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The Yogin and the MadmanReading the Biographical Corpus of Tibet's Great Saint Milarepa$
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Andrew Quintman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231164153

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231164153.001.0001

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Earliest Sources

Earliest Sources

A Biographical Birth

(p.32) 1 Earliest Sources
The Yogin and the Madman

Andrew Quintman

Columbia University Press

This chapter focuses on the earliest biographical fragments and narratives recording Jetsun Milarepa's life; in some cases these writings are referred to as a “life” or biography. The chapter describes a biographical birth that took place at the moment of the yogin's death and identifies the elements that would begin to form a rudimentary life story. The chapter first considers a purported autobiographical voice associated mainly with the standard version of Tsangnyön Heruka, but also found in earlier works. It then examines the works attributed to two of Milarepa's earliest biographers, Ngendzong Repa and Gampopa, from their own personal experiences. The first examples of narrative fragments also address the relationship between life writing and the recording and transmission of specific doctrinal cycles of tantric instructions. The chapter concludes with a discussion of what might be called a “rhetoric of orality”.

Keywords:   biography, Jetsun Milarepa, yogin, life story, Tsangnyön Heruka, Ngendzong Repa, Gampopa, narrative fragments, life writing, rhetoric of orality

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