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A Thirteenth Century Tibetan Hymn

to the Siddha Tilopa*

The name of the 10th century Bengali siddha Tillopada, variouslY'passing

through the idioms of Northern India into Tibetan, is attested in the
Tibetan hagiology (rnam thar) as Tillopa, Tillipa, Tellipa, Tilopa, Telopa,
Tailopa or Tailikapada. All of these forms are derived from the Sanskrit
tila (Tib. til), "sesame," and refer to his work as an extractor of sesame seed
oil. We are informed by Mar pa (1012-97) in his Te 10 pa'i 10 rgyus (foIAbA)
that, since he worked in thrashing sesame grains (til 'bru ba'i las byas),
Indians called him Tilopa, and Tibetans the Sesame-watcher (til bsrungs
Being the first human guru of all bKa' -brgyud-pa traditions, the
narrative of Tilopa's life usually opens the collections of hagiographies, or
"golden rosaries" (gser 'phreng) of the masters prominent in those lineages.
From the literary point of view, one of the oldest and most charming of
these accounts is the rle btsun chen po Tilli pa'i rnam par thar pa by rGyal
thang pa bDe chen rdo rje. According to the English "Preface" to the
photostat reproduction, the author was a disciple of the better known
rGod tshang pa mGon po rdo rje (1189-1258), "the last guru whose
biography appears in this collection." As for the manuscript, on the basis
of a list (p.619) of those who had it copied, the style of the miniatures,
and the dbu med script, it was probably composed in the decades spanning
the 15th and the 16th century.
As we read at fol.1b.1-2, the rnam thar is divided into two sections:
1. fols. lb.3-2b.l-rtsa ba'i tshig stan pa, the "original words," i.e. a
hymn of 13 verses of praise, in which all the circumstances and
events constituting the traditional material of the hagiographies
of Tilopa are summarized;
2. fols. 2b.1-22a.3-rtsa ba'i tshig 'grel pa stan pa, the "comment upon
the original words," arranged in 13 explanatory chapters, each
headed by one verse of the hymn.
May these verses be an occasion to catch a new glimpse of the life of that
great siddha.

•• I wish to thank my British friends Aidan Lalor and Abigail Griffiths for their
precious help in revising the archaistic style of the translation of the hymn.
Homage to the Glorious Guru Prajnabhadra!
In the opening invocation rGyal thang pa addresses Tilopa as Prajna-
bhadra (Shes rab bzang po), which is one his names. Other mystic appella-
tions (gsang mtshan) of him have been registered by rOo rje mdzes 'od
(13th cent.) in his Te 10 pa'i rnam thar (folA3b.1-2); they are Mahasukha-
vajra (hOe chen rdo rje), Nirvikalpavajra (rTog med rdo rje), Sukhacakra
(hOe ba'i 'khor 10), Kalapa, and Tilopa.

') 1
la) tilli fol.2b.2 : rje filii
Id) bla 1TIJl fol.1b.3 : rje btsun fol.2b.3

I 0 Buddha, Protector of beings, 0 Lord Tilopa

All Buddhas of the three times,
Being one [with Thee] in Body Speech and Mind,
o Guru, I devoutly praise Thee!
As to the title "Protector of beings" ('Gro ba'i mgon, Jagannatha), rGyal
thang pa (fo1.2bA-5) recalls the authority of the I)iika1'1Javamahiiyoginf-
tantrarajavahikatika (mKha' 'gro rgya mtsho'i rgyud 'grel, T6hoku no. 1419),
where the thrasher of sesame Prajftabhadra is hailed by Vajrayana yogins
as a protector of beings proceeded from the very being of Buddhas (sangs
rgyas nyid lJyon 'gro ba'i mgon). Then, a song of realization (rtogs pa'i mgur)
ascribed to Tilopa himself with an akin autocelebration is quoted (fo1.2b.5):
nga ni sangs rgyas rang ngo yin II nga ni 'gro ba'i mgon po yin II
rGyal thang pa (fols. 2b.7-3a-1) first refers to the words of the queen of
I;)akinls, VajravarahI (rOo rje phag mo), the consort of Cakrasaqwara here
called Bhagavati VajrayoginI (hCom ldan 'das ma rOo rje mal'byor ma),
or Oharmakaya-jftanagakinI (Chos sku Ye shes mkha ' gro ma). She addres-
ses Tilopa as the actual essence of past, future and present Buddhas;
therefore, as the actual essence of Vajrasattva (rdo ri! sems dpa'i ngo bo
nyid). Furthermore (foI.3a.2-3), Tilopa himself, while speaking to King
Sirphacandra (Seng ge zla ba), claimed to be one with the Body, Speech
and Mind of all Buddhas of the three times.

