Part 2: Becoming a
The prince was not dismayed by his surroundings; it was a most suitable place
in which to practice the twelve observances of a bhikshu.
There at Shitani he
experienced funerals, saw grieving relatives and friends, smelled corpses
and the stench of decay. He sat and watched as in the night wild animals
came to fight over bodies that to them were nothing but meat. Thus, he learned
about impermanence, suffering, but also about Emptiness.
Sometimes, spirits both good and bad appeared to him. His
accomplishment in meditation and other practices enabled him to overcome and
subdue them. He gradually exerted his influence over them all - from the
merely troubling, to the dangerous, and eventually, the most wild and fierce of
ancient demonic beings.
of all four classes learned of his accomplishments, they came to conduct him to
the Guardian Cave for special instruction. There, he received teachings in
all the arts and sciences directly from the sages of ancient times who took on
bodily forms again only for this purpose. The codifier of Yoga, Patanjali
himself, again took human rebirth to teach him.
*Tsokye Dorje became adept at the highest practices and
was able to attain the state of samadhi called the Unshakeable. In that
way, though clothed in the rags of the dead and subsisting only on the
milk-rice that had been left with them, he was content.
Now, a great famine arose in the land. Corpses were piled upon
corpses. It was said that the prince flayed them for their skin as garments
and their flesh for food. By the mastery of these extreme means, he was
able to subdue even the most terrifying of mamo dakinis.
At that time, in Gausho district, there was an evil king called Shakraraja
who misled his subjects through his example and by teaching wrong and harmful
views. Prince Tsokey Dorje wearing human skin as a shirt, a tiger skin
around his waist, and his hair gathered up with a snake, went marauding
in that land equipped with his bow and five iron arrows. He brought
those people under his influence by means of the tanagana ritual, becoming
known as Rakshasa, the Demon.
Wielding his special sword Taramashi, and accompanied by some of his armed
subjects, the king placed a champion archer at the foot of the cemetery in an
attempt to trap 'Rakshasa' like a beast. The prince despatched the other
bowman with an arrow of his own, and escaped earning the name Youthful
By now, Padmasambhava had had many different blessings from dakinis:
At Joyful Grove, he had been blessed by Subduer of Mara. South of
Udyana at Sosaling, Sustainer of Peace gave her blessing.
It is said that at one point he returned secretly to the island where he
first manifested in the lotus. There by practicing dakini secret sign
language, he magnetized the
four classes of dakini, and also bound to his service and that of the
dharma, the nagas and the spirits of the air, too.
At Rugged Grove, he had a vision of Vajravarahi who empowered him.
Dakinis and dakas of three levels and four orders taught him dharma, bestowing
upon him attainments and transmissions and giving him his secret name, Dorje
Drakpo Tsal ( Vajra Powerful-Wrath.)
After this initiation, Padmasambhava was ready to set out for Bodhgaya. At
the site of the enlightenment of Buddha Shakyamuni, he manifested sometimes as
a group of monks making offerings, or as yogis doing various
Whenever people became curious, and asked about his origins, he would reply
that he was a
nirmanakaya manifestation - a self-appeared Buddha. But as is only
natural, they doubted his word thinking anyone who did miracles without
an apparent teacher must be a kind of demon. And so to set a good
example about relying on a teacher, he sought the home of Guru Prabhahasti.
On the way he met two monks, Shakyamaitri and Shakyamitra from whom he
requested teaching. But they thought, "It's that demon!" and
said, "If you are sincere about learning, first hand over your
So Padmasambhava to show his sincerity, did just that. But still the
monks would not accept him; they directed him to Garuda Red-Rock which was
where their own teacher Prabhahasti, lived.
The guru accepted Padmasambhava, ordaining him as Shakya Senge.
Under his guidance he studied the three sections of Yoga Tantra: Sundha
Jnanaya, Yogacharaya, Tatvasamgraha, and as an indication of his
accomplishment, he subsequently had visions of the 37 tantric deities.
Now he wanted to study techniques for longevity and also Mahamudra.
He sought Guru Manjushrimitra at Mount Malaya, but that teacher said that
first he ought to find the nun at Sandal Grove called Kungamo.
At the grove which was another charnel ground, Shakya Senge met a girl who
was fetching water, and showed her a letter of recommendation from
Manjushrimitra. She would pay no attention to him, so he nailed her yoke and
buckets to the ground with a spell. Now she drew a crystal knife from
her sash and finally spoke, " Yes, you certainly do have some magic
powers there, but look !" She sliced open her own breast to reveal all 42
peaceful deities inside. Then she opened her abdomen and revealed the 58
Shakya Senge immediately prostrated and then began to circumambulate her,
but she said, "I am not the one you seek. Go on inside."
