The Lotus Born Master, Guru Padmasambhava
Also known as Guru Rinpoche, Padmasambhava is not only a fully enlightened Buddha, but he has also manifested as one of the greatest sages of the Vajrayana Buddhism. He was born miraculously to serve infinite sentient beings through the power of his wisdom and compassion. This article provides a short account of his story.To View Guru Rinpoche Thangka, Click Here:
Why is he called a lotus-born Master?
He manifested in Zangdok Palri Pure Land and remains there as the body of light. Twelve years after the Mahaparinirvana of the Buddha, the rays of blessing light of the Buddha of Infinite Light touched a lotus in the Milk Ocean in the Southwest direction from Bodhagaya. As a result, Guru Rinpoche was born miraculously via lotus-birth without human parents.
Indrabodhi, the King of Oddiyana, and his Ministers found the child while sailing across the ocean. They brought him to the Palace and enthroned him as the Crown Prince.
The young Padmasambhava was trained and skilled in all the arts of knowledge. But before long he took leave of the royal Palace in order to serve sentient beings through the path of esoteric teachings and sacred power. He was a fully enlightened Buddha, but to emphasize the importance of following the Dharma , he himself received various transmissions from both human knowledge-holders and non-human deities, and Dakini. He gave those teachings to infinite visible and invisible beings and through his invincible power, pacified many negative forces obstructing his enlightening activities.
On one of the miraculous event of his life, he transformed a huge fire (which was intent to burn him) into the Rewalsar lake. Thus, flourishing Dharma into the Kingdom of Zahor. He then, with his consort Princess Mandarva of Zahor meditated in Maratika Cave in Nepal and attained immortality.
Padmasambhava and His Consort Mandarva:
It was the kingdom of Zahor, where Guru Padmasambhava first met Mandarva. He wandered the eight great charnel grounds of India and Nepal. For many years, he tamed Dakinis and dark forces as he went.
Lhacham Mandarva was a princess, her father was king of Zahor and was named Vihardhara and her mother Mohauki. Her birth was foretold by Buddha's disciple Kashyapa, and she was to be a manifestation of the wisdom body Vajravarahi, endowed with all the qualifying marks.
When Mandarva first met with Guru Padmasambhava, at the age of 16, she was already ordained as a monk. Instinctively, she realized that Guru was a great teacher, and received teachings and empowerments of the secret Vajrayana, along with her attendants in her private chambers in the palace. Upon receiving the initiations from him, Mandarva became both disciple and consort of the Guru.
A Miraculous Event in the Kingdom of Zahor:
One day, a cowherd caught a sight of Guru Padmasambhava giving teachings to Mandarva, in her private chambers. He then started to gossip about it. King Vihardhara (her father) also heard the gossip. He was infuriated with rage and anger. And immediately he ordered his men to punish Padmasambhava, by burning him alive in front of everyone. Those men captivated Guru and tied him to a stack of firewood. The pyre was then set to fire, doused with the oil of hundred and thousands of sesame seeds.
When normal bodies were burned, the fire would be exhausted and its smoke would die down after three days. This time, the thick black smoke covered the sky for nine continuous days. The smoke kept the whole Kingdom in dark shadow. The king and his attendant were surprised by this strange incident. So they decided to visit the site. Amazingly, the place was miraculously turned into a lake which was covered with a carpet of lotus flowers. In the middle of the lake, there was an open lotus.
At top of which was seated Mahaguru Padmasambhava, embracing his consort Mandarava. After witnessing such a miraculous event, the king realized the mistake. Guru Rinpoche was no ordinary being! Inspired with the deepest faith and devotion, the king and his men confessed their misdeed. Under the guidance of Guru Padmasambhava, the whole kingdom began to practice Dharma.
Click Here to View Guru Rinpoche with Consort Thangka
Their Journey to Maratika Caves in Nepal:
Both the Guru Padmasambhava and Mandarva, together set out on a journey to find a retreat place to continue their practice.
Attaining the Immortality:
Their journey finally took them to Maratika Caves. After they recognized that Maratika was a perfect place for their practice, they settled down in the seclusion of its caves. Padmasambhava guided Mandarva thoroughly, on every steps of the secret Vajrayana, and giving her the empowerments. After receiving these empowerments, both the Guru and the consort practiced together focusing on Amitayus to attain the nectar of immortality. As mentioned by Orgyen Lingpa:
They arrived at the peak of the palace of Mount Potala, a sacred site known as the Maratika caves, blessed by the lords of the three Families, where even in winter a rain of flowers falls. In this most excellent place, highly auspicious and blessed, they opened the mandala of Amitayus, Buddha of Boundless life.
