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Colossus of Padmasambhava, overlooking Rewalsar Lake, Himachal Pradesh, India.

Padmasambhava (T. པདྨ་འབྱུང་གནས་ pad+ma 'byung gnas; "the Lotus-born"), also known as Guru Rinpoche (Precious Guru), was a tantric Buddhist master from India who is credited with bringing the Vajrayana teachings to Tibet (circa 8th - 9th centuries).[1][2][3][4] According to some early Tibetan sources like the Testament of Ba, he came to Tibet in the 8th century and helped construct Samye Monastery, the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet.[3]

While little is known about the actual historical figure other than his ties to Vajrayana,[5][6] over time Padmasambhava came to be viewed as being a central figure in the transmission of Buddhism to Tibet.[7][8] Beginning in about the 12th century, hagiographies about Padmasambhava were written in Tibet, which presented an expanded view of Padmasambhava as a great tantric master who tamed all of the local spirits and gods in Tibet, and concealed various secret texts (terma) for future generations of Tibetans.[9] The earliest biography of Padmasambhava, Zangling-ma (Jeweled Rosary), was written by Nyangral Nyima Özer (1124–1192).[10][11] He has been called "one of the main architects of the Padmasambhava mythos – who first linked Padmasambhava to the Great Perfection in a high-profile manner."[12][13]

In modern Tibetan Buddhism, Padmasambhava is considered to be a Buddha that was foretold by Buddha Shakyamuni.[2] According to traditional hagiographies, his students include the great female masters Yeshe Tsogyal and Mandarava.[14] The contemporary Nyingma school considers Padmasambhava to be a founding figure.[15][4] The Nyingma school also traditionally holds that its Dzogchen lineage has its origins in Garab Dorje through a direct transmission to Padmasambhava.[16]

The teachings of Padmasambhava are said to include an oral lineage (kama), and a lineage of the hidden treasure texts (termas).[17] The treasure texts are discovered by tertöns when conditions are ripe for their reception.[18]

Padmasambhava is widely venerated by Buddhists in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, the Himalayan states of India, and in countries around the world.[19][20]

Twenty-five disciples

Padmasambhava is said to have had twenty-five main disciples. See:


  1. Kværne, Per (2013). Tuttle, Gray; Schaeffer, Kurtis R., eds. The Tibetan history readerFree access subject to limited trial, subscription normally required. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 168. ISBN 9780231144698. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche, The Eight Manifestations of Guru Padmasambhava, (May 1992),
  3. 3.0 3.1 Schaik, Sam van. Tibet: A History. Yale University Press 2011, pp. 34-35.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Doney, Lewis. "Padmasambhava in Tibetan Buddhism" in Silk, Jonathan A. et al. Brill's Encyclopedia of Buddhism, pp. 1197-1212. BRILL, Leiden, Boston.
  5. Schaik, Sam van. Tibet: A History. Yale University Press 2011, page 34-5, 96-8.
  6. Kværne, Per (2013). Tuttle, Gray; Schaeffer, Kurtis R. (eds.). The Tibetan history reader. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 168. ISBN 9780231144698.
  7. Buswell, Robert E.; Lopez, Jr., Donald S. (2013). The Princeton dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 608. ISBN 9781400848058. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  8. Schaik, Sam van. Tibet: A History. Yale University Press 2011, page 34-5, 96-8.
  9. Schaik, Sam van. Tibet: A History. Yale University Press 2011, p. 96.
  10. Doney, Lewis. The Zangs gling ma. The First Padmasambhava Biography. Two Exemplars of the Earliest Attested Recension. 2014. MONUMENTA TIBETICA HISTORICA Abt. II: Band 3.
  11. Dalton, Jacob. The Early Development of the Padmasambhava Legend in Tibet: A Study of IOL Tib J 644 and Pelliot tibétain 307. Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 124, No. 4 (Oct. - Dec., 2004), pp. 759- 772
  12. Germano, David (2005), "The Funerary Transformation of the Great Perfection (Rdzogs chen)", Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies (1): 1–54
  13. Gyatso, Janet (August 2006). "A Partial Genealogy of the Lifestory of Ye shes mtsho rgyal". The Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies (2). 
  14. Schaik, Sam van. Tibet: A History. Yale University Press 2011, page 34-5, 96-8.
  15. Harvey, Peter (2008). An Introduction to Buddhism Teachings, History and Practices (2 ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 204. ISBN 9780521676748. Retrieved 6 October 2015. 
  16. Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche, Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal. Lion's Gaze: A Commentary on Tsig Sum Nedek. Sky Dancer Press, 1998.
  17. Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche, Beauty of Awakened Mind: The Dzogchen Lineage of Shigpo Dudtsi. Dharma Samudra, 2013.
  18. Fremantle, Francesca (2001). Luminous Emptiness: Understanding the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Boston, Massachusetts, USA: Shambhala Publications, Inc. ISBN 1-57062-450-X p.19
  19. "Padmasambhava". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  20. Buswell, Robert E.; Lopez, Jr., Donald S. (2013). The Princeton dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 608. ISBN 9781400848058. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 


