Responsible for bringing Buddhism to Tibet in the 8th century, Guru Rinpoche is also often referred to as Padmasambhava, and is said to be one of the emanations of the Buddha Amitaba. Guru Rinpoche spent more than 55 years living in Tibet, where he spent his time teaching the way of enlightenment to countless others. He is highly revered by all of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
Guru Rinpoche offered his teachings of the Vajrayana to thousands of disciples, with his principle disciples being collectively known as The Twenty Five Disciples; they are the original incarnations of the master teachers of Tibetan Buddhism today. Guru Rinpoche’s primary disciple was named Yeshe Tsogyal and he has a very important role to play in the history of Tibetan Buddhism. Yeshe Tsogyal was tasked with the job of concealing thousands of hidden teachings and mysteries in many areas around the world, in order to provide benefit to future generations when they need it.
Some of the hidden teachings are actually uncovered by way of meditation by contemporary disciples who are approaching the state of enlightenment; they reveal the valuable lessons when it is most appropriate and valid. This ensures that each generation of students of Buddhism will be able to start their continuation of their pursuit of enlightenment with a fresh mind and a fresh revelation that is perfectly suited to the contemporary needs that they are facing.
It is said that there were actually eighteen types of treasure hidden by Guru Rinpoche and his disciple Yeshe Tsogyal. These treasures included sacred texts, items that offered material wealth, images that bear great holy significance, and important prophesies that tell of the individual who will reveal each treasure, along with the time that the treasures will be revealed.
This form of revelation is also an effective method of ensuring that there is no potential for the loss of corruption of knowledge through the passage of time, as the distance from the Buddha’s own mouth to the student is greatly reduced. While a significant number of important and sacred texts were copied down from generation to generation, there are still a large number of original Sanskrit texts that were lost or destroyed over the course of time. The knowledge may still exist in the hearts and minds of those who are on the cusp of enlightenment, but the treasures contained within those texts are still largely a mystery to others. Selective revelation of important texts and knowledge will help to ensure that there is little to no risk of the knowledge being lost from this generation to the next.
The origins of Guru Rinpoche are shrouded in mystery and a bit of romance. It is said that Guru Rinpoche appeared mysteriously in the center of a lotus blossom that was floating in Lake Danakosha, which is located in the South Westerly region of Oddiyana. When the king of the region became aware of and saw for himself the beautiful young child seated in the center of the lotus, he was filled with compassion and love for the child who otherwise appeared to be an orphan. The king invited the child to live with him in the palace, where he raised him as his very own son. The child was given the name Padmasambhava, which literally translates to mean “the lotus born.” As Padmasambhava grew up, his spirituality and innocent spirit was clear to those around him, and he soon became a religious guide and leader within the kingdom.
It is said that Padmasambhava took upon himself to kill the son of a minister who was doing only misdeeds and harming others. Despite the reasons for his actions, Padmasambhava was banished from the kingdom where he gradually became connected to both the common and the uncommon perfections of wisdom that can lead towards enlightenment. As his own faith grew, and as he found himself closer to the attainment of enlightenment Padmasambhava traveled to many places in order to inspire his own growing faith and to help inspire the faith of others. That is the goal of any spiritual leader after all; to ensure that he helps to guide the faith of as many followers as possible, using selfless methods of compassion and wisdom.
He is said to have had a masterful memory, needing only to hear a scripture or sutra once in order to wholly comprehend and recite it back. While his faith was fulfilling in many important ways, Guru Rinpoche also longed for a companion. He met and fell in love with princess Mandarava, who was the daughter of the Zahor king. Mandarava become his consort, and they retreated to a mountain cave in Nepal, where together they performed the rituals of longevity and were able to actualize the vajra immortal body.
After some time, Guru Rinpoche returned to Oddiyana, where took on the disguise of a poor beggar. Unfortunately, because of his persistence in sharing his faith with so many, he was swiftly recognized and ultimately reported to the appropriate authorities. Guru Rinpoche was sentenced to die by being burned alive in a fire made from sandalwood. It is said that when the fire was set ablaze, Guru Rinpoche miraculously transformed the fire into a vast lake that was filled beautifully blooming lotuses. Seated upon a giant lotus right in the center of the lake were Guru Rinpoche and his consort.
Everyone who was in attendance of the attempted execution was in awe and ultimately developed immense faith in Guru Rinpoche and his teachings. Guru Rinpoche achieved a great following of individuals who were on their own pathway towards enlightenment. As one of the emanations of the Buddha of love, Guru Rinpoche harbored no ill will towards those around him, even those who sought to execute him for the acts he believed he was bound by his faith to perform.
The impact that Guru Rinpoche had on Buddhism is still felt today as the influence of the Tibetan schools of Buddhism are felt around the world.
We have a great assortment of products with Guru Rinpoche, including this Guru Rinpoche thangka, and this Guru Rinpoche prayer flag.