Vairocana 650 - 750

Born in Nyemo Cekar, he journeyed to India, studied with Sri Singha who taught him in secret and showed him how to smuggle texts. He also met Garab Dorje before returning to Tibet via rlung-running. He eventually became one of the most highly respected translators of the Tripitaka and Prajnapramita literature although he was temporarily ill-received at the royal court and sent into exile in the west, where he taught Yudra Nyingpo and the local King in secret.

Virupa 700 - 800

Mahasiddha, pupil of Jayadeva, ordained by Jayakirti at Somapuri. Threw away his mala after 12 years of practice and had it returned to him by a dakini who instructed him to persevere. Transmitted Hevajra lineage to Dombi Heruka.

Shantarakshita 700 - 800

Renowned in India, he was summoned to Tibet where he ordained the first seven monks. He forged the system known as Yogacara-Svatantrika-Madhyamika and built Samye Monastery with Guru Rinpoche and King Trisong Deutsan.

Padmasambhava, Guru Rinpoche 730 - 805

Lotus-born guru, an emanation of Amitabha. After subduing the kingdoms of Zahor and Oddiyana, he brought Buddhism to Tibet with the help of Khenpo Shantarakshita and King Trisong Deutsan. He stayed 50 years, founding monasteries and teaching tantric doctrine. Accepted the King's young wife Yeshe Tsogyal as his consort and with her help, hid many treasure texts for later discovery. Known as Guru Rinpoche to Tibetans. Supremely accomplished in the esoteric arts, he used his powers to defeat many demons and black magic practitioners in Tibet in the 8th century. Padmasambhava is the principal founder of the first school of Tibetan Buddhism, the Nyingma. He was among the great Indian Tantric masters renowned for effecting changes in the phenomenal world through spiritual power, and is regarded as an incarnation of three holy personalities: the body incarnation of Gautama Buddha, speech incarnation of Amitabha, and the mind incarnation of Avalokitesvara his mind. Padmasambhava is described as a tantric adept, an enlightened yogi, meditation master and healer who established the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition in Tibet and founded it’s first monastery, Samye.

Yeshe Tsogyal 757 - 815

Princess of Karchen, wife of Trisong Deutsan; consort and biographer of Padmasambhava; revealer of treasure (terma) teachings. An emanation of Vajrayogini, Vajravahari, and Tara. Her enlightened form is Dechen Gyalmo, Queen of Great Bliss. The most important female figure in the tradition of the Tibetan Buddhist Nyingma school was a serving girl of Tibetan King Trisong Detsen who became the intimate companion of Padmasambhava at the age of 16. The famous Indian yogi and tantric master, believed to be the second reincarnation of the historical Buddha, brought Buddhism to Tibet, where he was known as Pema Junge, Guru Rinpoche. Padmasambhava took Yeshe as his consort and transmitted to her the teachings of the phurba cycle. She codified countless of her guru's teachings in Terma texts and also composed his extensive biography, "Padma Kathang." In the last part of her life she was active mainly in eastern Tibet. She is venerated up to the present day as a dakini. Tsogyel received full initiation into the Tantra and was transformed into a "Sky Dancer," a female adept of the highest order. Padmasambhava said to her, "The basis for realizing enlightenment is a human body. Male or female, there is no great difference. But if she develops the mind bent on enlightenment, the woman's body is better." For many years after the passing of Padmasambhava, Tsogyel worked for the good of all -- feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, instructing the ignorant, and sharing her body in a sexual manner. She also married a leper and served him as a model wife. She is venerated as Tibet's top female Tantric master and is thought to have reincarnated since then as a number of important female adepts, including Machig Lapdron (1055—1145) and Yomo Memo (1248—1283).

Nyag Jnanakumara 750 - 830

Great translator born in Yarlung and ordained by Santaraksita. Matured by Padmasambhava, he caused water to flow from rock. Worked with Vimalamitra on translations of outer, inner and secret esoteric teachings: Guhyagarbha. Also studied with Vairocana in Central Tibet. Reviled by his brother and repeatedly chased out of hermitage, he went into retreat with Vimalamitra and accomplished Vajrakilaya. Initiated the blacksmith Lha Pelgi Yeshe who once rescued him from prison after killing two guards.

