Garab DorjeTib., dGa' rab rDo rje; Indestructible Joy
Skt. names: Prahevajra, Pramodavajra, Surati Vajra
An early yogin and tantric adept who apparently lived in the century when BCE turned into CE; with dates ranging from 184 BCE (birth) to 57 CE (death). His life story, according to the tradition, is full of miraculous events and powers, yet Tibetans regard him nevertheless as a historical figure as well.
Born in Uddiyana from the womb of a royal nun, this early yogin and tantric adept is generally regarded as the actual originator of Dzogchen. Regarded as a nirmanakaya-emanation (see Trikaya) of the Buddha Vajrasattva, Garab Dorje received all the six million four hundred thousand tantras (rgyud 'bum phrag drug cu) and oral instructions of Dzogchen directly from the heavenly realm and thus became the first human vidyadhara (Skt., Knowledge Holder) in the Dzogchen lineage. Having reached the state of complete enlightenment, he then transmitted these teachings to his retinue of exceptional beings, among who Manjushrimitra is regarded as his chief student who in turn passed them on to Sri Singha.
Centuries later, also Vairocana and Padmasambhava are known to have received the transmission of the Dzogchen tantras from Garab Dorje's wisdom form; i.e. through a direct vision on Lake Dhanakosa in Uddiyana.
Garab Dorje composed a text known as The Natural Freedom of Ordinary Characteristics (mtshan ma rang grol), yet is especially famous for his "three incisive precepts" or Three Lines that Strike at the Vital Point (Tib., tshiggsum gnad du brdegs); his last testament (Tib., zhal 'chems) in the form of three essential statements given to Manjushrimitra; summing up the teachings of Dzogchen:
- direct introduction to one's own nature (Tib., ngo rang thog-tu sprod-pa)
- direct discovery of this unique state (Tib., thag gcig thog-tu bcad-pa)
- directly continuing with confidence in liberation (Tib., gdeng grol thog-tu bca'-pa) [Reynolds, Selfliberation. p. 42]