Guru Padmasambhava had five women disciples who compiled accounts of his teachings then hid them in various places for future benefit. One of these, Khandro Yeshe Tsogyal, is said to have possessed such a wonderful memory that if she were told a thing only once she remembered it forever. She gathered what she had heard from the Guru into a book called Padma Thangyig Serteng or The Golden Rosary of the Lotus-born (Padmasambhava). It was hidden away and subsequently, under inspiration, revealed over 500 years ago by a terton [treasure-finder.]
Chapters 5-9 contain the tale of two deities that Sir John Woodroffe sees as "the rise and fall of the Self" in which "evil for evil’s sake" is eventually transformed.
Of Former Existences
Once there was a disciple whose name translates as "Transcendent Faith" and who eventually became the bodhisattva Vajrapani (Tib. Chana Dorje) who also known as Guhyapati (Tibetan: sang wa'i dag po.) Also at that time, there was a bodhisattva of the 8th-level known as "Black Salvation" who misinterpreted his teacher’s doctrine and, consciously identifying himself with the world-evil, falls into Hell.
Incarnating at first in gross material forms, he at length manifested as a great Rudra, the embodiment of all wickedness. There is a distinction between Rudra, the Vedic storm god who is Lord of Chaos (Skt. samhara-shakti, Form-loosening Energy) and the kind of being which Woodroffe designated with the spelling, "Rutra." That one is a type of being that is essentially evil; not a devata of a celestial paradise. It is what is known as an adh'atma -- a soul on a lower, destructive, path with "disintegrating propensities" that Chaos uses for its own ends.
These Rudras can be expressions of various kinds of Egoism. For example, a Matam Rudra is Egoism as attached to the gross physical body. An Akar Rudra is one that identifies with its feelings, saying "I am happy, unhappy, and so forth." A Khatram Rudra is the embodiment of Mind-Ego, as when saying of any object, "this is mine."
Now Black Salvation became a rudra of such terrific power that in order to save him (and so save the world) the Buddhas had to intervene. There are four methods by which they and the Bodhisattvas subdue and save sentient beings:
Because Black Salvation incarnated as
the Pride of Egoism in its most terrible form, the last two methods had to be
employed. At last, through the activity of the Glorious One, he is redeemed
through his suffering and becomes
the "Dark Defender of the Faith," later to become the Buddha called "Lord of Ashes" in
the world called Immediately Self-produced [or, self-manifesting.]
This Guru had two disciples, Kuntri who was given the ominously prophetic empowerment name of Black Salvation, and his servant Pramadeva or Transcendent Faith.
Pramadeva understood the verse-lesson above correctly, taking it to mean: Pure Consciousness (Tib. dagpa ye-shes) is the foundation (gshihdsin) of our limited consciousness (rnam-shes) that is called in Scripture "That which is," the real, uncreated "In-Itself-ness." This that remains unaffected or unruffled is the path of Tantra.
Passions (obscurations, Tib. kleshas) are like clouds
wandering in the wide spaces of the sky. These clouds are distinct from, and do not touch, the
background of space against which they appear. Similarly, passions do not touch but disappear from, the Void
(shunyata). Whilst ascending upwards the threefold accomplishment (activity, non-activity, absolute
repose) must be persevered in; and this is the meaning of Thubka’s
At the close of the time of Buddha Dipankara (Marmedzad, Light-maker) he was reborn several times as a huge sea monster [makara]. Just before the time of Buddha Shakyamuni, he was born as the son of a woman in Lankapuri- of-the-Rakshasas. Since his mother consorted with a different kind of being at different times of each day -- a deva in the morning, a fire-demon at noon, and a yaksha [nature spirit] in the evening -- Black Salvation was reborn in the eighth month as the offspring of all three.
