Vimalamitra (Tib. Drime Shenyen), an 8th century Indian adept, is key to the history of Tibetan Buddhist Dzogchen practice. He lived equally in China, Oddiyana and Tibet, but was known as the "Sage of Kashmir". According to tradition, he was born in Western India and travelled to China to become a disciple of Shri Singha in China. He was also a student of Buddhaguhya. Upon his return to India, he was invited to Tibet by emissaries of King Trisong Detsen where he established himself as a teacher and translator of Dzogchen texts and an important teacher within what centuries later came to be known as the Nyingmapa.

Vimalamitra united two disparate aspects of the Nyingtig teachings: the explanatory lineage with scriptures, and the hearing lineage without scriptures and elementally concealed them as terma to be revealed as the Vima Nyingtig (bi ma snying thig) and as the Secret Heart Essence of Vimalamitra (bi ma'i gsang ba snying thig).

Vimalamitra also translated, together with Ma Rinchen Chok, important Nyingmapa texts such as the Guhyasamaja Tantra and the Guhyagarbha (Tib., gSang-ba snying-po, "The Secret Heart", or "Essence of Secrets").

Vimalamitra, according to the Nyingma tradition, was a pupil of Buddhaguhya and Lilavajra, as was Vairotsana who received the Mahayoga (Māyā-jāla Cycle) transmission from Buddhaguhya.

Vimalamitra lineague

One tradition of Dzogchen was directly transmitted to Vajrasattva, an aspect of the Sambhogakaya, to Garab Dorje (b. 55 CE), the Nirmanakaya. Garab Dorje transcribed this teaching which he transmitted to his disciple Manjushrimitra. Mañjushrīmītra classified the teaching into three cycles:

  • Semde (mind class/cycle);
  • Longde (space class/cycle); and
  • Mengagde (oral instruction class/cycle), and this classification determined the exposition of the Dzogchen teachings in the following centuries. Mañjushrīmītra’s student Shrisimha re-edited the oral instruction class/cycle, and in this form the teaching was transmitted to Jñānasūtra and Vimalamitra (sometimes Vimilamitra). Vimalamitra took the Mengagde disciplic teaching to Tibet in the 8th Century.


Vimalamitra was responsible for authoring the Vima Nyingthig or 'Secret Heart Essence of Vimalamitra'. This cycle of texts belongs to the Secret Instruction or Menngagde division of Atiyoga.

In regards to the Nyingtig Yabshi, Vimalamitra united the two aspects of Innermost Unexcelled Section — the explanatory lineage with scriptures and the hearing lineage without scriptures — and concealed them to be revealed as the Nyingtig teachings Vima Nyingtig.



  • Dowman, Keith (1984). Sky Dancer: The Secret Life and Songs of the Lady Yeshe Tsogyel. Ithaca, New York: Snow Lion Publications, 1996. ISBN 1-55939-065-4
  • Norbu, Namkhai. The Crystal and the Way of Light: Sutra, Tantra and Dzogchen (1988). Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 0140190848
  • Reynolds, John Myrdhin (1996). The Golden Letters. Ithaca, New York: Snow Lion Publications, 1996. ISBN 1-55939-050-6

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