The mendicant Yogi Mokchokpa set down this brief account of Vajradhara, so that all practioners of the Shangpa lineage may gain realization. Vajradhara is a Sanskrit name; Vajra means "diamond" and implies solidity, an essence without hollowness within. It cannot be taken away, it cannot be cut and it cannot be dismantled. Dhara means 'to hold'. Whoever holds diamond-like reality is called Vajradhara.
The wisdom Dakini Niguma was born in Peme in Kashmir, India during the time of Buddha before the time of Shakyamuni. At that time her father was the Brahmin Shantasamnaha and her brother was the Great Sage Naropa. In Niguma's past lives she practiced the path for three immeasurable eons. In this life she came to realization just by meeting a realized lama and receiving a few teachings. Her impure illusory body then arose as perfect body.
She dwelt in the three pure states and saw the face of Vajradhara himself. She received the four complete empowerments from the emanated Mandala of Tantric Mahayana.She developed omniscient wisdom in the sutras, tantras, oral instructions and teachings.
She saw all phenomena as they are and as they appear.She herself attained Cloud of Dharma, the tenth level of a bodhisattva. Niguma released even the subtlest veil to the knowable and became in essence the three bodies of enlightenment, indistinguishable from the Buddha. For her own benefit, she brought to completion abandonment and cultivation. For the benefit of others, she manifested the two form bodies and will continue to do so until Samsara is completely empty. Her foremost disciple was the Mahasiddha Khyungpo Naljor, who was born in Tibet and traveled to India to receive the full transmission from her. In granting him the empowerments, Niguma also confirmed that not only he, but also all his successors and followers would in the future have the good fortune to receive the blessing of Dakinis, encounter enlightened beings, and attain perfect Liberation. Niguma granted the four complete empowerments to the adept Khyungpo Naljor in the emanated Mandala and transmitted the most profound tantras, intimate advice, and oral and written teachings. Niguma gave him the essential pith instructions that would enable worthy disciples to attain enlightenment in one lifetime. She promised Khyungpo Naljor that all disciples and Shangpa lineage holders would go to the Pure Land of the Dakini, because this lineage was special above all others. Niguma commanded that for seven generations, these ear-whispered teachings should be only passed on in a one to one guru to disciple transmission. From her lifetime to this present day, she continues to manifest whatever subtle or more material form is necessary to benefit beings over limitless time. In particular, through her activity and blessings, she gazes with impartial compassion on all the holders of the Shangpa Kagyu Lineage.
Sukhasiddhi was born in Western Kashmir and was a wife and mother of three sons and three daughters. Sukhasiddhi was a kind and generous lady and would give what she had to those who were more destitute. One day when the family had only one pot of rice left to eat her family went in different directions in search of food, leaving Sukhasiddhi alone at home. When a more destitute man knocked upon her door begging for food Sukhasiddhi offered him the only food the family had. When her husband and children came back with out having found any food to eat and learned that Sukhasiddhi had given the last of their food to the beggar she was chased out of her house because of her generosity. Sukhasiddhi left Kashmir and headed west for Uddiyana where it was said that all the men were Dakas and all the women were Dakinis. Upon arriving there she obtained a bag of rice and became a beer merchant. A yogini came every day to by beer from Sukhasiddhi for her master and Sukhasiddhi asked her whom are you taking this beer too? The yogini answered to the Great Yogi Virupa who lives in the forest. Sukhasiddhi then said let me give you my best beer, and please I don't want any payment. When Virupa learned of this he sent for Sukhasiddi and gave her the four complete empowerments for the yogic practices as well as the secret practices of the generation and completion stages. She became a Wisdom Dakini just after receiving the empowerments. Through the power of her realizations her body was thoroughly purified and transformed into a rainbow body. Sukhasiddhi was one of the four root lamas of Khyungpo Naljor. She bestowed four complete empowerments for the Uncommon Secret Practices, Six Yoga's secret practices and the Three Fold Oral Instructions. Then Sukhasiddhi gave him all of the Mother Tantra instructions, which causes Enlightenment in a matter of mere years or months. Sukhasiddhi was the kindest to Khyungpo Naljor among his four root Lamas Niguma, Rahula, Maitripa and Niguma.
