Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Mahasiddha

Mahasiddha

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Mahasiddha'
Start a new discussion about 'Mahasiddha'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Mahasiddha is a term for one who cultivates those teachings that lead to becoming perfect. They are a type of eccentric yogini
Yogini
Yogini is the complete form source word of the masculine yogi- and neutral/plural "yogin." Far from being merely a gender tag to the all things yogi, "Yogini" represents both a female master practitioner of Yoga, and a formal term of respect for a category of modern female spiritual teachers in...

/yogi in both Sanatan Dharma and Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

 Dharma, given by Siddhartha
Siddhartha
Siddhartha or Siddharta is the birth name of the founder of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha.Siddhartha may also refer to:* Siddhartha , a fictional book about the life of a man named Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse...

. Mahasiddhi are those practitioners, or tantrikas who have gained sufficient understanding and are so enabled to act upon their experential/ existential knowledge. She or he who is a 'siddha' is one who through sadhana (practice) realizes their singular special place, once proving to their own self that they are able to help others to achieve a better situation both for the planet, its people and for subordinate species, creatures great and small.

As yesterday, and so, today, the Mahasiddhi influence throughout the Indic
Indic
Indic can refer to:* Indo-Aryan languages* Indic scripts* Related to the Indian Subcontinent* of or related to India ; see Indica...

 and Himalayan
Himalayan
Himalayan can refer to:* The Himalayas mountain range* Himalayan , the type of cat* List of rabbit breeds#Himalayan, the breed of rabbit* The Himalayans, a band...

 region was vast, reaching mythical proportions, then, and now epically exceeds those times while humanity commences to reach for the stars- openly codified in songs for those who can hear- songs of independent/interdependent realization, not of selfish so-called self-realization.

All of this is preserved in the Tibetan Buddhist canon
Tibetan Buddhist canon
The Tibetan Buddhist canon is a loosely defined list of sacred texts recognized by various sects of Tibetan Buddhism. In addition to sutrayana texts from Early Buddhist and Mahayana sources, the Tibetan canon includes tantric texts...

. The Mahasiddhi are those who found, who kept and keep, who maintained and maintain the Dharmic tradition. They are those who carried those teachings to Tibet from India and from Tibet to India and through much hardship and throughout countless lineages, accomplished it, preserving the teachings of Gautama.

It is said that under the bodhi
Bodhi
Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

 tree, his first thought was "I see that all are enlightened." In other words his first thought was not upon himself.

Robert Thurman
Robert Thurman
Robert Alexander Farrar Thurman is an influential and prolific American Buddhist writer and academic who has authored, edited or translated several books on Tibetan Buddhism. He is the Je Tsongkhapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University, holding the first endowed chair...

 contrasts the Tantric Buddhist communities within which the Mahasidda practiced and taught with the Buddhist universities such as Nalanda
Nalanda
Nālandā is the name of an ancient center of higher learning in Bihar, India.The site of Nalanda is located in the Indian state of Bihar, about 55 miles south east of Patna, and was a Buddhist center of learning from the fifth or sixth century CE to 1197 CE. It has been called "one of the...

 which flourished at the same time:

The Tantric communities of India in the latter half of the first Common Era millennium (and perhaps even earlier) were something like “Institutes of Advanced Studies” in relation to the great Buddhist monastic “Universities.” They were research centers for highly cultivated, successfully graduated experts in various branches of Inner Science (adhyatmavidya), some of whom were still monastics and could move back and forth from university (vidyalaya) to “site” (pitha), and many of whom had resigned vows of poverty, celibacy, and so forth, and were living in the classical Indian saiñnyãsin or sãdhu style. I call them the "psychonauts" of the tradition, in parallel with our “astronauts,” the materialist scientist-adventurers whom we admire for their courageous explorations of the “outer space” which we consider the matrix of material reality. Inverse astronauts, the psychonauts voyaged deep into “inner space,” encountering and conquering angels and demons in the depths of their subconscious minds.


It was the Mahasiddhas who instituted the practices that birthed the Inner Tantras
Inner Tantras
The Inner Tantras are the final three divisions in the ninefold division of practice according to the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. They comprise the Mahayoga, Anuyoga and Atiyoga...

 of Dzogchen
Dzogchen
According to Tibetan Buddhism and Bön, Dzogchen is the natural, primordial state or natural condition of the mind, and a body of teachings and meditation practices aimed at realizing that condition. Dzogchen, or "Great Perfection", is a central teaching of the Nyingma school also practiced by...

 practiced by the Nyingma
Nyingma
The Nyingma tradition is the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism . "Nyingma" literally means "ancient," and is often referred to as Nga'gyur or the "old school" because it is founded on the first translations of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Tibetan, in the eighth century...

 school of Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

. The other schools
Sarma
Sarma may refer to:*Sarma , Brahmin surname in India*Sarma , a dish found primarily in the cuisines of the Middle East and eastern Europe*Sarma , three newest schools of Tibetan Buddhism...

 of Tibetan Buddhism and other Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

 Buddhists such as Shingon Buddhism practice Mahamudra
Mahamudra
Mahāmudrā literally means "great seal" or "great symbol." It "is a multivalent term of great importance in later Indian Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism" which "also occurs occasionally in Hindu and East Asian Buddhist esotericism."The name refers to the way one who...

 meditation, also a practice initiated by the original Buddhist Mahasiddha.

