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Kings of Shambhala

From Tibetan Buddhist Encyclopedia
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12th Rigden King Nyima(A).jpg

In the Indo-Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist tradition, there are thirty-two Kings of Shambhala, a mythical kingdom.

The first notable king of Shambhala, King Suchandra (sometimes wrongly Sanskritized as "Chandrabhadra," Tib. Dawa Sangpo), was the one who requested teaching from the Buddha. In response to his request, the Buddha gave the first Kalachakra root tantra. By practicing the Kalachakra the whole of Shambhala became an enlightened society, with Suchandra as the ruler. He was followed by an additional six Dharmarajas (Truth Kings). His eighth successor, Manjushri Yashas (sometimes wrongly Sanskritized as "Manjushrikirti"), was the first to be known as the Kalki King (Tib. Rigden, wylie: rigs ldan), to be followed by 24 more leading up to the present day.

The Seven Dharmarajas (Tib. Chogyal)

  1. Suchandra (Tib. Dawa Sangpo) c. 900 to 876 BC. Note: the Kalachakra calculations put the life of Shakyamuni Buddha quite a bit earlier than is generally accepted, and the Tibetans produced a number of divergent calculations of the dates given here. Also, many of the names of the kings are often wrongly Sanskritized (back-translated from the Tibetan) in Western publications.
  2. Devendra (Tib. Lhayi Wang) (876-776 BC) - Fond of Sentient Beings
  3. Tejasvin (Tib. Ziji Chän) (776-676 BC) Bearer of the Dharma Wheel and the Auspicious Conch
  4. Somadatta (Tib. Dawä Jin) (676-576) Lord of Speakers
  5. Deveshvara/Sureshvara (Tib. Lhaji Wangchug) (576-476) Destroyer of the City of Delusion
  6. Vishvamurti (Tib. Natshog Zug) (476-376) Conqueror of False Leaders, Holding a Lotus
  7. Sureshana (Tib. Lhayi Wangdän) (376-276) Cutter of Delusion, Uprooter of Karma and Klesha

The Twenty-Five Kalki (Tib. Rigden)

The most recent 25 of the 32 Kings of Shambhala are known as Kalki kings (Tib. Rigden, wylie: rigs ldan). Kalki means "Holder of the Castes." The Kalki King is said to reside on a "lion throne" in Kalapa, the capital city of the Kingdom. They are holders of the Kalachakra (Wheel of Time) teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni, passed down from the original seven Dharmarajas of Shambhala. [[File:Rigdan Tagpa.jpg|thumb|Rigden Trakpa or Manjushrí Yashas, King of Shambhala)]

The Kalki have often been erroneously termed "Kulika" by Tibetan Buddhist scholars unfamiliar with the original Sanskrit texts, as Buddhist scholar John R. Newman explains:

.. . so far no one seems to have examined the Sanskrit Kalachakra texts. The Buddhist myth of the Kalkis of Shambhala derives from the Hindu Kalki of Shambhala myths contained in the Mahabharata and the Puranas. The Vimalaprabha even refers to the Kalkipuranam, probably the latest of the upapuranas. This relationship has been obscured by western scholars who have reconstructed the Tibetan translation term rigs ldan as "Kulika." Although Tibetan rigs ldan is used to translate the Sankrit kulika in other contexts, here it always represents Sanskrit kalkin (possessive of kalkah; I have used the nomininative kalki).[1]