Khyungpo Naljor was born in a year of the tiger in the southern part of Tibet, into a distinguished family. The clan of the Khyung, or Garuda, the legendary great bird that is guardian of the north. His father's name was Khyungpo Chujar, and his mother's, Tashi. Thus, his own name meant "the Yogin of the Garuda clan." A portent marked his birth: The great Mahasiddha Amogha came flying through the air from India and made the prophecy that this newborn child, who was already highly realized, would in time come to India and there receive the profound transmissions that would make him a greater guide of beings. The qualities of Khyungpo Naljor began to manifest while he was still very young. When he was five years old, he told detailed stories about his past existences, and revealed insight into his lives to come, and into the future in general. By the age of ten he excelled in reading, writing, arithmetic and both Chinese and Indian astrology. At twelve, in accordance with the tradition on his father's side of the family, he studied the Bon teachings. Later on he practiced Dzogchen, and finally, Mahamudra. Then, taking jewels and gold dust to present as offering, he left for India and Nepal in search of teachings during his journeys Khyungpo Naljor was unconcerned about comforts for himself and endured much hardship. Over the course of seven journeys, he studied with a hundred and fifty sages and fifty great adepts. He adopted four of his teachers as his glorious Root Lamas, of these; the wisdom Dakini's Niguma and Sukhasiddi had received direct transmissions from Vajradhara the enlightened enjoyment body of the sixth Buddha. They took delight in Khyungpo Naljor and granted him the ultimate oral instructions that cut off all distractions and practiced single-pointed. All doubts were allayed and he obtained both extraordinary and common Siddhis. Khyungpo Naljor established his monastic seat in Shang--which is how the lineage got its name Shangpa. He passed away in 1139, at the age of 150.
Mokchokpa was born in Lhabu in the Shang Valley of Namling County in Western Tibet. In his youth, he studied many texts, including the Prajnaparamita. He received both maturing and liberating teachings from Lama Burgom Nakpo, a disciple of the lord Rechungpa and spent five years with him. Khyungpo Naljor told him that during a dream Amithabha Buddha said that I am to give you the instructions of the Shangpa one-to-one guru to disciples Transmission and Mokchokpa received all the Shangpa teachings and became the Shangpa lineage holder. After Khyungpo Naljor's death, he spent two years in solitary meditation. He developed experiences and realization of Illusory Body Yoga, Dream Yoga and Clear Light Yoga. He met Gampopa to clarify his doubts with his practice and received all the Mahamudra Teachings and instructions. Mokchok had complete understanding of the Mahamudra precepts. He also received many teachings from Garpa. Mokchokpa stayed meditating in a mountain cave in the Mokchok area and had many visions the he built a monastery in Mokchok and gathered many disciples. As Mokchokpa lay dyeing he sang a song to his disciples: "After this life I will go to the Eastern pure Land of Joy, Called Light Brilliance where I will attain enlightenment, and turn the wheel of Dharma. The Shangpa lineage will be continued by the great Wonton Kyergangpa himself an emanation of Avalokiteshvara. He will have a disciple of great renown, Sengye Nyenton Rigonpa, whose disciple will in turn continue the transmission and protect this lineage.