Genealogy and historical dates


The exact genealogy
Genealogy
Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members...

 and historical dates of the Mahasiddhas are contentious. Dowman (1986) holds that they all lived between 750 CE - 1150 CE.

Mahasiddha tradition


Mahasiddhas represent the mystical
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

 and unconventional which, in tantric
Tantra
Tantra , anglicised tantricism or tantrism or tantram, is the name scholars give to an inter-religious spiritual movement that arose in medieval India, expressed in scriptures ....

 thinking, is often associated with the most rarefied and sublime levels or states of spiritual enlightenment
Bodhi
Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

 and realisation. They are typically contrasted with arhats, austere saints, though this description is also suitable for many of the Mahasiddhas. However to call mahasiddha directly while talking the word nath (Master) is used and this is how the tradition of nath grew and later on seemed as a distinct sampradaya.

Abhayadatta Sri is an Indian scholar of the 12th century who is attributed with recording the hagiographies of the eighty-four siddha in a text known as The History of the Eighty-four Mahasiddha (Sanskrit: Caturasitisiddha pravrtti; Wylie: grub thob brgyad bcu tsa bzhi'i lo rgyus).

Dowman holds that the eighty-four Mahasiddha are spiritual archetypes:

The number eighty-four is a "whole" or "perfect" number. Thus the eighty-four siddhas can be seen as archetypes representing the thousands of exemplars and adepts of the tantric way. The siddhas were remarkable for the diversity of their family backgrounds and the dissimilarity of their social roles. They were found in every reach of the social structure: kings and ministers, priests and yogins, poets and musicians, craftsmen and farmers, housewives and whores.


The non-monastic Mahasiddha Dharma
Dharma
Dharma means Law or Natural Law and is a concept of central importance in Indian philosophy and religion. In the context of Hinduism, it refers to one's personal obligations, calling and duties, and a Hindu's dharma is affected by the person's age, caste, class, occupation, and gender...

 is composed of artists, business people, healers, family people, politicians, nobility, prostitutes and outcasts. The Mahasiddhas were a diverse group of people who were practical, committed, creative and engaged with their world. As a collective, their spirituality may be viewed as key and essential to their lives; simple, in concert and accord with all aspects of their lived experience. The basic elements of the lives of the Mahasiddas included their diet, physical posture, career, relationships; indeed "ordinary" life and lived experience were held as the principal foundation and fodder for realization. As siddhas, their main emphasis in spirituality and spiritual discipline was a direct experience of the sacred and spiritual pragmatism
Pragmatism
Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition centered on the linking of practice and theory. It describes a process where theory is extracted from practice, and applied back to practice to form what is called intelligent practice...

.http://www.mahasiddhas.org/about-mahasiddhas2.php

Reynolds (2007) states that the mahasiddha tradition:

...evolved in North India in the early Medieval Period (3-13 cen. CE). Philosophically this movement was based on the insights revealed in the Mahayana Sutras and as systematized in the Madhyamaka and Chittamatrin schools of philosophy, but the methods of meditation and practice were radically different than anything seen in the monasteries.


Mahasiddhas are a form of bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

, meaning they have the spiritual abilities to enter nirvana
Nirvana
Nirvāṇa ; ) is a central concept in Indian religions. In sramanic thought, it is the state of being free from suffering. In Hindu philosophy, it is the union with the Supreme being through moksha...

 whenever they please, but they are so compassion
Compassion
Compassion is a virtue — one in which the emotional capacities of empathy and sympathy are regarded as a part of love itself, and a cornerstone of greater social interconnection and humanism — foundational to the highest principles in philosophy, society, and personhood.There is an aspect of...

ate they resolve to remain in samsara
Samsara
thumb|right|200px|Traditional Tibetan painting or [[Thanka]] showing the [[wheel of life]] and realms of saṃsāraSaṅsāra or Saṃsāra , , literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other...

 to help others. Mahasiddhas are often associated with historic persons, but nonetheless typically have magical powers or siddhi which they achieve by the efficacy of their spiritual practice
Sadhana
Sādhanā literally "a means of accomplishing something" is ego-transcending spiritual practice. It includes a variety of disciplines in Hindu, Sikh , Buddhist and Muslim traditions that are followed in order to achieve various spiritual or ritual objectives.The historian N...

