THE EIGHT MAIN HEVAJRA LINEAGES AND ‘INNATE’ HEVAJRA OF SHANTIPA: Lineages, Texts and 2021 Teaching and Empowerment by 8th Garchen Rinpoche


HE 8th Garchen Rinpoche pictured with Shri Hevajra and Je Gampopa

“Jigten Sumgon also said that the highest practitioner (or disciple) sees the guru as the dharmakāya; the average disciple, a medium capacity disciple sees the guru as sambhogakāya; and the lowest practitioner sees the guru as nirmanakāya.”–8th Garchen Rinpoche

For the new moon (and Indian festival of light, Diwali) today, am happy to offer a new research post, transcript and new section on the website dedicated to the deity, Shri Hevajra (ཀྱེའི་རྡོ་རྗེ་ kye’i rdo rje, 喜金剛 Xǐ jīngāng).  Marpa the Translator’s main deity was Hevajra, whom he received from Naropa, more on that in another post!

Today, I give an overview and introduction to the eight main lineages of Hevajra (as helpfully cited by Jamgon Kongtrul the First), important texts on the Hevajra practice, including several by Taranatha, an explanation of the term ‘innate’ (lhyen kye) by Taranatha, and information about the Shantipa lineage of the innate/co-emergent Hevajra, which HE 8th Garchen Rinpoche gave in a recent empowerment of Hevajra on 23 January 2021 (see video here). I will write more on the Drikung Kagyu and Karma Kagyu lineages of Hevajra in a future article.

This is followed by a full transcript of the first twenty minutes of the Hevajra 2021 empowerment teaching by Garchen Rinpoche. As I have written about here before, Garchen Rinpoche often states that online empowerments are possible. In this teaching, before the Hevajra empowerment, Rinpoche speaks about what people are seeing on the screen when he gives them, and how that relates to the three kāyas. He also speaks about the different levels of practitioners and how that relates to the four classes of tantra and realisations, and  that the secret mantra will never become extinct. For example, he says in his instruction on capacities and levels of practitioners and getting empowerments:

“Now that is because some people when the layers of obscurations are lesser, even though our mind is fundamentally the same, when your obscurations are not so strong, a sign of that, for example, is that you want to receive empowerments of the secret mantra, you want to engage in practice. The thicker the obscurations, the less you will want that, the more doubts will be in your mind and the mind will be more ignorant. Especially doubt, doubt is really the ultimate form of ignorance.”

This reminded me of the advice from HE Dudjom Rinpoche (Counsels of the Heart) who said:

“On the other hand, people with wrong views do not come to receive empowerments, even if they are invited. Consequently, I shall regard all those attending as faithful disciples and will bestow empowerment on them.
It is generally said, for example in the Chandrapradipa-sutra, that the mind of each and every being is pervaded by the Sugatagarbha. This being so, no one is an improper vessel for empowerment. All should be accepted in a spirit of bodhichitta.”

I recieved the Hevajra empowerment from Garchen Rinpoche live online.  As it is new moon, I hope to take it again today to seal the auspiciousness and intention. May we all attain the state of Shri Hevajra and the indivisible union of bliss-emptiness!

Music? Nothing Can Come Between Us by Sade or Never Tear Us Apart by INXS…’it’s about faith, it’s about trust’! 

Written and compiled by Adele Tomlin, 4th November 2021.

The Hevajra Tantra and eight autonomous lineages of Hevajra 

The “Hevajra Tantra” was taught by Buddha Shakyamuni when he arose in the form of Shri Hevajra in the land of Madgadha at the time of destroying the four maras of defilements. The Tantra was requested by Vajragarbha and by the consort of Hevajra, Vajranairatmya. This root Tantra is known as “The Condensed Meaning of the Hevajra Tantra” which has 23 chapters and 750 verses. In this root Tantra, it has two parts that is known as “Two Sections” or “Two Examinations”.  The Hevajratantra is said to have two main vyākhyātantras (bshad rgyud), or “explanatory tantras,” the Vajrapañjara- and the Saṃpuṭatantra.  The former is an uncommon explanatory tantra, referring only to the Hevajratantra. The latter is a common explanatory tantra, expounding on both the Hevajratantra and the Cakrasaṃvaratantra.

In the book Elements of Tantric Practice (2008), which is Chapter Eight, Book III of the Jamgon Kongtrul text:  The Elements of Tantric Practice A General Exposition of the Process of Meditation in the Indestructible Way of Secret Mantra, there is a whole section on the completion stage of Hevajra, with substantial footnotes from other instruction texts to supplement it.   In the 2008 book, the translators call Hevajra a mother tantra, like Kālacakra, although it may be called a Mother tantra in Kagyu lineages, in other lineages (such as Sakya) both Kālacakra and Hevajra are non-dual tantras. In the teaching of 8th Garchen Rinpoche is it called a non-dual tantra.

The Jamgon Kongtrul text helpfully lists the eight autonomous lineages of Hevajra from Indian masters. I reproduce some of it below here (161-165):

“Hevajra’s esoteric-instruction system includes the path-and fruition instructions.

There are many completion-phase traditions of the Hevajra tantra—the essence of [all] mother tantras—that were elucidated by individual masters. Of those, eight autonomous systems of essential instructions have been introduced into Tibet at different times.

  1. “The first is that of the lord of yogins Virupa[1], the completion phase of the esoteric-instructions system, which includes the path-and-fruition essential instructions.”

2. “Dombipa’s [2] expertise was that of the yoga of inner fire (tummo). The expertise of the great adept Dombipa was that of the “vital essence of spring,” a completion-phase yoga of inner fire [contained] in his sadhana of the Light of Nectar. That very system is what was primarily taught by his disciples, Durjayachandra and others[3].”


