Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Tso Pema, India, 2018. Photo by Ven. Lobsang Sherab.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche arrived in Tso Pema, a place of pilgrimage in Himachal Pradesh, India, on January 21, coming from Bodhgaya.

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Lama Zopa Rinpoche receiving oral transmissions at Zigar Monastery, Tso Pema, India, January 2018. Photo by Ven. Lobsang Sherab.

Rinpoche traveled to the holy site associated with the 8th-century Indian Buddhist master Padmasambhava, or Guru Rinpoche, to receive oral transmissions from Khenpo Thinle Dorjee, the abbot of Zigar Monastery, a Kagyu monastery. The transmissions included various texts, such as Milarepa’s life story. At the conclusion of the oral transmissions, Rinpoche offered a long-life praise that he composed and other long-life items to the khenpo. 

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Lama Zopa Rinpoche with Khenpo Thinle Dorjee, Tso Pema, India, January 2018. Photo by Ven. Lobsang Sherab.

The story of Padmasambhava’s association with Tso Pema, also known as Rewalsar, is that Padmasambhava angered the king of the area by teaching Dharma to his daughter, Mandarava. The king had Padmasambhava burned alive in a pyre that created great clouds of smoke.

But after several days, a lake appeared in the same spot and Padmasambhava was sitting in the middle of the lake on a lotus and the king came to see the error of his ways. “Tso Pema” is Tibetan for “Lotus Lake.”

During his two-week visit, Rinpoche also spent time circumambulating the lake. On a tsog day, Rinpoche did Vajrayogini self-initiation until 4 a.m. And on another day, he did Trukchuma (Kalarupa) puja for several sick people and all who need it until 2 a.m.

Near the end of Rinpoche’s stay in Tso Pema, he went up to a sacred cave where Padmasambhava meditated and offered tsog.

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Lama Zopa Rinpoche making tsog offerings in the Guru Rinpoche cave above Tso Pema, India, January 2018. Photo by Ven. Lobsang Sherab.

A very large 123-foot (37.5-meter) tall Padmasambhava statue, completed in 2011 and blessed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2012, overlooks the lake.

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Tso Pema, Himachal Pradesh, India, January 2018. Photo by Ven. Lobsang Sherab.


Lama Zopa Rinpoche is the spiritual director of the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), a Tibetan Buddhist organization dedicated to the transmission of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition and values worldwide through teaching, meditation, and community service.