.

Reynolds (2007) proffers that the mahasiddha tradition:

...broke with the conventions of Buddhist monastic life of the time, and abandoning the monastery they practiced in the caves, the forests, and the country villages of Northern India. In complete contrast to the settled monastic establishment of their day, which concentrated the Buddhist intelligenzia [sic.] in a limited number of large monastic universities, they adopted the life-style of itinerant mendicants, much the wandering Sadhus of modern India.


The mahasiddha tradition may be conceived and considered as a cohesive body due to their spiritual style, sahaja
Sahaja
Sahaja is a term of some importance in Indian spirituality, particularly in circles influenced by the Tantric Movement...

; which was distinctively non-sectarian, non-elitist, non-dual, non-elaborate, non-sexist, non-institutional, unconventional, unorthodox and non-renunciate. The mahasiddha tradition arose in dialogue with the dominant religious practices and institutions of the time which often foregrounded practices and disciplines that were over-ritualized, politicized, exoticized, excluded women and whose lived meaning and application were largely inaccessible and opaque to non-monastic peoples.

Simmer-Brown (2001: p. 127), in her exposition of the charnel ground
Charnel ground
Charnel ground is a very important location for sadhana and ritual activity for Indo-Tibetan traditions of Dharma particularly those traditions iterated by the Tantric view such as Kashmiri Shaivism, Kaula tradition, Esoteric Buddhism, Vajrayana, Mantrayana, Dzogchen, and the sadhana of Chöd, Phowa...

 conveys how great mahasiddhas in the Nath
Nath
The Sanskrit word nāthá or नाथ, is the proper name of a Hindu initiatory tradition and the word itself literally means "lord, protector, refuge"...

 and Mantrayana Buddhadharma traditions such as Tilopa
Tilopa
Tilopa was born in either Chativavo , Bengal or Jagora, Bengal in India. He was a tantric practitioner and mahasiddha. He developed the mahamudra method, a set of spiritual practices that greatly accelerates the process of attaining bodhi...

 (988–1069) and Gorakṣa (fl. 11th – 12th century) yoked adversity to till the soil of the path and accomplish the fruit, the "ground" (Sanskrit: āśraya; Wylie: gzhi) of realization; worthy case-studies for those with spiritual proclivity:
The charnel ground is not merely the hermitage; it can also be discovered or revealed in completely terrifying mundane environments where practitioners find themselves desperate and depressed, where conventional worldly aspirations have become devastated by grim reality. This is demonstrated in the sacred biographies of the great siddhas of the Vajrayāna tradition. Tilopa attained realization as a grinder of sesame seeds and a procurer for a prominent prostitute. Sarvabhakṣa was an extremely obese glutton, Gorakṣa was a cowherd in remote climes, Taṅtepa was addicted to gambling, and Kumbharipa was a destitute potter. These circumstances were charnel grounds because they were despised in Indian society and the siddhas were viewed as failures, marginal and defiled.

Different Mahasiddha traditions


According to Ulrich von Schroeder Tibet has different traditions relating to the mahasiddhas. Among these traditions, two were particularly popular, namely the Abhayadatta Sri list and the so-called Vajrasana list. The number of mahasiddhas varies between eighty-four and eighty-eight, and only about thirty-six of the names occur in both lists. In many instances more than one siddha with the same name exists, so it must be assumed that fewer than thirty siddhas of the two traditions actually relate to the same historical persons. In the days when the siddhas of the later Tibetan traditions flourished in India, i.e. between the 9th and 11th centuries, it was not uncommon for initiates to assume the names of famous adepts of the past. Sometimes a disciple would have the same name as his guru, while still other names were based on caste or tribe. In such a context the distinction between siddhas of the same name becomes blurred. The entire process of distinguishing between siddhas with the same name of different texts and lineages is therefore to large extent guesswork. The great variation in phonetic transcription of Indian words into Tibetan may partly be the result of various Tibetan dialects. In the process of copying the Tibetan transcriptions in later times, the spelling often became corrupted to such an extent that the recognition or reconstitution of the original names became all but impossible. Whatever the reasons might be, the Tibetan transcription of Indian names of mahasiddhas clearly becomes more and more corrupt as time passes.

Geographical sites


In local folk tradition there were held to have been a number of icons and sacred sites to the 84 Mahasiddha at Bharmour
Bharmour
Bharmour, formally known as Brahmpura, was the ancient capital of Chamba district, India. Situated at an altitude of 7000 feet in the Budhil valley , forty miles to the south-east of Chamba, Bharmour is known for its scenic beauty and for its ancient temples...

 (formerly known as Brahmapura
Brahmapura
In Hinduism, Brahmapura is the holy city of Brahma, one of the three primary deities.It is located on Mt. Meru. It is also referred to as Brahmaloka or Satyaloka.-Two kinds of Brahmaloka:...