3. “Saroruha[4] taught the three: self-consecration, entering, and re-emerging. The master Saroruhapada taught chiefly [a system of ] three trainings: [one,] self-consecration by means of achieving a clear image in the yoga of the six colors (first black, etc.) in the creation phase; [two,] after having destroyed the colors, entering the luminous clarity [stage] (of the four [stages of ] light) in reverse order; [and three,] re-emerging from that [luminous clarity] in the forward order.”

4. “Samayavajra[5] expounded the subtle yoga and yoga of the sphere. Krishnasamayavajra expounded the subtle yoga and the yoga of the vital essence sphere after having made those yogas his expertise. The second, third, and fourth systems are similar in that, in all of them, first stability in the creation phase is gained and the vital essences are made workable. Once that is achieved, through the steps of successive destruction one trains in entering and re-emerging from luminous clarity, thereby attaining the body of union.”

5. “Naropa’s teachings formed Marpa’s twofold system of mixing and transference. Mixing comprises the creation-phase trainings in forms, vital essences, and union; And completion-phase meditations of inner fire, illusory body, and luminous clarity. Transference consists of a main practice and an auxiliary of entering the deceased. The [Hevajra] teachings of the outstanding scholar Naropa[6] formed [the basis for] the tradition of his heart-son and great regent, Marpa the Translator.[7]”



6. “Maitripa’s oral teachings are known as the nine sets of the profound path. These are all contained in the practices of inner fire, seals, and great seal[8]. The oral teachings of Lord Maitripa, a disciple of the outstanding adept Shri Shavaripa,[9] formed a completion-phase [system] that was transmitted by the Venerable [Marpa] of Lhodrak[10]. This system is known as the “cycles of nine paths” or “nine sets of the profound path.”[11] All aspects of it are contained in three esoteric instructions: inner fire, the seals, and the great seal.”

7. “Vyadalipa[12] taught the way to make the life force enter the central channel and, once it has entered, the way to develop the bliss that is unchanging. [This] system of the great adept Vyadalipa, a disciple of Virupa, through which is practiced the essence of the definitive meaning of the Hevajra tantra, is set forth in two parts: [the way] the life [force] is made to enter the central channel; and, once it has entered, the development and stabilization of unchanging bliss.”


8. “The great adept Shantigupta’s [13] system comprises four seals: the pledge seal, Practiced by applying subtle and vital-essence yogas; the real action seal; The phenomena seal on all appearances; and the great seal of six branches. As a supplement to those, there is an introduction to the authentic view.”


Textual Sources – Tāranātha ’s Instruction Manuals and Commentaries
Jetsun Taranatha who wrote several important texts on the Hevajra lineage and practice

In terms of texts on Hevajra, I have listed some of the main Indian and Tibetan ones below.   In particular, the texts of Jonang and Shangpa Kagyu master and translator, Tāranātha feature strongly in discussions of Hevajra practice. His book, translated by David Templeman, The Seven Instruction Lineages (LTWA, 1983)  is helpful for biographical background on the Hevajra lineage masters.  There are also five major texts on Hevajra by Tāranātha (see below) , none of which have yet been translated and published in English.  In fact, one of the Hevajra lineage founders, Shantigupta was a teacher of Tāranātha ’s own master, Buddhagupta and whose realizations were said to be even greater than that of Naropa[14]!

The Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang Rinpoche, in May of 2016, in Tucson, Arizona, gave a Hevajra empowerment and teaching.  In the information about the event, they mention a text (which can be purchased) on the Innate/Co-emergent Hevajra by the first Drikung Chungtsang, Rigdzin Chokyi Dragpa (1595–1659) called the Co-emergent Hevajra and Six Dharmas of Naropa.
Rigdzin Chokyi Dragpa is mentioned in the Drikung Hevajra lineage by Garchen Rinpoche in his teaching (see below).
First Drikung Chungtsang, Rigdzin Chokyi Dragpa (1595–1659)
Innate Hevajra  – Lineage of Shantipa, Drikung Kagyu lineage and 8th Garchen Rinpoche’s teaching
Shri Hevajra – Innate

8th Garchen Rinpoche’s January 2021 teaching and empowerment is on the innate or ‘simultaneously present’ (khenkye/lhan skyes) form of the lineage of Shantipa (Śāntipa). It is the co-emergent, two armed, one head form of Hevajra (see image above).

For more on the meaning of ‘innate’ as explained by Jamgon Kongtrul and Tāranātha , see my article here:

In terms of Kālacakra, according to Tāranātha in A Hundred Blazing Lights (p258)the term lhenkye has two general meanings, the first means like the primary seed or root that flourishes into a tree with many branches and fruit and so on. The term is only applied to the union of the two armed, one face yab-yum consorts and not to a single deity figure though and the label is posited based on the aspects of the deity and union. The translation ‘primordially present’ or ‘innate’ seems suitable for that meaning:

There are two intellectual meanings (go don) of ‘lhan kyes’ (innate). The first meaning is ‘primordial’ (gdod ma) or ‘root’ (rtsa ba) or ‘foremost’ (thog ma nyid). It, is like the seed, or root, of the flourishing bough of a tree with many leaves, of a deity with many hands and faces. Positing one with two hands, is normally like positing the root of the world, it is smaller and fewer but proliferates and becomes bigger and bigger.  Here, also the ‘innate’ of one face and two hands is the most well known in the ordinary secret mantrayana.  The source of this term does not come from meaning one solitary figure only, as in one hero and one heroine, they are not called ‘spontaneously arisen’ (or co-emergent) for that reason. They are renowned as ‘simultaneously arisen’ as the one singular form of the two hand deities of father-mother consort in face to face union. On top of that meaning, the quantity of faces and hands for the ‘cause’ and’ result’ is different. Even though distinctions between the branches and the root are not definite, in the context of the exemplificatory meaning (mtshon don), the cause (or root), the Dharmakāya free of elaborations, is symbolised by the two-handed form.  As for the result, the nirmanakāya free from elaborations, is symbolised by a form with many faces and hands. The cause (or root) deity is known as ‘lhenkye’. Thus the way of positing the name ‘simultaneously arisen’ [lhenkye] is based on the aspects of the object that are generated.

