Kadampa Gurus & Deities
Great Kadampa Buddhist Masters & deities
The great Indian Buddhist Master Atisha (982-1054 AD) was responsible for reintroducing pure Buddhism into Tibet. Although Buddhism had been introduced into Tibet some two hundred years earlier by Padmasambhava and Shantarakshita, Buddhist practice in the country had largely been destroyed during the anti-Buddhist purges of the Tibetan king, Lang Darma (circa 836 AD), a follower of Bön, the pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet. Invited by Jangchub Ö, a ruler of Ngari in western Tibet, Atisha was asked to present a Dharma that everybody could follow and that would show how all the paths of Sutra and Tantra could be practiced together. In response, Atisha wrote Lamp for the Path, the original Lamrim text that served as the basis for all subsequent Lamrim instructions. The revival of pure Buddhist practice in Tibet at this time was largely due to Atisha.
Je Tsongkhapa, whose ordained name was Losang Dragpa, was a great 14th century Tibetan Buddhist Master who promoted and developed the Kadampa Buddhism that Atisha had introduced three centuries earlier. His appearance in Tibet had been predicted by Buddha himself. Je Tsongkhapa patiently taught the Tibetans everything they needed for their spiritual development, from the initial step of entering into a spiritual practice to the ultimate attainment of Buddhahood. This was a golden age in Tibet, and thousands of Tibetans were inspired by Je Tsongkhapa’s example of pure moral discipline, compassionate way of life, and profound, liberating wisdom. His followers became known as the ‘New Kadampas’, and to this day New Kadampas worldwide study his teachings and strive to emulate his pure example.
Four Kadampa Deities
Kadampas sincerely rely upon Buddha Shakyamuni because Buddha is the source of Kadam Lamrim; they sincerely rely upon Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion, and upon the Wisdom Dharma Protector, indicating that their main practice is compassion and wisdom; and they sincerely rely upon Arya Tara because she promised Atisha that she would take special care of Kadampa practitioners in the future. For this reason, these four enlightened holy beings are called the ‘Four Kadampa Guru Deities’.