Kyergangpa was born to the Ba family in the upper reaches of Nang County. He studied and practiced intensely during his teenage years. At the age of sixteen he joined the retinue of his uncle Thamche Khyenpa who was proceeding to Draklha. He received the complete Avalokiteshvara teachings from a great practitioner of Avalokiteshvara, Pakpa Chegom Through practicing in solitary retreat for four and half years Kyergangpa received a vision of Avalokiteshvara. Through his teacher Tsari Gompa in Lato, he received the complete instructions of Rechungpa. Kyergangpa spent five years with Lama Penpukpa Chenpo and receive all the practices and instructions of lord Atisha. From Mokchokpa the great adept at Lhabu in Shang he mastered the teachings on Clear Light Yoga, Dream Yoga, and Illusory Body Yoga and had uninterrupted vision of many Deities. While Kyerganpa was having powerful and diligent practices, he was informed that his uncle Ba Thamche Khyenpa was passed away. According to the advice of his Lama, Mokchokpa, and the request of the people of Kyergang, he took over the monastery of his uncle and reconstructed the monastery and Shangpa lineage. His Precious Lama, Mokchokpa died several years later. Kyergangpa had many students and lamas in Shang who had visions of Avalokiteshvara. Among his disciples Nakpo Zhontrul, Drakpa Yeshi and Rigongpa were the best. Kyergangpa final days are recounted by his disciples; lama Kyergangpa said "Remember when you perform your so called Dharma practice and are mindless of the Genuine Dharma, that death may come tomorrow or the next day. Ho yes, when you are in the throes of death, you will cry out a late promise, if I don't die now, I'll do nothing but pure practice. It is our nature to die, as for me in the beginning when it was time to think about the Dharma, I thought about Dharma. In the middle when it was time to practice Dharma, I practiced Dharma. And now in the end when I need the Dharma, I have it.
Rigongpa was born to a family in Yol, was naturally inclined to the Dharma and sought at an early age to devote his life in benefiting others. He met his and stayed with him in Kyergang. Lama Kyergangpa transmitted all of the secret mantras to Rigongpa leaving nothing out. Lama Kyergangpa told Rigongpa about his past and future lives and advised Rigongpa to lead the life of a Secret Yogi, drinking beer, eating food offerings, wearing old rags and enjoying mixed company. Kyergangpa told him that Rigongpa that he would establish connections with many students and would have ten fully realized disciples who would hold his transmission and the relics of the Shangpa Lamas. Rigongpa had visions of many Dakas and Dakinis, especially Sukhasiddhi from whom he received the four complete empowerments and the main points of secret practices. Rigongpa could see face-to-face many Deities including Six-Armed Mahakala, the special protector of the Shangpa Lineage. In his later years Rigongpa in his dreams traveled to Buddha Realms and granted empowerments. A few months later a Dakini appeared to him, Rigongpa asked "what is your name" I am Sukhasiddi which means Bliss-Accomplishment, bliss because my mind if filled with stainless wisdom. Accomplishment because one can accomplish the extraordinary Siddhis with in a year or month by praying to me The Dakini proceeded to grant the Four Complete Empowerments, the main points of practice and the supreme points on realizing the non duality of bliss and emptiness. Then Sukhasiddhi told Rigongpa, "Yogi since your body, speech and mind are liberated those who get empowerments from you will never again fall into the three lower realms. Rigongpa benefited many disciples establishing them on the path to freedom and lived more than seventy years.
Sangye Tonpa was born to a Bon family in Kharek Tse Silma. At his birth, the adept Amogha flew down from the sky to offer wondrous prophecies about the new born. Khyungpo. He wanted to practice Dharma from a very young age and became a monk at the age of thirteen. He took his vows from the famous Lama Tsarirepa and he was given the name Tsondue Senge. But Sangye Tonpa was able to serve Tsarirepa only for a short time before he died. After studying with several Lamas, he felt the need to receive teachings from a genuine Secret Yogi. He set out to meet Lama Rigongpa who was recommended by both Lama Zhupa Nakpo and the teacher Dokton. Sangye Tonpa then became the sole lineage holder of Rigongpa's oral instructions. He received the Illusory Yoga, Inner Heat Yoga, Illusory Body Yoga passed down through all the lineage masters from Vajradara to Rigongpa. He perfected very powerful Dream Yoga and was able to perform the Dream Yoga practices of training, multiplication, emanation and transformation, a feat even the Lamas of the lineage could not match. He had the vision of Vajrayogini, who gave him both common and extraordinary Siddhis and gained the Siddhis to transform foul-tasting barley beer into the finest flavor, multiply its quantity and change its nutrition and potency. All those who drank his transformed beer were cured of illness, evil spirits and their practice immediately improved. Sangye Tonpa had a vision of the Five Deity Mandala of Chakrasamvara and practiced virtue by reading and writing as much Dharma as possible. He set up both a school and meditation center. To his patrons both men and women, Sangye Tonpa propounded the vinaya code of discipline, oral teachings from both the new and old traditions. Because of his pervasive activity he gathered many disciples from China and India. Among his disciples Shantonpa and Kedrup Zhonnu were the best. Before his death Sangye Tonpa's disciples asked what they should do, and he replied, " do not cling to fame, glory or happiness in either this life, or in future lives don't get mixed up in the eight worldly concerns. Instead go to the mountains and practice Dharma. The extremes of mental imputation do not need to be cleared from the outside, rather the qualities of enlightenment will arise from within. He kept practicing, teaching and giving empowerments until his death. According to his Lama Rigongpa's last wish Sangye Tonpa left for Rigong to die near the relics of his Lama.
