Buddhapalita 470 - 540
Important commentator on the works of Nagarjuna, he emphasized the use of Prasanga-Madhyamika or "necessary consequence," which would later attract Shantideva and is today propounded by the Gelug order.
Studied at Nalanda and interpreted Nagarjuna's teaching from the Svatantrika-Madhyamika viewpoint. He expounded these teachings as a critique of Buddhapalita, which would in turn be rebuked by Chandrakirti, whose teacher was a disciple of Buddhapalita.
Vimalamitra c. 500 - 750
Born in western India, recieved first mantrayana teachings from Buddhaguhya, studied Dzogchen under Sri Singha for 20 years, and took further teachings from Jnanasutra. At the King's invitation, he came to Tibet, worked on translation efforts, spread Atiyoga teachings as well as Guhyagarbha through Ma Rinchen-chog, Nub Sangye Yeshe, Nyag Jnanakumara & others. Lived more than 200 years and finished this life living on Mt. Wu-tai-shan where he still resides in a rainbow body.
Jnanasutra c. 500 - 600
Born in east India, heart student of Sri Singha, initiated into the oral transmission of Atiyoga by Vimalamitra, he later spent 15 years with Sri Singha, receiving his innermost and final instructions before transmitting them to his old friend Vimalmitra. Attained a rainbow body.
Lilavajra c. 550 - 650
Ordained in Oddiyana, mastered the tenets of Asanga and received transmission of Guhyagarbha from Princess Gomadevi. His disciples include Vimalamitra and Buddhaguhya. Gave Mahayoga transmission to Padmasambhava and Buddhajnanapada. He taught at Nalanda for 10 years, then traveled in India and the northwest, including Oddiyana, where he extensively taught The Magical Net.
Buddhaguhya c. 600 - 750
Disciple of Buddhajnanapada; studied with Lilavajra and Sri Singha. Invited to Tibet but unable to come, remaining in hermitage on Mt. Kailasa. One of three great Yoga Tantra masters, also a Vidyadhara of Mahayoga. Assisted efforts to bring Dharma to Tibet by sending Mahayoga texts to the royal court.
A contemporary of Srongtsen Gampo, he studied with Dignaga's student Isvarasena, wrote seven treatises which, together with the work of Dignaga, became the foundation of all serious inquiries into knowledge throughout India, embraced by Hindus and Jains as well. He is said to have debated with the Advaitist Shankaracharya and won. Master logician who also practiced Mantrayana via a Heruka initiation.
Songtsen Gampo 617 - 698
Dharma King. Under his reign a system of writing was instituted and masters from India, China and Nepal were invited to translate sections of the Tripitaka; ten moral precepts and 16 rules of social conduct were publicized. His wives were Buddhist princesses from Nepal and China. Constructed geomantic temples for the taming and protection of Tibet. No ordained monks at the time, but it is believed there were continually about 100 longhairs in white robes practicing on Avalokitesvara at Nyangdren Phawongkha.
Lochen Thonmi Sambhota 600 - 700
Dispatched by Srongtsen Gampo to learn Indian languages and devise a script to translate Dharma into Tibetan.
Chandrakirti 600 - 700
Abbot of Nalanda who often debated with layman Chandragomin, promulgating the Prasangika view. His teacher was a student of Buddhapalita.
Chandragomin 600 - 700
Bengali youth who mastered the classics and grammar without a teacher. A Buddhist layman, he married, went to Nalanda and became great logician, drawing large crowds when arguing the views of Asanga against Chandrakirti's Prasangika for seven years. These contests would always end in a draw. When temporarily stumped, Chandragomin would ask for a continuation on the following day. According to Bu-ston, Chandragomin went home and was instructed in the evenings by Avalokitesvara, who would inspire him with the apporpriate counter arguments.
700-900 Dharma is established among Uighurs and Turks. The Chinese sangha undergoes intense persecution, only the Pureland and Chan survive. Nine Chan lineages flourish in Korea, and Buddhism becomes Japans state religion. In Tibet, Guru Padmasambhava, Khenpo Shantarakshita, and King Trisong Detsen found the first monastery and ordain the first monks; extensive translations are undertaken and the Nyingma lineages are established. After the founding of Samye, the Mahayoga, Anuyoga, and Atiyoga (Dzogpa Chenpo) tantras are translated into Tibetan. The Mahayoga, Anuyoga, and Atiyoga Inner Tantra teachings are transmitted in two streams. The Kama transmission flows from master to disciple without interruption. This is the Long Transmission; it proceeds through a series of individuals. The Terma transmission relies on teachings concealed by Padmasambhava and his chief disciple, Yeshe Tsogyal, for discovery at specific times in the future. Known as the Close Transmission, these teachings descend from the Great Guru directly to the master who finds the teaching many centuries later.
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.
The prince who became the monk known as the "Lazy One" at Nalanda; author of the Siksamuccaya and Sutrasamuccaya, recited his Bodhicaryavatara before the assembly at Nalanda. Ordained by Jayadeva, his principle disciple was Jnanadeva.
Jnanagarbha, the Siddha Kukkuripa 700 - 800
Born in Orissa, ordained in Bengal by Sri Gupta, a Madhyamika master who valued Bhavya's Svatantrika views. Teacher of Santarakshita, both also explicated Svatantrika views. Worked intensively with the first wave of Tibetan translators.
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.