Maha Guru Padmasambhawa, the legendary Indian Buddhist Mystic who introduced Vajrayana Buddhism to Tibet is credited for establishing ‘Samye’ the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet. Shantarakshita began construction of ‘Samye’ around 763, and Guru Padmasambhava tamed the local spirits for its completion in 779. The first Tibetan monks were ordained there. Samye was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution* then rebuilt after 1988.
Guru Padmasambhava was a Tantric and a Yogacara sect member who lectured in Nalanda, India’s ancient great Buddhist studies center. In 747, King Th-srong-detsan welcomed him to Tibet, and he landed at Samye (Bsan-yas), where he is claimed to have exorcised demons who were creating earthquakes to obstruct the construction of a Buddhist monastery. In 749, he oversaw the monastery’s completion.
Rnying-ma-pa (the Old Order), a Tibetan Buddhist sect, claims to be the closest to Guru Padmasambhava’s teachings, stressing Tantric ceremony, devotion, and Yoga. Around 1125, texts essential to the sect’s teachings that were claimed to have been buried by Guru Padmasambhava began to be discovered. He also had numerous Tantric texts translated into Tibetan from the original Sanskrit.
The Eight Manifestations are also considered Guru Padmasambhava’s 1500-year biography. Guru Padmasambhava appeared on earth as a human and also displayed certain remarkable manifestations in order to break the human connection to dualistic concepts and eliminate complicated neurotic fixations.
On Padmasambhava Day, Vajrayana Buddhist devotees celebrate this great teacher’s transforming force. He subdues the demons with his right hand while holding a skull cup of amrit nectar with his left, sitting in a position of regal ease and sporting a wrathful grin. The vulture feather in his cap represents the bird that flies the highest, and his staff, or khatvanga, reminds of the power of change.
The Cultural Revolution, formally the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, was a violent sociopolitical movement in China from 1966 until Mao Zedong’s death in 1976.