Nagpo was indeed black, and horrible to look at with his three heads, each with three
eyes. He had six hands,
four feet and two wings. Immediately at his birth all the auspicious signs of
the country disappeared, and the eighteen inauspicious ones appeared. Malignant epidemics attacked the
whole region of Lanka-puri. Some died, others only suffered, but all were in misery.
and sorrow beset the land. There were disease, bloodshed, mildew, hailstorms, droughts, floods and all
other kinds of calamities. Even dreams were frightful, and ominous signs portending a great catastrophe
oppressed everyone. Evil spirits roamed the land. So great were the evils that it seemed as if the
everyone had been exhausted all at once.
That charnel ground was where the rakshasas used to leave their dead. Elephants and tigers also went there to die; serpents infested it, and earthly dakinis and ghouls brought human bodies there.
After the corpse-bearers had left, the infant sustained his life by sucking the breasts of his mother’s corpse. These yielded only a thin, watery fluid for seven days. Next he sucked the blood and lived a week; then he gnawed at the breast and lived the third week; then he ate the entrails and lived for a week. Then he ate the outer flesh and lived for the fifth week. Lastly he crunched the bones, sucked the marrow, licked the humors and brains and lived a week. He thus in six weeks developed full physical maturity.
Having exhausted his stock of food he moved about; and his motion shook the cemetery building to pieces. He observed the ghouls and dakinis feasting on human corpses which he also took for food, and human blood as drink, filling the skulls with it. His clothing was dried human skin and the hides of dead elephants, the flesh of which he also ate. He also ate the flesh of tigers and wrapped his loins in their fur. He used serpents as bracelets, anklets, armlets and as necklaces and garlands. His lips were thick with frozen fat, and his body was covered with ashes from the cremation ground. He wore a garland of dead skulls on one string, freshly severed heads on another, and decomposing heads on a third. These were worn in an overlapping fashion as a triple garland. Each cheek was adorned with a spot of blood.
His three great heads ever wrathful, of three different colors, were fierce and horrible to look at. The middle head was dark blue and those to the right and left were white and red respectively. His body and limbs which were gigantic in size and proportion, and were an ashy gray color. His skin was coarse and his hair as stiff as hog’s bristles. His mouth gaped showing great fangs. His terrible eyes were fixed in a stare. Half of the dark brown hair on his head stood erect, bound with four kinds of snakes. The nails of his fingers and toes were like the talons of a great bird of prey, which seized, crushed and swallowed anything within reach -- animal or human. He bore a trident and other weapons in his right hands, and with his left he carried skulls filled with blood to his jaws which he then emptied with great relish.
He was a monster of ugliness who delighted in every kind of impious act. His
unnatural food produced a strange luster on his face, which shone with a dull
but great and terrible
light. His breath was so poisonous that those touched by it were attacked with various diseases.
His eyes, ears and arms produced the 404 different
illnesses: paralysis, epilepsy, bubonic swellings, urinary ills, skin diseases, aches, rheumatism, gout, colic, cholera,
leprosy, cancer, smallpox and dropsy, and various other sores and boils appeared in this world at that time.
(For evil thoughts and acts cause the spirit to sicken and as a consequence, gross
Chief of the Demons
At that time, in each of the 24 pilgrimage places, there was a powerful, destructive bhairava (terrifying) spirit. These horrible beings of the various classes: Devas, Gandharvas, Rakshasas, Ashuras and Nagas, were proud, malignant and mighty. They were despotic masters of men with great magical powers of illusion and transformation. They used to wander over those regions of the world dressed in the eight sepulchral garments with the six kinds of bone ornaments, and armed with various weapons, accompanied by their female consorts with whom they reveled in all kinds of obscene orgies. And their chief occupation consisted in depriving sentient beings of their lives.
After a consultation, they all elected Matam Rudra as their chief. Now all these non-human beings became his slaves. In the midst of his horrible retinue he continued to enjoy devouring human beings alive until the race became almost destroyed and the cities emptied. He was thus the most terrible scourge that the earth had ever seen.