In next three months, they accomplished the Vidyadhara with power over the life. Both of them were able to remain in their subtler bodies of light without dissolving into the body of Dharmakaya, for as long as they needed for the welfare of sentient beings.
Padmasambhava was then known as the Chime Pema Jungne, the deathless lotus-born, while Mandarva as the yogini Chime Rikdzinma, Pure Awarenes Holder of Immortality and the Dungmen Karmo, Maiden of the White Conch.
Their accomplishment also transformed Maratika Cave. In the rock, there appeared the life long vase of Amitayus and a stone Garuda (mythical bird). The cave wall bears the imprints of the bodies of Amitayus and Guru Rinpoche.
Guru Padmasambhava in Tibet:
At the beginning of the 9th century, he visited Tibet at the invitation of King Trisong Deutsen, introducing Buddhism to Tibet for the very first time. He is known as Guru Rinpoche, the precious master. His visited Tibet along with other Himalayan regions and accomplished three major goals:
Firstly, Guru Rinpoche tamed both human and non-human beings who were obstructing the building of the Samye Monastery and the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet. On the top of Hepo Mountain near Samye Monastery, he defeated the spirit forces, bounding them to vow as the protector of Dharma and the Dharma followers.
Also, in the cave of Taktsang in Bhutan, he manifested himself in the form of Dorje Drolö, a wrathful form of Guru Rinpoche, and subdued the negative spirit forces.
Click here to read about the Eight Manifestation of Padmasambhava.Secondly, he taught hundreds of different teachings and the wisdom of Vajrayana to many of his accomplished disciples. The unbroken lineages of those transmissions have been maintained by highly enlightened adepts for centuries and are flourishing to this day. In today's world, these lineages are widely spread to many corners of the world.
He traveled to every valley of Tibet as well as Nepal, Bhutan, and Sikkim and blessed them as the Sacred lands. More amazingly, transmitting those esoteric wisdoms and teachings to his disciples, he miraculously concealed them in the pure nature of their minds. Then he also concealed numerous symbolic scripts or texts and religious objects in different places such as rocks, statues, lakes, and space. Those concealed teachings are known as his famous Ter, "Hidden Treasure Teachings"
The Hidden Treasure, Ter:
Starting from the 11th century till today, thousands of tertons- whom he has concealed the teachings-have miraculously been discovering thousands of volumes of ter-eachings and ter-objects from the rocks, earth, lakes, sky, etc. These discovered teachings and objects are called "the earth ter." Then, many of those tertons discovered the concealed teachings and wisdoms from the nature of their own minds through the power of the rebirths of Guru Rinpoche's direct disciples in their memory. These discovered teachings are called "the mind Ter."
His teachings are not only practiced in Tibet, but in many places around the World. He also blessed many valleys such as Sikkim, Khenpa Lung and Pemakö as "The Hidden Lands."
“ In the dark ages, people blame the decadence of the time as the culprit of their sufferings, but the sufferings are actually caused by their own misdeeds. Nevertheless when the devotees are facing danger, the safe places for them to escape to are the hidden lands."
One of the most famous body imprints of Guru Rinpoche is in Kurjey in Bumthang, Bhutan.
View our collection of Guru Padmasambhava Thangka Prints
Zangdok Palri, The Pure Land of Padmasambhava
Through the meditations on Dzogpa Chenpo, Padmasambhava transformed his mortal body into “the rainbow-light-body of great transference".
After staying in Tibet for about 55 years, he announced that he was leaving for the lands of the rakshas. On Gongthang pass in Western Tibet, he bade farewell to King Mutig Tsenpo and the assembled devotees of Tibet.
As Guru Padmasambhava looked up at the sky, suddenly appeared the dakinis and celestial beings with flowers, banners, and music in the midst of colorful beams of light with a beautiful blue horse adorned with ornaments. Riding the horse, He flew away through the sky before the eyes of all. He landed in Zangdok Palri, where he instantly emanated the Lotus Light Palace as a Manifested Pure Land.
He still resides in Zangdok Palri, in the form of “rainbow-light-body of great transference” with an ocean of Enlightened Ones and the rebirths of many of his numerous devotees. Hence, he remains in the nature of Ultimate-body and the qualities of Enjoyment-body and the display of Manifested-bodies of Buddhahood.
“ Every morning and every evening, I will come to serve you
By riding the rays of the rising and setting sun.
On the tenths of the waxing moons, I will come in person.
O my devout followers!
Arrange feast offerings in blazing vessels of precious gems
And sing the Seven Line Prayer in devotional melodies
With the sounds of music and skull damarus.
I, Orgyen (Guru Rinpoche) - from the Chamara subcontinent,
who, like a mother, cannot bear the cry of her beloved child,
Will come to grant my blessings.
This is a promise!"