Padmasambhava, the 'Lotus-born' or 'Precious Guru' (Guru Rinpoche), is the great eighth century Indian scholar and tantric master who is renowned for his role in establishing Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism in Tibet. His complexion is flesh-coloured, and he sits in a posture of royal ease upon a moon disc and a lotus. His symbolic 'lotus hat' is crowned with a vajra and vulture feathers, and he wears jewelled ornaments, a white under-robe, a blue silk robe with a copper neckpiece, the dull red robe of a Buddhist monk, a fur-lined outer cloak of dark red cloth, and felt shoes. These coloured garments symbolize his mastery over the various yanas or Buddhist paths. In the crook of his left arm he supports a tantric staff or khatvanga with an iron trident at its top. With his right hand he holds a golden five-pointed vajra, and with his left hand he holds a nectar-filled skull-cup with a small golden longevity flask inside it. On his lower right is his Indian consort Princess Mandarava, who holds a silk divination arrow and a longevity flask. On his lower left is his Tibetan consort Yeshe Tsogyal, who holds a skull-cup of nectar in her right hand and makes the gesture of protection with her left. And above head is red Amitabha Buddha.
© text by Robert Beer