The first human of this world era to attain the highest evolutionary perfection accessible to humans, the mental and physical enlightenment of Buddhahood, was prince Siddhartha of the Sakya clan in northern India. He became the unexcelled perfectly Enlightened Lord under the bodhi tree in around 536 BCE. Entitled Sakyamuni, the Sakya Sage, he was considered to have become a form of life beyond the human or the divine. No being can possibly be more kind to other beings than a perfect Buddha. This kindness is essentially superhuman. He is the master who propagated the path popularly known as Buddhism, but he is not the only Buddha and Buddhadharma can also be found in the teachings of other great awakened Buddhist teachers.
Guru Rinpoche or Padmakara, Embodiment of all the Buddhas
Due to his great realisation and spiritual power, he created the conditions for the propagation of the Vajrayana teachings in this world. He tamed spirits hostile to the Buddhadharma in Tibet and pacified negative forces, allowing for the completion and consecration of the magnificent temples of Samye. Moreover, through Master Padma’s unfailing compassion and diverse skilful means, he hid numerous teachings for future generations. These terma teachings would be revealed by terma discoverers (tertöns) when the conditions were auspicious and the benefit most appropriate for people of that particular time. In particular as far as the Longchen lineage is concerned, Guru Rinpoche entrusted the transmission of the Khandro Nyinthig teachings to Princess Pemasal (see section on Longchen Rabjam below). Even in recent times, Guru Rinpoche’s treasure teachings continue to be revealed.
Mandarava, along with Yeshe Tsogyal, is considered one of the two principal consorts of Guru Rinpoche. Through practice and diligence, Mandarava realised a degree of spiritual mastery equal to that of Padmakara her consort, evidenced in her honorific Machig Drupa Gyalmo (ma gcig grub pa’i rgyal mo), The Unique Mother the Flower Mandarava, Queen of Siddhi. Mandarava was famed for her beauty, and many kings and princes sought her hand in marriage. She, however, had no interest in worldly affairs, and only desired the freedom to be able to practice Buddhadharma. She met Padmakara whilst he was giving teachings. Her father, Vihardhara, hearing of their union became fearful of the contamination of the royal bloodline. He ordered that they be burned to death on a great pyre in Mandi (Zahor), Southern India. Instead of finding their charred corpses however, Vihardhara found that the pyre had been transformed into a beautiful lake out of which arose a blossoming lotus. Sitting in the centre of the lotus were Mandarava and Padmakara, unharmed and unperturbed.
Samantabhadra, the King of All Creators in the Nyingma tradition from which the Dzogchen teachings spring, is symbolised by a naked, sky-coloured male Buddha. He is considered to be the only Buddha never to have entered either samsara or nirvana. He is often represented in union with his female consort, Samantabhadri. Samantabhadra signifies Dharmakaya, that which dwells without change, discrimination or distinction with one taste, like space. He is primordial wisdom beyond concepts, free from the very beginning. It is from Samantabhadra that Vimalamitra received the Vima Nyinthig transmission.
Vimalamitra was born in western India and received the Vima Nyinthig teachings directly from Samantabhadra. He is responsible for taking the transmission from India to Tibet. He stayed in Tibet for thirteen years after which he departed for the Five Peaks in China. He attained the rainbow body of great transformation and according to his aspirations will remain there as long as the Buddhadharma exists, at which point he will dissolve into the Dharmakaya at Bodhgaya. He promised to send an incarnation of himself to Tibet every one hundred years to ensure the propagation of the Nyinthig teachings.
Kunkhyen Longchen Rabjam
Longchen Rabjam is revered as one of the greatest masters in the Nyingma school of Vajrayana buddhism. He wrote more than 250 treatises on a wide variety of topics, but is best known for his works on Dzogchen, Great Perfection. He was born in the Tra Valley of southern Tibet in 1308. Longchen Rabjam was a reincarnation of Princess Pemasal (ninth century C.E) to whom Guru Rinpoche had entrusted the transmission of the Khandro Nyinthig teachings. The princess took rebirth several centuries later as Pema Letro Tsal (1291-1319?), who discovered the Khandro Nyinthig as terma and who in turn was reborn as Longchen Rabjam. The transmission of the Vima Nyinthig also flowed into him, and he then disseminated both traditions by revealing Lama, Khandro and Zabmo Yanthigs. He then brought all these Yanthig and Nyinthig teachings together in the Nyinthig Yabzhi. According to the text of the Aryamanjushrimulakalpa he was a manifestation of the Bodhisattva Manjushri.