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Guru Padmasambhava

After the death of Sron Tsan Gampo, one of the most famous kings of Tibet, around 650 AD, Buddhism suffered greatly in Tibet and made little headway against the prevailing shamanist superstitions. Then about a century later, his powerful descendant Thi-Sron Detsan succeeded to the throne. A few years later the young king sent his messengers to India to look for a celebrated Buddhist priest who can establish an order in Tibet. The King was advised by his family priest, the Indian monk Santarakshita, to secure, if possible, the services of his brother-in-law, Guru Padmasambhava who was then a resident of the Nalanda University in India and an outstanding member of the then popular Tantrik Yogacharya school.

Guru Padmasambhava promptly responded to the invitation of the Tibetan King and accompanied the messengers back to Tibet

Guru Padmasdambhava

in 747 A.D. The great Tibetologist and author Austine Waddell writes in his accounts that “The Tibetans, steeped in superstition which beset them on every side by from their terrible tormentors. ” Arriving in Tibet in 747 A.D. Guru Padmasambhava subjugated and tamed all local spirits opposed to Buddhism with the power of his magic.

Malignant devils, warmly welcomed the Guru as he brought them deliverance Later the Tantric Master founded Lamaism based on Buddhism. Under the zealous patronage of king Thi-Sron Detsan he built at Samye in 749 A.D., the first Tibetan monastery. The school that is traditionally considered the oldest is the Nyingmapa which can be directly traced to Guru Padmasambhava and to texts from the time of the first diffusion of Buddhism in Tibet. The Nyingmapa only formed a real order in the 11th and 12th centuries as a reaction to, and buffer against, the promoters of the second wave of Buddhism and a large part of their holy texts is made up of those believed to have been hidden by Guru Padmasambhava, his mystical consort and contemporary grand masters. The hidden texts were found and later revealed at certain times by the tertonpa “discoverers of spiritual treasurers” – and passed on to Nyingmapa followers. Today initiation to the order must still be centered on a master disciple basis. The Nyingmapa practitioners are either monks and live in the monastery or are Tantric masters, who might marry and lead a normal family life. The Nyingamapa tradition is especially wide spread in the mountains, where monastic institution and long curriculum of studies are not easy to organize. Simplified forms of transmission of teachings from the master to his disciples allow priests to practice religious functions while also leading a normal family life. – (Maria A.S. Diemberger).

The founder of Nyingpapa Sect of Buddhism, Guru Rinpoche, has eight worshipful forms (Guru Tsen-gyay) which are:-
(i) Guru Padma Jhung-ney, “Born of a lotus for the happiness of the three worlds".
(ii) Guru Padma-Sambhava, “Born of a lotus-Saviour by the religious doctrine”.
(iii) Guru Padma Gyalpo, “Born of a lotus – the king of the three collections of scriptures” (Sanskrit : Tripitaka)
(iv) Guru Dorje Do-lo, “The Dorjee comforter of all.”
(v) Guru Nima Yo-zer, “The enlightening sun of darkness.”
(vi) Guru Sakya Sengey, “The second Sakya – the lion”, who does the work of eight sages.
(vii) Guru Sengey da dok, the propagator of religion in the six worlds – with “the roaring lion’s voice.”
(viii) Guru Lo-ten Chog-Se, “The conveyer of knowledge to all worlds”

However, Guru Rinpoche is most commonly worshipped in the form where he sits dressed as a native of Udyana, holding a Thunderbolt in his right hand and a skull of blood in hid left, and carrying in his left armpit the trident of the king of death. The top of this trident transfixed a freshly decapitated human head, a wizened head, and a skull. The Guru’s most powerful weapons in warring with the demons were the thunderbolt (Sanskrit: Vajra, Bhutia: Dorje), symbolic of the thunderbolt of Indra and spells extracted from the Mahayana gospels, by which he shattered his supernatural adversaries (Austin Waddell).

According to Tertons or hidden spiritual treasures and chronicles as recorded in the works of Lha-tsun Namkha Jigme Chenmo, Guru Padmasambhava visited Sikkim on his way to Tibet in the eighth century. Although Guru left no converts and erected no buildings, he is said to have hid away in Sikkim’s caves many holy books for the use of posterity. Sikkim is therefore also known as ‘Bayul Demo-shong’ (the land of Hidden Valley). It is also strongly believed that Guru Rinpoche has personally consecrated every sacred spot in Sikkim including the majestic Mt. Khang-Chen-Dzo-nga (The great snowy range of five precious treasures) which is the guardian deity of Sikkim. Incidentally, the birthday of Guru Rinpoche, which falls every year on the 10th day of the sixth month according to the Lunar Calender, is a gazetted holiday in Sikkim.

There are numerous accounts substantiating Guru Rinpoche’s visit to Sikkim. The footprint of Guru Rinpoche on a sacred boulder at Chugthang where he is believed to have spent an over night en route to Tibet. The sacred cave above Tholung Gompa in Dzongu area in North Sikkim where Guru Rinpche is believed to have spend many days bears strong testimony to the saint’s visit to Sikkim. The impression of volumes of holy scriptures on the nearby rocks which Guru could not take to Tibet is not only an awe-inspiring sight but strongest evidence of Furu’s stay in this land made holy by His presence. There are a number of other marks and symbols throughout Sikkim which corroborates Guru Padmasambhava’s visit to Sikkim.

Today Guru Padmasambhava or “the Lotus born one” is deified and worshipped as the “second Buddha” and is usually called by the Bhutias Guru Rinpoche or “the precious Guru”; or simply Lo-pon, the Bhutia equivalent of the Sanskrit “Guru” or “Teacher”. He is also called “Ugyan” or “Urgyan”, as he was a native of Udyana or Urgyan, the then the most northerly Province of India.


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