~ 1
2 0 Tilopa, as an absolute manifestation of the Buddhas,
[Thou art] in particular Cakrasarpvara himself:
Perfect on the basis of scriptures, oral instructions and reasoning.
o Sublime Incarnation, praise unto Thee!
The identification of Tilopa with Cakrasarpvara (bOe mchog 'khor 10) as
"particular existent" (dllgos) is proved, according to rGyal thang pa, by the
scriptural (lung rigs) and oral (man ngag) traditions, as well as by reasoning
(tshad ma). As for the scriptures (fol.3a.6), the Sambarodbhava-tantratflca (sdom
pa 'byung ba'i rgyud kyi rgya 'grel) is cited. Then (foI.3a.7-b.l), in the context
of oral tradition, rGyal thang pa mentions the words of Oharmakaya-
jnana4akini: she is said to have confessed to her retinue on Tilopa's
arrival to U44iyaQa that, since he was Cakrasarpvara, father of all Bud-
dhas of the three times, even thunder from the sky had no power on him.
A quotation from the siddha Lavapa follows as well (foI.3b.1-2), in which
Tilopa, being Cakrasarpvara, is pointed out as one without human teach-
ers. Again, Tilopa himself professed to a self-originated (svayambhu)
Buddha, spontaneously learned without any training, and Cakrasarpvara
as particular existent (foI.3b.2-3):
nga ni rang byung sangs rgyas yin II nga yis mlchyen pa mll slabs te II sgra tshad rig
pa rang rdol yin II nga ni bde md/og 'Ichor 10 dngos II
From the reasoning point of view, rGyal thang pa's argument (foI.3b.3-4)
runs as follows. Had Tilopa not been Cakrasarpvara (hOe rnchog), he
would not have been able to lead all the inhabitants of Zahor-as it has
been reported-to the Oakinis' land of the Great Bliss (rnklta' spyod bde
c1lengyi sa), i.e. to the self-liberation of the Sublime Bliss (bde ba mc1log =
bOe mchog).

3 0 Tilopa, as a sublime incarnation,
All sentient beings of this world,
By Thy great compassion [yielding] benefit and bliss,
Are assisted. 0 Lord, praise unto Thee!
Tilopa being an absolute manifestation of the Buddhas and, in particular,
of Cakrasaq\Vara, rGyal thang pa comments (f()l~i'l.1-3)that the spiritual
mansion of Tilopa was Akani~tha ('Og min)., i3ut he resolved, out of
compassion (snying rje), to establish all beings in a state of great benefit
and sublime bliss (phan pa chen po clang bde ba mchog): that is why he acted
as one able to assist (skyob pa'i nus pa clang lclan pa).

~'r". t~·r.t~·~OJl

l~~~·~r~·~~·r".t§~~·s~·OJ·~f~l dI

4b) dza go fol.1b.7 : dzii. ko fo1.4a.4

4c) bram ze gtsang mas fo1.2a.l : bram ze dbang mas fo1.4a.4

4 Sahalokadhatu; Jambudvipa;
India in particular; Jago is the place,
A region occupied by the Brahmaputra:
Being born in that sublime place, praise unto Thee!
As for the field of experience (zhing khams) and the place (gnas) to appear
for the benefit of beings, Tilopa chose this universe, the SahaIokadhatu
(Mi mjed 'jig rten), and the continent of Jambudvipa (Dzam bu'i gling)
where India is.
The toponym Jago (Tib. Dza go, otherwise written Dza ko, Dza ko, or
'Jha go) is obscure. According to Taranatha (bKa'babs bdun lclan: 45) Tilopa
was from Catighabo, or Catigharo, which is to be identified with the
modem Chittagong. The region where the Brahmaputra runs its course
would have been, as confirmed by almost all the hagiographic sources, the
Bengali district of Zahor (Torricelli & Naga 1995: 64-65).
We know from all rnam thars that Tilopa was born in a brahmaIJ.a family
and, on account of the photic phenomena following his birth, he was
given the name Prabhasvara (gSal 'op), "Radiance."
Regarding the year of his birth, we are informed by two later hagiogra-
phers, lHa btsun Rin chen mam rgyal (foI.3b) and dBang phyug rgyal
mtshan (foI.7a), both disciples of gTsang smyon He ru ka (1452-1507).
Although the latter did not mention any date in his Ti 10 pa'i rnam thar,
most probably they relied on their guru's authority in dating the birth of
Tilopa to 'the Earth-Male-Mouse year (sa phD byi ba'i 10). According to the
Tibetan computation of time and general historical considerations, 928 and
988 are both feasible. In any case, since the dating of Tilopa's time hinges
mainly on that of his disciple Naropa, the problem is to ascertain whether
Naropa's life-span was 956-1040 (RP. Singh 1967; Snellgrove-Skoropski
1979-80, VoI.II: 90; Wylie 1982) or 1016-1100 (Guenther 1963: viii-ix). If we
accept, as I do, the former hypothesis, Tilopa should have been born in
After his birth, brahmat:\a sooth-sayers (bram ze mtshan mkhas) and skilled
astrologers (rtsi mkhan mkhas) emphasized the spiritual dignity of the
infant and, analogous with the Lives of Buddha, his parents resolved to
seclude him from the outer world.

