Shri Singha (Skt. Śrī Siṃha; Tib. ཤྲཱི་སིང་ཧ་དཔལ་གྱི་ སེང་གེ, Wyl. dpal gyi seng ge) — one of the early masters of the Dzogchen lineage, who was originally from the kingdom of Khotan located in the present day Xinjiang province of China. He was a disciple of Mañjushrimitra and the main teacher of Jñanasutra. He is famous for arranging the teachings of the Pith Instruction Class (mengak dé) into four cycles: outer, inner, secret and innermost secret unsurpassed. His last testament, which he conferred upon Jñanasutra before passing into the rainbow body, is called the Seven Nails.
- Dudjom Rinpoche, The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, Its Fundamentals and History, trans. and ed. Gyurme Dorje (Boston: Wisdom, 1991), book one, pages 497-501.
- Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage (Junction City: Padma Publications, 2005), pages 39-40.
- Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles, edited by Harold Talbott (Boston: Shambhala, 1996), pages 62-64.
Shri Singha was born into a good family in Sokhyam somewhere in Chinese Central Asia. In his youth he studied with the Acharya Haribhala and after three years he was an accomplished scholar. Then the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara appeared to him, and advised him that if he really wanted to attain Buddhahood he should go to the Sosaling cremation ground in India. But Sri Singha procrastinated, thinking that first he should study the Chinese system. So he went to Manjushri's Wutaishan abode in Szeshuan in China proper and there he became a Bhiksu for thirty years and studied the tantras. Then Avalokiteshvara again appeared to him, and gave him the same advice. By virtue of his accomplishment as an Awarene-Holder, Shri Singha then speed-walked to the Sosaling cremation ground, and there he met Manjushrimitra, who accepted him as his disciple and gave him his entire Dzogchen instruction over twenty-five years. When Manjushrimitra achieved a body of light Shri Singha received the master's final testament and meditating with those instructions he realized the essential meaning of Dzogchen.
Shri Singha was the chief disciple and successor of Manjushrimitra in the lineage of the Dzogchen teachings. He was born in the Chinese city of Shokyam in Khotan and studied at first with the Chinese masters Hatibhala and Bhelakirti. In his Ocean of Wondrous Sayings, Guru Tashi Tobgyal adds that Shri Singha received a prophesy from Avalokiteshvara while traveling to Serling, telling him to go to the Sosaling charnel ground in order to be sure of the ultimate attainment.
After many years Shri Singha met Manjushrimitra in the charnel ground of Sosaling, and remained with him for twenty-five years. Having transmitted all the oral instructions, the great master Manjushrimitra dissolved his bodily form into a mass of light. When Shri Singha cried out in despair and uttered songs of deep yearning, Manjushrimitra appeared again and bestowed him a tiny casket of precious substance. Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya The casket contained his master's final words, a vital instruction named Gomnyam Drugpa, the Six Experiences of Meditation. Having received this transmission, Shri Singha reached ultimate confidence. In Bodhgaya he found the manuscripts of the tantras previously hidden by Manjushrimitra which he took to China where he classified the Instruction Section (man ngag sde) into four parts: the outer, inner, secret, and the innermost unexcelled sections. Among Shri Singha's disciples were four outstanding masters: Jnanasutra, Vimalamitra, Padmasambhava and the Tibetan translator Vairotsana.
Shri Singha was able to withdraw the texts Manjushrimitra had hidden in the rock near Bodhgaya and divided the Secret Precept series of instruction into outer, inner, secret and uttermost secret cycles, graduated according to the heightening lack of conceptual elaboration. These four were to be accessed through the four Dzogchen empowerments - elaborate, simple, very simple and most simple. Upon his return to China he hid the first three cycles, which all had some degree of conceptual content, in the pinnacle chamber of the Bodhi Tree temple, and according to indications from the Dakinis the final cycle in a pillar in the Auspicious Temple. He then retired to the Silying cremation ground where he stayed in meditation and taught the demonic beings who honoured him.
Shri Singha's primary meditation activity was to live in cremation grounds transforming himself into the various forms through which he could teach, fearlessly playing with the Dakinis and evil spirits. His disciples were Vimalamitra and Jnanasutra. Finally, on his way from the Bodhi Tree Temple to visit the King of Khotan he achieved rainbow body and gave his last testament to Jnanasutra.