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By David M. DiValerio

During the previous millennium, sure Tibetan Buddhist yogins have taken on profoundly norm-overturning modes of gown and behaviour, together with draping themselves in human is still, eating grime, scary others to violence, or even acting sacrilege. They grew to become recognized everywhere as "madmen" (smyon pa, said nyönpa), attaining a level of saintliness within the strategy. This booklet bargains the 1st finished learn of Tibet's "holy madmen" drawing on their biographies and writings, in addition to tantric commentaries, later histories, oral traditions, and more.

Much of The Holy Madmen of Tibet is devoted to interpreting the lives and legacies of the 3 most famed "holy madmen" who have been the entire Kagyü sect: the Madman of Tsang (author of The lifetime of Milarepa), the Madman of Ü, and Drukpa Künlé, Madman of the Drukpa Kagyü. every one born within the 1450s, they rose to prominence in the course of a interval of civil conflict and of significant shifts in Tibet's spiritual tradition.

By concentrating on literature written by way of and concerning the "holy madmen" and at the yogins' relationships with their public, this e-book deals in-depth appears on the narrative and social techniques out of which sainthood arises, and on the position biographical literature can play within the formation of sectarian identities. through exhibiting how understandings of the "madmen" have replaced through the years, this examine allows new insights into present notions of "crazy wisdom." finally, the "holy madmen" are visible as self-aware and useful people who have been something yet insane.

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He understood the emptiness of all phenomena and experienced waking life as if it was a dream. In 1475, at around seventeen, Künga Zangpo took full monastic ordination at the Forest of Glorious Samantabhadra, a site for meditative retreat near Densa Til monastery, not far from his home village. After this, he traveled to various monasteries around Ü to receive transmissions from other masters, including Drakchokpa Rinchen Zangpo, who would replace Chuworipa as his main guru from then on. 24 t h e h o ly m a d m e n o f t i b e t Künga Zangpo traveled to southwestern Tibet, where he spent eight years in meditative retreat at Lapchi, Chubar, and other sites.

On his way to Tsari, traveling with his younger brother Könchok Gyeltsen, Sangyé Gyeltsen stopped in a Lhasa marketplace, where he tore apart a thread cross and ate a ritual cake (gtor ma, pronounced torma). Some people attacked him for acting so strangely, but miraculously he was not hurt. In Tsari, where he would stay for the next three years, he behaved in even more shocking ways. He told a female religious dignitary being hosted by Tashi Dargyé of Ja that he wanted to copulate with her. When the yogin successfully justified his impertinent behavior by saying that it was as instructed by the Hevajra Tantra, the powerful lord was won over and promised to provide for Sangyé Gyeltsen’s upkeep as long as he stayed in Tsari.

Then when he was born in the year called “abundant grain” in the Indian system, or the earth-male-tiger year in the Chinese [1458], the infant was beautiful and pleasing to behold. His head was broad like a parasol, his brow was wide, and all of his limbs were fully articulated and lovely: one endowed with all the marks of a great being had been born. nyukla peṇchen, The Life of the Madman of Ü1 Hagiography and History This chapter describes the basic trajectories of the lives of the Madmen of Ü and Tsang—birth, childhood, entering the religious life, abandoning monkhood to take on an alternative ascetic lifestyle, rising to prominence, passing away—while conveying some of the flavor of the biographies that relate the stories of their lives to us.

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