In terms of the second understanding of lhenkye, Tāranātha gives an explanation of it as it is related to the primordial ‘simultaneous’ nature of the ultimate nature of a sentient beings’ body, speech and mind (p.259):

The body, speech and mind of sentient beings, those three, and the body speech and mind of Buddha, those three, have always been primordially simultaneously present [or together]. For sentient beings, as the incidental and temporary stains obscure that and it is unknown, contemplating the meaning of shunyata [emptiness], the ordinary stains of the body, speech and mind transform into the body, speech and mind of the form of the deity; the primordial awareness that is primordially established.  That way of meditating with devotion is called meditation on the ‘simultaneously present’ [lhenkye]. This way of imagining and ritual of creation is thus labelled as ‘meditation on the simultaneously present’. Even though it is suitable to do a concise or extensive generation ritual, such as here, from that of a single hero deity up until an extensive mandala, and it is contained within the meaning of the term ‘lhenkye’, the label ‘lhenkye’ is not applied to a form with many faces and hands with retinue. It is like the reasoning of the followers of secret mantra, who established via extremely well-known valid cognition, that even though there are many other things that are ‘born from water’, the term ‘born from water’ is applied only to lotuses.

The Drikung lineage for the innate form is as follows, as cited by 8th Garchen Rinpoche:

“The non-dual tantra of glorious Hevajra is the ultimate perfection of all classes of tantra. It is the profound, unsurpassed and quintessential yoga. In the noble land of India, Naropa, Maitripa, Krishnacharya, Samayavajra, Virupa and his disciples Padma Vajra, Shantibam and many other lineage holders have appeared. In Tibet, Marpa Lotsawa, Lotsawa Drogmi and Go Lotsawa have transmitted the lineage. This particular empowerment ritual stems from the transmission lineage of the great accomplished master Shantipa,  the lineage gurus of the innate Hevajra with consort, according to the transmission lineage of Lord Drikungpa,  and his disciples is as follows: Buton Rinchen transmitted the lineage to his heart’s son Rinchen Namgyal then it was transmitted through the scholar, Chandrakirti, the master Yeshe Gyamtso,  the venerable Khyenrab Chojin, Lama Rinchen Gyelpo,  the mahasiddha Pema Garwang, the master, Mangto Namgyel (?), Acharya Sonam Chomphel, Shamar Garwang, Chokyi Wangchug and the master Chokyi Dragpa.”

Ratnākaraśānti (also known as Śāntipa) (c. 10th-century CE) was one of the eighty-four Buddhist Mahāsiddhas and the chief debate-master at the monastic university of Vikramashila in what is now modern-day Bihar in India.

In terms of Shantipa’s lineage, Jamgon Kongtrul the First says that the Shantipa system is considered to be a minor cycle of Hevajra:

There are many minor teachings such as the Single Lamp. [In addition to those eight,] there are many minor cycles of teachings on the completion phase of Hevajra, such as [those contained in] the cycles of the path to be explained the great master Shantipa’s system of the completion phase of the Innate Yoga; and Shri Sattvanatha’s Single Lamp esoteric instructions.

The instructions for Shantipa’s system of the completion phase of the Innate Yoga are contained in Tāranātha’s Commentary on the Yoga of the Innate, a Teaching on the Completion Phase of Hevajra, by Ratnakarashanti. Ratnakarashanti’s Yoga of the Innate is Toh. 1246. (fn.76). This text has not been translated into English. 

Shri Hevajra thangka image from Kagyu tradition.

The three kāyas and capacities of practitioners

“So my friends I am very happy to see all of your faces today on the screen. Maybe you are thinking that ‘oh it’s just a screen, we’re just seeing each other on the live stream, but I can’t really hug him in real life.’ Actually I don’t think like that, because in the secret mantra it teaches about the qualities of the three kāyas and everything has that quality.

Jigten Sumgon also had said that the highest practitioner (or disciple) sees the guru as the dharmakāya; the average disciple, a medium capacity disciple, sees the guru as Sambhogakāya; and the lowest practitioner sees the guru as nirmanakāya. The nirmanakāya form of the guru is the human body, it is a human body even though it is a nirmanakāya, it is still the same as us human beings. He is a human being but his experience is separate, is different because the Buddha emanation is an emanation of bodhichitta, a manifestation of bodhichitta. So the guru really embodies the qualities of the three kāyas. Ultimately the dharmakāya and the sambhogakāya are a union, and this union  transcends birth and death. Now their disciples often make prayers for their various gurus, and request the spiritual teachers to remain with us for as long as samsara exists.

Some people might think that these are just empty words, but that is not true at all. Even after the physical body has disintegrated, the Buddha, the guru, will then arise in the rainbow-like sambogakāya form of the yidam deity and that is to see the guru as the sambhogakāya. Whichever was that guru’s yidam deity, then when the body is exchanged, the guru dissolves into that yidam deity, and that yidam deity then looks after him. It is just really that the physical form of the human form of flesh, blood and bones dissolves, and  disintegrates.  However, the yidam deity is a manifestation of bodhichitta and that really transcends birth and death.

