On Guru Rinpoche’s Birth

I pray to Ogyan Guru Rinpoche, Padmasambhava
May all obstacles be removed and may all wishes be fulfilled!

While in Chengdu, I met an abbot who proposed me a very interesting and important project. He wanted to edit and publish Guru Rinpoche’s life as has been written by Sangje Lingpa, a great terton of the 18th century who was Kundrol Dragpa’s root lama. Sangje Lingpa was a rimed practitioner who combined both Bon and Nyingma teachings. Together with Kundrol Dragpa they spread the New Bon teaching in Gyalrong. Their teaching flourished even in the court of Gyalrong kings. And Sangje Lingpa himself became Qianglong Emperor’s master. The Emperor presented him a drubcho (ritual musical instrument) with a picture of hen and dragon and his name on it.

Sangje Lingpa’s writing on Guru Rinpoche is titled “Thang yig kun snang gsal sgron” or a clear illumination to all related to Guru Rinpoche’s life. For him as well as Dorje Lingpa’s kathang (Guru’s life) of the Nyingma tradition, Guru Rinpoche was born two ways: from parents and miraculously (born naturally on a lotus). But this text focuses on the first way of birth. Other more commonly known kathangs are in the Nyingma tradition such as Tag Shamba’s Pema Kathang (Stag sham pa’i padma’i bka’ thang) and Longse Kathang (Klong gsal bka’ thang). These texts first describe Guru Rinpoche as being born of parents and later on by a miraculous way. The emphasis is, however, on the second.

If we believe that beings can be born of various ways, there is no confusion or suspicion in this case. Tibetans talk about four ways of births, namely born of parents, born miraculously, born because of warmth and born from an egg. Given the marvellous life of Guru Rinpoche who is Buddha on earth, it’s natural that there are more than one of his life history.

In Sangje Lingpa’s kathang, his father is Drenpa Namkha (Dranpa Namkha’), his mother is Dakini Oten Pama (‘od ldan ‘ba’ ma), his younger brother is Tsewang Rigzin. Guru himself is called Yungdrung Thongdrol.

Drenpa Namkha, Tsewang Rigzin and Guru Rinpoche are known as the “Three Deathless Ones” the father and his twin sons. They form the basis of the New Bon Tradition which emphasizes that Bon and Buddhism are essentially the same, but via different lineages.

1 thought on “On Guru Rinpoche’s Birth

  1. Jampa Nyima

    In Buddhism, undoubtedly, there are four kinds of birth.

    From my opinion, no matter whether Guru was born from parents or on a lotus, it is not different.

    Guru is the great teacher, his true essence is the great teaching and true compassion of the Buddha. That is why he is no other than Amitabha and Chenrezig.

    The birth from parents might be interpreted that a human being, just like us, can attain the perfect awakening and become a Buddha, as Guru is so-called ‘the Second Buddha’.

    For the birth on a lotus, the lotus is traditionally the symbol of the Buddha’s pure heart and also his mouth, which also means the teaching. The miraculous birth on a lotus therefore demonstrates that Guru is truly the teaching, the pure blossom of wisdom and great compassion saving all sentient beings from suffering.

    Homage to Guru!
    Om A Hung Benza Guru Pema Siddhi Hung!


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