Remembering the Lotus-Born

Padmasambhava in the History of Tibet’s Golden Age

Remembering the Lotus-Born sheds light on the work of Nyangrel Nyima Öser (1124–92), one of the most influential yet least known figures in the history of Tibetan Buddhism. His pivotal work, the Copper Island, is the story of how the Indian tantric master Padmasambhava brought Buddhism to the region. This work elevated Padmasambhava to central importance in Tibetan history, and made treasure revelation and recognized reincarnations among the institutions that still define Tibetan culture.



470 pages, 6 x 9 inches


ISBN 9781614292319

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eBook Bundle (PDF, epub, mobi)


ISBN 9781614292463

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“Nyangrel Nyima Öser (1124–92) is one of the more perplexing figures in Tibet’s cultural history. His importance for being the first to introduce Padmasambhava as the Tibetan culture hero cannot be overestimated, as are the revelatory texts and perhaps also the history of Buddhism in India and Tibet with which he is credited. Yet not much is known about his intellectual and spiritual development. In his splendid study, Hirshberg sums up his importance in the following words: ‘Nyangrel was both the architect of his enlightened identity and the product of his time. He was at once an excavator of Tibet's past and the author of its future.’ Hirshberg's meticulous analyses go a long way in leading us to understand the text-historical issues that beset his hagiography of Padmasambhava and his chronicle of Buddhism. No one engaged in the serious study of Tibetan culture can ignore this masterful work that is destined to change minds.”
—Leonard van der Kuijp, Harvard University

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 12:59 -- Kestrel Slocombe

Tibetan and Western scholars alike have long assumed that the Copper Island Biography of Padmasambhava was originally presented as a treasure text (terma). However, investigating the sources of this narrative shows that rather than wholesale invention or simple revelation, the Copper Island was a product of the Tibetan assimilation and innovation of core Indian Buddhist literary traditions. These traditions were well known to Nyangrel, who is renowned as the first of the great Buddhist treasure revealers. Remembering the Lotus-Born takes an unprecedented look at Nyangrel’s work in the Copper Island, including his contributions to hagiography, reincarnation theory, treasure recovery, and historiography.

Drawing all these threads together, it concludes by comparing all the available versions of Nyangrel’s Padmasambhava narrative to challenge long-held assumptions and clarify its origin and transmission. 

It received an Honorable Mention from the E. Gene Smith Book Prize Competition in 2018 by the Association of Asian Studies.