  1. Yashas (Tib. Jampal Dakpa; "Manjushri Yashas") - King Yashas is said to have lived in the second century BCE. He put the Kalachakra teachings in a condensed and simplified form called the "Sri Kalachakra" or "Laghutantra". He also converted a group of non-Buddhist Brahman priests of Shambhala to Buddhism and gave them the Kalachakra initiation, thereby uniting all inhabitants into one "vajra caste," or family of tantric practitioners. He said to have predicted the coming of "barbarian Dharma" after 800 years (about 600 CE), which indicates a form of Islam.
  2. Pundarika (Tib. Pema Karpo) (176-76 BCE) - White Lotus, Cherished by the Lord of Potala. King Pundarika wrote a commentary called "Vimalaprabha" (Skt.) or "Stainless Light." This text, together with the Sri Kalachakra, is the source text of the Kalachakra system as it is now practiced. Other practice texts are commentaries on these two. The Dalai Lamas are said to be incarnations of Pundarika.
  3. Bhadra (Tib. Zangpo) (76 BC -227 CE) One who Rules by the Thousand-spoked Wheel
  4. Vijaya (Tib. Nampar Gyäl) (227-327) - Attractor of Wealth, Victorious in War
  5. Sumitra (Tib. Shenyen Zangpo) (327-427)- Integrator of Method and Wisdom, Victorious over Samsara
  6. Raktapani (Tib. Rinchen Chag) (427-527) Holder of the Blissful Vajra and Bell
  7. Vishnugupta (Tib. Kyabjug Bäpa) (527-627) Smiling Holder of the Trident and Rosary
  8. Suryakirti (Tib. Nyima Drag) (627-727) Annihilator of Wild Demons
  9. Subhadra (Tib. Shintu Zangpo) (727-827) Holder of the Sword and Shield
  10. Samudra Vijaya (Tib. Gyatso Namgyäl) (827-927) Annihilator of all types of Devils
  11. Aja (Tib. Gyälka) (927-1027) Who binds with Unbreakable Iron Chains
  12. Surya/Suryapada, (Tib. (Wonang) Nyima) (1027-1127) All-Pervading, Radiant Jewel Light
  13. Vishvarupa (Tib. Natshog Zug(chän)) (1127-1227) Holder of the Vajra Prod and Noose
  14. Shashiprabha (Also Sasiprabha or Chandraprabha, Tib. Dawäi Ö) (1227-1327) Lord of Secret Mantras, Holder of the Wheel and Conch
  15. Ananta, Thayä (Tib. Nyen) (1327-1427) Holder of the Mallet that Crushes False Ideas
  16. Shripaala or Parthiva (Tib. Sakyong) (1427-1527) Holder of the Cleaver that Cuts the Bonds of Ignorance
  17. Shripala (Tib. Pälkyong) (1527-1627) - Annihilator of the Host of Demons
  18. Singha (Tib. Senge) (1627 -1727) Who Stuns the Elephant with his Vajra
  19. Vikranta (Tib. Nampar Nön) (1727 - 1827) Subduer of the Mass of Foes, the Inner and Outer Classes of Devils
  20. Mahabala (Tib. Tobpo Che) (1827 - 1927) Tamer of all False Leaders by Means of the Sound of Mantra
  21. Aniruddha (Tib. Magakpa) (1927-2027) - Who Draws and Binds the Entire Three Worlds. Aniruddha, the present Kalki king, was prophesied to rule in a time when Vajrayana Buddhism and the Kalachakra is nearly extinguished.
  22. Narasingha (Tib. Miyi Senge) (2027-2127) Ruling by the Wheel, Holding the Conch
  23. Maheshvara (Tib. Wangchug Che) (2127-2227) Victorious over the Armies of Demons
  24. Anantavijaya (Tib. Thaye Namgyäl) (2227-2327) Holder of the vajra and Bell
  25. Raudra Chakrin (Tib. Dakpo Khorlocen) (2327 to ? ) Forceful Wheel Holder. The Kalki king prophesied to appear to humans all over the world in 2424 to defeat the degenerate world rulers, establishing a planet-wide Golden Age. He is the last king prophesied in the Kalachakra.

The Kalkis and the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lamas are said to be incarnations of the second Kalki, Pundarika. The Second, Seventh and Fourteenth (present) Dalai Lamas are said to have particularly strong affinities to the Kalki kings, and the present Dalai Lama has offered the Kalachakra initiation thirty times thus far in his lifetime.

The Lineage of Sakyong Kings

Followers of contemporary Tibetan Buddhist teachers Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and his son Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche believe them to be intimately connected to the Kalki kings, dedicated to propagating the wisdom of Shambhala in the rest of the world. The term "Sakyong" literally means "earth-protector" in Tibetan, although it is colloquially understood to mean "king." This lineage is passed down as a family lineage.


  1. Newman, John L. "A Brief History of the Kalachakra," Wheel of Time: The Kalachakra in Context. Snow Lion: 1985. ISBN 1559390018, pg 84


Wikipedia:Kings of Shambhala