Part 1: Jewel in the Lotus
More than a thousand years ago, in the city of Jatumati (mDseS-ldan) which is in the western angle of the great down-pointing triangle that is called India, there lived a king who some say was blind. He was known as Indrabhuti, a Sanskrit name meaning spirit of Indra.
Some refer to him as Dhritarashtra, since it was so unusual for a king to be physically less than perfect. Whether he was entirely without sight, just near-sighted or merely narrow of vision in a figurative sense we cannot know.
Within the context of the round of innumerable lives maybe that was one of his names, as noble people often had several. Maybe he was the same impermanent accumulation of qualities as that other king, but in a new and different form!
In any case, in those days kings and queens embodied the law of the universe or, Dharma. As such, they were expected to be perfect in every way. What a misfortune for a land to have a sightless king! But so it was.
The king=s only son and heir died young, and while the king and his courtiers were plunged into mourning, the country of Udyana called in Tibetan, Urgyen, fell into deepest sorrow and despair.
The land became barren and soon there was a famine. The storehouses were quickly emptied to feed the hungry people. The treasury of the palace was exhausted in the attempt to replenish the storehouses. But conditions kept worsening and in their distress people filled the temples and made offerings to the gods.
The gods do not often trouble themselves with human affairs being much occupied with their own pleasures. However the cries of the people of Udyana reached the ears of the merciful Buddha of the Western Paradise, Amitabha (Opameh), the Buddha of Boundless Light. He responded with a flash of red light that focused on the sacred lake.
That night, the king had an auspicious dream. He saw in his own hand, a golden thunderbolt that made his body shine like the sun. It was as if he himself had been transformed into the Lord God Indra, wielder-of-thunderbolts,
When the king turned his head towards the sound of chirping birds that morning, he was bedazzled by the morning sun. Tears ran down his face, first from the pain and then from his great joy at being able to see.
Then the royal astrologer entered his chamber saying, AHighness, at Dhanakosha? At the holy lake? A glorious five-hued light has settled there. They say this rainbow is so bright that it illuminates the three levels of reality.
The elephants were ready and waiting when the king demanded to be taken there, immediately.
The royal party embarked in a shikara that was already waiting at the ghat. In the distance they could see a brilliance that outshone the rays of sunlight glancing off the ripples on the water’s surface. The boatman poled his way over to an enormous lotus blossom, glowing above the sheen of the shiny dark green platters of its huge leaves. It was far broader and higher than any of its fellows.
As they approached the flower, through the glowing petals they could make out the graceful movement of a shadowy form. Finally, in its interior they saw the charming figure of a boy, perfect in every way. In his hand he held a sort of sceptre like that of a god, or at least an emperor.
Even the king joined in bowing down to this marvelous child. Indrabodhi asked, AWho are you? What country do you come from? Who are your parents?
The boy replied, “My father is Clear Awareness; my Mother is All-space. And I have come from that place where all things originate, in order to fulfill a prophecy of the great Sage of the Shakyas, the Enlightened One, who said:
“After me when twelve hundred years have passed, will come one to the northeast of Udyana, one whose fame will spread to all quarters. He will be known as the Lotus-born, that is, Padmasambhava. He will free all beings from misery since to him have I entrusted the great and infallible means to liberation, the use of mantra.”
From that day forward, the tenth day of the seventh month, the land of Udyana prospered and the holy teachings of the Buddha-dharma spread far and wide.
The boy became known as Lake-born Vajra (mTso-sKyes rDorje) as he was so unlike ordinary boys. Instead of running and playing, he sat in the shade of a tree as still and as steady as a vajra or thunderstone, just like the One who long before had prophesied his arrival.
The virtuous king acted as a father towards him and was very concerned at his un-childlike habits. Tseukey Dorje wore his hair in tangles wound on the top of his head. He liked to dress in the bone ornaments of a yogi and not much else. He sat for hours at a time in deep meditation sometimes raising and shaking his two-headed drum with his right hand, while the trident that was the customary staff of ascetics rested on his other shoulder.
As was the custom in those days, the royal family found a companion for him in the person of young girl, known as pOchanma in the Tibetan language. She was from the household of Chandra Gomashi, king of neighbouring Singala to the east. But though Tsoky Dorje remained in the palace for five years, by the end of that time he could stand it no longer.
He would not give in to his foster family=s wishes to live the usual life of a royal young man.
He began to practice tantric yoga, dressing as a sadhu — almost naked with the khatvanga or trident in his hands that symbolizes the victory over the three poisons. One day, while up on the palace roof doing his practice, the trident slipped from his hands and fell over the edge. It struck the head of the son of chief minister Kamalatey, killing him instantly.
The traditional punishment for such a crime was the cruel death by impalement. However, because he was the adopted son of the king and known to have a miraculous origin, the sentence was commuted.
The king, with great sadness, felt he was losing a son for the second time but he had no choice in the matter. A sentence of banishment was publicly pronounced: The Lotus-born boy was never to return within the walls of Jatumati.
Before the sentence was carried out, his father sent for him. Tears streamed from the king’s eyes as they shared a last meal together. Then the prince said goodbye to both his parents.
Tsokyi Dorje was led to the charnel ground known as Cool Grove that lay to the east of the city, and there abandoned among the remains of rotting corpses and the fluttering bits of rag. Vultures flew down to investigate.
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