GURU PADMASAMBHAVA’S RETURN (2424 AD): Hero King of Shambhala, Rudra Cakri (Wrathful Chakra-Holder), Conqueror of Barbarians

Rudra Cakri/Guru Padmasambhava, atop a white snow lion, going into battle as King of Shambhala

“The emanations will appear to kill the barbarians, pacifying their arrogance and having brought them to the true path, the emanations will return. Then will start the Kṛida age (yuga). Cakrī will have two sons, Brahmā and Sureśvara. In the lineage of Sureśvara will arise very many, Kāśyapa and others. They will traverse the twelve great regions, through a period of 21,600 years, suppressing the barbarian teachings and spreading the true path. ”

—Excerpt from History of Kālacakra, by Jetsun Tāranātha

Introduction

For Guru Rinpoche day today, I offer this post about his predicted return (in 2424 AD) as the hero of all super-heroes who conquers barbarians. It has been a while since I wrote about Kālacakra (see page of posts and translations on Kālacakra here). However, I recently watched this 2018 movie, Searching for the Lotus-Born[1] (see below) about the eight manifestations of Guru Padmasambhava and his connection to modern quantum physics. The last section of the film, mentioned his 8th manifestation, not yet arisen, predicted to be Rudra Cakrī ( drag po ‘khor lo can) Sanskrit for the ‘Wrathful Wheel-holder’, the final 25th Kalki King, of the hidden and sacred land of Shambhala.

This prediction in the Kālacakra Tantra and commentaries says that a super-hero, wrathful King will arise and lead an army to defeat the rise of ‘barbarians’ (lelo) and barbaric religions/views. Some commentators have suggested that this religious fundamentalism is speaking about a certain type of Muslim fundamentalism (prevalent in Muslim-majority dictatorships) which use state institutions and legislation to ensure that women are seen (and treated) as inferior and unworthy of the same human rights and freedoms as men and so on. However, such barbarism can also arise within so-called secular (yet fascist) dictatorships where there is excessive military or police rule, lack of freedom of expression, human rights, gender equality, as well as barbarism and cruelty towards animals, corruption, religious hypocrisy and the rule of law and justice does not apply.

Regardless of whom the ‘barbarians’ are, it is clear that degenerate views, conduct and so on, are increasing and honesty, wisdom, love and compassion decreasing. This post about the predicted return of Guru Rinpoche, as the wrathful, final King of Shambhala is thus intended to create awareness and a connection with Shambhala, Kālacakra and the Shambhala Rulers, so that in future times, peace and harmony can be experienced within and without.

I first give an brief overview of the history of Shambhala and Kālacakra, followed by contemporary teachings on Shambhala in the 21st Century by Jonang lineage holder. Then, the prediction of Rudra Cakrī, as the eighth manifestation of Padmasambhava to save our realm from destruction. Finally, I end with a snippet from the newly discovered life-story of Guru Rinpoche by 16th Karmapa (see here).

May it be of benefit and may we all attain Kalacakra and meet in the Golden Age of Shambala!

Written and compiled by Adele Tomlin. 22nd April 2021.

The Shambhala Kingdom and First Lineage of Kālacakra
Thangka image of Shambhala with Raudra Cakri depicted going into battle below. (Source HAR 563)

Shambhala (śambhu) is a Sanskrit term, the Tibetan (bde ‘byung) translates to mean “Bliss-Arising” or “Source of Happiness. In terms of the history of Shambhala, it is described in sacred texts as a kingdom somewhere in Central Asia, surrounded by snow-capped mountains that resemble the Himalayas. The kingdom is shaped like an eight-petal lotus blossom with the Kalapa Palace at its centre (see image above and below). Twelve states are situated on each petal, each then divided into one hundred districts with one hundred thousand towns.

Sri Kālacakra

After turning seventy, the Buddha Shakyamuni taught the Kālacakra Tantra at Dhanyakataka Stupa near Rajgir, India to select disciples. Among them was Suchandra, the King of Shambhala. After the initiation, the Buddha then prophesized the future enlightenment of all sentient beings inhabiting the kingdom of Shambhala.

The first Dharma king of Shambhala, Sucandra (zla ba bzang po), an emanation of Vajrapāṇi, who is said to have received the Kālacakra teachings from the Buddha. Image in Benchen Monastery.

Suchandra upon his return to his kingdom taught the basic tantra and a voluminous commentary of sixty thousand verses to his numerous subjects but soon passed away within a year or two. A line of six kings follows Suchandra; together they complete the first lineage known as the Dharma (Religious or Truth) Kings of Shambhala. Symbols and iconography, such as what each king holds or who else is depicted, are clues to identifying each king and their place in the lineage.

