Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Lotus Vajra Guru

Many further adventures happen between the events surrounding the primary emanations celebrated each tenth day of the lunar month. For instance, between last month's expression and this month's, Padma engineers the future rebirth of Zahor's King Arsadhara as the Tibetan monarch Srongtsen Gampo, and goes on to convert Emperor Ashoka, before spending time in Sri Lanka where like himself, Aryadeva is miraculously born from a lotus.

In eastern India, the monastery of Vikramashila had been attacked by tirthikas and all the texts burned to ashes. The glow from these fires caused Naga King Mucalinda, to grow ill. A healer from the human realm was summoned, a monk by the name of Siddhipala. Once restored to health, a grateful Mucalinda hands over the Prajnaparamita and many jewels to Siddhipala who would later become known as Nagarjuna. This was the beginning of the gTer-ma tradition. It seems emanations of Padmasambhava were present at every major event in Buddhist history.

Padma surveys the world at his ease. Having acquired knowledge in many fields and with growing insight into 'the inferior mind,' he contemplates his course. Among recent experiences, he has abandoned a kingdom, ruled and converted another, led an army, survived a fiery execution, hooked up with Mandarava and attained immortality. Now, what else must be done?

Traveling with Mandarava, they descend into the Ganges basin and pass through Bengal where the local Maharaj is persecuting Buddhists and through his greed, impoverishing the people. Padma set out to subdue this king. Mandarava is sent to a street of the capital city to practice her art. "Appear," he told her, "with a cat face!" Now the rebel army, 84,000 strong, is being led by three beings with cat faces. The troops carry mystic pitchforks; the assaults and battles begin. Nobody can resist them. Walls are breached, the trapdoor discovered, the kingdom won and Dharma victorious.

At the same time, great destruction overwhelms the region as IIkhtiyar Uddin Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji, burns Nalanda University and other big monastic establishments in Bengal (1203). After a run of over 1500 years, these would be the final days for institutional Buddhism in northern India. Seven centuries would pass before the Tibetan diaspora began trickling over the Himalayas in the early 1960's. Khilji, which translates as 'warrior' in Turkish and 'thief' in Pashtu, arrived with a leading contingent of eighteen horseman, and was reported to have asked the monks of Nalanda if they had a copy of the holy Quran in their great library. Upon hearing that there was not one, the executions began. Finally, he grew curious about what kind of works the library did contain, but there was no one left alive to explain. Sources say the enormous library burned for six months.

Orgyen Lingpa misidentifies Bakhtiyar Khilji as Hulagu Khan and has him torching Vikramasila (which he has already stated was burnt by tirthikas). Half a century later, as if by karmic decree, it was cosmic payback time. It came in the form of the Mongol Hulagu Khan, grandson of Genghis, who sacked Islamic Baghdad (1258), smashing the Abassid Caliphate and using the great collection of books and sacred texts in their massive library to build a bridge across the Tigris River. It is said that the waters ran black with ink. Hulagu was assisted in this destruction by crusading Christians as well as his massive horde. Baghdad would not be a real city again for a few centuries. The destruction wrought by the Khan was so excessive that his infamy spread among the Tibetans who did not understand that he had never been to India and that he was actually 'the enemy of their enemy'. Hulagu was no saint but disappointed his Christian wife by dying as a Buddhist.

In the midst of all this chaos, Padma gazed deeply into the subtle mysteries of interdependence, divining a way to influence his home kingdom. He assumes the form of a Brahmin boy determined to acquire a legendary magical substance[1] which will help him accomplish great benefits for many beings. After sufficient inquiry and preparation, he appears as Dombhi Heruka riding a tiger and wielding poisonous snakes on his way to the charnel ground. The locals are not impressed and glibly assume he has drugged the creatures, but in this form he acquires and consumes the mystical substance. Empowered by sacrament, he employs his siddhi in a way that will help in the conversion of Oddiyana but nobody appreciates the nature of his work, except for the woman who runs the local tavern. We will go further into this story with the Nyima Odzer emanation celebrated later (September) in the year.

Padma, seeing that the time is right, appears in Oddiyana with Mandarava. The nobles recall the issues that led to his exile and have grave doubts about his intentions. Upon seeing him with the princess, they condemn his infidelity and decide to take matters into their own hands. A large bonfire is prepared using sandalwood and sesame oil, both valuable and precious substances. This time, guru and consort are bound together to be roasted. Like the funeral pyre in Zahor, this one persists far longer than any normal execution, and after three weeks, the smoke and rumors even got Indrabhuti's attention. On a recent stroll through a cemetery, the king had been bitten by a poisonous snake. Narrowly escaping death, he became attached to the woman who healed him, but that too is a story for another day. The king gradually pieced together the whispers about the extraordinary situation happening on the edge of town.

Oddiyana may well have been in the area of ancient Sogdiana. The modern Urgensch is named after an older city that was destroyed by Muslim armies.The Aral Sea is a good candidate for Lake Danakosha which was said to have many islands. Map shows old Silk Road routes which passed through the area

Encountering his daughter-in-law Basadhara [2] in the palace, the king asks if this business could possibly involve her former husband. She is jealous and dismissive. "That fellow, my husband? Oh no, he is only a man." Later in secret, she whispers in the king's ear what she knows in her heart. The king goes to the balcony, sees the lingering plume of smoke in the distance and muses, "If this is a divine emanation, I think he will not burn." He arranges a trip with his royal entourage. Arriving at the scene of the execution, they behold a lake of sesame oil in the center of which is a great mound of charcoal supporting a lotus stalk upon which the entwined couple was dancing, 'beautiful, shining, wafting perfume and coolness'.

"Those who recalled the old days,
now sought their salvation in his mercy,
beseeching the Being with the Death's Head Rosary."[3]

The Earth Goddesses along with their retinues, exalt and glorify the Guru. The vision is overwhelming and the crowd is ecstatic and amazed. All notions of rank and social hierarchy evaporated. King Indrabhuti, his queens, the royal court as well as the entire kingdom became quickly established in the Buddhadharma. Having appeared in transfigured union with Mandarava, now Queen of the Dakinis, the Second Buddha became known as Guru Padmavajra 'the Guru with the Lotus and the Vajra' and served as the king's teacher for the next 13 years. Mandarava will organize the construction of a number of temples dedicated to wrathful deities. At various times, according to need, the princess manifests as a rainbow, a jackal and a fairy. All her efforts are devoted toward insuring that the Buddha's teaching would continue to bring benefit to sentient beings far into the future.

Padma travels to the plains of India where a child has been born to a couple of poor weavers. Mother dies in childbirth. Father brings them to the cremation ground, abandoning baby as well. Mandarava, having perfected the power of shape-shifting, now appears in the form of a tiger to suckle and raise the child. As a young girl, she learns to spin and weave wool. At 14, she will meet Yeshe Tsogyal and receive the name Kalasiddhi. She would become one of the Guru's five principal consorts.


[1] the flesh of one born a brahmin for seven consecutive lives was believed to have magical properties.
[2] Padma's first wife. Her name is likely a form of Vasudhara, goddess of worldly wealth.
The Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava (8th c.), Padma bKa'i thang as recorded by Yeshe Tsogyal, rediscovered by Terchen Urgyen Lingpa (b. 1323), Dharma Publishing, 1978

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