Vairotsana Foundation is a 501(c)(3) religious organization established in 1996 under the spiritual guidance of Tibetan Meditation Master, the Venerable Bhakha Tulku Rinpoche. Vairotsana Foundation has three meditation teachers on staff and is dedicated to preserving the spiritual teachings of the Nyingma tradition of Vajrayana Buddhism through research, translation of ancient Tibetan Buddhist texts, and teaching Vajrayana meditation practices and ritual. We offer spiritual services, prayers, and meditation instruction to everyone at no charge. The center is supported solely through donations.
Why the name Vairotsana?
Bhakha Rinpoche chose Vairotsana as the name of our Foundation for many reasons:
Vairotsana the Translator was instrumental in the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet. His greatness was due to his tireless travel to India to study various scriptures, as well as to the many aspirations he made in his previous lifetimes to benefit beings by the authentic translation of the Buddhadharma. Hence, we invoke his name and blessing as we establish Buddhadharma here in the West.
Among the many translators who lived at the dawn of the Buddhadharma in Tibet, Vairotsana was acclaimed as the King of Translators. Then and now, he continues to be a source of inspiration and blessing to all great translators, who take him as their model for capturing the true essence of a text, which is the hallmark of authenticity.
For centuries, Tibetans have preserved all of the ancient tantric teachings that Vairotsana translated. Such teachings as Dzogchen, the “Great Perfection,” can bring enlightenment in a single lifetime; that their translation remains fresh and perfectly authentic to the present day is due, in large part, to Vairotsana’s blessing and kindness, and to the accuracy of his craft.
By invoking his name, our Foundation invites Vairotsana’s presence and blessing, to fulfill his aspiration here and now. And so, with every Dharma teaching that is given in English comes his great blessing, that we may practice as authentically in this period of transition of the Dharma from East to West as was done at the time of its transition from India to Tibet.
It is Bhakha Rinpoche’s deepest wish that the Vairotsana Foundation be a source of inspiration in the firm establishment of Buddhadharma in the West — just as Vairotsana, himself, was so influential in the establishment of Buddhadharma in Tibet.
To this end, it is Bhakha Rinpoche’s wish that Vairotsana Foundation, through the blessing of Vairotsana himself, assist in the authentic translation into English of important texts, particularly those which, even in their Tibetan version, are rare or nearly lost.
Finally, by calling our center the Vairotsana Foundation, we acknowledge Bhakha Rinpoche’s own source incarnation, as well as affirm his vision of our Dharma center.
A Short Biography of Vairotsana
Vairotsana is considered the sublime translator of Tibetan Buddhism. He translated numerous texts of sutra and tantra, and his scholarship and skill are far more exalted than that of all other translators in the history of the transmission of Buddhism from India to Tibet. The great translator, Ngog Lotsawa, of the latter translation period, said: “Vairotsana is equal to the ends of the sky; Ka and Chog (referring to Kawa Paltseg and Chogro Lu’i Gyaltshen, of the early translation school) are like the sun and the moon; Rinchen Zangpo (who began the new translation period) is like the dawn star; and we are merely fireflies.”
A contemporary of Guru Padmasambhava, Vairotsana was born at Nyemo Chekhar in Tsang province. His father was Dorje Gyalpo of the Pa Gor clan, and his mother was of the Treka clan. In early childhood, Vairotsana displayed many miraculous powers such as flying in the sky, making imprints on rocks, and foresight.
In accordance with the prophetic advice of Guru Padmasambhava, the great Dharma king, Trisong Deutsen, asked Vairotsana to become a translator. He became one of the first seven Tibetans to take bhiksu vows, the full monastic ordination, from Shantaraksita. His ordination name was Vairotsanaraksita. When he received the empowerment of Ka Gyed from Guru Rinpoche, his flower fell on the Mandala of Modpa Trag Ngag. At the command of the king, Vairotsana and the monk Leg Trub of Trang province went to India in search of Dharma teachings. On the way, they encountered 57 near-fatal challenges, but they ignored the obstacles and finally reached India. They met Sri Singha at the forest of Tsan Den Silched, and during the night they spent with him, they received, in utmost secrecy, the sacred teachings of Semde.