l~~~·ar~~~·ar~·&JF~ '~~&J~l
l~~' C3~~'z::rSJ~'&J'
lWC3'~&J'~aJ'~~~'[~' ~'~~~'l
l~aJ:t:Ja'['C3~~'~~'aJ'C3f~l Y 1
Sa) Ion fol.2a.1 : bzhes fol.Sa.7
Sb) lung bstan fol.2a.l : lung stan fol.Sa.7; btsos fol.2a.2 : tsos fol.Sa.7

5 When you were but one year old, a Oakinl

commanded: "Herd cows and buffalo!"
Parents, country, and so forth were revealed.
o Incarnated Lord, praise unto Thee!
rGyal thang pa (foI.5b.3-4) tells that a Oakinl, in the form of a woman
with the 32 marks of ugliness (bud med mi sdug pa'i mtshan sum bcu rtsa
gnyis dang ldan pa), appeared first to Tilopa's mother while she was with
him, in order to dissuade the parents from uselessly attempting to protect
him from danger and death. Then, she ordered that he be allowed to go
out into the world, study and herd buffalo. Further instructions from the
Oakinl were yet to come.
Some time later, when the young PrabhasvaraITilopa was herding
buffalo, the Oakini appeared again. She revealed to him that his spiritual
fatherland was UQQiyana (Ur gyan), his father was Cakrasatpvara, his
mother was Vajravarahi, she was his sister Sukhada (hDe ster ma). The
Oakini also revealed that his true name was Paftcapat)i (pan tsa ka). She
then typified his herd of buffalo as the "buffalo of experience" in the
forest of the Bodhi-tree. Accordingly, the ]f\anaQaldni's oral transmission
(kan:zatantra) beyond words (fo1.6aA-5)would come:
byang chub shing gi nags tshal du II nyams myong ma he legs par skyongs If snyan
brgyud yi ge med pa'i don II ye shes mkha' 'gros ston par 'gyur II sprul pa'i skyes
mchog e ma ho II
l~'"'L\J~';Jf~'~ ~~. ~~. ~~.~~l
l;Jf~ 'f~'~'
$~'~~~';Ji'~'~'" 1
l~·~~aJ·~~·Q~·~~~~·aJ·t::If~l-S 1
6 Then, once commanded by the Oakini,
Bestowed with her consecration and sustaining grace,
To heavenly UQQiyana, sublime place: there
Thou went thanks to magic powers. Praise be!
We are told by rGyal thang pa (fols. 6a.6-7b.l) that the Oakini appeared
a third time, impelling PrabhasvaraITilopa to go to the mansion of the
Oakinis, in UQQiyana. She imparted to him the consecration (abhi$eka)and
the sustaining grace (adhi$tiina) for such a deed. He had also to be pro-
vided with three magical objects (rdzas) by his father: a crystal ladder (shel
gyi Teraspa) to ascend the manor, a jewel bridge (rin po che'i zam pa) to pass
over its moat, and a stem of burdock (bye bzungs) to open the door. So
magically armed (rdzu 'phrul dang ldan pa), he reached the matl~la-like
sacred realm of UQQiyana. He entered it, and passed three barriers
guarded by three hierarchies of Oakinis corresponding to the experience
structures (sku, kiiya) of Nirmat)a (sprul sku za byed kyi mkha' 'gro ma),
Sambhoga (longs sku Jig rten pa'i mkha' 'gro ma) and Dharmakaya (chossku
ye sheskyi mkha' 'gro ma) respectively. Once in the presence of Bhagavati,
mother of the Buddhas of the three times, PrabhasvaraITilopa showed no
respect to her, thus provoking the anger of the Oakinis' retinue (fol.7b.2-
3). But Bhagavatt Dharmakaya-jfianaQakini soothed them. As rGyal thang
pa has already told us (fo1.3a.7-b.l),she identified him as the father of the
Buddhas of the three times, as Cakrasaqwara i.e. Heruka (fol.7bA-5):
'di ni dus gsum sangs rgyas kyi II p1u:zbgyur bde mchog 'khor 10 yin II 'di la mkha'
la rdo rje yi II ser ba phab kyang gzhom mi nus II ces gsung nas I nga ni dus gsum
sangs rgyas thams cad kyi II yum gyur beam ldan 'd/ls ma yin II 'di ni dus gsum
sangs rgyas thams cad kyi II yab tu gyur pa he TUko.yin no II 'di la dus gsum sangs
rgyas kyi II rdo rje'i ser ba phab kyang gzhom mi nus II