We speak about the accomplishment of the vajra body and also many of you are practitioners of the Vajrakilaya. In there it says that when the demon mara of the aggregates is conquered, the body ripens into the form of the deity.  So that is the aggregate, which is the physical body created through self-grasping and when bodhichitta arises, there is no more self-grasping. That mind therefore, this nature  transcends birth and death because there is no more basis for a physical aggregate, and the mind that transcends birth and death is without coming and going. As it is said in the 37 bodhisattva practices, where it says that the supreme guru and Chenrezig have realized that phenomena neither come nor go and so on. 

Actually what you’re seeing today on the screen, this is really me, this is who I really am. You see this sambhogakāya form and also you actually hear my words and the words are the actual authentic words of the Buddha.  The reason why this is more real than my physical presence is because, later when I have exchanged bodies, or this aggregate, then still, for many hundreds of years, there are recordings of these words. People can see my body on the screen and they can hear the teachings, they can hear the words and that is really what is most important. Even though I don’t have so much learning, I do make huge effort in cultivating bodhichitta.

We speak about accomplishment, and when that arises you really are a Buddha. It is in that instant, in one moment, you are a Buddha. We always receive a lot of empowerments and a lot of teachings. You understand the connection between the guru and the sambhogakāya deity and then the connection to the dharmakāya. What you see on the screen, that is the real me actually and I’m always there and when know that, you recognize that actually he is always there. Whenever I want to listen to the teachings, I can listen to them, and  whenever I want to see it,  I can see it. So when you know that then you will feel happy in your mind, and the words that I speak these are really most important. One should never forget about the words because they are the actual words of the Buddha and they are the two-fold truth. So the form that you see on the screen and that is my actual form and the ordinary normal form that you meet the body that is false so this is how you should see it.”

 The teachings of Secret Mantra Vajrayana will never end

“In the Prayer for Excellent Conduct it says the limits of space are vast, are endless and similarly the limits of sentient beings are endless and my wish to benefit them is endless just like that. So when sentient beings as limitless as space and the Buddhas will remain for as long as sentient beings remain now therefore the Buddha is still remaining so the Buddhist teachings appeared in different ways, the three jewels appeared in different ways, in the form of the teachings of sutras and tantras. It is said that especially now in the degenerate age, is the time when the sutra teachings are coming to an end to completion, and it is the time for the secret mantra teachings to flourish. It is also said that there is never a time when those secret mantra teachings will come to an end. 

When one sees them the nature of the teachings of the vajrayana, they are from the perspective of the ultimate truth.  The ultimate truth is the truth that transcends the scope of thought and verbal expression, and so on. These are the teachings of the secret mantra of the vajrayana. From that perspective, it is said that all sentient beings are actually Buddhas. Also the Buddha himself said that all beings are Buddhas,  they are only obscured by adventitious stains, and once these stains are removed they become actualized as Buddhas. So all sentient beings have a mind and fundamentally that mind is Buddha. We call that Buddha nature and this is really what the secret mantra of vajrayana teaches.

Sentient beings wander in the six realms of samsara, keep going around in circles, and as we keep going around, we purify our obscurations more and more until finally, when they are all eliminated, one attains awakening. No obscuration is left, so it is just like it is explained in the Samantabhadra prayer. it is just temporarily that there appears to be a separation, a duality between the teacher who tames and the sentient beings who are to be tamed. Yet, the only difference between them is just the level of purification.”

Different levels of obscurations in practitioners

“So, the guru possesses less obscurations, and has purified more of those obscurations, and then what the guru gives you is the teachings on karma. Then, depending on the level of obscurations of the one who who receives these teachings, there are different reactions. For example, when you teach some about karma they say ‘oh these Buddhists are terrible, this is all false and lies’. Ao that’s a sign that people have thicker and stronger obscurations. It’s because they misunderstand how things really are. So there are different ways of misunderstanding, there is a complete lack of understanding, and then there’s a partial understanding, or kind of a wrong understanding. The worst of these is a wrong understanding, which is basically to deny the reality of karma. 

Then there are others, if you tell them about karma immediately they say: ‘oh yes that’s how it is’, they immediately resonate with that and understand. Jigten Sumgon had said that cause and effect is the ripening of the moment-to-moment thoughts in the mind. So when you tell them about that some people when they hear this will immediately feel ‘yes this is how it is’. If you tell them for example about the six realms of samsara, for example humans and animals, and that their mind is the same, when they hear that immediately they will feel like ‘yes it makes sense’. That then is a sign of having lesser obscurations. However, somebody with thicker layers of obscurations when they hear that humans and animals are the same, and their mind is the same, then they will feel like really shocked by that and feel like like ‘what a hoax, this is all false’. So that’s a sign of having thicker observations.

Now that is because some people when the layers of obscurations are lesser, even though our mind is fundamentally the same, when your obscurations are not so strong, a sign of that, for example, is that you want to receive empowerments of the secret mantra, you want to engage in practice. The thicker the obscurations, the less you will want that, the more doubts will be in your mind and the mind will be more ignorant. Especially doubt, doubt is really the ultimate form of ignorance.

