns and her guru to be burnt at the stake. Then, the traditional accounts relate: "All the deities and the buddhas came to Padma's aid. Some created a lake, some cast aside the wood, some unrolled the oil-soaked cloth, GURU PADNASAMBHAVAsome fanned him. On the seventh day afterwards the King looked forth and, seeing that there was still smoke coming from the pyre, thought to himself, "This mendicant may have been, after all, some incarnation," and he sent ministers to investigate. To their astonishment they saw a rainbow-enhaloed lake where the pyre had been and surrounding the lake all the wood aflame, and at the center of the lake a lotus blossom upon which sat a beautiful child with an aura, apparently about eight years of age, its face covered with a dew-like perspiration. Eight maidens of the same appearance as Mandarava attended the child."

GURU DRAGPOToday this lake remains an important pilgrimage spot and is considered a particularly blessed site for meditative practice.
Of all Padmasambhava's enlightening deeds, those the Tibetan people cherish most relate to his introduction of Vajrayana Buddhism into the Land of Snow. King Trisong Detsen himself considered an incarnation of Manjushriinvited him to Tibet to remove the obstacles hindering the construction and consecration of Samye, the first buddhist monastery in that land. Subjugating these evil forces and transforming them into protectors of the dharma, Padmasambhava not only established Samye (c. 779) as a center for the dissemination of Buddhism throughout Tibet,GURU PADNASAMBHAVA but laid the foundation for what later became known as the Nyingma tradition. His twenty-five closest disciples mastered and transmitted the various aspects of Guru Rinpoche's teachings, and through a succession of such great lineage lamas as Longchen Rabjampa (1308-1363) and Jigme Lingpa (1729-1798) these teachings have been passed on and are still practiced today.

Within the Nyingma there are three lineages practiced in conjunction with one another: the Oral (Tib. ka-ma). Pure Vision (idag-nang) and Treasure Text (ter-ma) traditions. The first includes whatever was taught openly by Padmasambhava and the great bodhisattva Shantarakshita when they brought Buddha's teachings to Tibet for the first time. The second derives from visionary experiences of later masters who received instruction directly from Guru Rinpoche, Vajrasattva and so forth. And the third refers to those teachings hidden by Padmasambhava and revealed by later adepts. Because of the importance placed on this third lineage of instruction, the Nyingma tradition is sometimes referred to as the Treasure Text tradition.

SIMHAMUKHATermas are teachings, usually of the highest yoga tantra level, which Padmasambhava often assisted by his consort Yeshe Tsogyal concealed for later discovery. Some were hidden in the earth while others were planted directly into the minds of his major disciples. When the time is ripe for the propagation of these hidden teachings, reincarnations of these same disciples appear and are inspired to discover and reveal them. Such discoverers of these hidden teachings are known as tertons, or treasure masters, and include not only such famous lamas of the past as Longchen Rabjampa, considered an emanation of Manjushri, Jigme Lingpa, and the Fifth Dalai Lama (1617-1682), but modern-day masters such as His Holiness Dudjorn Rinpoche (1904-1987),YESHE TSOGYEL the late head of the Nyingma tradition, and the late Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910-1991), one of the most highly revered lamas of recent times.

At the end of one of his autobiographies itself a treasure text written down by Yeshe Tsogyal and unearthed by the great terton Orgyen Chokyur Lingpa Guru Rinpoche explains the circumstances of his departure from Tibet. He refers to a prophesy by Shakyamuni that savages from the Southwestern Island Continent would attack this world and states his intention to subdue these would-be invaders. However, the local prince, Murub Tsempo, son of King Trisong Detsen,
"...became sad and tearful and begged me not to go, pleading that the people could not do without me. In great compassion postponed my departure in order to assist the people of Tibet and bestow upon them essential teachings for the future. . .
Then I, Padma, gave final instructions to my devotees and to those who would be reborn in the future: Future generations who cannot meet me must read this exposition of my spiritual practice and self-liberated existence in this world, and obtaining a clear view of its significance, live according to its implied command, becoming perfect in all things. . .
Having exhorted the people to aspire to buddhahood in this manner, I, Padma, mounted the magical horse and was carried aloft by four dakinis. Again, I spoke to the people: I will come to remove the suffering of the people of the world on the tenth day of every moon but especially on the tenth day of the monkey month. Do not forget to pray!
Then, turning my face towards the southwest, I departed. The Prince Murub Tsempo and his subjects returned, each to his own home, each to his own practice."

1. " Images of enlightenment" Tibetan art in practice"
Jonathan Landow and Andy Weber Snow Lion Publication
2. "Crystal Mirror"
Tarthang Tulku Snow Lion Publication
3. "The guardian deities of Tibet"
Lobrang Kalsang Little Lhasa Publications
4. "Oracles and Demons of Tibet"
Rene De Nebesky-wojkowitz Tiwaris Pilgrims Book House

Copyright 2002, N. Dudka
Design: S. Tarasenko
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