And all who died in those days fell into Hell. But, as for Matam Rudra himself, his pride knew no bounds: he thought there was no one greater than himself and he would roar:
And since there was no one to accept the challenge, the world was oppressed in a heavy gloom.
At that time however, Kali proclaimed,
At this announcement, the pride and ambition of the Demon were stirred. His body emitted flames great enough to have consumed all worlds at the great kalpa's dissolution. His voice resounded with a deep thunderous roar like that of a thousand claps of thunder all at once. With sparks of fire shooting from his mouth he summoned his minions. He filled the very heavens with them, and moving with the speed of a meteor he invaded the Rakshasa’s capital of Koka-Thangmaling.
Encamping at the city's walls, Matam Rudra announced himself proudly, at which the entire country of Lanka trembled terribly as in an earthquake. The Rakshasas, male and female, were terrified and their king sent spies to find out the cause of the disturbances. When they saw the terrible creature and his company, they were terrified at the sight and returned to report the fearful news to their king.
He sat in samadhi for awhile and divined the following: According to the Sutra of King Gunadhara, "One who has vexed his Guru’s heart, and broken his friend and brother’s heart -- that haughty son, being released from the three Hells, will take rebirth here and will surely conquer the Lord of Lanka. But in the end he will be conquered by many sugatas (blissful ones, Buddhas) and this event will give birth to Anuttara -vajrayana (the highest tantric method)."
Buddha Marmedzad having revealed this to him, the king wished to see whether this was the Rudra referred to in the prophesy. So he collected his army of rakshasas and went to engage in battle with the demon force.
Matam Rudra was very angry and said:
With this battle cry he overcame the forces of the rakshasas, for he had called
forth the Maruts. [In Vedic times these were the 27 -- or 60
-- sons of Rudra who attended the King of Devatas, Indra.
Aggressively violent forces, they drive the clouds bringing fierce winds that
can fell trees, and even topple mountains.]
When he had thus overcome the rakshasas, Rudra
assumed the title of Matamka, chief over all rakshasas. His pride
was inflated and he again proclaimed,
"Who is there greater than I'?"
"The chief of the armies of ashuras (lhamin, anti-gods or titans) named 'Mahakaru' is mightier than you." Then he invaded the realms of the ashuras with his demon horde and all the ashuras became afflicted with various terrible maladies and were powerless to resist him. Rudra caught hold of the ashura king by the leg and whirling him three times around his head, flung him into Jambudvipa (Rose-apple world which is our world) where he fell at a place called Ge-ne-gynad (Site of Eight Merits.)
Then those ashuras who had not been killed, the eight planets (Skt. grahas) and the twenty-eight constellations (nakshatras) and all the other heavenly bodies sought refuge in every direction but could get no shelter anywhere so they went back and surrendered to Matam Rudra.
Then the ashuras guided Rudra and his forces to a palace named the Round-as- a-Skull where they established their capital. At its very centre, Rudra hoisted his victory banner. They all set their dreadful weapons by the sides of the entrance, and surrounded the place with numerous followers with magical powers.
Having demonstrated his own great magical powers, he took the King of Mountains, Meru, upon the tip of his finger and whirling it round his head, he proclaimed once again, "Rutra, Matra, Marutra ! Is there anyone in this universe greater than me? In all three lokas (realms) there is none greater than I am. And if there be any, him also will I subdue."
To these boastful words Kali answered,
On her so saying, the archdemon blazed forth in a fury of pride and wrath, and set out to conquer Tushita. Now the bodhisattva Jampa-Tobkar (who is coming as Buddha to teach in the human world) was a regent seated on a throne of precious metal in the midst of thousands of devatas both male and female, and was preaching the dharma to them. Rudra seized the regent from his throne, and threw him down into this world-system. All the gods and goddesses gathered together, exclaiming, "Alas, what a fate. O, the sinful wretch!" seven times over.