~ ~3J'~~.~~. r~· ~3J~'~~Z:-'1
lr~· ~3J~·~~·$·C3')~·rr:l\·~:I\
l~{~·3J~~·~~z:-~·~')·a.t·C3f,)l v 1
7 Lady BhagavatI Yogini
Showed three symbols and, granted with the doctrine,
Thou became master of all teaching,
And sang an adamantine song. Praise unto Thee!
In the explanatory chapter of this cardinal verse of the hymn, rGyal thang
pa relates (fo1.8a.2) that Prabhiisvara/filopa wanted the Doctrine (chos,
dhanna). But, since even a correct view (Ita ba, dr$tz), meditative attention
to it (sgom pa, bhavand), action (spyod pa, carya) and fruition ('bras bu, phala)
are vain in themselves, he was looking for a Doctrine, the mere hearing
of which could open the doors of the Buddha experience (thos pa tsam gyis
sangs rgya ba'i chos). BhagavatI agreed to grant such a Doctrine, on the
condition that Tilopa recognize three symbols (brdil). These three are better
depict('d in other hagiographies. Mar pa (fo1.6b.4) describes them as the
drawing of a sacred image for the Body (sku tsa ka 10, a script for the
Speech (gsung yig 'bru), and a sacred attribute for the Mind (thugs phyag
mtshan). More detailed is the description in gTsangsmyon He ru ka
(fol.12a.4), IHa btsun pa (fo1.9a.6) and dBan~ phyug rgyal mtshan
(fol.12b.4). The sacred image would have been that of a copulating
CakrasaIJ\vara; the script, the seven-syllable mantra of Cakrasatl\vara, and
the sacred attribute, a five-pointed vajra:
sku bde mchog than skyes yab yum gyi rtsa gcig dang I gsung rdo rje chos byung
la bai du rya'i yi ge bdun ba bris pa gcig dang I thUgs bai du rya'i rdb rje rtse lnga
pa gcig roams bstan I
rGyal thang pa (fo1.8a.4)tells that, since Tilopa claimed to know the three
symbols for Body, Speech and Mind, he requested the Wish-Fulfilling
Gems (cintama1;O of tantric transmission, Maturihg Path (vipakamarga), and
Liberation Path (muktimarga):
sku lealing lea'ikor mdzod nas II rgyud pa yid bzhin nor bu zhu II gsung yig 'bru'i
kor mdzod nas II smin lam yid bzhin nor bu zhu II phyag mtshlln thugs kyi kor
mdzod nas II grol lam yid bzhin nor bu zhu II
At the I)akinis' objection that no transmission was possible without any
previous ritual commitment (dam tshig, sal1Ulya), Tilopa protested that he
had been fully instructed by the I)akini Sukhada before coming to UQQi-
yana. They stated he had been deceived by Mara (bDud), but Tilopa
disproved this and uttered a song which, for its philosophical relevance,
is worth rendering in full (fo1.8a.7 8b.2):
"The secret word of the I)akini, the mind pledge (sambara); what dispels
the darkness of nescience (avidya), the light of transcending awareness
(jfiana); self-awareness (svasa1]'lvitti, svasa1]'lvedanli), self-originated, self-
irradiating: such is the key of the self-Originated commitment I have!"
mkha' 'gro'i gsang tshig thugs kyi sdom II ma rig mun sel ye shes sgron II rang rig
rang byung rang gsal gyi II dam tshig rang byung lde mig yod II
"Nothing is conceived any longer; in the innate Dharmakaya of the being
of thinking activity (citta), the Great Seal (11Ulhlimudra) is the precept: such
is the key of the spontaneous realization I have!"
gang yang skye ba med pa yi II sems kyi skye med chos sku ru II lung stan phyag
rgya chen po yi II lhun grUb nyams kyi lde mig yod II
"A mind where there is no mental elaboration (a11Ulnasiklira), cleared of the
least particle of the dust of recollection (smrtz); self-awareness, self-
originated, self-irradiating: such is the key of the spontaneous realization
I have!"
dmigs med yid la mi byed cing II dran pa rdul tsam med pa yi II rang nyid rang
byung rang gsal gyi II lhun grub nyams kyi lde mig yod II
Since the truth of such words could not have been inspired by Mara, but
only by a I)akini (bdud min mkha' 'gro 11UlTU bden), rGyal thang pa (fo1.8b.3-
4) tells that Vajravarahi's retinue acclaimed Tilopa as their father Bhaga-
van, Cakrasaqwara, Sublime Bliss and Protector of Beings, and gave him
the threefold cinta11Ultli, Le. the Doctrines contained in the oral transmis-
sion (snyan rgyud kyi chos).
Eventually, when about to leave UQQiyana, referring to himself as
Prajnabhadra, he sang "1, like a bird in the sky, Prajnabhadra am going!"
nga ni mkha la bya bzhin du II thogs med shes rab bzang po 'gro II
When the I)akinis begged him to remain with them, he replied (fo1.8b.6-7)
that there was a connection with three disciples he had to take care of:
they were the well-known Naropa of a royal family (rgyal rigs), the
brahmat:\a (bram ze'i rigs) Riripa, and the noble (rje rigs) Kasoripa. Then he
sang "0 multitude of J;)akinls, listen! Naropa, Riripa and Kasoripa: for the
benefit of these sons, as a yogin, I am going to the monastery of
SiromaQi." (foI.9a.1):
mk1ul' 'gro'i tshogs nmms gsan II nil ro I ri ri I leaso ri II bu nmms don du rnaI 'byor
bdag II gtsug gi nor bu'i dgon par 'gro II