When there’s a lot of ignorance in the mind, you don’t want to really listen to the dharma and even if you listen, you don’t really understand it. I really feel that all of you are extremely fortunate because you are all here because you you want to listen to the dharma teachings and that’s a sign that your obscurations are not so thick. It’s also a sign that you have a connection to the dharma from previous lives and a connection to bodhichitta. This connection is a connection that exists within the mind. It exists within the mind as that feeling of love you have for others. When you love others, then naturally wisdom arises and then through compassion and wisdom, your obscurations become purified. You want to benefit others even more.  In this way, gradually this ice block is melting in the sun. I feel that all of you who have entered the secret mantra vajrayana are extremely fortunate. Therefore Tashi Delek to everyone and today we will receive the Hevajra empowerment. “

The classes of Tantra and individual levels

“There is some historical background,  a brief story which is not a long, as it is difficult for me to to see,  so I apologize for that. Even though I have a lot of power in my mind, my eyes do not have so much power, and then the letters are very small and I can’t really see them clearly, and then maybe I’m making mistakes when I’m reading it. So I apologize for that to the sangha, to Dharma friends. So actually I’m doing it all to to please you, but actually the truth is that I don’t really see so much with my eyes, so I’m  sorry for that and I openly confess that.

We speak about the four classes of tantra[15] and actually, what makes those divisions is not the deity,  it’s the practitioner, and the way the practitioner engages in practice. There are three different kinds of practitioner, those with higher, those with middling and those with lower mental capacities. So what really measures the difference between them?

Actually, Milarepa said that what we call progression through the bhumis and the paths, is just an increasing clarity of the empty nature of the mind. It becomes increasingly clear, and this path of one’s realization becoming increasingly clear is what we call the the bhumis and the paths. It requires practice for a long time and as we practice, awareness becomes clearer and we become clearer about our true nature, which we call the view. The natural state of the mind, the empty natural state of the mind, becomes increasingly clear, as we as we continue our practice, it is just like we are coming closer and closer to the sun. The closer you come to the sun, the more the ice block melts.

So the difference between the different classes of tantra and so on, is just a difference in the experience that the practitioner has. Someone who has the greatest experience in practice is what we call someone with the highest capacity. Then someone whose practice is rather mediocre is someone we call with average or mediocre capacity. Someone whose experience in meditation is inferior is who we call a person with inferior capacity. The accomplishment of one of the highest capacity is that they are able to transform the afflictive emotions into wisdom. The individual practitioner, on the lower path with the lowest capacity, so they first enter the path of pratimoksha of individual liberation, which is the path of abandonment. The path of the bodhisattvas is the path of transformation. Then the vajrayana path is the path of actual experience and knowledge. “

How to check what level one is at

“In the secret mantra, when we then reach the highest yoga tantra, here the practitioner of highest capacity is able to transform the afflictive emotions instantly, very directly. So wherever you are at, what is your capacity is something you have to see for yourself. How you can know which level you are at is by, for example, looking at what you do when a strong afflictive emotion arises.  For example when you’re in a difficult circumstance, or you’re very sick so you suffer a lot, and an afflictive emotion arises, a very powerful one. If  you are of highest capacity then in that moment you would instantly recognize it with mindfulness. Then you would just continue to sustain that state of mindfulness and the afflictive emotion then just instantly is cleared away by this mindfulness. It is just like you’re pouring hot water over ice, or a fire burns away wood. The mind becomes completely clear, instantaneously. Then you have actualized afflictive emotions as wisdom, Milarepa had said that there is no difference between afflictive emotions and primordial wisdom. That is from the highest perspective.

Then an average (mediocre) practitioner when an afflictive emotion arises, they would first label it and say ‘oh this is bad, the afflictive emotion is bad’. Then they would make an effort to cultivate love and compassion, and then in this way  the afflictive emotion slowly then disappears.

Someone of inferior capacity  would hold on to grudges, and would think that ‘oh he um harmed me, he hurt me and that really happened and that was not right’ so they think constantly of ‘me’, ‘ this has happened to me’, and  they never forget about it, it just stays in their mind, just like a thorn pricking your mind all the time. So that is somebody with the lowest capacity. The secret mantra says that allow the afflictive emotions to become liberated in their own natural state which on their own self-liberate. Such a practitioner of the lower capacity will not understand that, and they will feel that doesn’t work and so on. 

This is how you need to understand the different levels of mental capacity. Milarepa said this is how you see the difference. When you have a real experience, in the natural state of the mind, then you have the highest capacity. Then you are really in like a meditative state continuously day and night, from that highest perspective. Milarepa said that when you realize that there is no difference between afflictive emotions and primordial wisdom, that is the the highest realization. Until then, we practice to recognize all the subtle thoughts and afflictions arising and in this way they slowly become purified through wisdom awareness and through bodhichitta. They gradually become transformed, and then they become transformed instantly. Once they become transformed then you become a yogi of the highest capacity.”

History and Lineage of Hevajra

[Rinpoche reads from the text]:

“So the non-dual tantra of glorious Hevajra is the ultimate perfection of all classes of tantra. It is the profound, unsurpassed and quintessential yoga. In the noble land of India, Naropa, Maitripa, Krishnacharya, Samayavajra, Virupa and his disciples Padma Vajra, Shantibam and many other lineage holders have appeared. In Tibet, Marpa Lotsawa, Lotsawa Drogmi and Go Lotsawa have transmitted the lineage. This particular empowerment ritual stems from the transmission lineage of the great accomplished master Shantipa,  the lineage gurus of the innate Hevajra with consort, according to the transmission lineage of Lord Drikungpa,  and his disciples is as follows: Buton Rinchen transmitted the lineage to his heart’s son Rinchen Namgyal then it was transmitted through the scholar, Chandrakirti, the master Yeshe Gyamtso,  the venerable Khyenrab Chojin, Lama Rinchen Gyelpo,  the mahasiddha Pema Garwang, the master, Mangto Namgyel, Acharya Sonam Chomphel, Shamar Garwang, Chokyi Wangchug and the master Chokyi Dragpa.  The golden garland lineage of this profound empowerment is undefiled by samaya violators and superficial fabricated dharma.  The empowerment consists of three parts: the preliminaries, the explanation, and the actual empowerment. The preliminaries which are the activities of the vajra master are completed. In order to receive their profound empowerment you should now offer a mandala.”

