Article

Marpa

Andrew Quintman

in Buddhism

ISBN: 9780195393521
Published online April 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195393521-0070
Marpa

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Marpa Chokyi Lodro (Mar pa Chos kyi blo gros, b. c. 1012–d. 1097), a renowned lay Buddhist master and translator of Sanskrit texts, is recognized as the first Tibetan founder of the Kagyü sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Traditional biographies often describe him as a reincarnation of the Indian adept Ḍombī Heruka. Marpa was born after a long period of political fragmentation in Tibet, during which time Buddhist institutions had largely disappeared. As a young boy, Marpa is said to have shown great skill in learning Sanskrit and Indian vernacular languages. He later sought Buddhist instruction in India—an arduous journey he famously made three times during his life. He first spent a number of years in Nepal, where he trained under the teachers Chitherpa and Paiṇḍapa, who further encouraged him to seek out the master who would become his primary guru, the great Indian adept Nāropa (b. c. 956–d. 1041). While some contemporary scholarship has called his meeting with Nāropa into question, traditional accounts describe that Marpa then studied with the adept at the forest retreat of Pullahari and received the initiations, instructions, and texts for a series of major tantric systems, especially those that would become known as the Six Doctrines of Nāropa (Nā ro chos drug). From the Indian adept Maitrīpa (b. c. 1002–d. 1077), Marpa received instructions on the meditation system of mahāmudrā and the tradition of dohā, or spiritual songs of realization. Marpa eventually returned to Tibet, where he married, established a home as a landowner and farmer, and began his career as a teacher and translator. Marpa transmitted his lineage to a number of disciples, but he is perhaps best known in Tibetan religious histories as the guru of the renowned yogin and poet Milarépa (Mi la ras pa, b. c. 1040–1123).

Article.  2269 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism ; Tibetan Buddhism ; Zen Buddhism

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