While on his way back, a ninefold teaching (chosskor dgu) was granted to
~m by the voices of invisible J;)akinls floating in the space (foI.9a.2-3):
"(1) Commitments: look at the mirror of your own thinking activity
(svacitta). (2) Action: strike the water with a sword. (3) Maturing and
Liberation [Paths): loosen the knots of thinking activity. (4) The substance
of commitments is to be warmed by the sun of clear cognition. (5) Intrinsic
awareness (vidyii): look at the torch of transcending awareness. (6) Circum-
ambulate the wheels (cakra) of the [coiling) energy channels (nal;li) and
winds (vayu) [through their) eyelets. (7) Sameness of taste (samarasa):look
at the outer mirror. (8) Self-originated: keep the Great Seal. (9) Great Bliss
(mahasukha): hold the jewel of the Speech."
dam tshig rang sems me long !tos II spyod pa chu la ral gri brgyob II smin grol sems
1cyirgya mdud ching II dam rdZllS rtogs pa'i nyi ma 'de II rig pa ye shessgron ma !tos
II rtsa rlung dra mig 'khor 10 skor II ro snyoms phyi'i me long !tos II rang byung
phyag rgya chen po chongs II bde chen gsung gi rin chen bzung II

In response, Tilopa sang the following adamantine song (rdo rje'i mgur)

"In the temple of the illusory body, such is the secret breath of formless
J;)akinls: once a seal of words beyond expression has been put upon it, the
bird of luminous thinking activity would, flyaway!"
sgyu ma Ius kyi 'gan rdo lar II Ius med mk1ul' 'gro'i gsang dbugs te II rjod med ngag
gi lcags bcug nas II 'od gsal sems ni bya 'phur 'gro II

1~['~a;c:.'~c:.'~ar~e.aJ' ~~1
1~9~'it~'~~'Q's~'aJ'z::1f~1 L 1
Ba) ke ri me dpung fol.1b.4: kyi ri me spung fo1.9a.5
Bb) bzhugs fol.1b.4: byon fo1.9a.5
Bc) 'cfumg fol.1b.4: om fo1.9a.6; 'ial fol.1b.4: mjal fo1.9a.6