Regarding the lineage, I received this empowerment for the first time when I was a very young child and I hardly remember it. Then again I received it from Lamchen Rinpoche and the empowerment comes from the four co-emergent deities, which is a very precious empowerment text, there are four empowerment texts in there.  So this is the empowerment I’m giving now and so that’s my personal lineage. In general, it is important to hear the names of the lineage masters.”




  • Sadhana of the Glorious Hevajra. Śrīhevajrasādhana. dPal dgyes pa rdo rje’i sgrub thabs. Dg.T. rGyud, vol. Ta, ff. 151b-154a (Toh. 1292)

Ratnākaraśānti (Śāntipa)

  • Commentary on Difficult Points of the Hevajra: Garland of Pearls. Śrīhevajrapañjikā nāma muktivalī. dPal dgyes pa’i rdo rje’i dka’ ’grel mu tig phreng ba zhes ba ba. Dg.T. rGyud, vol. Ga, ff. 221a-297a (Toh. 1189)

Jamgon Kongtrul

  • Manual for the Performance of Retreat on the Tantras of the Marpa Tradition: The Jewel Ship. Mar lugs rgyud sde rnams kyi bsnyen pa ji ltar bya ba’i yi ge rin chen gru gzings. In Kagyu Tantric Treasury (bKa’ brgyud sngags mdzod ), vol. Hum, Palpung Monastery(woodblock print). Graciously lent by the late Bokar Rinpoche and belongingto his predecessor.
  • Meaning of the Hevajra. See Topical Commentary on the Hevajra Tantra. Phrase-by-Phrase Commentary on the Hevajra Tantra Two Examinations: Disclosing the Secret of the Invincible Vajra/ Commentary on the Hevajra. dPal dgye pa rdo rje’i rgyud kyi rgyal po brtag pa gnyis pa’i tshig don rnam par ’grolba gzhom med rdo rje’i gsang ba ’byed pa. Rumtek, Sikkim: Dharma Chakra Centre, 1981 (woodblock print)
  • Topical Commentary on the Hevajra Tantra/ General Meaning of the Hevajra. rGyud kyi rgyal po dpal brtag pa gnyis pa’i spyi don legs par bshad pa gsang ba bla na med pa rdo rje drva ba’i rgyan. Palpung Monastery: dPal spungs thub bstan chos ’khor gling (woodblock print). 
  • Uncovering the Secret of the Invincible Vajra: A Commentary Clarifying the Meaning of the Words of the Glorious Two Segments Hevajra Tantra, the King of Tantras (dpal dgyes pa rdo rje’i rgyud kyi rgyal po brtag pa gnyis pa’i tshig don rnam par ‘grol ba gzhom med rdo rje’i gsang ba ‘byed pa). Jamgön Kongtrul says that here he follows mainly the tradition of Saroruhavajra, yet also the traditions of Marpa Lotsawa and the 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Dorje.
  • An Ornament of the Secret Unsurpassable Vajra Net: An Eloquent Overview of the Glorious Two Segments, the King of Tantras (rgyud kyi rgyal po dpal brtag pa gnyis pa’i spyi don legs par bshad pa gsang ba bla na med pa rdo rje drwa ba’i rgyan). W1KG4335

3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje

  • Stainless Light: A Commentary on the Two Segments Hevajra Tantra (dgyes pa rdo rje’i brtag pa gnyis pa’i ‘grel pa dri ma med pa’i ‘od). W30541

Ngok Shyedang Dorjé

  • Like a Jewelled Ornament (rgyud kyi rgyal po brtag pa gsnyis pa’i rin chen rgyan ‘dra). W19472


  • Commentary on the Innate Yoga [Toh. 1246], a Teaching on the Completion Phase of Hevajra, by Ratnakarashanti (dGyes rdor gyi rdzogs rim lhan cig skyes pa’i rnal ’byor zhes bya ba’i ’grel pa) Collected Works, Leh edition, vol. 9, pp. 437-482.
  • Hevajra Tantra, Marpa Tradition, Manual of Instructions (dGyes pa rdo rje mar lugs kyi khrid yig ’khrul med nges gsang) Kongtrul’s Kagyu Tantric Treasury (bKa’ brgyud sngags mdzod ), vol. Om, PalpungMonastery (woodblock print). Collected Works, Leh edition, vol. 9, pp. 279-347
  • Hevajra Tantra Esoteric Instructions on the Completion Phase (dPal dgyes pa’i rdo rje’i man ngag sbas pa mig ’byed sogs) Collected Works, Leh edition, vol. 9, pp. 349-377.
  • Hevajra Tantra Esoteric Instructions on the Four Seals of the Completion Phase (Phyag rgya bzhi pa’i snying po’i man ngag rab gsal nges don snying po) Collected Works, Leh edition, vol. 9, pp. 405-435.
  • Hevajra Tantra Manual of Instructions on the Four Principles of the Completion Phase (dPal dgyes pa rdo rje’i rdzogs rim de nyid bzhi ldan gyi ’khrid yig sogs)Collected Works, Leh edition, vol. 9, pp. 379-403.

