One of the more controversial figures in Vajrayana Buddhism is Padmasambhava (Padmakara, Guru Rinpoche).
In spite of the fact that he was, without a doubt, a real historical figure in the 8th century in Tibet,
it is said that he was born eight (or twelve) years after Buddha Śākyamuni's Mahāparinirvana
which is generally accepted to be at around 583 BCE.
Although Buddhism had been introduced into Tibet before the 8th century by Śāntirakṣita it faced opposition from the Bon ministers as well as from local spirits. Due to the opposition of these spirits the monk Śāntirakṣita advised King Trisong Detschen to invite the reclusive Padmasambhava to Tibet. Upon arrival in Tibet, Padmasambhava founded the Samye monastery in 767, and after taming and converting the local spirits and demons, Buddhism was established as the state religion of Tibet. Although accounts vary Padmasambhava is said to have stayed in Tibet for about seventeen years before leaving for the South-West to tame demonous forces there.
In 901 BCE King Langdarma, with the help of his ministers, started a campaign to supress the Dharma. To some extent this was sucessful, however due to the fact that Padmasambhava's students and their Dharma heirs favored a solitary, reclusive life outside of a monastic environment, Langdarma was unsecessful at eradicating Padmasambhava's Dharma. Due to it's loose organization the main divisions (Mindröling, Dorje Drak, Palyul, Dzogchen and Shechen) of the Nyingmapa were not formally organized until the 17th century.
Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) is considered to be the "founder" of the Nyingmapa School of the Vajrayana where practices originating with Padmasambhava are an integral part of the tradition. Over the centuries most other schools have slowly taken up, to some extent, practices originating with Padmasambhava. Most recently even the Gelug school has slowly started to recognize the profundity of practices originating with Padmasambhava.
The table below shows a list of Padmasambhavas twenty-five principal students who represent the first generation of the "Old Translation School".