Shangtonpa was born in Ra family at Kongya in Shang, and could read and write fluently by the time he was eight years old. Shangtopa felt no desire or greed and felt great revulsion for Samsara while developing passion and faith in the lamas and the three jewels. Shangtonpa was free of any laziness and was ordained as a novice monk before the abbot Nyitokpa and the teacher Tsulshe at the age of thirteen. He studied engaging in the Bodhisattva's Path and the Prajnaparamita with his teachers Ba and Shakya Shangtonpa Bumpa and presented new commentaries on both of these texts. His teachers congratulated him and advised him to teach them. He was renown all over Central and Western Tibet as Tonpa Sangwa [Excellent Teacher] because of his intelligence he naturally understood the complete text by just reading the first line of the topic of a text. He received many teachings from Karmapa including the Three Bodies pointing-Out Instructions. Shangtonpa received the Lamdre teachings of the Sakya tradition from Lama Genmo Lhepa. Shangtopa developed supernatural faculties, gave birth to definitive understanding and sustained pure Samadhi. Shangtonpa completed one hundred million mantras, and through the power of his practice he had the ability to purify all disease and evil sprits. Still Shangtonpa thought that those abilities do not really benefit beings so he approached the realized Lama Sangye Tonpa and receive additional empowerments and teachings. Sangye Tonpa proceeded to grant him the general empowerments of Dream Yoga, Illusory Body Yoga, the complete instructions for the Six Yoga's of Niguma, including teachings on the path of Means. Shangtonpa was able to master the practice of Path of Means within seven days and mastered all of the other practices within a short span of time. His practice was greater than Sangye Tonpa in achieving the essential meaning of the instructions. Shangtopa was the finest heart son-disciple of Sangye Tonpa in the one-to-one guru-to-disciple transmission? Many spiritual friends came to his retreat for teaching and he granted them the Six Yoga's of Niguma, Mahamudra Reliquary, Mind Deathlessness and so on. Shangtonpa died at the age of seventy-six.
Zhonnu Drup was born in a farmer's house at Nyang in Tibet, his father was Gyalpo Tsepel and his mother was Gyamo Kedren. He became a monk at the age of ten before the abbot Chimpa Yidshin Norbu and took full ordination at the age of twenty. Under the guidance of the teacher Lokyawa he excelled in learning. At the age of twenty-one he stopped his intellectual studies and approached the Sakya Lamas to get Tantric teachings for actual attainments and considered both the words and the meaning that those teachers expressed. As the unfavorable condition developed within the Sakya community Zhonnu Drup paid his final visit to Jangsem Kungzhon. Leaving Sakya, he proceeded to meet great ascetic master Dampala from whom he got several ascetic practices such as Cutting the Thread, which can overcome all obstacles. Zhonnu Drup received several cycles of teachings from Lama Lopon Gelong Zhonnu Drup learned about Sangye Tonpa from Lama Kamchenpa and great faith and devotion arose in him. With strong feelings Zhonnu Drum set out for Central Tibet to meet Sangye Tonpa and requested him to grant the empowerment of Illusory Body Yoga. Sangye Tonpa gave the complete instructions on the Six Yoga's because Zhonnu Drup was very special and worthy of receiving these profound teachings, which were not taught to ordinary students. Sangye Tonpa gave all the instructions of the lineage including the Five Tantric deities, the Six Yoga's of Niguma, Mind Deathlessness and Non-Deviation, Mahamudra, oral instructions of the Dakpo Kagyu, Drikung Kagyu, Drukpa Kagyu, Tselpa Kagyu and Sakya school as well as the teachings of Machik Lapdron, to the worthy Zhonnu who diligently and steadily practiced and mastered all the teachings he received from Sangye Tonpa and so many other teachers of different lineages. Before Zhonnu Drum passed he gave away all of his possessions and went into retreat, at his death all kinds of miraculous omens appeared near and far Then Dakinis could be herd singing in the sky.
