The 8th-century master Vimalamitra was said to have been born in the western Indian town of Hastisthala. His father was named Sukhacakra and his mother was Ātmaprakāśā. He studied in Bodhgayā along with his dharma brother, Jñānasūtra. These two Indian masters were considered foremost among the five hundred learned paṇḍitas in the studies of vinaya, sutra, and abhidharma.
The Buddha Vajrasattva appeared to both Vimalamitra and Jñānasūtra In India, commending them both on their diligent studies and practice. Vajrasattava advised them that if they desired to reach enlightenment in their current life they must make the journey to the Bodhi Tree Temple in China to study with Śrī Siṃha, Vimalamitra immediately took Vajrasattva’s advice and traveled to China, where he met Śrī Siṃha and subsequently studied the Nyingtik for twenty years.
Nyangben Tingdzin Zangpo (8th c.) advised Emperor Tri Songdetsen to invite Vimalamitra to Tibet from India. Nyang became one of Vimalamitra’s closest disciples, receiving from him the Nyingtik teachings. Vimalamitra spent thirteen years teaching extensively. He was also renowned for his translation of numerous Sanskrit texts. Moreover, as a scholar-practitioner, he was able to compose many texts. The quintessence of his teaching is known as the Vima Nyingtik, one of the Heart-essence teachings of Dzogpachenpo, the Great Perfection. Leaving Tibet, Vimalamitra journeyed to Mount Wutai Shan in China. There, he passed into a rainbow body, the Body of Great Transference. Vimalamitra promised to return once every century in Tibet as an emanation. The first known emanation was Dangma Lhungyel who unearthed the hidden teachings of Vimalamitra.