Taktsang is Tibetan for 'Tiger's Nest.'
Taktsang is the name of a famous Buddhist monastery, built high up on the side of a cliff in Bhutan.
Legend has it that Padmasambhava - who is also called Guru Rinpoche - rode there on the back of a tiger, in order to do battle with a dangerious demon called Singye Samdrup. Tradition says that the tiger was actually his consort - a woman called Yeshe Tsogyal - who shape-shifted into the form of a tiger.
Once there, after he had defeated Singye Samdrup, it is said that Padmasambhava did practice in a cave for three years, three months, three weeks, three days, and three hours. Later on, Buddhist monks built a temple over the face of the cave, and that became Taktsang. The cave is still there, and is used by people undertaking three year long retreats.
Tigers play a large part in the shamanic work and Buddhist practice of Nicholas. He was given a Tibetan name - Rangrig Taktsal - when he became a Buddhist in the 1990s, and that name translated into English means: 'Tiger Spirit who Manifested out of Nowhere'.
The practice of Padmasambhava is central to his Buddhist practice, and for some shamans in the Himalayas, Padmasambhava is considered as a 'first shaman' figure, and is thought of as the root guru of their shaman lineage.
Tigers are an important spirit animal in Himalayan Buddhism and shamanism, as well as in many shamanic traditions from Southern Siberia.
You will find an article about the role of Tigers in Tibetan spirituality on the 'Reading' page of this website.
(Above: Padmasambhava riding the tiger on the way to do battle with Singye Samdrup, who is shown in the bottom right)
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