Gyaltsen Bum was born to father Choekyong Tsen and mother Yangmode from the wealthy Shudgye family at Konglam Tsatang. Gyaltsen Bum recited the Mani Mantra as soon as he was capable of conscious. So, his father asked Drinchen Riwa to inform him about the lineage of Avalokiteshvara and teach him about the Mani Mantra. Gyaltsen Bum learned to read and write at the age of six and with a single glance at the Manjushri Uttering the Names Tantra, the Heart Sutra, or the Twenty-One-Praises to White Tara, Gyaltsen Bum knew what would follow without missing a beat. He took monks' vows before Lama Sharpa Kunga Senge and Lama Tengkangpa at the age of fifteen and maintained an impeccable attitude and faultless ethics. He studied the Prajnaparamita with Lama Tengkangpa and his teacher Kunga Bum. He absorbed both the words and their meaning for three years then developed new elucidations. He studied the Hevajra Tantra and learnt the songs and practices of the Sakya school and became so skilled that he was able to give new explanations on these teachings. Gyaltsen Bum had a strong desire to be great mediator like Shangtonpa. He then presented himself to Lama Shangtonpa and asked for the Six Yoga's of Niguma. Gyaltsen Bum received a series of teachings from Lama Shangtopa including Mahamudra instructions, Mind Deathlessness and Non-Deviation and practiced for three years in Kuklung and three years in Tokar He spent thirteen years practicing in solitude in the upper cave of Jak during which all experience and realizations arose in his mind. Gyaltsen Bum received the following teachings from the Dharma lord Rangjung Dorje, the Three Bodies Pointing-Out Instructions, advice on placement meditation, Mind-Energy Inseparable, the Dzogchen Heart Essence, and the Approaching and Accomplishing Practices. He also received the Red Yamantaka Tantra and other teachings from Lama Sengye Yeshe of Lari. Gyaltsen Bum wrote down the commentaries on the Six Yoga's, the Five Tantric Deities as well as secret oral and profound instructions. Gyaltsen Bum was graced by the blessing of the lamas and received the one-to-one, guru to disciple transmission of the Shangpa lineage and many prophecies from Dakas and Dakinis All of his students were able to develop a strong practice and beheld the clear light nature. Gyaltsen Bum granted empowerments and teachings for the benefit of beings until he passed away at the age of seventy.
Khyungpo Tsultrim Goon was born to father Ponpo Gone and mother Chemo Kinden in the female firebird year. His parents wanted him to become the head of their household since he was the first-born Son. Tsultrim Gon wanted to follow the path of Dharma and escaped from his home by taking the supplies of his brother who was supposed to become a monk. Tsultrim Gon met Lama Shangtonpa who became his spiritual guide and gave him the name Khyungpo Tsultrim Gon and granted him the empowerments of Six Yoga's of Niguma, and the complete instructions for each of the Six Yoga's and many other teachings. Tsultrim Gon took his monastic vows from the abbot Gendun Gyamtso of Jonang. He went to meet the lord Rangjung Dorje at Tsurpu. He also met Rolpe Dorje the incarnation of lord Rangjung Dorje and received empowerments and numerous teachings. Tsultrim Gon then took full ordination from Lama Zhonnu Jangchub, abbot to Gendun Gangway. Tsultrim Gon remained in the area of Upper Shang for twenty-five years meditating and giving instructions to the people who were suffering from diseases and demons and had many great visions of his Lamas and Deities. Khyungpo Tsultrim Gon passed away in the tiger year with rains of flowers and rainbows filling and illuminating space. From his cremation fire the sound of, Om Hri Ha Ha Hung Hung Phet could be herd. When his cremation Shrine was opened many sacred relics were discovered and distributed to his disciples.
