Their life stories represent what they have accomplished and what they did for others upon gaining realization from their practice. The lives of these 84 mahasiddhas have a similar pattern… the siddha-to-be experiences some sort of preliminary discontent or a life-crisis leading to the appearance of the guru. Their personal encounter with a spiritual teacher turns out to be a turning point in their lives. The siddhas-to-be are given an initiation by their respective gurus, and the guru will skilfully give them instructions. This is usually something that they can put to immediate use.
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Tantric techniques :. Mahasiddhas were practitioners of yoga and tantra , or tantrika s. Their historical influence throughout the Indian subcontinent and the Himalayas was vast and they reached mythic proportions as codified in their songs of realization and hagiographies , or namtars , many of which have been preserved in the Tibetan Buddhist canon.
The Mahasiddhas are the founders of Vajrayana traditions and lineages such as Dzogchen and Mahamudra. Robert Thurman explains the symbiotic relationship between Tantric Buddhist communities and the Buddhist universities such as Nalanda 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".
Inverse astronauts, the psychonauts voyaged deep into "inner space", encountering and conquering angels and demons in the depths of their subconscious minds. The exact genealogy and historical dates of the Mahasiddhas are contentious. Dowman holds that they all lived between and CE. Abhayadatta Sri is an Indian scholar of the 12th century who is claimed to have recorded the hagiographies of the eighty-four siddhas in a text known as The History of the Eighty-four Mahasiddhas 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.
Reynolds states that the mahasiddha tradition "evolved in North India in the early Medieval Period 3—13 cen. 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.
In complete contrast to the settled monastic establishment of their day, which concentrated the Buddhist intelligenzia [ sic. The charnel ground conveys how great mahasiddhas in the Nath and Vajrayana traditions such as Tilopa — and Gorakshanath fl. 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.
Tilopa attained realization as a grinder of sesame seeds and a procurer for a prominent prostitute. These circumstances were charnel grounds because they were despised in Indian society and the siddhas were viewed as failures, marginal and defiled. In his study of the Hevajra Tantra, David Snellgrove outlines the typical tantric siddha or yogi. After experiencing the consummation of enlightenment in the embrace of a female consort:.
Thereafter the pupil is free to pursue the practice of strenuous meditation and physical self-control, and after five years or more he will perhaps succeed. He receives the five symbolic adornments, crown, ear-rings, necklace, bracelets, girdle, signs of his success. These he wears on those set occasions, the eighth or fifteenth day of the dark-fortnight, when perfected yogins and yoginis come together, to consume the flesh and wine, to sing and dance, and realize their consummation of bliss.
He is free from all conventions and wanders as he pleases, knowing no distinction between friend or foe, clean or unclean, good or evil. 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. 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.
Local folk tradition refers to a number of icons and sacred sites to the eighty-four Mahasiddha at Bharmour formerly known as Brahmapura in the Chaurasi complex. 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. A number of archaeological sacred sites require iconographic analysis in the Chaurasi complex in Chamba, Himachal Pradesh.
Although it might be hagiographical accretion and folk lore, it is said that in the reign of Sahil Varman :. Only Tibetan translations of this Sanskrit text seem to have survived. 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.
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. By convention there are eighty-four 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 they are often depicted together as a matched set in works such as thangka 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. Some of the methods and practices of the Mahasiddha were codified in Buddhist scriptures known as Tantras.
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 or Samantabhadra who reveals the Tantra in question directly to the Mahasiddha in a vision or whilst they dream or are in a trance.
This form of the deity is known as a sambhogakaya manifestation. The sadhana of Dream Yoga as practiced in Dzogchen traditions such as the Kham, entered the Himalayan tantric tradition from the Mahasiddha, Ngagpa and Bonpo. Four of the eighty-four Mahasiddhas are women.
Some of the most important Tibetan Buddhist monuments to have survived the Cultural Revolution between and are located at Gyantse rGyal rtse in Tsang province of Central Tibet. 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. 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.
