The History of the Vast and Profound Dzogchen Lineage
The Original Dzogchen Lineage
The original Dzogchen lineage was transmitted from Dharmakaya Buddha Samantabhadra to Sambhogakaya Buddha Vajrasattva to Nirmanakaya Buddha Shakyamuni.
In 626 B.C.E. our supreme Dharma teacher, Buddha Shakyamuni, was born in southern Nepal, which in ancient times was northern India. At the age of thirty-five, Shakyamuni attained Buddhahood in Bodhgaya, India and began to teach the dharma in this world. For the next forty-seven years the Buddha's teachings flourished throughout the universe and as a result many sentient being attained enlightenment. At the age of eighty-two, Buddha Shakyamuni passed into nirvana. Thereafter, the Buddha Shakyamuni manifested in two wisdom emanations.
Dzogchen Khandro Nyingthig Lineage
In 90 A.B.B. (After Buddha's Birth), eight years after Buddha's Parirnirvana, the first emanation of the Buddha, Padmasambhava, came into this world and received the complete teaching from many enlightened masters. Padmasambhava taught the Dzogchen Khandro Nyingthig to numerous beings in India's eight great sacred places and China, and introduced and spread Buddhism throughout Tibet. His main disciple, the Dakini Yeshe Tsogyal, also taught the Dzogchen Khandro Nyingthig to many practitioners who achieved the enlightenment of Buddha. This tradition was handed down through the ages and later passed from Longchen Rabjam through to Dzogchen Padma Rigdzin. Today, the Dzogchen Khandro Nyingthig lineage lives in the heart of the Vajra master at Dzogchen monastery.
Dzogchen Longchen Nyingthig Lineage
In 110 A.B.B., twenty-eight years after Buddha's Parinirvana, the second emanation of the Buddha, Prahevajra (Garab Dorje), came into this world and received teachings directly from Sambhogakaya Buddha Vajrasattva. Pahevajra taught the Dzogchen Nyingthig to various beings for many years in India and in seventy-five sacred places of the dakinis. His main disciple was Manjushrimitra. Manjushrimitra's main disciple was the Great Dzogchen master Shri Singha, who still lives in an enlightened state in the Holy Dzogchen Valley.
Shri Singha was born in Shokyam, northwest Asia, approximately 2,300 years ago (299 B.C.E.). Starting at the age of fifteen, he practiced and prayed for three years. Later, while traveling by camel toward the City of Golden Island, he had a pure vision of a compassionate deity who gave him guidance and made a prophecy. Inspired, he then traveled to the sacred Five-Peaked Mountain (Wu Tai Shan, Shanxi Province in China) and meditated for many years in order to attain ultimate wisdom. He prayed and prostrated there day after day, until a vision of an awe-inspiring deity appeared before him. Feeling tremendous devotion and respect, he recognized that this deity would guide him along the Path.
The deity was actually the compassionate Avalokiteshvara. He told the young sage, "If you really wish to become enlightened, go to Sosadvipa, Uddiyana, in northwest India, to meet Manjushrimitra, for you have a strong karmic connection with him from previous lives." Then Avalokiteshvara disappeared.
The young sage was filled with the aspiration to meet the Dzogchen master Manjushrimitra. After struggling over the difficulty of leaving his family, friends, and country, he departed for Uddiyana. On the long journey, through the miraculous power of the Dakinis, he overcame obstacles created by humans and non-humans alike. Finally, he reached the holy place of Uddiyana. There he met face-to-face with his mother-like master, Manjushrimitra, who gave him the Sanskrit dharma name Shri Singha; shri means glorious and singha means lion.
For twenty-five years, Shri Singha studied and practiced the dharma in India with Manjushrimitra and eventually became a great Siddha. From his guru he received the transmission of the six million Dzogchen Tantras, the essence of the buddhadharma that enables one to accomplish buddhahood in one lifetime. Shri Singha became the sixth holder of the Dzogchen Nyingthig Lineage.