) in the Chaurasi complex. Chaurasi Temples, that is, where Chaurasi means "84".

"It is also very significant that nowhere else, except at Bharmaur in Chamba district, may be seen the living tradition of the Eighty-four Siddhas. In the Chaurasi temple complex, near which the famous temple of goddess Lakshana (8th century A.D.) stands, there once were eighty-four small shrines, each dedicated to a Siddha."


There are a number of archaeological sacred sites requiring iconographic analysis in the Chaurasi complex in Chamba, Himachal Pradesh
Chamba, Himachal Pradesh
Chamba is an ancient town in the Chamba district in the state of Himachal Pradesh, in northern India. According to the 2001 Indian census, Chamba has a population of 20,312 people...

. Though it may be hagiographical accretion and folk lore, it is said that in the reign of Sahil Varman:
"Soon after Sahil Varman's accession Brahmapura was visited by 84 yogis/mahasidhas, who were greatly pleased with the Raja's piety and hospitality; and as he ad no heir, they promised him ten sons and in due course ten sons were born and also a daughter named Champavati."

Caturāsiti-siddha-Pravṛtti


The Caturasiti-siddha-pravrtti (CSP), “The Lives of the Eighty-four Siddhas”, compiled by Abhayadatta Sri, a Northern Indian Sanskrit text dating from the 11th or 12th century, comes from a tradition prevalent in the ancient city-state of Campa in the modern district of Bihar. Only Tibetan translations of this Sanskrit text seem to have survived. This text was translated into Tibetan by sMon grub Shes rab and is known as the Grub thob brgyad cu rtsa bzhi’i lo rgyus or “The Legends of the Eighty-four Siddhas”. It has been suggested that Abhayadatta Sri is identical with the great Indian scholar Mahapandita Abhayakaragupta (late 11th–early 12th century), the compiler of the iconographic compendiums Vajravali, Nispannayogavali, and Jyotirmanjari.

The other major Tibetan tradition is based on the list contained in the Caturasiti-siddhabhyarthana (CSA) by Ratnakaragupta of Vajrasana, identical with Bodhgaya (Tib.: rDo rje gdan) located in Bihar, Northern India. The Tibetan translation is known as Grub thob brgyad cu rtsa bzhi’i gsol ’debs by rDo rje gdan pa. There exist several Tibetan versions of the list of mahasiddhas based on the Vajrasana text. However, these Tibetan texts differ in many cases with regard to the Tibetan transcriptions of the Indian mahasiddhas names.

The 84 Mahasiddhas


By convention there are 84 Mahasiddhas in both Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist traditions, with some overlap between the two lists. The number is congruent with the number of siddhi or occult powers held in the Indian Religions. In Tibetan Buddhist art
Tibetan art
Tibetan art refers to the art of Tibet. For more than a thousand years, Tibetan artists have played a key role in the cultural life of Tibet. From designs for painted furniture to elaborate murals in religious buildings, their efforts have permeated virtually every facet of life on the Tibetan...

 they are often depicted together as a matched set in works such as thangka
Thangka
A "Thangka," also known as "Tangka", "Thanka" or "Tanka" is a Tibetan silk painting with embroidery, usually depicting a Buddhist deity, famous scene, or mandala of some sort. The thankga is not a flat creation like an oil painting or acrylic painting...

 paintings where they may be used collectively as border decorations around a central figure.

Each Mahasiddha has come to be known for certain characteristics and teachings, which facilitates their pedagogical use. One of the most beloved Mahasiddhas is Virupa, who may be taken as the patron saint of the Sakyapa sect and instituted the Lamdré (Tibetan: lam 'bras) teachings. Virupa (alternate orthographies: Birwapa/Birupa) lived in 9th century India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and was known for his great attainments.

Some of the methods and practices of the Mahasiddha were codified in Buddhist scriptures known as Tantras
Tantras
Tantras refers to numerous and varied scriptures pertaining to any of several esoteric traditions rooted in Hindu and Buddhist philosophy. Although Buddhist and Hindu Tantra have many similarities from the outside, they do have some clear distinctions. The rest of this article deals with Hindu...

. Traditionally the ultimate source of these methods and practices is held to be the historical Buddha Shakyamuni, but often it is a transhistorical aspect of the Buddha or deity Vajradhara
Vajradhara
Vajradhara is the ultimate primordial Buddha, or Adi Buddha, according to the Gelug and Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism.In the evolution of Indian Buddhism, Vajradhara gradually displaced Samantabhadra, who remains the...

 or Samantabhadra
Samantabhadra
Samantabhadra , is a bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism associated with Buddhist practice and meditation. Together with Shakyamuni Buddha and fellow bodhisattva Manjusri he forms the Shakyamuni trinity in Buddhism...

 who reveals the Tantra in question directly to the Mahasiddha in a vision or whilst they dream or are in a trance
Trance
Trance denotes a variety of processes, ecstasy, techniques, modalities and states of mind, awareness and consciousness. Trance states may occur involuntarily and unbidden.The term trance may be associated with meditation, magic, flow, and prayer...