Kvaerne, Per: On the Concept of Sahaja in Indian Buddhist Tantric Literature, Temenos, XI (1975), 88-135.

Guarisco, Elio and Mcleod, Ingrid (2008): Elements of Tantric Practice: Book Eight, Part Three: by Jamgon Kongtrul, Snow Lion Publications.

Wayman, Alex (1983). “Three Tanjur Commentators—Buddhaguhya, Ratnakarasanti, and Smrtijnanakirti”The Tibet Journal8: 24–36.

Tāranātha, Jetsun: “rdo rje’i rnal ‘byor gyi ‘khrid yig mthong ba don ldan gyi lhan thabs ‘od brgya ‘bar ba/.” In Collected Works of Tāranātha (Peking edition), Volume 7, 143-420. TBRC W1PD45495 (krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang) 2008.

Tomlin, Adele (2019): One Hundred Blazing Lights: Simultaneous Kālacakra by Jetsun Tāranātha (forthcoming publication), see here.


[1] “The path-and-fruition teachings of the Sakya school constitute a vast literature based on the Vajra Verses (Lam ’bras rdo rje tshig rkang) of Virupa and other instructions of Virupa related to the Hevajra tantra. Virupa is therefore considered the “first guru” of the path-and-fruition tradition and lineage. Those instructions were transmitted by Virupa to Kanha. Eventually, they were received by Drokmi Lotsawa in Tibet (see The Blue Annals, trans. Roerich, pp. 204-240; Luminous Lives: The Story of the Early Masters of the Lam ’Bras Tradition in Tibet, trans. Cyrus Stearns, Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2001; Taking the Result as the Path: The Core Teachings of the Sakya Lamdré Tradition, trans. C. Stearns, Wisdom, 2006). Vajra Verses is to be found in the Cycle of Teachings of the Path and Fruition of the Glorious Sakya (dPal sa skya pa’i lam ’bras kyi chos skor gces btus)(2008: fn.35).

[2] “Dombipa, also known as Dombi Heruka, is considered to be one of the eighty-four great adepts (mahasiddhas) of ancient India. He figures prominently in the lineages of the inner fire. For details of his life, see Tāranātha’s Histories of the Masters of the Seven Transmissions. Dombipa is the author of various works on the Hevajra tantra, but none of the works attributed to him is called Light of Nectar (Amṛtaprabhā, bDud rtsi ’od ). The work spoken of here may be the Sadhana of Yogini Nairatmya (Nairātmyayoginīsādhana, bDag med rnal ’byor ma’i sgrub thabs, Toh. 1305), but we have been unable to verify this. Listed in the Tohoku catalogue is a text called Light of Nectar of Great Bliss (Mahāsukhāmṛtaprabhā, bDe ba chen po’i bdud rtsi’i ’od, Toh. 1343), attributed to Jnanaratna.” (2008: fn. 36 and 39).

[3] “Among the main disciples of Dombipa were his consort Dombiyogini, Alalavajra, Garbaripa, Jayashri, Rahulavajra, and Durjayachandra. His consort is said to have been a teacher of the famous Krishnacharya. Durjayachandra wrote the Commentary on Difficult Points [of the Hevajra Tantra]: Kaumudi (Toh. 1185). (2008: fn. 40).

[4] “Saroruhapada (mTsho skyes zhabs), also known as Saroruhavajra and Padmavajra, was a learned master who served as the spiritual mentor of a king. An aged woman who gathered wood for a living advised him to seek the guidance of Anangavajra, a master from a low caste who had attained realization by attending a female swineherd in Oddiyana. Saroruha was introduced to the ultimate meaning by Anangavajra and gained understanding as a result. For details of his life, see Tāranātha’s Histories of the Masters of the Seven Transmissions. Saroruha is the author of many works on the Hevajra contained in the Tengyur. Chief among them are his Commentary on Difficult Points of the Hevajra Tantra (Toh. 1181) and his Sadhana of the Glorious Hevajra (Toh. 1218). ” (2008: fn. 41).  Also, see the PhD by Torsten Gerloff (2017, University of Hamburg) Saroruhavajra’s Hevajra-Lineage: A Close Study of the Surviving Sanskrit Works.

[5] “Tāranātha mentions Samayavajra (Dam tshig rdo rje), also known as Krishnasamayavajra (Nag po dam tshig rdo rje), as a contemporary of the tantric masters Jetari and Thagana who lived during the reign of King Mahapala (eleventh century). He is said to have succeeded Durjayachandra as the tantric master in charge of the renowned Vikramashila Monastery. Krishnasamayavajra’s association with the Hevajra is confirmed in Tāranātha’s brief account of his life. See Tāranātha’s History of Buddhism in India (English translation), pp. 290-292; 327. He was also one of the masters of GoKhugpa Letse (’Gos khug pa lhas btsas).The Tengyur contains one work under the name Samayavajra, called the Commentary on Difficult Points of the Five Stages, Toh. 1841; and three tantric works under thename Krishnasamayavajra: Commentary on the Mahamaya Tantra (Toh. 1624); Sadhana of Kurukulla (Toh. 1320); and Treasury of Doha (Toh. 2301, vol. Zhi). (2008: fn. 43)

[6] “The Hevajra literature in the Tengyur includes a commentary on the Hevajra called Commentary on Difficult Points of the Hevajra Tantra (Toh. 1186, vol. Ga), attributed to Yashobhadra (sNyan grags bzang po) (who is the same person as Naropa), as well as Naropa’s Sadhana of the Glorious Hevajra (Toh. 1292, vol. Ta), and another work related to Hevajra, Naropa’s Jewel Light (Toh. 1342, vol. Ta).” (2008: fn. 46).

