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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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Formations of a Skeletal Biography

(p.56) 2 Proto-Lives
The Yogin and the Madman

Andrew Quintman

Columbia University Press

This chapter considers a form of life writing known as “proto-Life/Songs,” signifying the basic literary structure that influenced the writing of Jetsun Milarepa's life story for centuries to come. Milarepa's earliest biography, established by the yogin's own disciples, had achieved a life of its own within a single generation as students of his direct pupils began to adapt, expand, and promulgate accounts of his religious career. The spread of the yogin's teachings in the century or so following his death created a need for new forms of literature to authorize those transmissions within specific communities and institutions. Among these are the so-called “golden rosary collections” to which many of the proto-texts belong. This chapter discusses six proto-Life/Songs narratives that span several centuries and are drawn from various sources: The Kagyu Rosary, Bank of Blessings, Lama Zhang's Life of Lama Milarepa, Dönmo Ripa's Life of Jetsün Milarepa, Sangyé Bum's Life of Milarepa, and Gyaltangpa's King of Jetsüns.

Keywords:   life writing, proto-Life/Songs, Jetsun Milarepa, life story, biography, yogin, golden rosary collections, The Kagyu Rosary, Bank of Blessings, Life of Lama Milarepa

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