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Vairotsana (or Berotsana (Tib. བཻ་རོ་ཙ་ན་, Wyl. bai ro tsa na), Vairochana (Tib. བཻ་རོ་ཅ་ན་, Wyl. bai ro ca na)) (eighth-ninth centuries) — the greatest of all Tibetan lotsawas. Together with Padmasambhava and Vimalamitra, he was one of the three main masters to bring the Dzogchen teachings to Tibet.


Vairotsana was born into the Pagor (Tib. སྤ་གོར་, Wyl. spa gor) clan, and was sent to India by Trisong Detsen to study with Indian panditas. He also travelled widely in China, Khotan, Nepal, Shangshung and elsewhere.

His principal teacher was Shri Singha, from whom he received the instructions and empowerments of sem dé, long dé and mengak dé. He was one of the original seven monks ordained by Shantarakshita. In exile in East Tibet, he taught Yudra Nyingpo, Sangtön Yeshe Lama, and the old man, Mipham Gönpo before Trisong Detsen recalled him to Lhasa.

He translated many of Shri Singha’s works as well as many other mantrayana texts. He also translated part of the 100,000 verse Prajnaparamita text and other sutras. The exact number of his translations cannot now be traced, as the names of early translators were not always recorded by later translators.

Ngok Loden Sherab (1059-1109) once famously observed:

Vairotsana was like the boundless sky itself,
Kawa, Chok and Shyang were like the sun and moon,
Rinchen Zangpo was like the great dawn star—
Compared to them, we are like mere fireflies.

Further Reading

  • A. W. Hanson-Barber, The Life and Teachings of Vairocana, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1984
  • The Great Image: The Life Story of Vairochana the Translator, translated by Ani Jinba Palmo, Shambhala, 2004.
  • Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage (Junction City: Padma Publications, 2005), pages 49-51.

External Links