Inseparable from the Primordial Buddha Samantabhadra, the all-pervading Lord of the three jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and master of the three roots of lama, yidam, and dakini, the glorious Guru Padmasambhava should be definitively understood as being the essence of Buddha Amitabha. In order to propagate and spread the teachings of the Dharma in general, and particularly the secret mantra and Dzogchen teachings, he appears to every being of the three thousand billion world systems in a form to benefit them according to their personal karmic vision. In this way Guru Padmasambhava has countless unimaginable biographies, one biography for each being. Although that is the definitive biography of Guru Padmasambhava, the historical figure Guru Padmasambhava's life-story as known to the common disciples is as follows.
When the time for Guru Rinpoche to liberate the beings of this world approached, on the tenth day of the sixth month of the Monkey year, he appeared miraculously in the blossom of a lotus in the lake called "Ocean of Milk" in South West Odiyana, which is also known as Lake Danakosha located on the Afganistan-Pakistan frontier. However there are different interpretations regarding his birth. Some Indian historians affirm that he was born to a minister or a King of Odiyana, and some claim that he appeared instantaneously on the summit of Mt. Malaya in Sri Lanka. But Guru Padmasambhava's treasure teachings confirm the version which states that he was born spontaneously from a lotus. This source is the most renowned and thus the following history is provided accordingly.
The great river Sindhu, one of the four great rivers that springs from the four directions of Kailash mountain, flows towards the Western Land of Odiyana and finally empties into the Arabian Sea. When the river reaches Odiyana, it forms a lake filled with lotuses. As the lotus roots produce a sweet-milky juice, it is called "Ocean of Milk." Prior to Guru Padmasambhava's birth, in the center of the lake a large, fully mature, beautiful, red lotus grew, and from the heart of Buddha Amitabha in space, a red syllable HRI fell about eight cubits above the corolla of the lotus. The syllable dissolved into light and instantly, without depending on the causes and conditions of father and mother, there arose an eight-year-old child perfectly adorned with the characteristic major and minor marks. Holding a vajra and a lotus in his hands, he immediately began giving teachings to the gods and dakinis of the area.
At that time, the ruler of the land of Odiyana, the Second King Indrabodhi, was residing in his nine-tufted palace with his queen as well as hundreds and thousands of inner and outer ministers. Because the king did not have a son, on the full moon day of the fifth summer month, he made great offerings to the Triple Gems and recited the Dharma Cloud Sutra. He also opened the door of his three thousand treasuries and went on distributing alms to the poor and needy until his wealth was exhausted. He then exclaimed, "Beggars have still not ceased, but I have nothing to grant!" When the remaining beggars did not receive their share, they told the king that if he did not provide their share, whatever was done in the past would be meaningless. The king heard this and, inspired to acquire inexhaustive wealth for the beggars, he travelled to the ocean to procure the wish-fulfilling jewel from the crown of the mystical creature, Charumati, daughter of Naga. He procured the jewel without mishap and sailed back with his boat filled with the seven varieties of jewels. While travelling to meet the king, the king's religious minister, Trig Na Dzin, found the extraordinary child on the lotus and narrated the full story of the child to the king. The king was pleased by this news and went to the child and inquired about his father, mother, and to which caste and country he belonged. The child exclaimed:
My father is the self-arisen Samantabhadra. My mother is the sphere of reality, Samantabhadri. My caste is the union of primordial wisdom and the Dharmadhatu. And my name is the glorious Padmasambhava.
Having heard this, the king was thrown into a wonder of delight. He thought a Nirmanakaya had taken birth and invited the child to the palace as his son as well as religious guide. The child was named "Padmasambhava" meaning "lotus-born." Later Padmasambhava married Prabhadharani, the daughter of King Chandan Gomashree, and ruled the kingdom in accordance with the Dharma. He became renown as Shikhabandh Raja or "The King With Plaited Hair."
He perceived that since politics is contradictory to the teachings of liberation, and his position would not fulfill the purpose of sentient beings, he performed a mystical activity of killing the son of a wicked minister and lifted his consciousness into the Dharmadhatu. As a result he was banished from the country to the fearful cemetery of Sitavana. Gradually by performing mystical activities at the cemeteries of Nandanvan, Daanbhumidvipa, Parushakavan, and so forth he accomplished the common and uncommon siddhis and came to be known as Rodravajrakala, "The Wrathful Vajra Display."
Guru Dhimana Varruchi
In order to inspire faith towards the teachings in the disciples of the future, he then went to Bodhgaya and many other places displaying the act of receiving teachings from many great scholars, accomplished masters, and Dakinis. By listening just once, he comprehended and accomplished the whole canon of the three-baskets of Vinaya, Sutra, and Abhidharma, as well as the teachings of the outer and inner secret mantra, oral transmissions, and the pith instructions of the highest and innermost tantra of Atiyoga. Even if he did not propitiate, the deities of the mandala displayed their forms and he became a peerless erudite and accomplished master. Thus he showed the signs of perfecting the level of the Fully Ripened Awareness Holder. Thereafter he was known as the Guru Dhimana Varruchi, "The Supreme Love Endowed With Wisdom."
Marriage to Mandarava
He then took princess Mandarava, daughter of Shastradhara, the king of Zahor, as his consort. Possessing the marks of a dakini, he took her to the mountain cave of Maratika, known as Halesha, in present day, Nepal, where they performed the accomplishment rituals of longevity for three months and actualized the Immortal Vajra Body which marks the attainment of an Immortal Life Awareness Holder.
In order to tame the people of Odiyana he returned there disguised as a mendicant but many people recognized him and he was set to be burned alive in a sandalwood fire by a host of evil-minded ministers and people. When the fire was lit, he miraculously transformed the fire into a huge lake filled with lotuses. Sitting himself with consort over a giant lotus in the middle of the lake, the king, ministers, and people were astounded and developed great faith towards him.
In addition, at the cave of Yanglashod in Nepal he practiced the Vishuda deity depending on the accomplishment consort Sakya Devi of Nepal and very soon both of them became supreme Mahamudra Awareness Holders. Thus were some of the achievements of Guru Padmasambhava prior to coming to Tibet.
The Master Spreads the Dharma in the Land of Snows