. This form of the deity is known as a sambhogakaya
Sambhogakaya
The Sambhogakāya is the second mode or aspect of the Trikaya. Sambhogakaya has also been translated as the "deity dimension", "body of bliss" or "astral body". Sambhogakaya refers to the luminous form of clear light the Buddhist practitioner attains upon the reaching the highest dimensions of...

 manifestation. The sadhana
Sadhana
Sādhanā literally "a means of accomplishing something" is ego-transcending spiritual practice. It includes a variety of disciplines in Hindu, Sikh , Buddhist and Muslim traditions that are followed in order to achieve various spiritual or ritual objectives.The historian N...

 of Dream Yoga
Dream yoga
Dream Yoga or Milam — the Yoga of the Dream State are a suite of advanced tantric sadhana of the entwined Mantrayana lineages of Dzogchen...

 as practiced in Dzogchen
Dzogchen
According to Tibetan Buddhism and Bön, Dzogchen is the natural, primordial state or natural condition of the mind, and a body of teachings and meditation practices aimed at realizing that condition. Dzogchen, or "Great Perfection", is a central teaching of the Nyingma school also practiced by...

 traditions such as the Kham, entered the Himalayan tantric tradition from the Mahasiddha, Ngagpa
Ngagpa
In Tibetan Buddhism and Bon, a Ngakpa is a non-monastic practitioner of Vajrayana, shamanism, Tibetan medicine, Tantra and Dzogchen amongst other traditions, disciplines and arts....

 and Bonpo. Dream Yoga or "Milam
Milam
Milam, can refer to:* Dream Yoga, .People:* J.B. Milam, a chief of the Cherokee Nation* William Milam, an American diplomat* Benjamin Milam, a Texas Revolution figure* Carl H...

" (T:rmi-lam; S:svapnadarśana), is one of the Six Yogas of Naropa
Six Yogas of Naropa
The Six Yogas of Nāropa , also called the six dharmas of Naropa and Naro's six doctrines , are a set of advanced Indo-Tibetan Buddhist tantric practices and a meditation sādhana compiled in and around the...

.

Four of the 84 Mahasiddhas are women. They are Kanakhala, the younger of the two Headless (Severed-Headed) Sisters, Lakshmincara The Mad Princess, Manibhadra, the Model Wife (the Happy Housewife) and Mekhala (c. 900) the elder of the two Headless (Severed-Headed) Sisters.
Von Schroeder (2006) states:

Some of the most important Tibetan Buddhist monuments to have survived the Cultural Revolution between 1966 and 1976 are located at Gyantse (rGyal rtse) in Tsang province of Central Tibet. For the study of Tibetan art, the temples of dPal ’khor chos sde, namely the dPal ’khor gTsug lag khang and dPal ’khor mchod rten, are for various reasons of great importance. The detailed information gained from the inscriptions with regard to the sculptors and painters summoned for the work testifies to the regional distribution of workshops in 15th-century Tsang. The sculptures and murals also document the extent to which a general consensus among the various traditions or schools had been achieved by the middle of that century. Of particular interest is the painted cycle of eighty-four mahåsiddhas, each with a name inscribed in Tibetan script. These paintings of mahasiddhas, or “great perfected ones endowed with supernatural faculties” (Tib. Grub chen), are located in the Lamdre chapel (Lam ’bras lha khang) on the second floor of the dPal ’khor gTsug lag khang. Bearing in mind that these murals are the most splendid extant painted Tibetan representations of mahasiddhas, one wonders why they have never been published as a whole cycle. Several scholars have at times intended to study these paintings, but it seems that difficulties of identification were the primary obstacle to publication. Although the life-stories of many of the eighty-four mahasiddhas still remain unidentified, the quality of the works nevertheless warrants a publication of these great murals. There seems to be some confusion about the number of mahåsiddhas painted on the walls of the Lam ’bras lha khang. This is due to the fact that the inscription below the paintings mentions eighty siddhas, whereas actually eighty-four were originally represented. [Note: According to the Myang chos ’byung, eighty-eight siddhas are represented. G. Tucci mentions eighty-four, whereas Erberto Lo Bue assumed that only eighty siddhas were shown, as stated in the inscription. Cf. Lo Bue, E. F. andRicca, F. 1990. Gyantse Revisited, pp. 411–32, pls. 147–60]. Of these eighty-four siddhas painted on the walls, two are entirely destroyed (G55, G63) and another retains only the lower section; the name has survived (G56). Thus, the inscribed Tibetan names of eighty-two mahasiddhas are known. Of the original eighty-six paintings, eighty-four represent a cycle of mahåsiddhas (G1–G84).