8 Burning-Pyres Hill:
Dwelling in that great charnel ground,
Once in the presence of Vajradhara,
Thou became one with him. Praise unto thee!
The verse alludes to the meditation process during which, having pro-
jected. oneself in the visualized form of the commitment being (samaya-
sattva, dJ:zmtshig gi sems dpa) of a deity (i~tadevattI, yi dJ:zm),the actual being
(jfltInasattva, ye shes kyi sems dpa) merges with it (Tucd 1949: 107-110).
According to the teachings of supreme tantras (anuttarayoga-tantra, mal
'byor bla med kyi rgyud), Tilopa generated himself into the samayasattva of
Vajradhara. Then, he was pervaded by the timeless essence of that being
of awareness, and became one with him.

ca 1
9b) dang fo1,2a.5: 'ang fo1.9b.7; karrm pa fo1.2a.5: dkar rrm ba fo1,9b.7
9c) ma tang ki fo1.2a.5: ma tang gi fols. 9b.7-10a.l
9d) b1cha'bzhi fo1.2a.5: bkha' bzhin fo1,10a.l

9 For the joy of other beings,

Oeti.gipa, I<an:taripa,
MatailgI and Lavapa:
Thou relied on the[se] gurus of.Four Lores. Praise be!
rGyal thang pa (fols. 9b.7-13b.4) gives a detailed report of these four
transmission lineages (blea' babs bzhl), which is possible to schematize as
1. VajrapiiJ)i (Phyag na rdo rje) -+ Saraha -+ Lllipa -+ Darikapa -+
2. Sumati Samantabhadn (Su ma ti Kun tu bzang mo) -+ Thang 10
pa -+ Shing 10 pa -+ Kart)aripa;
3. Ratnamati (Blo gros rin chen) -+ Nagarjuna (KIu sgrub, alias
Advayavajra, gNyis med rdo rje, foI.12b.4) -+ MatailgIpa;
4. VajrapiiJ)i -+ Oombi Heruka -+ Lavapa.
The instructions relevant to each lineage are connected with (I) the
Developing (skyed rim, utpannakrama) and (2) the Fulfilment (rdzogs rim,
sampannakrama) Stages of the tantric practice:
1.1. Catu/.lpitha (rDo rje gdan bzllz);
1.2. the Transference ('pho ba, sarrzkrantz) and the Entering
Corpses (grong jug, parakiiyapraveda);
2.1. Mahamiiya;
2.2. the Dream (rmi lam, svapna) and the Illusory Body (sgyu
Ius, mayiiJalya);
3.1. Cakrasarrtvara(bDe mchog);
3.2. the Great Seal and the Union of the Two into One (zung
jug, yuganaddha);
4.1. Hevajra (dGes pa rdo rje);
4.2. the Radiant Light ('od gsal, prabhasvara) and the Mystic
Heat (gtum mo, CQtzt;liili).
As already observed (NaIanda Translation Committee 1986: xxxii-xxxiii;
Torricelli 1993),Tilopan hagiology is fairly incoherent regarding these four
lineages and their content, but we will find a valuable hint to reconcile
some of the discrepancies, at least in terms of lineages, with dBang phyug
rgyal mtshan. In fact, in his rnam thar (fols. 16a.I-16b), two different lines
of transmission are outlined, ordinary and extraordinary ones, where the
former (thun mongs kyi bka' babs) are relevant with rGyal thang pa's
1. Vajrapat:li ~ Saraha ~ Luipa ~ Darikapa ~ I;:>engipa:mahiimudra;
2. Ratnamati ~ Nagarjuna ~ Matailgipa: pitr-tantra;
3. Sumati Samantabhadn ~ Shing 10 pa ~ Thang 10 pa ~
l<a.n)aripa: matr-tantra;
4. Viriipa (Bhir wa pa) ~ I;:>ombiHeruka ~ Bhi na sa ~ Lavapa ..•
Indrabhuti: advaita-tantra and prabhdsvara.
Such distinction could suggest tlle ordinary transmissions to have been
the "historical" ones, while the latter were received by Tilopa "spiritually,"
whether by deeper insight or because of an acquired esoteric connection.

?o 1

10 For others' benefit,

The yogin and the heretic,
The magician and the barmaid:
Thy power brought them to discipline. Praise unto Thee!


