PADMASAMBHAVA, YIDAMS, DAKINIS AND GUARDIANS
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.
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 he sets forth the Tantras of the Mahayoga,
which are, according to the whole classification, five hundred
and the whole of which forms the eighteen root Tantras.
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
"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, conceived
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
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:
Dorje, good fountain of the Dharma, knew everything, and Padma
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
He obtained, as fruit, salvation through oneself, free from
renouncing or acquiring".
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, some
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."
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 Manjushri—invited 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
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.
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),
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 Tiwari’s Pilgrims Book House