In PILGRIMAGE by Erik Pema Kunsang4 Comments

More than thousand years ago, the kingdom of Sahor was centered in the northern Indian province Himachal Pradesh, today called Mandi. In an old Tibetan manuscript from the 12th century, we find a fascinating story about Tso Pema, the Lotus Lake, about an hour by bus from Mandi. This story is the basis for why thousands of pilgrims visit Tso Pema every year. A tantric master named Padmasambhava allowed himself to be burned alive there and then transformed the blazing fire from the funeral pyre into a lake. In the manuscript the old style and prose may seem stiff, but take some time to read the following amazing story of the Lotus-Born master.

Padmasambhava contemplated, “By means of Vajrayana, I will now accomplish longevity beyond birth and death. I must cause all the people of Uddiyana and India to enter the true path of enlightenment.” In order to practice Vajrayana, one must have a genuine spiritual consort, so he went to the country of Sahor. Here Vihardhara, the king of Sahor, had a daughter called Mandarava Flower, a sixteen-year-old maiden endowed with the qualifying marks. Padmasambhava and Mandarava fell in love.

The master and his consort went to Maratika and, opening up the mandala of Amitayus, the buddha of immortal life, they performed the practice of longevity. After three months, they had the vision of Amitayus. He placed the nectar-filled vase of immortal life upon the heads of Padmasambhava and Mandarava, and by pouring the nectar into their mouths, their bodies became indestructible forms, beyond birth and death. He blessed Padmasambhava to be the daka Hayagriva and Mandarava to be Vajra Varahi. Thus, they reached the attainment of immortal life.

In order to cause the people of Sahor to enter the path to enlightenment, Padmasambhava and Mandarava then went to the city to beg for alms. While doing that the people became envious and said, “This stray foreign mendicant has carried off the king’s daughter and adulterated the royal caste. He will create havoc and must be corrected!”

People gathered sandalwood with a jar of oil for each load of wood. After that they burned Padmasambhava and Mandarava in the center of a village. Normally, when people were burned, the smoke would cease after three days, but now even after nine days the smoke did not stop. As people came for a closer look, the fire blazed up, burning the entire royal palace. The oil had turned into a lake with the inner part covered by lotus flowers. Upon an open lotus, in the middle of the lake, Padmasambhava and his consort were seated, fresh and cool. Then, the king and his ministers, struck with wonder offered this praise.

Your body is the changeless vajra-like body,
Your speech is the changeless Brahma-like voice,
Your mind is the changeless sky-like mind,
Your body, speech and mind are the immortal vajrakaya,
We praise and prostrate to you, Padma Vajra.
Out of ignorance, we have wronged you, please forgive us.
Be kind to establish our country in peace.

By singing in this way, the flames in the town calmed down and everything became even more beautiful and pleasant than before. The master was then given the names Padmakara and Padmasambhava, the Lotus-Born. He caused the whole country of Sahor to embrace the Buddhadharma and established everyone on the level of no return.

The Lotus Lake described in a more detailed story.
Recommended reading:The Lotus-Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava.
The Lives and Liberation of Princess Mandarava: The Indian Consort of Padmasambhava.
The Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava.

About the Author
Erik Pema Kunsang

Erik Pema Kunsang

Facebook Twitter Google+

Translator of ancient Buddhist scriptures, author, bridge-builder to modern life, Buddhist teacher & meditation instructor. Board of director at 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha. Founder of Rangjung Yeshe Publications and LEVEKUNST art of life. Other LEVEKUNST articles by the same author. Erik's website & retreats.

Share this Post


  1. Avatar

    Gracias. Bellisima historia.

  2. Sonia Gomes

    What a beautiful text Erik !
    Thank you 🙏🏻

  3. Avatar

    Can u please tell me the name of lake where guru rinpoche was born from a lotus flower?
    Before reading this article, I thought lotus lake is the one where guru rinpoche was born.

    1. Erik Pema Kunsang Author

      Dear Ngawang, most of the biographies of Guru Rinpoche, Padmasambhava, mention that King Indrabhuti found him at Lake Danakosha. People are at odds as to its exact location. Have you read the story?

      The Lotus Lake, Tsopema, is in the village of Rewalsar, about one hour from Mandi in Himachal Pradesh.

      Warmest wishes, Erik

Leave a Comment