The 25 disciples of Padmasambhava
The 25 disciples of Padmasambhava also called as Guru Rinpoche were instrumental in the spread of Buddha’s teachings throughout Tibet. They emerged as masters, having achieved great wisdom, understanding, and success.
These Mahasiddhas are believed to have special future incarnations due to their connection with Padmasambhava’s terma treasures.
To this day, these disciples continue to be reborn as Tertons, imparting the teachings of Padmasambhava in a contemporary and authentic way to new generations.
Table of Contents
- 1 - Yeshe Tsogyal
- 2 - Vairotsana
- 3 - Namkhai Nyingpo
- 4 - Kawa Paltsek
- 5 - Danma Tsemang
- 6 - Trison Detsen
- 7 - Sokpo Lhapa
- 8 - Shyang Yeshé Dé of Nanam
- 9 - Palgyi Senge of Shubu
- 10 - Odran Palgyi Wangchug
- 11 - Nubchen Sangye Yeshe
- 12 - Ngag Yeshe Zhonnu
- 13 - Nanam Dorje Dudjom
- 14 - Ma Rinchen Chog
- 15 - Dré Gyalwé Lodrö
- 16 - Lhalung Palgyi Dorje
- 17 - Lang Palgyi Sengge
- 18 - Kyeuchung Lotsāwa
- 19 - Konchog Jungne
- 20 - Karchen Palgyi Wangchug
- 21 - Gyalwa Chokyang
- 22 - Gyalwa Changchub
- 23 - Drog Palgyi Yeshe
- 24 - Drenpa Namkha
- 25 - Yeshe Yang
Some sources regard her as a wife of Trisong Detsen, emperor of Tibet. Her main karmamudrā consort was Padmasambhava, a founder-figure of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
She is known to have revealed terma with Padmasambhava and was also the main scribe for these terma.
Later, Yeshe Tsogyal also hid many of Padmasambhava’s terma on her own, under the instructions of Padmasambhava for future generations.
Vairotsana was a lotsawa or “translator” living during the reign of King Trisong Detsen, who ruled 755-97 CE.
Vairotsana, one of the 25 main disciples of Padmasambhava, was recognized by the latter as a reincarnation of an Indian pandita.
He was among the first seven monks ordained by Śāntarakṣita, and was sent to Dhahena in India to study with Śrī Siṅgha, who taught him in complete secrecy.
Śrī Siṅgha in turn entrusted Vairotsana with the task of propagating the semde and longdé sections of Dzogchen in Tibet.
He is one of the three main masters to bring the Dzogchen teachings to Tibet, the two others being Padmasambhava and Vimalamitra, and was also a significant lineage holder of trul khor.
The first Namkhai Nyingpo was one of the 25 close disciples of Guru Rinpoche and attained full realization through the practice of Yangdak Heruka.
He was able to perform many miracles such as riding on the sun’s rays, and was instructed by Yangdak Heruka to write down the whole sadhana for the benefit of future beings.
He also visited India and received teachings from Humkara, and then King Trisong Detsen took him as a teacher and received the entire cycle of Yangdak Heruka teachings from him. It is said that he lived to be 200 years old and was still alive during the time of King Langdarma.
When his activities in that lifetime were complete, he manifested many emanations, although they weren’t given the name Namkhai Nyingpo. Among these emanations were the treasure revealers Jangchub Lingpa and Dawa Gyaltsen.
Namkhai Nyingpo was a realized practitioner of Śāntarakṣita’s tradition of Sutrayana “gradualist” Mahayana Buddhism as well as simultaneously being one of the most accomplished Tibetan practitioners of the East Mountain Teaching of Chan Buddhism, which transmits the “subitist” tradition of Mahayana Buddhism.
Kawa Paltseg was one of the twenty-five disciples of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) during the Tibetan Empire period. He was born in Kawa in Phenpo Valley. He was one of the seven monks ordained by the great abbot Śāntarakṣita (Shantarakshita) and became one of the greatest Tibetan translators in accordance with a prophecy by Guru Rinpoche. He was one of the most important contributors to the translation of the Tibetan Tripitaka and the Nyingma Gyübum. “Kawa” is a place name and “Paltseg” means “Mountain of resplendence.”
Denma Tsemang was an early Tibetan translator of the Tripitaka, a secretary and scribe to the king and Padmasambhava.
He was renowned for his fast writing and his calligraphy style is still used today.
He received Vajrayana teachings from Padmasambhava and achieved perfect recall. He is credited with writing down many termas, including the Assemblage of Sugatas, connected to the Eight Sadhana Teachings.
He was accepted as a disciple by the king of spiritual instructions from Oddiyana, Guru Rinpoche, and was the main recipient of the Wrathful Mantra deity meditation instructions.
He also served as a scribe for many of the yellow parchment texts.
King Trisong Detsen (740-798), a Tibetan monarch renowned for his commitment to Buddhism in Tibet, is widely believed to be an incarnation of the bodhisattva Manjushri.
