Guru Padmasambhava, among the most venerated of Buddhist masters, taught at Nalanda University, India. He travelled through sleet and snow in the Himalayas to introduce Vajrayana, Tantric Buddhism, to Asian countries including Tibet and Bhutan. The word ‘Padmasambhava’ means ‘lotus born.’ It is said that he incarnated as an eight-year-old on a lotus flower in Lake Dhanakosha, in the kingdom of Oddiyana, Swat, now in Pakistan.
Guru Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, has inspired millions of people; he brought peace to warring kingdoms and left a treasure trove of wisdom tradition known as Terma, teachings he hid in rocks, people’s minds, and water. These teachings are revealed at appropriate times to Buddhist practitioners by tertons, treasure revealers.
As India and Bhutan celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations, Buddhists from Indic, Bhutanese and Tibetan traditions came together in New Delhi, at a conference titled ‘Life And Legacy Of Guru Padmasambhava’- organised by India International Centre, Centre For Escalation Of Peace and Sahapedia – to discuss the guru’s life and legacy.
“To understand the different stories about Guru Rinpoche, we have to go beyond our ordinary intellect and have an open mind. Guru Rinpoche had eight manifestations. All of them carried out different activities. When he first met the Tibetan king, the king expected him to prostrate before him. But after realising Padmasambhava’s power, it was the king who prostrated before him.
“Guru Rinpoche called many pandits from India and they translated the Buddha’s teachings for Tibetans. Slowly, Tibetans lost interest in fighting wars,” says Neten Chokling Rinpoche, fourth in the line of the great terton Chogyur Lingpa, from the lineage of Tibetan King Trisong, who had invited Guru Rinpoche to Tibet.v Padmasambhava was invited by the king of Tibet to subdue nature spirits. Others say that they were folk deities, worshipped by Tibetans. Padmasambhava localised Buddhism and brought many deities into its fold. This is why Buddhism came to be accepted in the Himalayan region,” says M D Muthukumaraswamy, Tamil writer and folklorist, head of National Folklore Support Centre, Chennai.
The word ‘vajra’ means ‘strong determination.’ Muthukumaraswamy says that compassion is the vajra that Guru Rinpoche talks about. It is one of the strongest practices. Padmasambhava put compassion above everything else, and simultaneously, he brought in subsidiary deities into the fold of Buddhism. Shakyamuni Buddha predicted the coming of Padmasambhava; his authority as a Buddhist teacher was established in the very
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