Image of Shambhala said to be drawn by 8th Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje. Source http://www.kalacakra.org. For more on the Karmapas and Kalacakra, see here.

Some say that Shambhala is a purely imaginary kingdom only viewable by those with pure vision. More recently, there are examples of great Buddhist masters, such as Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro (who reported seeing the whole Kālacakra  mandala and being given the full Kālacakra  empowerment by Jetsun Tāranātha in a dream, see here).

There is also Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche who reported seeing the full Kālacakra  mandala. Some of the stories about Khyentse Rinpoche’s connection with the Kālacakra —in particular, the teaching he gave to a large group including HH the Dalai Lama—form a section of his biography, Brilliant Moon.

Jetsun Tāranātha and Buddhist masters who have seen, or visited the sacred realm have written ‘guidebooks’ to Shambhala (lam-yig) and how to get there.

Contemporary depiction of Shambhala
Second Lineage of Kings – founded by the 8th King Manjushri Yashas
8th King of Shambala, Manjushri Yaśas . 18th Century Thangka. Source HAR: King – of Shambhala (Himalayan Art)

The eighth king, Yaśas (grags pa), an emanation of Mañjugoṣa, the king who converted the ṛiṣis to the single vajra-caste. He composed the Laghu-tantra, a condensed and simplified version of the Kālacakra teachings. This shorter version, “Sri Kālacakra ” or “Laghutantra.” is in use today whereas the longer version no longer exists. Manjushri Yashas also converted a group of non-Buddhist Brahman priests to Buddhism and initiated them into the Kālacakra  Tantra. By uniting all the inhabitants of Shambhala into one “vajra-caste” or family of tantric practitioners, the eighth king founded a second line of kings. Manjushri Yashas therefore becomes the first of the twenty-five Kalki (rigs-ldan or Rigden) “Holder of the caste” or Vidyadhara “Wisdom Holder” Kings of Shambhala.

The Twenty-Five Kings of Shambhala
Eight Kalkin Kings of Shambhala (19th Century) From a larger series of paintings, this thangka is stylistically as well as iconographically comparable to paintings commissioned by the famed artist-scholar Situ Panchen (1700-1744) at Pelpung Monastery. Known for reviving the Karma Gadri style of painting, Situ Panchen’s signature elements can be seen in the minimalist landscape background and the fluid transitions between colors. Source Rubin Museum of Art: Eight Kalkin Kings of Shambhala | Rubin Museum of Art

For a translation of part of the History of Kālacakra  (dpal dus kyi ‘khor lo’i chos skor gyi byung khungs nyer mkho bsdus pa/.” In gsung ‘bum/TBRC W1PD45495). by Jonang, Shangpa Kagyu and Kālacakra master, Jetsun Taranatha (1575-1634), see Edward Henning’s website here: http://www.Kālacakra .org/history/khistor2.htm. This important historical text on Kālacakra was written at Cholung Jangtse Monastery and has yet to be completely translated into English. It explains the origin of Kālacakra in Shambhala (as well as its later spread to India and Tibet). For more on what is says about the 25th King, Raudra Cakri, see below.

The most recent 25 of the 32 Kings of Shambhala are said to reside upon a “Lion Throne” in Kalapa, the capital city of the Kingdom. Here is a list of the Kings with dates of reign:

  1. Yashas (Tib. Jampal Dakpa; “Manjushri Yashas”) King Yashas is said to have lived in the second century BCE. He formatted the Kālacakra  teachings into a condensed and simplified structure termed the “Sri Kālacakra ” or “Laghutantra.” He also converted a group of non-Buddhist Brahman priests of Shambhala to Buddhism and gave them the Kālacakra  initiation, thereby uniting all inhabitants into one “vajra caste,” or family of tantric practitioners. Yashas is said to have predicted the coming of “Barbarian Dharma” after 800 years (about 600 CE), which indicates a form of Islam.
  2. Pundarika (Tib. Pema Karpo) (176-76 BCE) White Lotus, cherished by the Lord of Potala. King Pundarika wrote a commentary called “Vimalaprabha” (Skt.) or “Stainless Light.” This text, together with the Sri Kālacakra , is the source text of the Kālacakra  system as it is now practiced. Other practice texts are commentaries on these two. The Dalai Lamas are said to be incarnations of Pundarika.
  3. Bhadra (Tib. Zangpo) (76 BCE -227 CE) One who Rules by the Thousand-spoked Wheel.
  4. Vijaya (Tib. Nampar Gyäl) (227-327) Attractor of Wealth, Victorious in War.
  5. Sumitra (Tib. Shenyen Zangpo) (327-427) Integrator of Method and Wisdom, Victorious over Samsara.
  6. Raktapani (Tib. Rinchen Chag) (427-527) Holder of the Blissful Vajra and Bell.
  7. Vishnugupta (Tib. Kyabjug Bäpa) (527-627) Smiling Holder of the Trident and Rosary.
  8. Suryakirti (Tib. Nyima Drag) (627-727) Annihilator of Wild Demons.
  9. Subhadra (Tib. Shintu Zangpo) (727-827) Holder of the Sword and Shield.
  10. Samudra Vijaya (Tib. Gyatso Namgyäl) (827-927) Annihilator of all types of Devils.
  11. Aja (Tib. Gyälka) (927-1027) Who binds with Unbreakable Iron Chains.
  12. Surya/Suryapada, (Tib. (Wonang) Nyima) (1027-1127) All-Pervading, Radiant Jewel Light.
  13. Vishvarupa (Tib. Natshog Zug(chän)) (1127-1227) Holder of the Vajra Prod and Noose.
  14. Shashiprabha (Also Sasiprabha or Chandraprabha, Tib. Dawäi Ö) (1227-1327) Lord of Secret Mantras, Holder of the Wheel and Conch.
  15. Ananta, Thayä (Tib. Nyen) (1327-1427) Holder of the Mallet that Crushes False Ideas.
  16. Shripaala or Parthiva (Tib. Sakyong) (1427-1527) Holder of the Cleaver that Cuts the Bonds of Ignorance.
  17. Shripala (Tib. Pälkyong) (1527-1627) Annihilator of the Host of Demons.
  18. Singha (Tib. Senge) (1627 -1727) Who Stuns the Elephant with his Vajra.
  19. Vikranta (Tib. Nampar Nön) (1727 – 1827) Subduer of the Mass of Foes, the Inner and Outer Classes of Devils.
  20. Mahabala (Tib. Tobpo Che) (1827 – 1927) Tamer of all False Leaders by Means of the Sound of Mantra.
  21. Aniruddha (Tib. Magakpa) (1927-2027) Who Draws and Binds the Entire Three Worlds. Aniruddha, the present Kalki king, was prophesied to rule during a time when Vajrayana Buddhism and the Kālacakra  are nearly extinguished.
  22. Narasingha (Tib. Miyi Senge) (2027-2127) Ruling by the Wheel, Holding the Conch.
  23. Maheshvara (Tib. Wangchug Che) (2127-2227) Victorious over the Armies of Demons.
  24. Anantavijaya (Tib. Thaye Namgyäl) (2227-2327) Holder of the vajra and Bell.
  25. Rudra Cakrī (Tib. Dakpo Khorlocen) (2327 to ? ) Forceful Wheel Holder. The final king prophesied in the Kālacakra , Rudra Chakrin is further prophesied to appear to all humanity in 2424, and to establish a planet-wide Golden Age subsequent to his defeat of degenerate world rulers.

Depictions of the Shambhala Kings

Central figure is Innate Kalacakra. The 25 seated figures represent the 25 kings of Shambhala. The middle figure in the top row represents Je Tsongkhapa. unknown Mongolian artist Mid-18th Century.

There are several galleries of images depicting the Shambhala Rigden Kings. Here is a gallery from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: Rigden Gallery – Shambhala. Some of the paintings shown in this post, belong to Benchen Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal. They were commissioned for the large Kālacakra empowerment given there in 2005 at the time of the Kālacakra revelation by Ven. Tenga Rinpoche (for more on that see here). They can all be viewed and downloaded from Edward Henning’s website: The Kings of Sambhala (Kālacakra .org).

21st Century Teachings on Shambhala – Jonang Khentrul Rinpoche

Khentrul Rinpoche, a non-sectarian master from the Jonang and Kālacakra tradition, with centres in Australia and Austria, has recently written a book The Realm of Shambhala (Shambhala Publications, 2021) that presents the Kālacakra Tantra’s multilayered approach to Shambhala as taught by the Tibetan Buddhist Jonang tradition. “Understood to be an ancient kingdom and physical place, Shambhala is also taught to be an exalted state of mind attainable by all through practice. Through cultivating peace and extending it into harmonious relationships with others, the transformative power of Shambhala can enter everyday life. This book details the tradition’s perspective on the origins of Kālacakra  literature and includes extensive lineage narratives of Jonang masters who have upheld this tradition in India and Tibet.” Below is a video of Rinpoche talking about Shambhala and his book:

In this short introduction, Khentrul Rinpoche says that:

“No matter what background you have, everyone needs the experience of genuine love, compassion and wisdom. There is no substantial method for experiencing real love and compassion in your life, which means without selfishness. Genuine compassion is incredible strength, not just feeling sorry for someone. We also have to make many decisions, so we have to have real wisdom and then there are less troubles. The vast majority of our troubles are due to lack of compassion and wisdom. The King of the Tantras, Kālacakra , contains substantial methods to achieve that. The effect is peace, harmony, joy, love and the kingdom is Shambhala. People can experience that no matter who they are. That is why I wrote this book.  People have the philosophies but lack the methods to attain these things. In the book I give examples of Shambhala in  a complete, not limited way.  The Golden Age is when everything will be perfect but that comes from individual understanding and transformation and that transformation can then change society. I talk about it from the Jonang tradition because they hold the completion stage of Kālacakra.”

Khentrul Rinpoche also gave a recent lecture about the prophecy of Shambhala in Kālacakra  here. He asks the question if this planet is ruled by the pure land of Shambhala today, and he says no but that we are in the queue for that happening.  If we don’t want to stay in the queue, then we have to make a direct connection. The best way to make the connection is via the Kālacakra  Tantra and that is why so many people go to the Kālacakra  empowerment.

Guru Padmasambhava’s Return as Shambhala King – Rudra Cakrī
Rudracakrī (drag po ‘khor lo can), an emanation of Mañjuśrī. He is predicted to defeat the barbarians when they finally try to invade Sambhala. Image from Benchen Monastery.

Rudra Cakrī was thus prophesized in the Kālacakra to wage a final battle with the enemies of Dharma. Padmasambhava also prohesised that he would assume a wrathful form known as Rudra Cakrī, the king of Shambhala, as recorded in the annals of history. He will be escorted by the army of Kālacakra, in which many spiritual masters will be born as prominent figures in his legion.

Thangka of Shambhala with Rudra Cakri going into battle below.

“Under the lead of Rudra Cakrī, the army of Kālacakra  will descend from their kingdom to places like India, the Tibetan area, and others in the human world to conquer Mara’s armies, evil forces, tirthikas, and those who hold wrongful views. However, this army is in no way the same as an ordinary one who ruthlessly harms sentient beings. With great compassion and miraculous transformations, this Kālacakra  troop will liberate the consciousness of sentient beings by teaching them Dharma according to their capacities. Those who encounter the Kālacakra  or the teachings of Padmasambhava in the present time will also be liberated at that time. It would be a great privilege to be reborn in that special period!

The apocalypse will in turn begin a new Golden Age. Some predict that this will happen in 2424 AD when all of the world’s inhabitants (except those from Shambhala) have forgotten the knowledge needed to remain on the virtuous path. Rudra Cakrī, (Forceful Wheel Holder) is often portrayed as a warrior king, a heroic triumph god.”

A thangka of Rudra Cakrin, Tibet, 18th century
Seated on an elaborate throne at center holding the stem of a large pink lotus and clad in billowing multicolored robes, with a raging battle scene below and Ushnishavijaya flanked by heavenly vignettes above. See: A thangka of Rudra Chakrin (christies.com)

In an article by Luboš Bělka, (2019) “Shambhala and the Prague Thangka: The Myth’s Visual Representation.” Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review (e-journal) 31: 257–262) states that Rudra Cakrī, is usually depicted in two basic forms: either as a quiet, Nirvanic ruler on the throne in Kalápa, the capital of Shambhala, or as an angry, wrathful, and merciless military commander in the last battle of Shambhala.

Shambhala thangka in National Gallery, Prague

The Shambhala thangka (see above) in the National Gallery in Prague, Czech Republic, represents ninety-eight years of Raudra cakrin’s rule (2326–2424)[1], depicted in Kalápa in the upper part whereas the lower part depicts the last battle prophesied to unfold in the year 2424. The subjects of their analysis are primarily the wrathful forms of Raudracakrin and special attention is paid to his armor, lance, and vajra (ritual weapon). His name literally means “the angry one with the wheel,” and for this reason they analyze the wheel, whose nature, as well as Raudracakrin’s, is ambivalent. Its quiet form symbolizes teaching (Skt. dharma), and its wrathful form represents a weapon, which is used in battle or as an instrument of torture in hell.”