List of the 84 Mahasiddhas


In Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 there are 84 Mahasiddhas (the asterisk * denotes a female):
  1. Acinta or Acintapa, the 'Avaricious Hermit';
  2. Ajogi or Ayogipa, the 'Rejected Wastrel';
  3. Anangapa, Ananga, or Anangavajra;
  4. Aryadeva (or Karnaripa), the 'Lotus-Born' or the 'One-Eyed';
  5. Babhaha, the 'Free Lover';
  6. Bhadrapa, the 'Snob' or the 'Exclusive Brahmin';
  7. Bhandepa, the 'Envious God';
  8. Bhiksanapa, 'Siddha Two-Teeth';
  9. Bhusuku, Bhusukupada or Shantideva
    Shantideva
    Shantideva was an 8th-century Indian Buddhist scholar at Nalanda University and an adherent of the Madhyamaka philosophy of Nagarjuna....

    , the 'Lazy Monk' or the 'Idle Monk';
  10. Camaripa, the 'Divine Cobbler';
  11. Campaka or Campakapada, the 'Flower King';
  12. Carbaripa or Carpati
    Carpaţi
    Carpaţi can refer to:*Carpathian Mountains from Romania*Two residential districts in Satu Mare County, Romania:**Carpaţi I**Carpaţi II...

    , 'Who Turned People to Stone' or 'the Petrifyer';
  13. Catrapa, the 'Lucky Beggar';
  14. Caurangipa, the 'Limbless One' or 'the Dismembered Stepson';
  15. Celukapa, the 'Revitalized Drone';
  16. Darikapa, the 'Slave-King of the Temple Whore';
  17. Dengipa, the 'Courtesan's Brahmin Slave';
  18. Dhahulipa, the 'Blistered Rope-Maker';
  19. Dharmapa, the 'Eternal Student' (c.900 CE);
  20. Dhilipa, the 'Epicurean Merchant';
  21. Dhobipa, the 'Wise Washerman';
  22. Dhokaripa, the 'Bowl-Bearer';
  23. Dombipa, the 'Tiger Rider';
  24. Dukhandi, the 'Scavenger';
  25. Ghantapa, the 'Celibate Monk' or the 'Celibate Bell-Ringer';
  26. Gharbari or Gharbaripa, the Contrite Scholar (Skt., pandita);
  27. Godhuripa, the 'Bird Catcher';
  28. Goraksa, Gorakhnath or Goraksha, the 'Immortal Cowherd';
  29. Indrabhuti
    Indrabhuti
    Indrabhuti is a name attributed to a number of individuals that have become conflated in the esoteric Buddhadharma tradition of Mantrayana...

    , (teachings disseminated to Tilopa);
  30. Jalandhara, the 'Dakini's Chosen One';
  31. Jayananda, the 'Crow Master';
  32. Jogipa, the 'Siddha-Pilgrim';
  33. Kalapa, the 'Handsome Madman';
  34. Kamparipa, the 'Blacksmith';
  35. Kambala, the 'Yogin of the Black Blanket' (or the 'Black-Blanket-Clad Yogin');
  36. Kanakhala*, the younger of the two Headless Sisters or Severed-Headed Sisters;
  37. Kanhapa (or Krsnacarya), the 'Dark-Skinned One' (or the 'Dark Siddha');
  38. Kankana, the 'Siddha-King';
  39. Kankaripa, the 'Lovelorn Widower';
  40. Kantalipa, the 'Rag Picker' (or the 'Ragman-Tailor');
  41. Kapalapa, the 'Skull Bearer';
  42. Khadgapa, the 'Master Thief' (or the 'Fearless Thief');
  43. Kilakilapa, the 'Exiled Loud-Mouth';
  44. Kirapalapa (or Kilapa), the 'Repentant Conqueror';
  45. Kokilipa, the 'Complacent Aesthete';
  46. Kotalipa (or Tog tse pa, the 'Peasant Guru';
  47. Kucipa, the 'Goitre-Necked Yogin';
  48. Kukkuripa
    Kukkuripa
    Kukkuripa was a mahasiddha who lived in India. He became interested in tantric Buddhist practice, and chose the path of renunciation. During his travels, he found a starving dog in a bush. Moved by compassion, he fed the dog and took care of her. The two stayed together and eventually found a cave...