Thereupon, Rudra fiercely said:
When the celestial regent of the Tushita Heavens (Dampa-Togkar) was just about to pass away from there, he uttered this prophesy to his disciples, who were around him:
Thubka and his good disciple Transcendent Faith who had by then become Buddha Vajrasattva and Bodhisattva Vajrapani, were selected for this purpose. Now they assumed the forms of the deities Hayagriva and Vajravarahi.
(This is said to refer to Jordol (sByor sGrol) in all its meanings -- true communion of male and female which destroys to its uttermost root egoistic attachment; thabs (Skt. upaya) and shesrabs (prajña) method's communion with wisdom whose innermost significance is the non-dual awareness (gNyismed-yeshes) dispelling ignorance and cutting at the root of all samsaric existence by the destruction of all rudras.)
(This refers to the introduction and egoisms of body, feeling and mind. The Glorious One will eradicate the physical and all other Rudras, the monster of the self in all its forms, gross, subtle and causal.)
After uttering these prophecies, he passed away and took re-birth in the womb of Queen Maya Devi.
Then Rudra, having subjugated all the Devas of the thirty-third and the Tushita Heavens, appointed
the two demons, Mara and Devadatta, his two chief officers, to suppress Indra and Brahma.
The archdemon, Rudra himself, took up his abode in the Malaya Mountain, in the place called the Human skull-like
Mansion. There he fed upon devas and human beings, both male and female. Drums, bells, cymbals
and every kind of stringed and other musical instruments were played to him in a perpetual concert with
songs and dances. And every kind of entertainment which the devas used to enjoy, he enjoyed perpetually.
Having thus agreed, all the Buddhas began to seek with their omniscient
When Vajrasattva and Vajrapani, the Buddha and Bodhisattva of the Vajrayana become Hayagriva and Vajravarahi in heruka form, blazing in the nine kinds of physical magnificence and splendor, they proceeded to the abode of the Rudra at Malaya Mountain.
On the four sides of the Mountain were four gates and each was guarded by a demoness, bearing respectively a Mare’s, Sow’s, Lion’s and a Dog’s head. These the Glorious One had conquered, and united with in a spirit of non-attachment so that from their unions were born the (1) White Horse-faced (2) Black Sow-faced, (3) Red Lion-faced and (4) the Green Dog-faced daughters.
Proceeding further, they met another cordon of sentries also female, with the heads of a (1) Lioness, (2) Tigress, (3) Fox, (4) Wolf, (5) Vulture, (6) Stork, (kanka is likely the carrion-eating or "adjutant" stork, (7) Raven, and (8) Owl.
With these too, the Glorious One united in a spirit of non-attachment, and blessed the act. Of this union also, were born female offspring that each took after their mother in shape (matter) and their father in mind. Thus were the eight demi-goddesses born: Lion-head, Tiger-head and so on. Divine in mind, they possess prescience and wisdom, although they retain their monstrous features.
Again proceeding further inward, he encountered the daughters of the rudras and of
named respectively Nyobyed-ma or Maddener, Tagbyed-ma or Frightener, Dri-medma
or Pure, Kem-pama or Dissicator, Phor-thogma or Cup-bearer and Zhyong-thogma the
Hearing that Rudra was struck with mortal fear, but coming to the spot he said:
Saying this, he raised his hands and came to lay them on the young one’s head.
At this, Hayagriva immediately entered the rudra's body from below by the secret path (Skt.
guhya) and impaling him right the way through, showed his horse-head out
the top of the head of the rudra. The oily fat of its body made the horse head look green. The
mane dyed with blood became red and
the eye-brows splashed with its bile became yellow. The forehead splashed with
brains became white. And so the Glorious One, having assumed the shape and
the rudra, took on a terrible majesty.
Then the two divine beings embraced each other, and in this form engendered [another] male child, a krodhabhairava (wrathful-terrifier.) Having done this, Hayagriva neighed shrilly six times, and Vajravarahi grunted deeply five times.
