Statue of Guru Rinpoche as the patron saint of Sikkim
, India in Namchi
- Guru Rinpoche
- Orgyen Guru
- Loppon Rinpoche
- Saroruha Vajra
- Lord Mahaguruji Mei Ling
Life and teachings
According to tradition, Padmasambhava was incarnated as an eight-year-old child appearing in alotus blossom floating in Lake Dhanakosha, in the kingdom of Oḍḍiyāna, traditionally identified with the Swat Valley of South Asia in present-day Pakistan. His special nature was recognized by the childless local king of Oḍḍiyāna and was chosen to take over the kingdom but he left Oḍḍiyāna for Northern parts of India. In Rewalsar, known as Tso Pema in Tibetan, he secretly taught tantric teachings to Mandarava who was the local king's daughter. The king found out and tried to burn him but it is believed when the smoke cleared he was intact and in meditation. The king offered Padmasambhava his kingdom and Mandarava. He left with Mandarava and later in Maratika cave in Nepal, after practicing secret tantric consort rituals, Amitayus appeared and they both achieved immortal bodies in the form of the living rainbow body of the Great Transference (Wylie 'pho ba chen po, pronounced Phowa Chenpo) which is completely different and much rarer than a dead body dissolving into light or the more usual rainbow body of a living yet mortal human (Wylie 'ja' lus, pronounced Jalü.) as sometimes still achieved by Dzogchen practitioners of Padmasambhava's terma. So both Padmasambhava and Mandarava are still believed to be alive and active in Phowa Chenpo form by their followers. She and Padmasambhava's other main consort, Yeshe Tsogyal who was responsible for hiding his numerous terma later in Tibet became fully enlightened. Many thangkas and paintings show Padmasambhava in between them.
His fame became known to Trisong Detsen, the 38th king of the Yarlung dynasty, and the first Emperor of Tibet (742–797), whose kingdom was beset by evil mountain deities. The king invited Padmasambhava to Tibet where he used his tantric powers to subdue the evil deities he encountered along the way, eventually receiving the Emperor's wife, identified with the dakini Yeshe Tsogyal, as a consort. This was in accordance with the tantric principle of not eliminating negative forces but redirecting them to fuel the journey toward spiritual awakening. In Tibet he founded the first monastery in the country,Samye Gompa, initiated the first monks, and introduced the people to the practice of Tantric Buddhism.
Padmasambhava had five major female tantric companions, the so-called 'Five Wisdom Dakinis' (Wylie: Ye-shes mKha-'gro lnga) or 'Five Consorts.' In Padmasambhava's biography - they are described as the five women "who had access to the master's heart", and practicedtantric rites which are considered to have exorcised the previous demons of Tibet and converted them into protectors of the country.' They were: Mandarava of Zahor - the emanation of Vajravarahi's Body; Belwong Kalasiddhi of (North-West) India - the emanation of Vajravarahi's Quality, Belmo Sakya Devi of Nepal; the emanation of Vajravarahi's Mind, Yeshe Tsogyal of Tibet; the emanation of Vajravarahi's Speech and Mangala or Tashi Kyedren of "the Himalayas" - the emanation of Vajravarahi's Activity.
In Bhutan he is associated with the famous Paro Taktsang or "Tiger's Nest" monastery built on a sheer cliff wall about 500m above the floor ofParo valley. It was built around the Taktsang Senge Samdup (stag tshang seng ge bsam grub) cave where he is said to have meditated in the 8th Century. He flew there from Tibet on the back of Yeshe Tsogyal, whom he transformed into a flying tigress for the purpose of the trip. Later he travelled to Bumthang district to subdue a powerful deity offended by a local king. Padmasambhava's body imprint can be found in the wall of a cave at nearby Kurje Lhakhang temple.
Padmasambhava also hid a number of religious treasures (termas) in lakes, caves, fields and forests of the Himalayan region to be found and interpreted by future tertöns or spiritual treasure-finders. According to Tibetan tradition, the Bardo Thodol (commonly referred to as the Tibetan Book of the Dead) was among these hidden treasures, subsequently discovered by a Tibetan terton, Karma Lingpa.
Tantric cycles related to Padmasambhava are not just practiced by the Nyingma, they even gave rise to a new offshoot of Bön which emerged in the 14th century called the New Bön. Prominent figures of the Sarma (new translation) schools such as the Karmapas and Sakya lineage heads have practiced these cycles and taught them. Some of the greatest tertons revealing teachings related to Padmasambhava have been from the Kagyu or Sakya lineages. The hidden lake temple of the Dalai Lamas behind the Potala called Lukhang is dedicated to Dzogchen teachings and has murals depicting the eight manifestations of Padmasambhava. Padmasambhava established Vajrayana Buddhism and the highest forms of Dzogchen (Mengagde) in Tibet and transformed the entire nation.
On Padmasambhava's consort practice with Princess Sakya Devi from Nepal it is said: "In a state of intense bliss, Padmasambhava and Sakyadevi realized the infinite reality of the Primordial Buddha Mind, the All-Beneficent Lord (Samantabhadra), whose absolute love is the unimpeded dynamo of existence. Experiencing the succession of the four stages of ecstasy, their mutual state of consciousness increased from height to height. And thus, meditating on Supreme Vajrasattva Heruka as the translucent image of compassionate wrathful (energized) activity, they together acquired the mahamudra of Divinity and attained complete Great Enlightenment."
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