Himalayan Art Resources

Indian Adept: Padmavajra (Lotus Vajra)

Systems of Mahasiddhas

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
- Biography
- Abhayadatta System
- Vajrasana System
- Eight Siddha System
- Masterworks
- Confusions: Padmakara, Padmasambhava
- Others...

It would appear that there are two different mahasiddhas named Padmavajra based on two different systems of the Eighty-four Mahasiddhas. Both of these systems originated in the 11th and 12th centuries with the Abhayadatta as the earlier system of enumeration. All of these systems of Eighty-four Mahasiddhas are promoted by the Sarma Schools of Tibet. The most frequently mentioned meditational deities in the biographies of the siddhas are Chakrasamvara, Hevajra and Guhyasamaja. There are no mentions of any Nyingma tradition deities or practices.

In the Vajrasana system Padmavajra is number 4 in the list along with the sometimes conflated mahasiddha Padmakara number 49.

'Householder of the Tharbu tribe,
Eating fruit, realizing the supreme path,
To that teacher I bow.' (Vajrasana).

In the Abhayadatta system, Padmavajra is number 74. Abhayadatta is an alternate name for Abhayakara Gupta. In the Eight Siddha system of the Jonang the siddha Padmavajra is number 8. In the Buton Rinchen Drub list of siddhas Padmavajra in number 16.

Lay Person, Vajrasana System: Examples HAR #229, 325 515 79544, 94045

In the Vajrasana system Padmavajra, also known as Sakara or Saroruha, is a layman and ate only fruit. The Jonang system appears to identify Padmavajra with the Vajrasana system rather than the Abhayadatta. In the Abhayadatta system Padmavajra is described as a monk. He is also said to have been born on a lotus which is similar to the narratives of Aryadeva and the 'terma' version of the life story of Padmasambhava. In some traditions Padmavajra, Padmakara and Padmasambhava are considered to be the same person. Regardless of the confusions or possible conflations, Padmakara is an alternate name used in the Nyingma tradition for Guru Rinpoche, Padmasambhava.

'Padmavajra in the form of a layman, white in colour,
Performing the path of supreme meditation and eating only fruit,
Flying in the sky, riding an emanated tigress;
To the feet of the one who subdues evil I praise.'
(See HAR #65170).

(Written at the time of the Great Omniscient one having seen the faces of the Eight Great Accomplished Ones).

[Written by Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen, 1292-1361. Bibliographic information: dpal jo nang ba'i zhal 'don phyogs bsgrigs bzhugs so, pages 281-283. TBRC W23923. Translated by Jeff Watt, November 2004]

Jeff Watt [updated 7-2021]