The sacred region of Beyul Pema Köd, known as "The Hidden Land," is located on a secluded plateau in the
Himalayan Mountains. This exquisite, ancient land, once part of Tibet, was divided following the chinese invasion. The southern region was annexed by India, and the northern portion was annexed by china. This section was recently the subject of Ian Baker's book, The Heart of the World.
The region lies within Indian territory. Only recently have foreigners been allowed to visit. And so this land, untouched by outside influences, remains spiritually pristine as in the time of the Maha Guru, Padmasambhava, who practiced extensively in many caves there and blessed the land with the concealment of many sacred treasures. It is therefore one of the most sacred and rare places for spiritual practitioners to meditate and practice during this degenerate time.
The word "hidden" is significant and has three meanings in the context of Pema Köd. First, the secret meaning of the word implies that the infinite realms of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, by their nature, are hidden, or beyond this dualistic mind, from the beginning.
The second, or inner meaning of this word implies that this is a place where
maha yogis and yoginis gathered to practice secret tantras and gana chakras. Thus, except to such highly realized beings, this place is hidden.
The third, outer meaning of this word refers to Guru Padmasambhava, who
specially blessed this land, protecting and setting it aside in this degenerate time for only those fortunate beings who are karmically connected to it, ordaining that it remain "hidden," unavailable, to others.
Pema Köd was very much cherished by Padmasambhava. In many texts, he refers to it as the king of all other sixteen of his hidden lands. In the Tsa Sum Gongdus, he said:
In this hidden land, all mountains are like blooming flowers. All rivers
spontaneously recite mantras and flow with nectar; rainbows are arched on trees and bushes. All the oath-bound protectors watch closely and protect true practitioners and punish those who merely pretend to be. Those who practice sincerely will attain enlightenment in this lifetime. Pure samadhi will spontaneously arise just by being in this land. One session of practice in this blessed land is equal to a year of practice in other places. Those who make three prostrations here will never take lower rebirth. Those who die after seven steps taken with the intention of arriving here will definitely be reborn in this land. Those who build stupas and temples, and perform other works of virtue in this land are my messengers. Therefore, my fortunate sons and daughters, keep devotion to this land. You will soon realize its significance.
In fact, just as Padmasambhava had stated, the uniqueness of this place can still today be attested to by such phenomena as the clear memories many children born here have of their past lives, and the visions and experiences that practitioners and pilgrims continue to have here.
The geography of Pema Köd resembles the dakini Vajravarahi, lying on her back. Various areas of this hidden land are described in terms of the different parts of Vajravarahi's body. The particular part of Pema Köd in which the retreat land is located is considered the secret part of Vajravarahi's body. This area contains numerous minor, as well as four major holy places. The first of these is Dharmakaya Amitabha's holy place, Padma Shri; another is Samboghakaya Avalokiteshvara's holy place, Riwo Tala; a third place is Nirmanakaya Guru Padmasambhava's holy place, Citta Puri; and the fourth holy site, Devi Kota, is centered between the other three and embodies the blessings of all three.