He was invited to Tibet by the famous Buddhist acharya, Shantirakshita, and the Tibetan king Trisong Detsen (8th century A.D.). In collaboration with whom, he founded the famous Samye monastery in Tibet. It is said that Padmasambhava tamed many local Bon deities and initiated Tantric Buddhist teachings and practices in Tibet. He is still highly revered in Tibet. The honorific title by which he is generally known is Guru Rinpoche, "Precious Teacher." He is regarded as a major spiritual ancestor of all Tibetan Buddhists in general and father of the Nyingma Order in particular. Tibetans consider him as a second Buddha. He was deified and incarnated into eight forms, one for each of eight important actions he performed during his lifetime. He gave many Tantric teachings in Tibet. He had many followers and disciples in Tibet among them his twenty-five chief disciples are well known. Padmasambhava stressed that followers of Tantric Buddhism should study with a teacher, saying, "A person who only learns from books and not from a lama is like a seagull among duck." It is said that Padmasambhava brought a large number of books with him from India, and he also wrote many sadhanas .
Here Padmasambhava is sitting gracefully on a lotus that sprang up in a lake. He is wrapped in heavy and expensive robes and wears jeweled ornaments, a scholar's hat with a half vajra and a peacock feather on the top. Rinpoche has a vajra in his right hand and kapala with a little jar of amrita flowers in it. A khatvanga (ritual staff) is clamped against his left shoulder. His expression is serious and on his forehead the wrinkles of a frown indicate the hidden wrathfulness that comes to light on exorcising and overpowering demonic forces.
He is flanked by his consorts, the Indian princess Mandarva, who is seated on a lotus to his right, and Yeshe Tsogyal, who seats to his left, the two favorite and tantrically most gifted of his five wives. The upper center is finely rendered with Adi-Buddha Samantabhadra Father-Mother with rainbow streams on the back. The bottom center is filled with auspicious offerings. The aureole behind Padmasambhava is encircled with flowers and leaves. The lower middle ground and foreground are filled with mountainous landscape, rocks, lakes and natural vegetation etc. This is a splendid, rare gold thangka of Guru Rinpoche. The painting is very much suitable for sadhana and ritual.
A. Getty, The Gods of Northern Buddhism, Tokyo, 1962
Ben Meulenbeld, Buddhist Symbolism in Tibetan Thangka, Holland, 2001
Marylin M. Rhie & Robert A.F. Thurman, Worlds of Transformation: Tibetan Art of Wisdom and Compassion, New York, 1999
L.A. Waddell, Buddhism & Lamaism of Tibet, 1895, Delhi, 1979 (reprint) P. Pal, Art of the Himalayas: Treasures from Nepal and Tibet, New York, 1991
This description is by Dr. Shailendra K. Verma, whose Doctorate thesis is on "Emergence and Evolution of the Buddha Image (From its inception to 8th century A.D.)".