Ridro Rechen was born in Eastern Tibet, the oldest of five children, his father was Ayul and mother was Ngag Kek from a very virtuous family who lived in the mountains practicing yoga. Ridro Rechen took the lay vows of a monk at the age of nine and was given the name Ridro Rechen by Senge Dra. He received instructions from Senge Dra and was able to practice them in his dreams Ridro Rechen spent time in retreat in the plains below the village and by the age of twelve could teach the transmission of the Hevajra Tantra. At the age of eighteen, he gave commentaries on Engaging in the Bodhisattva's Path and knew the Prajnaparamita teachings by heart. At nineteen he spent about a year in Tsurpu practicing Cho and studied the Sakya branch of Buddhism with Sixth Kenchen abbot. When he was twenty-eight, he expounded on the commentaries and traveled to many monasteries throughout Tibet. Ridro Rechen met the great Shangpa adept Khyungpo Tsultrim Gon and practiced the Six Yoga's of Niguma under his guidance. After six years of practice, he asked for further meditation instructions and Khyungpo Tsultrim Gon granted his request and gave him many more teachings. Later, he presented himself to Lama Zhonnu Drup who gave him the responsibility for the Shangpa lineage. Ridro Rechen took over Dechen and maintained the teachings there before he passed away at the age of sixty-nine. During his passing the sky was filled with a rain of flowers and rainbows were seen above.
Shangkarwa Rinchen Gyaltsen was born in the female water snake year to father, Ponyig Zangpopal and mother Josema Palchen. When he was three both his parents passed away and he was placed under the tutelage of two monks Shakya Senge and his uncle Rinchen Woeser who taught him how to read and write. Shangkarwa took monks vows and at the age of eight. At the age of twelve he went to a large temple in Zamtsar and took further vows before the abbot Zepa Gyaltsen and Shakya Pal and received the name Shangkarwa, Precious Royal Banner. He took full ordination at the age of twenty and studied extensively with several teachers. According to his uncle's advice he went to meet the great scholar Khyungpo Tsultrim Gon and received the practices of Clear Light Yoga, Dream Yoga, and so on. Shangkarwa received empowerments from Buton who transmitted to him his wisdom mind stream. In all Shangkarwa received more than twenty times various Tantric Commentaries. From the great teacher Jangchub Tsemo he received the four complete empowerments of Guhyasamaja. Unfortunately Lama Tsultrim Gon passed away before Shangkarwa receive the entire Shangpa lineage teachings. Shangkarwa then met and received from Ridro Rechen Sangye the entire cycle of teachings of the Shangpa lineage and entrusted him with responsibility for the lineage. Shangkarwa mastered the Clear Light Yoga, Dream Yoga, Samadhi Meditation and his realizations where powerful enough to control even the external elements. Shangkarwa passed away at the age of eighty-two with numerous auspicious signs.
Sangye Palsang was born near Taksang in the mountains west of Lhasa to the Be family, his father was Pon Rinpoche Zang and mother was Tsebum Pal. His parents suffered much grief because they had lost their first child but hermit Ridro Rinchen and scholar and translator Jangchup Tsemo assured them that they would soon have a wonderful child and asked the parents to protect him. When the child was born his parents named him Name Sangye Palsang. As a small child Sangye Palsang was very kind and compassionate to all of the animals. He began to help the villagers by writing letters and reading documents when he was ten because was the best at writing letters in the province. At the age of fifteen, Sangye Palsang took novice monks' vows before the abbot Kenchen Galway Shangpa. He studied with Shangkarwa and by the age of eighteen was able to give new explanations on the texts. In his nineteenth year, he took the full monks' vows with Shangkarwa as his abbot, Lopon Kansan as the action teacher and Lama Sangye Dorje as his secret preceptor. Sangye Palsang trained in the two kinds of bodhichitta; following this he received instruction for the yoga's of Niguma, including the teachings on Inner heat yoga. After one year of practice he experienced the blazing heat of bliss and the realization of Illusoriness arose in him. He gained a clear understanding of the Dream yoga practices of transformation as well as a continuous experience of the clear light nature of mind. When Sangye Palsang passed sweet smells and a clear radiance filled the room and when his body was cremated rainbows shown in the sky.