[7] “Mixing (bsre ba) and transference (’pho ba) are terms used in all of Marpa’s instructions on the completion phase. Here, they specifically refer to Marpa’s teaching known as “the mixing and transference instructions of the Hevajra,” as found in, for example, Tāranātha’s Hevajra Tantra, Marpa Tradition, Manual of Instructions.” See also Ducher (2017: 92 ): “the transmissions related to Mar pa’s tradition of Hevajra, which, according to Kongtrul (Kong sprul),  is mostly based on Nāropa and Maitripa’s oral instructions as well as on the Indian traditions of Saroruhavajra (mTsho skyes rdo rje) and Ḍombīheruka.  Its main item is the root Hevajratantra, also called the Two Segments (brtag gnyis).” This lineage is where the Marpa-Ngog lineage originates, for more on that see here:

[8] “The Hevajra literature contained in the Derge Tengyur includes three works (Toh. 1243, 1244, and 1308) attributed to Avadhutipa, who is also known as Maitripa and Advayavajra. The Tengyur’s first commentary in the cycle of the Hevajra is Toh. 1180, one of the three Commentaries by the Bodhisattvas (see Chapter 1, n. 12). This work is generally attributed to Vajragarbha, whose identity is uncertain, and may in fact have been composed by Maitripa. (2008: fn. 57).

[9] “Shavaripa, also known as Saraha the Younger, was an accomplished master who demonstrated that he possessed miraculous powers. According to some accounts, he was a hunter who was converted by the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Tāranātha writes that he was one of three children of a dance teacher. He met Nagarjuna at a early age and then acted as a hunter once he had attained realization. From him stems one of the most renowned lineages of the great seal, which includes masters such as Luipa, Dengipa, Tilopa, and Naropa. See Tāranātha’s Histories of the Masters of the Seven Transmissions.” (2008: fn. 58).

[10] “Marpa the Translator, known as the Venerable One of Lhodrak as he was originally from Lhodrak in southern Tibet, relied for a long time on Maitripa as one of his main masters. From him Marpa received teachings on the root and explanatory Hevajra tantras, the Buddhakapala tantra, and the Instruction on the Four Seals (Phyag rgya bzhi’i gdams ngag) (Toh. 2295).”

[11] “The full title of the teachings referred to here as “cycles of nine paths” (lam dgu skor), or “nine sets of the profound path” (lam zab dgu phrugs), is the “nine paths of the completion phase of the Hevajra” (dgyes pa rdo rje la rdzogs rim lam dgu skor). The essence of it is contained in Tāranātha’s Hevajra Tantra, Marpa Tradition, Manual of Instructions.” (2008: fn. 60).

[12] “Vyadalipa, a hunter of birds, is said to have one day noticed a parrot taking fruit with its beak. He followed the path of the parrot as it departed and as a result discovered the master who became his teacher, the younger Virupa or Kala Virupa (a disciple of Virupa). It is said that after twelve years of contemplation, Vyadali attained ultimate realization. He eventually became the teacher of Kusalibhadra in a transmission of the instructions of inner fire. See Tāranātha’s Histories of the Masters of the Seven Transmissions. No work attributed to him is to be found in the Hevajra literature in the Tengyur. However, several works written by him are found in the Tengyur, one being a text on alchemy (Toh. 4313).” (2008: fn. 65).

[13] ‘Shantigupta, a student of Jnanamitra and other tantric masters, was born in Jalamandala. He first became a monk in Giava under the tutorship of Ratigupta. Serving the master for many years, Shantigupta received, besides the common teachings, extensive tantric instructions. Dissatisfied with monastic life, he left to become a wandering yogin. A female liquor-vendor advised him to seek the guidance of Jnanamitra. Upon meeting Jnanamitra, he endured many hardships while seeking instructions from him and being continually refused. Finally, on one occasion, while he was acting as the assistant in a fire rite being performed by Jnanamitra, Shantigupta made a minor error. As a consequence, his master hurled burning coals at him. That event triggered in Shantigupta an awakening of inconceivable pristine awareness. Thereafter, he became absorbed in the work of transmitting his understanding to others, bestowing instructions in a nonconceptual way.” (2008: fn.74).

[14] “According to Tāranātha, whose master, Buddhagupta, was a student of Shantigupta, this outstanding master was a holder of all tantric instructions and an adept whose realization was higher than that of even the saintly Naropa. See Tāranātha’s Histories of the Masters of the Seven Transmissions.”

[15] The Sarma tradition of new translation schools, recognizes four classes of tantra ( rgyud sde bzhi): Three outer classes— Kriya Tantra, Charya Tantra and Yoga Tantra; And one inner class of tantra, which is called Highest Yoga Tantra. The latter is divided into three: Father Tantras, such as the Guhyasamaja Tantra, the King of Tantras; Mother Tantras, such as the Chakrasamvara Tantra; and Non-dual Tantras, such as Kalachakra.

2 thoughts on “THE EIGHT MAIN HEVAJRA LINEAGES AND ‘INNATE’ HEVAJRA OF SHANTIPA: Lineages, Texts and 2021 Teaching and Empowerment by 8th Garchen Rinpoche

  1. Thanks for wealth of informations related to tantra classes and disciples capabilities, as well as richness of yoga practices used in 8 lineages of Hevajra.
    Concerning recommended Sade song , her another song ,,never as good as first time,,.

    1. Thanks Jerzy, the Jamgon Kongtrul book (2008) has extensive footnotes on the practice instructions of each of the eight main lineages. Worth checking out. Yes that is also a great song too 🙂

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