Before passing into nirvana, Manjushrimitra told Shri Singha to go to the Siltrom Snow Mountain of Rudam Canyon (now called the Holy Dzogchen Area located in Kham, eastern Tibet), as well as to the Five-Peaked Mountain to practice and propagate the Dzogchen Nyingthig teachings for the benefit of countless beings. Upon attaining nirvana, Manjushrimitra vanished from the top of the Sosadvipa Stupa in India. Shri Singha uttered a deep, heartfelt prayer calling on his master, and suddenly Manjushrimitra reappeared in front of him. He gave Shri Singha a small treasure box containing the essential points of the Tantras, Gomnyam Drugpa (The Six Experiences of Dzogchen Meditation).
Following his master's instructions, Shri Singha then went to the Rudam Canyon. There, Shri Singha transmitted the Dzogchen teachings to numerous beings from many worlds and purelands. His main disciples were Jnanasutra and Vimalamitra. After many years of benefiting beings, Shri Singha transformed into a Rainbow Body and disappeared into the radiant Dharmata. His secret transmission, Dzir Bu Dunpa (The Seven Dzogchen Nails), was passed into the hands of Jnanasutra.
Jnanasutra in turn gave the Dzogchen teachings to Vimalamitra, who then taught them in Tibet for many years. Hundreds of practitioners attained enlightenment of Rainbow Body. His main disciple was Tendzin Zangpo also taught the Dzogchen teachings to many practitioners. Later, this Dzogchen lineage passed from Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa through to the Vajra masters of the Dzogchen Shri Singha University.
Sacred Land of Dzogchen Lineage
The Holy Dzogchen Area is known throughout the world as a natural sacred land. It is where the Siltrom Snow Mountains and Rudam Canyon are located, and is a spontaneous manifestation of the mandala of Buddhas and Dakinis; it is also the natural charnel ground of the Herukas. Therefore, many supernatural beings, Bodhisattvas, Arhats, and Mahasiddhas came from South Asia and from other worlds.
According to history, Dzogchen masters Shri Singha, Padmasambhava and Vimalamitra lived for many years in the Siltrom Snow Mountain caves in the Holy Dzogchen Area, and there hid many Dharma Treasures and bestowed blessings. Since then many practitioners in this holy place have attained enlightenment of Rainbow Body. We can see thousands of extremely miraculous reminders and signs of the enlightened masters of those times. Guru Padmasambhava said, "This sacred land is a door to Nirvana and the window to all the Buddhas." It is the deepest aspiration of many practitioners to make pilgrimage to and practice in the Holy Dzogchen Area.
Blessing of Dzogchen Lineage
Throughout the centuries practitioners there received teachings and blessings directly from Shri Singha, Padmasambhava, Vimalamitra, and many dakinis. Dzogchen Padma Rigdzin saw Guru Padmasambhava many times. Dodrupchen Kunzang Zhenphen, Mingyur Namkhe Dorje, Gyalse Zhenphen Thaye, and Khyentse Yeshe Dorje have seen and received teachings and blessings from Shri Singha. All of them attained very high levels of realization by means of meeting these extraordinary enlightened beings.
In modern times, practitioners continue to meet these masters. In 1924 Khenchen Tsewang Rigdzin came to the Holy Dzogchen Area, met Vimalamitra, and directly received teachings and empowerments. He then meditated for many years and achieved high realization. Later, in 1958, while being taken to prison, he flew into the sky and disappeared in front of everyone. In another instance, an ordinary Tibetan hunter, Sonam Namgyal, secretly practiced the Dzogchen Nyingthig for many years in the sacred Dzogchen area and, in 1952, attained Rainbow Body in front of thousands of people.
How to Become a Dzogchen Lineage Holder
Today, we have the Dzogchen teachings in this world because of the blessings of this ancient lineage. Our deepest wish is to remind Vajrayana practitioners to remember the history of the Dzogchen masters. Without deep faith and certainty in the Dzogchen lineage, it will be difficult to receive its powerful blessings. All practitioners of the Vajrayana should always remember the amazing life stories of the Dzogchen lineage masters because the blessings of the Dzogchen lineage are immeasurable and the power of the lineage is the heart of Vajrayana Buddhism. When you continuously remember the Dzogchen masters you will receive the power and blessing of the lineage and you will become a great practitioner and enlightened master of the Dzogchen lineage.