Gods and Sacred Mountains | Guru Rinpoche | The Life of Guru Rinpoche

The Life of Guru Rinpoche

Just as Buddha Shakyamuni, Guru Rinpoche also grew up as a king's son in a small monarchy in India. In the eighth century, according to our calendar, his reputation as a tantric master with magical powers went forth all the way to the Himalayas. So he was called upon by a Tibetan king in order to spread Buddhism and to pacify the malicious Gods. Thereafter, Guru Rinpoche wandered throughout the entire Himalayan region subjugating Gods and Demons. He founded a form of Buddhism that conformed to the spiritual world of that time. Until today, this has remained alive and shapes, now as then, the life of of the people of the Himalayas.


According to the context of his teaching or his religious activity, Guru Rinpoche appears in eight manifestations. Many portrayals show him with his tantric consorts, who captured his religious teachings in writing.

In Bhutan, Guru Rinpoche was reborn in the body of the holy man Pema Lingpa who carried on his work. Even today, his descendants play a vital political and societal role in this country.

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This over-dimensional Thangka* shows Guru Rinpoche, flanked by his two consorts Mandarava and Yeshe Tshogyel. The figures on the left and the right edges of the fabric painting show the eight manifestations of the Guru.
Photograph by Françoise Pommaret