  • Padmasambhava. Advice from the Lotus-Born: A Collection of Padmasambhava's Advice to the Dakini Yeshe Tsogyal and Other Close Disciples. With Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2013.
  • Berzin, Alexander (November 10–11, 2000). "History of Dzogchen". Study Buddhism. Retrieved 20 June 2016. 
  • Bischoff, F.A. (1978). Ligeti, Louis, ed. "Padmasambhava est-il un personnage historique?". Csoma de Körös Memorial Symposium. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó: 27–33. ISBN 963-05-1568-7. 
  • Boord, Martin (1993). Cult of the Deity Vajrakila. Institute of Buddhist Studies. ISBN 0-9515424-3-5. 
  • Dudjom Rinpoche The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism: Its Fundamentals and History. Translated by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein. Boston: Wisdom Publications. 1991, 2002. ISBN 0-86171-199-8.
  • Guenther, Herbert V. (1996), The Teachings of Padmasambhava, Leiden: E.J. Brill, ISBN 90-04-10542-5 
  • Harvey, Peter (1995), An introduction to Buddhism. Teachings, history and practices, Cambridge University Press 
  • Heine, Steven (2002), Opening a Mountain. Koans of the Zen Masters, Oxford: Oxford University Press 
  • Jackson, D. (1979) 'The Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava (Padma bKaí thang)' in: The Journal of Asian Studies 39: 123-25.
  • Jestis, Phyllis G. (2004) Holy People of the World Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1576073556.
  • Kinnard, Jacob N. (2010) The Emergence of Buddhism Minneapolis: Fortress Press. ISBN 0800697480.
  • Laird, Thomas. (2006). The Story of Tibet: Conversations with the Dalai Lama. Grove Press, New York. ISBN 978-0-8021-1827-1.
  • Morgan, D. (2010) Essential Buddhism: A Comprehensive Guide to Belief and Practice Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 0313384525.
  • Norbu, Thubten Jigme; Turnbull, Colin (1987), Tibet: Its History, Religion and People, Penguin Books, ISBN 0140213821 
  • Snelling, John (1987), The Buddhist handbook. A Complete Guide to Buddhist Teaching and Practice, London: Century Paperbacks 
  • Sun, Shuyun (2008), A Year in Tibet: A Voyage of Discovery, London: HarperCollins, ISBN 978-0-00-728879-3 
  • Taranatha The Life of Padmasambhava. Shang Shung Publications, 2005. Translated from Tibetan by Cristiana de Falco.
  • Thondup, Tulku. Hidden Teachings of Tibet: An Explanation of the Terma Tradition of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism. London: Wisdom Publications, 1986.
  • Trungpa, Chögyam (2001). Crazy Wisdom. Boston: Shambhala Publications. ISBN 0-87773-910-2.
  • Tsogyal, Yeshe. The Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava. Padma bKa'i Thang. Two Volumes. 1978. Translated into English by Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays. ISBN 0-913546-18-6 and ISBN 0-913546-20-8.
  • Tsogyal, Yeshe. The Lotus-Born: The Lifestory of Padmasambhava Pema Kunsang, E. (trans.); Binder Schmidt, M. & Hein Schmidt, E. (eds.) 1st edition, Boston: Shambhala Books, 1993. Reprint: Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2004. ISBN 962-7341-55-X.
  • Wallace, B. Alan (1999), "The Buddhist Tradition of Samatha: Methods for Refining and Examining Consciousness", Journal of Consciousness Studies 6 (2-3): 175-187 .
  • Zangpo, Ngawang. Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times. Snow Lion Publications, 2002.

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