Padmakara has influenced countless beings through the Vajrayana teachings and in particular through the activity of the profound terma treasures. This great master was not an ordinary person on the path or just a noble being on one of the bodhisattva bhumis but an emanation of both Buddha Amitabha and Shakyamuni who appeared in order to tame the human beings and spirits difficult to convert.
The most popular version of Guru Rinpoche’s birth is based on the recorded words of Lord Buddha who prophesied that Guru Rinpoche would be the Second Buddha of our times, that he would be miraculously born on the bud of a lotus flower and not from the womb of a woman. Other hagiographies state that he was born to a physical mother.
According to miraculous birth as it appears in the terma teachings, in the land of Uddiyana situated to the west of Bodhgaya there was an island in a huge lake on which appeared a multicolored lotus flower through the blessings of the buddhas. Buddha Amitabha sent from his heart center a golden vajra marked with the letter HRIH into the bud of this lotus flower which miraculously turned into a small child eight years of age holding a vajra and a lotus and adorned with the major and minor marks. The child remained there teaching the profound Dharma to the devas and dakinis on the island.
At that time Indrabodhi, who was the king of the country, had no sons. As a last resort, in order to find a wishfulfilling jewel he embarked on a journey with his minister Krishnadhara on the great lake. On their return they met the miraculous child. The king regarded him as an answer to his prayers for a son and brought him to the palace where he was given the name Padmakara, the Lotus Born.
The prince ruled the kingdom of Uddiyana in accordance with the Dharma. At that time he perceived that he would be unable to accomplish the immense welfare of other beings by governing a country so he left the kingdom. He remained in Cool Grove, Joyful Forest and Sosaling, engaging in the conduct of yogic disciplines. During this time he received empowerment and blessings from the two dakinis Tamer of Mara and Sustainer of Bliss.
Padmakara returned to Uddiyana, to the island in Lake Danakosha where he practiced Secret Mantra and the symbolic language of the dakinis through which he brought the dakinis on the island under his command.
He then practiced in the Rugged Forest and was blessed with a vision of Vajra Yogini. He bound under oath all the nagas of the lakes as well as the planetary spirits and was invested with supernatural powers by all the dakas and dakinis.
Seeing the many reasons to have a teacher, he went to Zahor where he took ordination from Prabhahasti and was given the name Shakya Senge. Then he went to the female master Kungamo who was the wisdom dakini Guhya Jñana appearing in the form of a nun. He asked for empowerment and she changed him into the letter HUNG which she then swallowed and emitted through her lotus. Inside her body he was bestowed the entire outer, inner and secret empowerments and purified of the three obscurations.
Padmakara studied and received all the sutras, tantras and sciences from numerous learned and accomplished masters of India.
He then went again to the country of Zahor where he practiced together with dakini Mandarava for three months in the Maratika Cave after which Buddha Amitayus appeared in person. Having attained the vajra body beyond birth and death, they went back to teach the kingdom of Zahor. There they were arrested by the king and his ministers and burned alive. The master and his consort inspired faith by displaying the miracle of transforming the pyre into a cool lake in the center of which they sat on a lotus flower. They caused all the people to embrace Dharma practice and established them in the state beyond falling back into samsara.
Padmakara manifested himself in many forms such as Acharya Padmavajra as well as the Brahmin Saraha, Dombi Heruka, Virupa, Kalacharya and many other siddhas. He subdued the outer and inner mundane spirits and named them protectors of the Dharma. He practiced in the great charnel grounds where he taught the Secret Mantra to the dakinis. During his practice he attained all the levels of vidyadhara.
When the Tibetan King Trisong Deutsen, was twenty years of age he formed a strong aspiration to spread the sacred teachings of the Dharma. He invited Khenpo Bodhisattva from India. In accordance with the Khenpo’s prediction, the king sent five runners to invite the great master Padmakara to come. Having foreknowledge of this, Padmakara had already gone to Mang-Yul between Nepal and Tibet.
On the way to Central Tibet, he miraculously visited all of the districts where he bound under oath the 12 Tenma Goddesses, the 13 Gurlha and 21 Genyen as well as many other powerful spirits.
At the Tamarisk Forest at Red Rock he met the king of Tibet. He laid the foundation for Samye and saw it through to completion, employing also the gods and demons who had earlier hindered the building.
The king then wished to translate the scriptures and establish the Dharma. The Khenpo Bodhisattva and Padmakara and the other panditas together with Vairotsana, Kawa Paltsek and Chog-ro Lui Gyaltsen and the other translators then rendered into Tibetan all the existent Buddhist scriptures on Sutra and Tantra as well as most of the treatises explaining them.
Padmakara gave numberless profound and extraordinary teachings connected with the three inner tantras to many destined students headed by the king and his sons and the twenty-five disciples in Lhodrak, Tidro and many other places.
Guru Rinpoche remained in Tibet for 55 years and six months.
He visited in person numerous places in Tibet each of which he blessed to be a sacred place of practice. Knowing that a descendant of the king would later try to destroy Buddhism in Tibet, he gave many predictions for the future. Conferring with the king and the close disciples, Padmakara concealed countless terma teachings headed by the eight personal treasures of the king, the five great mind treasures, and the 25 profound treasures. The reasons for hiding these termas were to prevent the teachings of Secret Mantra to be destroyed, to avoid that the Vajrayana is corrupted or modified by intellectuals, to preserve the blessings and to benefit future disciples.For each of these hidden treasures Padmakara predicted the time of the disclosure, the person who would reveal them, and the destined recipients who would hold the teachings. He manifested in the terrifying wrathful form of crazy wisdom in the thirteen places named Tiger’s Nest binding all the mundane spirits under oath to serve the Dharma and entrusted them to guard the terma treasures. At that time he was named Dorje Drollo.
To inspire faith in future generations, he left an imprint of his body at Bumtang, hand prints at Namtso Chugmo and footprints at Paro Drakar as well as in innumerable other places of practice.
It is impossible to count exactly how many students in Tibet received empowerment from Padmakara in person. The most renowned are the original twenty-five disciples. 80 of his students attained rainbow body.
When about to leave for the land of rakshas to the southwest, he gave extensive advice and teachings to the king, the ministers and to other disciples and departed from the pass of Gungtang, riding on a horse or a lion, accompanied by numerous divine beings making offerings. At the summit of the Glorious Copper-colored Mountain on the Chamara continent he liberated Raksha Totreng, the king of therakshas, and assumed his form.
At present he dwells on the vidyadhara level of spontaneous presence in the form of the regent of Vajradhara, unshakable for as long as samsara remains. Full of compassion he sends out emanations to benefit beings. Even after the teachings of the Vinaya have perished he will appear among the tantric practitioners. There will be many destined disciples who attain rainbow body. In the future, when Buddha Maitreya appears in this world, Padmakara will emanate as Drowa Kundul and spread the teachings of Secret Mantra to all worthy people.
From the Short Biography by Jamgon Kongtrul the First