Vairotsana wrote down the 18 tantras of Semde on white cotton with the milk of a white cow so that people would not see the texts. When he wanted the manuscript to be read, he held it over smoke and the text became visible. The monk Leg Trub was satisfied with what they had accomplished, and he departed for Tibet. On his return voyage, he was killed by road guards.
Vairotsana requested more teachings from Sri Singha, and he received the complete teachings and instructions of all 60 tantras of Semde, and was also taught the three categories of Longde. He received the teachings of the six million four hundred thousand tantras of Dzogpa Chenpo from Garab Dorje (the first Dzogchen master to teach in human form) in pure vision, as well as blessings from Manjushrimitra (Jampal Shenyen) in his illusory wisdom body.
When Vairotsana finally reached Tibet by swift-footed power, he gave the King common teachings in the daytime and secret teachings at night. After the founding of Samye Monastery, Guru Padmasambhava, Abbot Shantarakshita, Vimalamitra, and Vairotsana oversaw all of the translations made from Sanskrit into Tibetan by many translators and panditas. During this time, of all Guru Padmasambhava’s disciples, 25 were so exceptional that they equaled Padmasambhava’s own realization. Vairotsana was one of them. At some point, because of the power and wrong aspirations of Queen Ts’he Pong Za and certain wicked ministers, the king was forced, regretfully, to banish Vairotsana to the Gyalmo Ts’hawa Rong region, on the border of Tibet and China. While in exile, Vairotsana converted the king, his ministers, and the population of Gyal Rong to Buddhism.
Prince Yudra Nyingpo, who was the rebirth of the monk Leg Trub of Tsang, became one of Vairotsana’s principal disciples and a well-known scholar and accomplished master. Later, Yudra Nyingpo came to Samye Monastery and met Vimalamitra.
At Vimalamitra’s request, the king invited Vairotsana to return to Tibet. On the way there, Vairotsana met Pang Gen Mipham Gonpo, who was eighty-five years old, and he gave him teachings. Because of Mipham Gonpo’s advanced age, he could not sit in meditation posture, so he used a meditation cord and support stick in order to sit up straight and remain motionless. The old man soon attained Ja Lu, the rainbow body, by meditating on Dzogpa Chenpo. Of all of Vairotsana’s many disciples, Mipham Gonpo, along with Yudra Nyingpo, Nyag Jnanakumara, and Sherab Drolma from Li, become his chief disciples.
Later, at Sherab Drolma’s request, Vairotsana went to the country of Li. From there, he went to the Bha Shing forest of Nepal, where he attained the rainbow body. Among Vairotsana’s numerous incarnations was Dorje Lingpa, one of the five kingly treasure revealers. You can read in more detail in Bhakha Rinpoche’s biography how his own incarnation traces back to Dorje Lingpa. Many of Bhakha Rinpoche’s previous incarnations were likewise recognized by great masters as Dorje Lingpa’s incarnation.
In particular, the eighth Bhakha Tulku, Rigdzin Khamsum Yongdröl, was known not only as a united incarnation of Dorje Lingpa and Pema Lingpa, but also as an incarnation of Vairotsana. The Entrustment Prophesies of the Dzogchen Chigchö Kündröl of the Dharmaraja Rinchen Lingpa, state as follows:
Later, during the final time, when the oral lineage is disappearing,
The practice of the teaching that was blessed by Vimalamitra
Will be spread by three incarnations of Vairocana [Vairotsana]:
One will manifest as a child, one as a young man, and one as an old man.
This prophecy, as interpreted by the omniscient Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, is understood as meaning that the “old man” is Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö T’haye; the “young man” refers to Pawo Chogtrul; and the “child” refers to this incarnation of Bhakha Tulku.