He invited Abbot Shantirakshita and Padmasambhava from India and established the first monastery – Samye Chokor Ling.
He is typically depicted with a wisdom sword and book placed on two lotus blossoms at each shoulder.
Sokpo Lhapal, also known as Sokpo Palgyi Yeshé, was a blacksmith and one of the twenty-five disciples of Guru Rinpoche.
He received teachings from both Nyak Jnanakumara and Guru Rinpoche and was renowned for his ability to seize savage beasts of prey with his hands.
On three occasions, he used his miraculous power to pacify the enemies of his teacher, Nyak Jnanakumara.
He was also a teacher of Nupchen Sangye Yeshe. Pema Lhundrub Gyatso (1660-1727), the second throne-holder of Palyul Monastery, is believed to have been one of Sokpo Lhapal’s reincarnations.
Nanam Yeshe, also known as Yeshe Dey of Nanam and Bandey Yeshe Dey of Shang was a highly accomplished monk and a renowned translator of over 200 scriptures.
He was a disciple of Padmasambhava and is said to have displayed his miraculous powers, obtained through mastery of Vajra Kilaya, by flying in the air like a bird.
The name Yeshe means ‘original wakefulness.’
Palgyi Senge of Shubu
Palgyi Senge of Shubu, a minister to King Trisong Deutsen, was one of the first people to invite Padmasambhava to Tibet.
He studied translation under Padmasambhava and translated many teachings of Mamo, Yamantaka and Kilaya into Tibetan.
Through his mastery of Kilaya and Mamo, he was able to split rocks and divert rivers with his dagger. Palgyi Senge is also known as ‘Glorious Lion.’
Odran Palgyi Wangchug
Otren Palgyi Wangchuk was a renowned scholar and Tantrika who attained enlightenment through his devotion to Guru Drakpo, the wrathful form of Padmasambhava.
He is referred to in various significant texts, including ‘Lady of the Lotus.’ Guru Rinpoche bestowed upon him the external, internal, and secret root sadhanas of the Mamos, the Newap, and the Legye, and asked him to practice in the Yerpa caves, which he was born from Gyalwa Jangchup.
Nubchen Sangye Yeshe
Sangye Yeshe, also known as ‘Buddha Wisdom’, was one of the twenty-five disciples of Padmasambhava and the chief recipient of the Anu Yoga teachings and Yamantaka of Mahayoga.
Nubchen Sangye Yeshehad several teachers, including Guru Rinpoche, Traktung Nagpo and Chögyal Kyong from India, Vasudhara from Nepal, and Chetsen Kye from Drusha.
He visited India and Nepal seven times. During the time of Langdarma’s attempt to destroy Buddhism in Tibet, Sangye Yeshe used his magical powers to create an enormous scorpion, the size of nine yaks, with a single gesture of his right hand.
This caused Langdarma to lose his courage to persecute the Vajrayana sangha who dressed in white robes and kept long hair.
Nubchen Sangye Yeshe is considered an important figure in the development of the White Sangha of lay yogis (ngagpas).
Ngag Yeshe Zhonnu
Yeshe Zhonnu, who was also known as Jñānakumara, was born into the Nyak clan in Po, Yarlung during the mid 8th century. His father was Takra Lhanang and his mother was Suza Gonkyi.
He was given the name Gyelwe Lodro due to an unusual mole on his neck that resembled a crossed vajra.
He received his ordination from Śāntarakṣita and was initiated by Padmasambhava into the Vajrāmṛṭa maṇḍala, one of the eight Heruka.
He practiced at Yarlung Sheldrak and obtained the ability to bring forth water from the ground. Padmasambhava also initiated him into the Kabgye and his flower fell on the central deity of the maṇḍala, Chemchok Heruka.
Nevertheless, Jñānakumara is mainly recognized for his Vajrakīla practice and transmission which he got from Vimalamitra. His transmission lineage is called the Nyak Luks Purba.
Nanam Dorje Dudjom
Dorje Dudjom of Nanam was one of King Trisong Deutsen’s ministers and was sent to Nepal to invite Padmasambhava to Tibet.
He became one of Guru Rinpoche’s main twenty-five disciples and was known as a mantrika who had achieved perfection in the two stages of development and completion, being able to fly with the speed of the wind and traverse solid matter.
Rigdzin Godem (1337-1408) and Pema Trinley (1641-1718), the great vidyadhara of Dorje Drak Monastery in central Tibet, are both believed to be reincarnations of Dorje Dudjom, whose name translates to ‘Indestructible Subduer of Mara.’
Ma Rinchen Chog
Ma Rinchen Chok was among the twenty-five disciples of Guru Rinpoche and seven men who were tested.
He had a close bond with Vimalamitra and assisted him in translating the Guhyagarbha Tantra.
Furthermore, the two collaborated to compose a commentary on the Guhyagarbha and the Cittabindu Upadesha, which was composed by three renowned siddhas: Buddhaguhya, Lilavajra and Vimalamitra.