This is due to the fact that the inscription below the paintings mentions eighty siddhas , whereas actually eighty-four were originally represented. Tucci mentions eighty-four, whereas Erberto Lo Bue assumed that only eighty siddhas were shown, as stated in the inscription. Lo Bue, E. Gyantse Revisited, pp.
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 G Thus, the inscribed Tibetan names of eighty-two mahasiddhas are known.
In Vajrayana Buddhism there are eighty-four Mahasiddhas. The list in alphabetical order below includes their name and their epithet. An asterisk after their name denotes a female Mahasiddha. 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.
This means that many Sanskrit names of the Abhayadatta Sri tradition had to be reconstructed and perhaps not always correctly. 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. In the same illustrated Tibetan text we find another inconsistency: the alternate use of transcription and translation. Examples are Nagarjuna [Skt. 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 different Tibetan spellings of mahasiddha names. Tibetan masters of various lineages are often referred to as mahasiddhas.
In Buddhist iconography , 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. 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 the progenitor of Dream Yoga sadhana was a mahasiddha.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Someone who embodies and cultivates the "siddhi of perfection". Tantrism Mahasiddha Sahaja. Buddhahood Bodhisattva Kalachakra.
Ganachakra Ullambana Puja. Tantric texts. Symbols and tools. Ordination and transmission. Pointing-out instruction Samaya Vajracharya.
English: the Vajra Holder, Enlightened One. The primordial buddha, personification of the dharmakaya - truth body of enlightenment and progenitor of the Vajrayana system of Buddhism. The New Sarma Schools believe that Vajradhara is the secret, or inner, form of Shakyamuni Buddha and the combined essence of all the buddhas of the ten directions and three periods of time gathered as one. It is from Vajradhara that such meditational deities as Guhyasamaja , Shri Hevajra and Chakrasamvara arise. According to the Nyingmapa School, Vajradhara is an activity emanation of buddha Samantabhadra. A common theme in Tibetan painting is to depict in one composition the Buddha Vajradhara surrounded by the Eighty-four Indian Adepts mahasiddhas.
Quick links. You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post. Last edited by kalden yungdrung on Thu Jul 09, am, edited 1 time in total. The best meditation is no meditation. I have a few questions about this Tantric Deity. What is the Adi Buddha from the Nath? Mutsug Marro KY -.
The Legends of the 84 Mahasiddhas
The evolution of Tantra into the dominant spiritual power in Indian life coincided with the growth of a terrible, destructive menace on India's north-west frontier. At the beginning of the eighth century, when Arab power was supreme from Morocco to Sindh, in India the numerous inheritors of imperial Gupta glory were engaged in internecine conflicts, and Indian culture was in a state of decay. The old dispensation was vitiated, society taking refuge in inflexible caste rules and regulations; and as form and procedure governed social life, so ritual dominated religion and scholasticism the academics. There was no vital, united society to meet the threat of the fanatical Islamic armies who wreaked burning, pillage and massacre, and who were a new kind of enemy, compelling Islam or the sword. As a stream of Buddhist refugees brought tales of the destruction of Buddhist Central Asia to India, Tantra was increasing its influence, particularly in Oddiyana, the front-line state, and also in eastern India, where a new power, the Buddhist Pala Dynasty, was emerging.
Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? Offering a modern translation of "The Legends of the Eighty-four Mahasiddhas," a 12th-century Tibetan text, translator Keith Dowman shares stories of the spiritual adventurers, rebellious saints, and enlightened tantric masters of ancient India known as "siddhas. Counted among the greatest of the siddhas are a washerman, a cowboy, a thief, a conman, a gambler, and a whore, all extraordinary men and women who attained the goal of their meditations, as well as enlightenment and magical powers, by disregarding convention and penetrating to the core of life. Recounting the magical and "crazy" deeds of the mahasiddhas, such as walking through walls, flying, talking with birds, and turning people to stone, Dowman reveals the human qualities of the tantric masters and the vital elements of the siddhas' philosophy of nonduality and emptiness. Richly illustrated with paintings of the tantric saints by artist Robert Beer, these stories of the mahasiddhas show us a way through human suffering into a spontaneous and free state of oneness with the divine. Read more Read less.