This book traces the literary transformations of the life story of Jetsun Milarepa, Tibet's eleventh-century Lord of Yogins, from its fragmentary origins to the standard version published nearly 400 years later. Milarepa's life is a narrative that has become ingrained within the Tibetan religious and cultural landscape. The principal themes associated with his life story—purification of past misdeeds, faith and devotion to the guru, ardor in meditation, and the possibility of attaining liberation in a single lifetime—have had a profound impact on the development of Buddhism across the region. This book examines the various forms in which Milarepa's life story has been reimagined and rewritten, together with the broader historical and religious conditions that allowed for such forms of literary production. It focuses on works written in the period up to 1488, including a version of Milarepa's life and collected songs written by the iconoclastic tantric master Tsangnyön Heruka, the self-proclaimed “Madman of Western Tibet”.
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