Padmasambhava, the Lotus – born – popularly known as Guru Rinpoche, the Precious Master is revered throughout the Himalayan ranges as a Second Buddha. Invited from India in the eighth century to subjugate the forces inhibiting the spread of Sakyamuni's teachings, he managed to transform hitherto hostile powers into guardians and protectors of the pure dharma and, in the process, left an indelible mark on the entire Himalayan region. Guru Rinpoche is surrounded by various adepts and deities of the Ningma order. Presiding over all, in the center of the highest plane of the painting, is Amitabha Buddha, whom Padmasambhava is considered to be an emanation. By his sides are Padmasambhava’s consorts, the Indian princess Mahadarava and the Tibetan Dakini (Khadama) Yeshe Khado. Guru Rinpoche is wearing lavish robes, representing the amount of honor he received in coming to Tibet. His characteristic head-dress has the ear – lappets turned up so that he can listen to all beings. Guru Rinpoche is holding a skull – cap filled with Tantric liquids, a Vajra, and a staff (large heavy stick) with a banner, human heads, and a trident (Khatvanga). A banner is one of the eight auspicious symbols (Krashi Taggyad) and a trident (Tsesum) symbolizes the Three Jewels (Konchog Sum) and the Tripitaka (Denod Sum). In his right hand Guru Rinpoche holds a Vajra in Vajratarjani mudra. In quite a literal sense, Guru Rinpoche's mark is to be found throughout the Himalayan ranges in and around the many caves he used for meditation. At these sites one can still see handprints and footprints of the Precious Master impressed into solid rock, mute testimony to the extraordinary power this fully accomplished yogi and Tantric magician exercised over the external and internal elements.
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