11 In Thy many guises,

The law of cause and effect, virtue and sin, Thou revealed;
Thou converted the butcher and the sorcerer,
Working for the benefit of the world. [To Thee] Lord praise be!
Verses 10 and 11 refer to the conversion of eight people-seven men and
one woman-owing to their meeting with Tilopa: a yogin (fols. 13b.5-
14b.6), a tfrthika (fols. 14b.6-15a.7), a maker of illusions (fols. 15a.7-16a.5),
and a barmaid (foI.16a.5-b.7) in the former; a Lokayatika (rGyang phan pa)
denying any empirical basis to the law of karman (fols. 17a.4-18aA), a
butcher (foI.18a.7-b.3), a singer, not mentioned in the verse (fols. 18b.3-
19a.l), and a powerful sorcerer (foI.19a.l-b.l) in the latter. According to the
stereotypes of the hagiographic anecdotic, each episode develops itself
into a confrontation. Each confrontation ends with Tilopa's triumph and
the conversion of the other. Each conversion is followed by the bestowal
of instructions to the new disciple.
Apart from the hagiography composed by IHa btsun Rin chen mam
rgyal which is interspersed with some long songs by Tilopa (rnam mgur),
rGyal thang pa's and the other rnam thars usually preserve only few lines
of those instructions. However, a full record of them can be found in the
tantric section (rgyud 'grel) of the bsTati 'gyur, under the title Acintya-
mahdmudra (Phyag rgya chen po bsam gyis mi khyab pa): Vol.pu of the sNar
thang (fols. 139b.1-148b.2) and Peking (fols. 145aA-155a.l; Otani no.4635;
TT Vo1.82, pp.38-42) editions, and Vol.zhi of the sDe dge (fols. 245b.3-
253a.5; Tl'lhoku nos. 2305-2312) and Co ne (245b.3-253a.5) editions.

ltr ~'t·~t.Tl·Q·~·~l:3~·~~~l

l$CJ'ar~rr~'l:3o~'~~. ~l::.'~CJl
l~CJ'Qa'l'l:3~~'~'t'CJ'l:3~'tl ?~ 1
12 Sometimes thou appeared as a monk;
Knowing grammar and logic without any study
Thou converted and liberated the King and his retinue.
o Incarnated Lord, praise unto Thee!
Some rnam thars put the monastic experience of Tilopa even before his
journey to U,,",,"iyana.As for the monastery, it is worth mentioning what
P. Niyogi (1980: 68-69), writing of the great PilJ.,,"avihara, or Pa1J.,,"ita
vihara, "in the city of Catighabo (i.e. modem Chittagong) in Bhatpgala,"
that "Tillopada, a contemporary of Mahipala I of Bengal [... ], a siddha, was
associated with this vihara." We are told by Mar pa (foIAa.7-b.4) that
Tilopa was dwelling by a templtl (lha khang) where an uncle of his was
accustomed to lecture the Prajnaparamitii. There a Oakini instructed and
exhorted him to go out into the world. Mar pa goes on to depict Tilopa's
new life (fo1.4b.4):at night, inviting and accompanying men to the prosti-
tute Bharima's and, during the day, thrashing sesame grains. Consistent
with Mar pa, Taranatha's bKa' babs bdun ldan (chap.IV) informs us that
Tilopa joined the daughter of a sesame trasher and gave up his monastic
life. As a sesame trasher himself, Tilopa went to many countries: among
them, U,,",,"iyana,where he received instructions from the Oilinis.
Lines 12b c allude to three episodes where the other main dramatis
persona is a King Sirphacandra (Seng ge zla ba). These episodes mark
Tilopa's progressive transfiguration. In the first (fols. 19b.3-20a.5), he
reveals himself as an emanation of Cakrasarpvara at the physical level (bde
mchog 'khor lo'i sprul par bstan pa). In the second (foI.20a.5-bA), he appears
as Cakrasatpvara himself (bde mchog 'khor 10 dngos su bstan pa). In the third
which usually closes the rnam thars (fols. 20bA-21a.2), Tilopa shows him-
self as the synthesis of the bodies of all Buddhas of the three times (dus
gsum gyi sangs rgyas thams cadkyi sku 'dus pa), simultaneously taking many
divine aspects: Cakrasatpvara for the Body, Hevajra for the Speech,
Mahamaya for the Mind, Guhyasamaja (gSang ba ' dus pa) for the senses,
~lJ.ayamari (sGra rgyud nag po) for the limbs, Vajrabhairava (rDo rje
'jigs byed) for the subtler parts of the body.
~'~:I\' ~~. ~9r::.~·~·
lQ.E.Q.·~ ~~~ ~l
13 0 Great Lord Tilopa,
Having shown Thy complete liberation to be immeasurable,
As a Rainbow Body, Thou departed into space.
For [these] deeds, I devoutly give praise unto Thee!

