Samantabhadra (manifesting as Vajradhara) transmits the ‘Enlightened Intention of the Buddhas’ to the Buddhas of the Five Families and their mandalas, of whom Vajrasattva is the sovereign. Presiding over mandalas of an inconceivable ocean of buddhas, the Five Buddhas are inseparable from Samantabhadra – without the duality of one who guides and someone to be guided – being the self-display of the same primordial realisation. At the same time, the Buddhas of the Five Families communicate the teachings to the immeasurable mandalas of buddhas that surround them, without relying on words or symbols.
The teachings are simultaneously transmitted symbolically, in various pure realms, through Vajrasattva and the peaceful and wrathful sambhogakaya forms, to the nirmanakaya and to bodhisattvas on the ten levels, according to their level realisation. This is referred to as the ‘Symbolic Lineage of the Awareness Holders’. The first human (in appearance) recipient of this Symbolic Lineage is considered to have been the vidyadhara Prahevajra of Uddiyana (known in Tibetan as Garab Dorje). Prahevajra was a nirmanakaya emanation of Vajrasattva who appeared in the human realm and received transmission from Vajrasattva (or, in some accounts, from Vajrapani)