    , (late 9th/10th Century), the 'Dog Lover';
  49. Kumbharipa, 'the Potter';
  50. Laksminkara*, 'The Mad Princess';
  51. Lilapa, the 'Royal Hedonist';
  52. Lucikapa, the 'Escapist';
  53. Luipa
    Luipa
    Luipa or Luipada was one of the Siddhas or Siddhacharyas from eastern India. He was a poet and writer of a number of Buddhist texts.-Nomenclature and etymology:...

    , teachings disseminated to Tilopa
    Tilopa
    Tilopa was born in either Chativavo , Bengal or Jagora, Bengal in India. He was a tantric practitioner and mahasiddha. He developed the mahamudra method, a set of spiritual practices that greatly accelerates the process of attaining bodhi...

    ;
  54. Mahipa, the 'Greatest';
  55. Manibhadra*, the 'Model Wife' or the 'Happy Housewife';
  56. Medhini, the 'Tired Farmer';
  57. Mekhala*, the elder of the two Headless Sisters or Severed-Headed Sisters;
  58. Mekopa, the 'Wild-Eyed Guru' (or the 'Guru Dread-Stare');
  59. Minapa, the 'Fisherman';
  60. Nagabodhi, the 'Red-Horned Thief';
  61. Nagarjuna
    Nagarjuna
    Nāgārjuna was an important Buddhist teacher and philosopher. Along with his disciple Āryadeva, he is credited with founding the Mādhyamaka school of Mahāyāna Buddhism...

    , "Philosopher and Alchemist",
  62. Nalinapa, the 'Self-Reliant Prince';
  63. Nirgunapa, the 'Enlightened Moron';
  64. Pacaripa, the 'Pastrycook';
  65. Pankajapa, the 'Lotus-Born Brahmin';
  66. Putalipa, the 'Mendicant Icon-Bearer';
  67. Rahula, the 'Rejuvenated Dotard';
  68. Saraha
    Saraha
    Saraha , Sarahapa , or Sarahapāda , originally known as Rāhula or Rāhulbhadra, was the first sahajiya and one of the Mahasiddhas, and is considered to be one of the founders of Buddhist Vajrayana, and particularly of the Mahamudra tradition. His dohas are compiled in Dohakośa, the 'Treasury of...

    , the "Great Brahmin"
  69. Sakara or Saroruha;
  70. Samudra, the 'Pearl Diver';
  71. Santipa (or Ratnakarasanti), the 'Academic' (the 'Complacent Missionary') was a teacher of Brogmi;
  72. Sarvabhaksa, the 'Empty-Bellied Siddha' (or the 'Glutton');
  73. Savaripa, the 'Hunter', held to have incarnated in Drukpa Künleg;
  74. Syalipa, the 'Jackal Yogin';
  75. Tantepa, the 'Gambler';
  76. Tantipa or Tanti
    Tanti
    - Origin :The word tanti is derived from the Hindi word tant, which means a loom. They were traditionally weavers, and are one of the many communities found in South Asia, traditionally associated with this craft. According to their trafitions, they were created by the Hindu god Shiva from his tears...

    , the 'Senile Weaver';
  77. Thaganapa,
  78. Thaganapa, 'Master of the Lie' (or the 'Compulsive Liar');
  79. Tilopa
    Tilopa
    Tilopa was born in either Chativavo , Bengal or Jagora, Bengal in India. He was a tantric practitioner and mahasiddha. He developed the mahamudra method, a set of spiritual practices that greatly accelerates the process of attaining bodhi...

    , the "Great Renunciate"
  80. Udhilipa, the 'Flying Siddha' (the 'Bird-Man');
  81. Upanaha, the 'Bootmaker';
  82. Vinapa, the 'Music Lover', the 'Musician' (teachings disseminated to Indrabhuti
    Indrabhuti
    Indrabhuti is a name attributed to a number of individuals that have become conflated in the esoteric Buddhadharma tradition of Mantrayana...

    ) and Tilopa
    Tilopa
    Tilopa was born in either Chativavo , Bengal or Jagora, Bengal in India. He was a tantric practitioner and mahasiddha. He developed the mahamudra method, a set of spiritual practices that greatly accelerates the process of attaining bodhi...

    };
  83. Virupa, inspired the Sakya
    Sakya
    The Sakya school is one of four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the others being the Nyingma, Kagyu, and Gelug...

     lineage;
  84. Vyalipa, the 'Courtesan's Alchemist'.

Names of the 84 Mahasiddhas according to the Abhayadatta Sri Tradition


According to Ulrich von Schroeder the title of the above list as the Names of the 84 Mahasiddhas is misleading because Tibet has different traditions relating to the mahasiddhas. Among these traditions, two were particularly popular, namely the Abhayadatta Sri list and the so-called Vajrasana list. The number of mahasiddhas varies between eighty-four and eighty-eight, and only about thirty-six of the names occur in both lists. It is therefore also wrong to state that in Buddhism are 84 Mahasiddhas. The correct title should therefore be Names of the 84 Mahasiddhas according to the Abhayadatta Sri Tradition. It should also be clearly stated that only Tibetan translations of this Sanskrit text Caturasiti-siddha-pravrtti (CSP) or The Lives of the Eighty-four Siddhas seem to have survived. This means that many Sanskrit names of the Abhayadatta Sri tradition had to be reconstructed and perhaps not always correctly.