dBang phyug rgyal mtshan, rle btsun Ti lo'i rnam par thar pa, in rle btsun Ti 10pa dang
Nil ro pa'i rnam thar rin po che, fols. 1b-68a. Photostat: Bka' brgyud gser 'phren rgyas
pa. A reproduction of an incomplete manuscript of a collection of the lives of the
sua:essive masters· of the 'Brug-pa Dkar-brgyud-pa tradition reflecting the tradition of
Rdzon-khul in zails-dkar established by Grub-dban Nag-dban-tshe-rin, reproduced from
a manuscript preserved in zans-dkar, Darjeeling 1982, VoU, pp.9-97.
rDo rje mdzes 'od, rle Te 10 pa'i rnam thar, in bKa' brgyud kyi rnam thar chen mo rin po
che'i gter mdzod dgos 'dod 'byung gnas, fols. 27a-43b. Photostat: Bka'-brgyud kyi
rnam-thar chen-mo rin-po-che'i gter-mdzod dgos-'dod 'byun-gnas. A collection of lives
of the successive masters in the transmission lineage of the 'Bri-gun Bka'-brgyud-pa
tradition in the Nepal-Tibet borderlands by Rdo-rje-mdzes-'od, reproduced from a rare
manuscript from Limi Dzing Pegyeling, n.p. 1985, pp.53-86. English translation:
Gyaltsen & Huckenpahler 1990.
Guenther, H. V., The Life and Teachings of Nilropa, London, 1963.
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Treasury, New York, 1990.
rGyal thang pa bDe chen rdo rje, rle btsun chen po Tilli pa'i rnam thar, in dKar brgyud
gser 'phreng, fols. 1a-22a. Photostat: Dkar-brgyud gser-'phren. A thirteenth century
collection of verse hagiographies of the sua:esSion of eminent masters of the 'Brug-pa
Dkar-brgyud-pa tradition by Rgyal-than-pa Bde-chen-rdo-rje, reproduced from a rare
manuscript from the library of the Hemis Monastery by the 8th Khams-sprul
Don-brgyud-fli-ma, Tashijong, Palampur, 1973, pp.16-57.
IHa btsun Rin chen rnam rgyal, Sangs rgyas thams cad kyi rnam 'phrul rje btsun Ti 10
pa'i rnam mgur, fols. la-24a. Photostat: Rare Dkar-brgyud-pa texts from Himachal
Pradesh. A collection of biographical works and philosophical treatises, reproduced from
prints from ancient western Tibetan blocks by Urgyan Dorje, New Delhi, 1976,
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mchog mkJUJ'-'grosfll1n-rgyud (Ras-chun sfll1n-rgyud). A manuscript collection of orally
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representing the yig-cha compiled by Byan-chub-bzan-po, reproduced from a rare manu-
script in the library of Apho Rimpoche, New Delhi, 1973, VoU, pp. 8-28. English
translation: Torricelli & Naga 1995.
Nalanda Translation Committee, The Life of Marpa the Translator. Seeing Accomplishes
All by Tsang Nyiin Heruka, Boston, 1986.
Niyogi, P., Buddhism in Ancient Bengal, Calcutta, 1980.
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1967, pp.117-129.
Snellgrove, D.L., T. Skorupski, The Cultural Heritage of Ladakh, 2 vols., Warminster,
Taranatha, bKa'-babs bdun-ldan. English translation: D. Templeman, Tiiraniitha's
bKa'-babs-bdun-ldan. The Seven Instruction Lineages by Jo-nang-Tiiraniitha, Dharam-
Tohoku = A Complete Catalogue of the Tibetan Buddhist Canons (Bka1J-1;gyurand Bstan-
1;gyur), H. Vi, M. Suzuki, Y. Kanakura, T. Tada eds., Sendai, 1934.
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Torricelli, F., "Chos drug and bKa'-babs bzhi. Material for a Biography of the Siddha
Tilopa," East and West, XLIII, 1993, pp.185-198.
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gTsang smyon He ru ka Sangs rgyas rgyal mtshan, Ti 10pa'i rnam thar, in bDe mchog
mkha' 'gro snyan rgyud, Ga: bDe mchog mkha' 'gro snyan rgyud Tcyigzhung 'breI sa
gcad dang sbrags pa, fols. 9b-20a. Photostat: bDe-mchog mkha'~'gro snyan-rgyud (Ras-
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to the Venerable Dookpa Thosay Rinpoche, VoU-The Biography of Gtsang-smyon by
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1971, pp.22-43.
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