A New Standard
A New Standard
Tsangnyön Heruka’s Life and Songs of Milarepa
This chapter examines the standard versions of the Life and Songs of Milarepa in the context of the life of their author, Tsangnyön Heruka, during the late fifteenth century. It first provides an overview of Tsangnyön's own early life and his role in defining a new form of Buddhism in Tibet—that of the religious madman, the nyönpa. It then considers the influences and inspirations that led to Tsangnyön's writing of Jetsun Milarepa's life story. It also discusses the traditional descriptions of Tsangnyön's activities in reimagining and recrafting the biographical texts as well as their execution, production, and distribution, including his use of woodblock printing and his commissioning of related painted and ritual materials. The chapter concludes by reflecting on Tsangnyön's contributions to the biographical tradition while also reframing the yogin's portrait, in part by reinventing the genre of life writing.
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