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Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche)

Padma Sambhava (Padmasambhava), the great Indian Tantric master, is credited with establishing Buddhism in Tibet. His symbols are a dorje (vajra) in his right hand, a skull cup (patra) with the vase of life in his left hand, the magic wand, or khatvanga, against his left shoulder. The khatvanga is used for cutting off the root of the three poisons of ignorance, greed, and anger (ill-will). Padmasambhava wears the flowing robes of his native land, roughly corresponding to the Swat Valley, located between Kashmir and Afghanistan. He wears a mitered hat with a waving vulture feather on the top.

Buddhism was introduced to Tibet in the seventh century, but it made little headway until the eighth century when Padma Sambhava was invited from the great monastery of Nalanda in Bengal in 747 A.D. by Ti-song De-tsan (Thi-Sron Detsan), the king of western Tibet regarded as an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara. Padmasambhava was renowned for his knowledge of tantras and magical spells. By his powers of magic and with the aid of his dorje, which he introduced to Tibet, he is believed to have subdued all the local demons who caused epidemics and troubles and converted them to dharmapalas, defenders of the faith. This reconciled old and new faiths and allowed Buddhism to flourish

It is unclear how long Padmasambhava stayed in Tibet, possibly as long as 50 years. He founded (with Ti-song De-tsan and Shantarakshita) the first monastery called Sam-ye (modeled after the great Indian monastery of Odantapuri in Bihar), and the first order of monks, now called Nying-ma-pa, "the ancient ones" . He is also credited with writing the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardol Thodol), and leaving hundreds of secret revelations (termas) hidden in caves throughout the land.

Nyingmapas consider Padma Sambhava as a second Buddha.