In another wrathful depiction, on a 17th Century Tibetan thangka, held in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Raudra Cakri (see above) is : “Holding a shakti (spear) and a phalaka (shield), and depicted larger than anyone else. The composition of this painting is vastly different for any other in the set. Charging from the left he appears with his army. Glimpses of four chariots are shown through the chaos. The king’s is drawn by a majestic white snow-lion. Horses and elephants pull the others. Only four members of the enemy lay on the ground – the first naked and prostrate, the second crushed under the sword ridden wheel of a chariot, and the next two slain with spears. The four have distinctively different ethnic characteristics and wear different armor, which may symbolize all of mankind.”

Jetsun Taranatha (b.1575 – d.1634)

The Jonang and Kālacakra master, Jetsun Taranatha says in his History of Kālacakra that:

“Like the previous kings, Raudra Cakrī will also teach the Dharma for 100 years, and then will fulfil his commitment to vanquish the barbarians. Around the time that Arkakīrti (8th) ascended the lion throne, in the land of Mecca the barbarian (la lo) teachings spread widely, and it appears that when these teachings first reached the western part of India, that this was the time of the barbarian teacher Madhumati. From that time up to the present, these teachings have spread considerably.

However, in the future, when the area south of the River Śītā has all become barbarian, the time for the barbarians’ defeat will have come, and Cakrī’s emanated armies will overcome them. The emanations will appear to kill the barbarians, pacifying their arrogance and having brought them to the true path, the emanations will return.

Then will start the Kṛida age (yuga). Cakrī will have two sons, Brahmā and Sureśvara. In the lineage of Sureśvara will arise very many, Kāśyapa and others. They will traverse the twelve great regions, through a period of 21,600 years, suppressing the barbarian teachings and spreading the true path. This much is well known, but as the stories of the bodhisattvas are secret and inconceivable, the arrogance of further analysis makes it difficult to be certain of any more.” (Translated by Edward Henning, http://www.kalacakra.org).

16th Karmapa’s Padmasambhava Aspiration
16th Karmapa, Rigpe Dorje

To end, I leave you with this snippet I quickly translated today from the closing lines of the newly discovered Life-story of Guru Rinpoche by 16th Karmapa:

“With my Aspiration Prayer to meet the Father Guru

May those of the fortunate era always meet as one,

May the people of Tibet and India become united,

May the best males abandon lust, desire and addiction,

May the best females abandon aversion and jealousy,

May the least, think about the six types of beings.”

—Excerpt from the Life-Story of Guru Padmasambhava, by 16th Karmapa (tr. Adele Tomlin).

For more on the Karmapas and Kalacakra, see here.

As Bonnie Tyler sang “I need a Hero, I’m holding out for a Hero” and it doesn’t get more heroic than Rudra Cakri! 🙂

Adele Tomlin, 22nd April 2021.

Bibliography/Further Reading

Demystifying Shambhala: The perfection of peace and harmony as revealed by the Jonang Tradition of Kālacakra . Shar Khentrul Jamphel Lodrö Rinpoche (2016).

The Realm of Shambhala: A Complete Vision for Humanity’s Perfection. By Shar Khentrul Jamphel Lodrö (Shambhala, 2021).

Kalachakra, Shambhala and Rimé – Official Website of Khentrul Rinpoché (khentrulrinpoche.com) discussion of the nature of the Bodhisattva Realm of Shambhala and how it is unique from Buddha Realms such as Amitabha’s Pure Land of Sukhavati. He follows this with an explanation of the relationship between Shambhala and the concept of non-bias, as understood in the Rimé Philosophy.

The Way To Shambhala. Edwin Bernbaum (1989).

-Luboš Bělka, (2019) “Shambhala and the Prague Thangka: The Myth’s Visual Representation.” Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review (e-journal) 31: 257–262 .

Myriad Worlds: Buddhist Cosmology in Abhidharma, Kālacakra  & Dzog-chen. Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye (1995).
-Newman, John L. “A Brief History of the Kalachakra,” Wheel of Time: The Kalachakra in Context. Snow Lion: 1985.

ENDNOTES

[1] “Searching for the Lotus-Born Master” was filmed over an intensive six-month period by Shambhala Studio. The expedition teams scoured the Himalayan region, crossing five countries in extreme climates, traveling a total of over 20,000 kilometers. The team followed his handprints and footprints left across the Himalayas, scaled the mountains he crossed, discovered the sacred lakes where he performed magic and explored caves where he practiced tantric meditation. They sought the wisdom of great lamas, dedicated scholars, and scientific innovators. They wondered if the legend could be proven true.

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