Dré Gyalwé Lodrö
Gyelwai Lodro, born to the Dre clan, was an administrator in the court of King Tri Songdetsen before taking ordination.
His pre-ordination name was Gonpo. In India, Gyelwai received teachings from Hūṃkāra, an Indian Mahāsiddha, on Yangdak Heruka.
He was said to be able to rescue the dead from Yāmarāja, the lord of death. Back in Tibet, he served as a translator and was one of Padmasambhava’s twenty-five disciples.
Gyelwai’s practice of Yangdak Heruka allowed him to live for more than three hundred years, during which time he practiced and spread the teachings.
He was also reputed to have had the ability to transform zombies into gold, which he stored in caves and statues for later discovery.
Lhalung Palgyi Dorje
Lhalung Palgyi Dorje was a devoted follower of Guru Rinpoche, one of twenty-five.
He is renowned for killing the evil King Langdarma, thus liberating him and putting an end to the suppression of Buddhism in Tibet.
At the end of his life, he attained the state of rainbow body.
Lang Palgyi Sengge
Palgyi Senge of Lang was the son of Amey Jangchub Drekhöl, a powerful mantrika who had the ability to call upon gods and demons as his servants.
He was one of the eight main disciples of Padmasambhava when the empowerment of the Assemblage of Sugatas was given.
Through his practice of the Tamer of All Haughty Spirits, he achieved both ordinary and extraordinary accomplishments at Paro Taktsang.
Kyeuchung Lotsāwa was born into the Drokmi clan and was believed to be an incarnation of an Indian mahapaṇḍita.
He was given his name, which means “boy translator”, as he had learned Sanskrit at a young age.
As a householder, he became a disciple of Padmasambhava and became an expert in early transmission tantra.
He is known for having the ability to attract and teach birds with the use of mudra. He is one of the twenty-five disciples of Padmasambhava.
Langdro Könchok Jungné, also known as Langdro Lotsawa, was a disciple of Padmasambhava who hailed from the Langdro region of Tsang and served as a court minister to King Trisong Detsen.
His main reincarnations include the great tertöns Ratna Lingpa, Dzogchen Pema Rigdzin, and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, who is believed to be his activity emanation.
Karchen Palgyi Wangchug
Palgyi Wangchuk, known as the ‘Resplendent Lord,’ is mentioned in the Sanglingma biography as the father of Yeshe Tsogyal, while other sources describe him as her brother.
He was a close disciple of Padmasambhava and attained siddhi through the practice of Vajra Kilaya.
Gyalwa Chokyang was one of the twenty-five disciples of Guru Rinpoche, and was ordained as a monk by Shantarakshita.
During the empowerment of Kagyé given by Guru Rinpoche in the caves of Samye Chimpu, his flower fell on the mandala of Hayagriva.
Through his practice, he was able to take on the form of the deity, and heard the sound of a horse’s neigh coming from the crown of his head.
Gyalwa Chogyang was a student and one of the disciple of Padmasambhava, that is typically depicted with a green horse head atop his own head.
Lasum Gyalwa Changchup was a highly educated monk, having been one of the first seven Tibetans to receive full ordination from Shantarakshita.
He traveled to India multiple times and translated sacred texts.
He was a devoted student of Padmasambhava and was said to have achieved siddhi, which enabled him to fly.
It is believed that Rigdzin Kunzang Sherab, the founder of Palyül Monastery in Kham, was one of his reincarnations.
Drog Palgyi Yeshe
Palgyi Yeshe, a member of the Drogmi clan, was a renowned translator who rendered many sutras and tantras into Tibetan, including the Tantra of the Mother Deities Mamo.
He was granted the transmission of the Mother Deities from Padmasambhava, becoming an expert mantrika in the process.
Drenpa Namkha is renowned in both Buddhist and Bön traditions as a significant master for their respective lineages.
According to Buddhist sources, he was initially an accomplished Bön priest who converted to Buddhism and became one of the twenty-five disciples of Guru Rinpoche.
He is credited with organizing scriptures of the Dzogchen Semde and spreading Padmasambhava’s teachings.
On the other hand, Bön sources claim Drenpa Namkha to be an important lineage holder born in the eight century in Khyunglung Ngulkhar.
They acknowledge his conversion to Buddhism, but believe it to be a skilful means to uphold the Bön tradition which was being persecuted at the time.
He is also believed to have authored several terma treasures that were later revealed by various tertöns.
Yeshe Yang was one of the twenty-five disciples of Padmasambhava and is remembered for transcribing many of his teachings and concealing some of them.
He was also known as Ba Selnang, and it is believed that he was a minister of King Tri Songdetsen who was sent to India to invite Śāntarakṣita to Tibet.
He was among the first Tibetans to ordain and is credited with writing the Testiment of Ba, one of the earliest histories of Tibet.
Legend has it that he lived in the forested mountains with Sokpo Lhapel until one day he flew into the sky and vanished.