Inside, surrounded by 33 maidens in the process of offering a tsok (ritual
feast) sat Kungamo on her throne, adorned only with her bone ornaments and
holding her drum and skull bowl. He made offerings and prostrated
himself and asked for outer, inner and secret empowerments.
Turning her attention on him, she instantly transformed him into the seed
syllable Hung! which she then swallowed up empowering him within the
mandala of her own body, and then she purified the obscurations of his body,
speech and mind as she emitted this Hung! from her lotus opening.
Transforming him into Buddha Amitabha, she bestowed longevity upon
him. Then as Avalokiteshvara, he attained the vidyadhara level of
Mahamudra. Finally as Hayagriva, he was empowered to magnetize or charm
all dakinis, mamos and other such devas and spirits. He was given the
name of Loden Chogsey.
Now, as Loden Chogsey he was ready to return to his studies.
Guru Manjushrimitra* now accepted Loden Chogsey and
undertook to teach him about Manjushri, and the student's success was
rewarded with a vision of that deity. Under master Humkara, he studied
all the teachings of Vishuddha. With Prabhahasti again, he studied the
Vajrakilaya texts and then under the great philosopher Nagarjuna he studied
being and causality, and the texts on rhetoric.
Before Buddhaguya, he studied the magical display of all the peaceful and
wrathful deities. On to Mahavajra, under whom he received the Nectar
With Dana Sanskrita he learned all about the Mother Deities. With
Rombuguhya Devachandra he learned all there was to know of mundane forms of
worship, and with Shantigarbha, he learned the Maledictory Fierce Mantra
and all about the fierce and subjugating Dharma Protectors.
Finally, with Shri Singha he studied the Great Perfection.
He had mastered all these teachings and had visions of all the deities and
was renowned far and wide as Loden Chogsey.
Tsokey Dorje, no longer a teenager, set off on his travels. He first
went to the Land of Five Rivers (Punjab), then to many other places but he
almost always chose a cemetery as his dwelling place. In Biddha, he was
called Rays of the Sun,
in the Kashmir valley he was chief
Sage of Desire (bDechen brDal), at
the cemetery of Lhungrub brtsegs-pa in Nepal and at Yaksha Fort he subjugated
the eight classes of Damsri and was known as Roaring
One hot and humid afternoon, he went into a wine shop for a drink.
Before long, he found himself at the centre of a group of companions talking of
this and that. The more they drank, the more they talked, the more they talked,
the thirstier they got. After a while, the proprietor presented his tab but no
one at the table was prepared to pay and they each looked to the others to deal
with the matter at hand.
Tsoky Dorje certainly had no money, and so he said to the wine seller, Do
not worry. Please let us enjoy ourselves. By the time the sun goes down, the
account will be settled. So the
landlord agreed to wait until then.
They sat and drank. They talked. They sang. Sometimes, of course, they had to
go outside. Every now and then, one or more of the party would fall asleep. But
sunset did not seem any closer then than it had when the owner first presented
It was a full seven days before that party ended! Not a full flask remained,
but the proprietor saw that all he could do was to excuse the debt. This was
obviously not an ordinary business transaction, nor was this an ordinary human
Padmasambhava rose from the table and went on his way taking the red glow of
evening with him. When the sun had finally set below the horizon, the very tired
villagers went to bed.
similar tavern tale is found in the life story or namtar of
the mahasiddha, Virupa.
It was in Lanka tsegspa in the country of Zahor that Tsoky Dorje
became renowned as Padmasambhava.
The very accomplished Loden Chogsey now had the aspiration to cause all the
people of Udyana, and India too, to enter on the path of the Buddha's
doctrine. Choosing to do this by means of the Tantrayana, he knew he
ought to find a woman to be his genuine spiritual consort. It was for
that reason that he went to Zahor, for he had heard that King Arshadhara had a
most beautiful 16-year old daughter named after the flower, Mandarava.
Now the king's daughter was
refusing all the suitors who vied for her hand in marriage. Some wanted
her for themselves; others as a bride to one or, as was sometimes the custom, to
all of their sons. Mandarava Kumari
Devi (Goddess Princess Mandarava) was both intelligent and beautiful and so
there was an added complication; if an alliance of marriage were to be made with
one country, the others would certainly be envious and there would be peace no
longer in that region of the world. This wedding would not be an occasion for
joy but rather for bloodshed.