Then all the hosts of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas assembled as thickly as birds of prey settling on carrion filling all space. They were of the peaceful, the wrathful, the half-peaceful and the half-wrathful orders, in inconceivably large numbers. They began to surround the rudra Tharpa-Nagpo, who being unable to bear the pain of being stretched asunder, cried in agony:
As he said this, his bowels loosened involuntarily and the excrement fell into the
ocean and so was purified, and there at once sprang up a precious sandalwood
tree [believed to preserve] which was a Wish-granting tree.
This tree took root in the nether world of the nagas, spread its foliage in the
realm of the ashuras, and bore its fruit in the realm of the gods. And the fruits were named
amrita (elixir of immortality).
Then Pal Chagna-dorje (Shri Vajrapani) multiplied himself into countless avataras [activity-forms] and these again multiplied into myriads of avatars, all of the terrible and wrathful type.
The Rudra also showed supernatural powers, for he transformed himself into a nine-headed monster huge as Mount Meru, with eighteen hands -- he was after all, a bodhisattva of the eighth degree who had fallen back. So it was that even the Buddhas found it difficult to subdue him, not to mention the gods and humans!
Then Vajrapani manifested still greater divine powers of every imaginable description, and all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas established their abodes on the greatly enlarged and distended body of the Rudra. Unable to bear the agony of this pressure, he roared with pain,
But though he uttered these commands, there was none to obey him.
Everyone surrendered to Bhagavan (Skt. for Lord) Vajra Heruka. Thus all the subordinates of
Rudra, the thirty-two
Dakinis, the seven Matrikas, and the
four Sisters (Tib. Sring bzhi) the eight Furies (Barmas or flaming ones), the eight Genii (spirits or attendants
on the Devatas) and the sixty-four Messengers all came over to the side of Heruka, and the Divine
Offspring (Krodhabhairava) took upon himself the duty of serving the food of the
Having said that, they prostrated themselves which is why every deity is depicted having a rudra beneath his or her feet. Then the vassal chiefs of the Rudra submitted their prayers:
Thus they all swore the oath of allegiance. Then the holder of mysteries, the Glorious One Vajrapani, pierced the heart of prostrate Rudra with the phurba, absolving him. All his karmic debts and flaws (Tib. klesha) were immediately absolved.
Then he was empowered, vows were laid on him, the water consecrated him. His body, speech and mind were blessed and dedicated to divine service, and the dorje was laid on his head, throat and heart. From that moment on, he was empowered to be the dharma protector, the guardian named the Good Dark One, and his secret name conferred at that initiation was Mahakala. That is how he came to be included in the assembly of vajrayana deities.
Finally, it was revealed to him that he would become a Buddha by the name of Thalwai-Wangpo (Lord of Ashes) in the world called Kodpa-lhundrup (self-produced, or made-all-at-once,)
Then Rudra’s corpse was thrown on Jambudvipa, where it fell on its back. The head fell on Sinhala (Shri Lanka /Ceylon), the right arm and hand upon the Thogar (?) country and the left hand on Leh (Ladakh). The right leg fell on Nepal, and the left on Kashmir. The entrails fell over Zahor. The heart fell on Urgyen (Udayana), and the lingam on Magadha. These form the eight chief countries.
Thus originated the eight matrikas of the
sthanas headed by Gaurima and others: the eight natural stupas
headed by Potala; the eight siddhis or powers which fascinate; the eight
eight great trees, the eight great realm-protectors (shing-kyong), the eight lakes, the eight great
nagas, the eight clouds, and the eight great dikpalas (cyogs-kyong, Protectors of the Directions) as well
as the eight great cemeteries.
OM, BENZA KILI KILAYA SARWA BIGHANEN, BAM HUNG P'HAT!
pron.: om benzra kila kilaya sarwa beganin, ba hum peh.