Kamalasila 8th c.

Disciple of Santarakshita, his debate with Hva-shang at Samye determined that the gradualist system as taught by Santarakshita would be the basis for Buddhism in Tibet.

Haribhadra 8th c.

Disciple of Santaraksita, he wrote important commentaries on the Prajnaparamita. King Dharmapala of eastern India became his student and patron as he went on to construct 50 temples as well as Vikramasila. Teacher of Buddhajnanapada.

Trisong Deutsen 790 - 844

Second Great Dharma King. At 17 he became interested in the efforts of his forefathers to establish Dharma in the Land of the Snows, against the wishes of his Bönpo ministers, he invited Santaraksita and later Padmasambhava to introduce Buddhism in Tibet. Together they constructed Samye Monastery.

Ralpachen 805 - 838

41st King of the Yarlung Dynasty; Third Great Dharma King (reigned 815-838) who furthered the translation work by standardizing technical terms. Assembled hundreds of scholars from India and Kashmir to work with teams of Tibetan translators to translate most of the Hinayana and Mahayana texts as well as the Inner Tantras. Was assassinated and replaced by his anti-buddhist brother, Langdarma, who nearly brought about the destruction of Dharma in Tibet. Langdarma vigorously persecuted the sanghas until he too was assassinated (842) by a monk bent on protecting the Dharma. This persecution marked the end of the first transmission of Dharma to Tibet.

Namkhai Nyingpo c. 700 — 900

Siddha disciple of Padmasambhava, sent to India with 107 others to study with Indian masters in preparation for massive translation project.

Yeshe-de c. 700 — 900

Among the first 108 translators sent to India, assisted in the translation of more than 300 texts, and served on the standardization committee. Early work on Prajnaparamita and Abhidharma teachings. Mastered Vajrakilaya Tantras and could soar in the sky.

Ma Rinchen chog c. 700 — 900

Among the young Tibetans sent to India by the king, one of the first seven monks ordained by Santakarasita, student of Padmasambhava, he meditated in many caves and could tranform rock into edible nectar. During debates with the Bönpos, he sat cross-legged in space. Carried the king's invitation to Vimalamitra in Oddiyana and became his disciple; helped in translating Guhyagarbha. Wrote more than 250 Dzogchen commentaries

Loden Sherab 800 - 900

"The Great Translator of Ngog." One of the translators of thousands of scriptures into Tibetan. Studied in India with Lotsawa Tsen Khawoche, Khyungpo Chetson, Ra Lotsawa, and Nyen Lotsawa. Established a teaching tradition at the Dharma college Sangpu Netog, a respected college in the tradition of the great Indian universities. The college was built by his uncle, Ngog Legpa Sherab, one of the 21 translators sent to India after the destruction of King Langdharma. Transmitted the Prajnaparamita teachings.

Nub Sangye Yeshe 832 - 932

Born in the uplands of Dra in Central Tibet, disciple of Padmasambhava and Vimalamitra. Helped preserve the lineage from destruction under Langdarma. Began study at age seven with Odren Pelgi Zhonu, the blacksmith siddha. Studied with many masters and went to India and Nepal several times. At 54, he was instructed by the preceptor Vasudhara who pointed him to Varanasi and the master Prakasalamkara where he received Anuyoga instruction. His main seat was in Yangdzong in Dra during the difficult years of Langdarma's persecution; there were various rebellions and Nub's two sons were murdered. Nub was inspired to take up the role of a wrathful protector who demonstrated his power dramatically when called before the despot king and thus provided some immunity for long-haired, white-robed ngakpas.

Zurpoche Shakya Jungney (Zurchenpa) b. 954

A father of the Nyingma lineage, main Vidyadhara of his time for Maha and Anuyogas. At Ukpalung Monastery in Central Tibet, he collected thousands of texts, classifying and arranging Tantras together with their commentaries, practice and ritual manuals.