It is said by some that he magnetized her, that he put a spell on her so
that she would become his tantric mudra, the support both in a physical
and a spiritual way for his practice.
Others say, that following the ancient custom made famous by the Hindu
princess Savitri, Mandarava was permitted to choose for herself.
However, Mandarava was as attracted to the practice of dharma as she was to the
handsome and powerful Padmasambhava. She decided to become a fully
ordained nun, and so the choice of a husband posed a problem no longer.
She became his student and devoted herself to his teachings. Together they
went into the forest to live in seclusion with only the beasts for company.
South of the Potala Palace, home of Chenresi, there is a cave called
Maratika that faces south and all around it there falls a continuous rain
of flowers. To this sweet-scented place, the couple retired to
practice the vidhyadara level of longevity that employs the practice of
After three months, they had a vision in which the deity empowered them by
placing his vase upon their heads and then poured his nectar of immortality
into their mouths. This rendered their bodies into vajra bodies so that
now they were beyond life and death. As Hayagriva and Vajravarahi, they
attained a condition of immortality.
Some say what happened next was because they went together to beg alms in
the city as it is the custom for ascetics to do. That people were
envious because he was a foreigner and in the company of the king's
daughter. That others had somehow heard that in the past he had done
violent and despicable things, and demanded he be taken into custody.
But another version tells us that:
There was among the members of the king's
household, a cowherd remarkable for his ugliness both in body and personality.
When he happened upon the hut of the guru and his chela (devoted
student,) he hid and observed them. They rose together early in the
morning, they ate together, they meditated together and, when darkness fell,
they went to bed together.
He returned to tell the king of Zahor that Mandarava, ordained or not, seemed
to be living the life of a married woman. The king was furious and sent
messengers to fetch his daughter to him so that he could know the truth of the
matter from her own lips.
Lives and Liberation of Princess Mandarava.
Since she was a dutiful daughter, since she loved her parents and since she
would not break the precept against the telling of untruths, Mandarava
confessed. She said that the relationship between herself and her teacher had
become a physically intimate one. She had in fact become Padmasambhava's
The king was enraged at what he saw as a betrayal of his trust on both their
parts. With the complicity of some of the rejected suitors, he threw his
daughter into a deep pit, layered it over with thorny branches and covered it
with earth. On top of this he cause to be built a huge pile of santal wood
drenched in oil, enough to burn for nine whole days and nights. The Guru was
bound securely to the central pole and the pyre was set alight.
Normally, when people were burned in this manner, the smoke ceased after
three days, but some say the fire spread and the palace itself, burnt to the
Then the fire burned for a third of that month, all day and all night.
The king=s anger burned with it.
On the ninth day, the king of Zahor went to inspect the ashes. What did he
see? A crowd of people surrounded the site; many of them were bowing down, some
were seated motionless. They made way for the king.
Seated serenely in the midst of the dwindling flames sat Padmasambhava in the
lotus posture among a group of lotus flowers. Not a hair of his mustache
or shiny black beard was singed. The king, astounded, developed faith in the
nature of this siddha/guru. He requested that the yogi come out from
amidst the still-burning embers.
Guru Padmasambhava said, AI am able
to see that just as this fire has not yet burnt itself out neither has your
anger. When you have cooled down completely, I will emerge.@
The king prostrated himself many times, and paying attention to his feelings
and to the nature of his own mind he made repeated requests to the Guru.
Finally, Padmasambhava unlocked his legs and stood up and the remains of the
pyre turned to water. Now the king had to ask him to come out of a lake!
The Guru briefly vanished only to emerge dripping like
a makara, the mysterious water animal, on
the shore of the new lake now called Tsopema (at Rewalsar in Himachal
No one had forgotten Mandarava in her oven of darkness. A hole was dug
through the little island in the midst of the new lake and miraculously the
Princess also emerged unscathed.
In this way, the people of Zahor were won over to the Dharma and
Padmasambhava became known also as Padmakara.
*Indented text has material derived from The
Lotus-born, ch. 3 & 4.
*The names here are a variant of the 8 traditional vidyadharas:
Manjushrimitra, Nagarjuna, Hungkara, Vimalamitra, Prabhahasti, Dhana Sanskrita,
Shantigarbha, Guyachandra. These mahasiddhas probably constitute the Secret
Brotherhood of the Himalayas, as Theosophists and some others have termed
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