Identification of Mahasiddhas


According to Ulrich von Schroeder for the identification of Mahasiddhas inscribed with Tibetan names it is necessary to reconstruct the Indian names. This is a very difficult task because the Tibetans are very inconsistent with the transcription or translation of Indian personal names and therefore many different spellings do exist. When comparing the different Tibetan texts on mahasiddhas, we can see that the transcription or translation of the names of the Indian masters into the Tibetan language was inconsistent and confused. The most unsettling example is an illustrated Tibetan block print from Mongolia about the mahasiddhas, where the spellings in the text vary greatly from the captions of the xylographs. To quote a few examples: Kankaripa [Skt.] is named Kam ka li/Kangga la pa; Goraksa [Skt.]: Go ra kha/Gau raksi; Tilopa [Skt.]: Ti la blo ba/Ti lla pa; Dukhandi [Skt.]: Dha khan dhi pa/Dwa kanti; Dhobipa [Skt.]: Tom bhi pa/Dhu pi ra; Dengipa (CSP 31): Deng gi pa / Tinggi pa; Dhokaripa [Skt.]: Dho ka ra / Dhe ki ri pa; Carbaripa (Carpati) [Skt.]: Tsa ba ri pa/Tsa rwa ti pa; Sakara [Skt.]: Phu rtsas ga’/Ka ra pa; Putalipa [Skt.]: Pu ta la/Bu ta li, etc. In the same illustrated Tibetan text we find another inconsistency: the alternate use of transcription and translation. Examples are Nagarjuna [Skt.]: Na ga’i dzu na/Klu sgrub; Aryadeva (Karnaripa) [Skt.]: Ka na ri pa/’Phags pa lha; and Ghantapa [Skt.]: Ghanda pa/rDo rje dril bu pa, to name a few.

Concordance lists for the identifications of Mahasiddhas


For the identification of individual mahasiddhas the concordance lists published by Ulrich von Schroeder are useful tools for every scholar. The purpose of the concordance lists published in the appendices of his book is primarily for the reconstitution of the Indian names, regardless of whether they actually represent the same historical person or not. The index of his book contains more than 1000 different Tibetan spellings of mahasiddha names.

Other mahasiddhas


Tibetan masters of various lineages are often referred to as mahasiddhas. Among them are Marpa
Marpa Lotsawa
Marpa Lotsawa , sometimes known fully as Lhodak Marpa Choski Lodos or commonly as Marpa the Translator, was a Tibetan Buddhist teacher credited with the transmission of many Buddhist teachings to Tibet from India, including the teachings and lineages of Vajrayana and Mahamudra.-Biography:Born as...

, the Tibetan translator who brought Buddhist texts
Buddhist texts
Buddhist texts can be categorized in a number of ways. The Western terms "scripture" and "canonical" are applied to Buddhism in inconsistent ways by Western scholars: for example, one authority refers to "scriptures and other canonical texts", while another says that scriptures can be categorized...

 to Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

, and Milarepa
Milarepa
Jetsun Milarepa , is generally considered one of Tibet's most famous yogis and poets. He was a student of Marpa Lotsawa, and a major figure in the history of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism.- Life :...

. In Buddhist iconography
Iconography
Iconography is the branch of art history which studies the identification, description, and the interpretation of the content of images. The word iconography literally means "image writing", and comes from the Greek "image" and "to write". A secondary meaning is the painting of icons in the...

, Milarepa is often represented with his right hand cupped against his ear, to listen to the needs of all beings. Another interpretation of the imagery is that the teacher is engaged in a secret yogic exercise (e.g. see Lukhang
Lukhang
Lukhang , formally Zongdag Lukhang is the name of a secret temple of His Holiness Lozang Gyatso, 5th Dalai Lama...

). (Note: Marpa and Milarepa are not mahasiddhas in the historical sense, meaning they are not 2 of the 84 traditional mahasiddhas. However, this says nothing about their realization.) Lawapa
Lawapa
Lawapa or Lavapa was a figure in Tibetan Buddhism who flourished in the 10th century. He was also known as Kambala and Kambalapada . Lawapa, was a mahasiddha, or accomplished yogi, who travelled to Tsari...

 the progenitor of Dream Yoga
Dream yoga
Dream Yoga or Milam — the Yoga of the Dream State are a suite of advanced tantric sadhana of the entwined Mantrayana lineages of Dzogchen...

 sadhana was a mahasiddha.

See also



External links