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  • Milarepa Sings Again: Tsangnyön Heruka’s ‘Songs with Parting Instructions’

    Stefan Larsson

    Chapter from the book: Larsson S. & af Edholm K. 2021. Songs on the Road: Wandering Religious Poets in India, Tibet, and Japan.

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    Although Tibetan Buddhism is often associated with monks and canonical texts, other types of Buddhist practitioners and other kinds of texts are also of importance. Before the 5th Dalai Lama came to power in 1642 and Tibetan Buddhism became increasingly systematized and monastically oriented, Tibetan charismatic yogins composed and printed religious poetry (mgur) and hagiographies (rnam thar) to promote a non-monastic ideal with remarkable success. They modelled their lifestyle upon Indian Tantric siddhas and on the Tibetan poet-saint Milarepa (c. 1040–1123). Like them, they adopted a wandering lifestyle and used religious poetry as a means for spreading their message. By expressing themselves through poetry, which they also composed, these yogins could present Buddhism in an innovative way, adapted to the needs of their audience. Taking the ‘songs with parting instructions’ (’gro chos kyi mgur) of the ‘crazy yogin’ (rnal ’byor smyon pa) Tsangnyön Heruka (1452–1507) as the point of departure, this chapter explores how these colourful figures attempted to vitalize Buddhism in Tibet by creating an alternative religious infrastructure outside of the monastery.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Larsson, S. 2021. Milarepa Sings Again: Tsangnyön Heruka’s ‘Songs with Parting Instructions’. In: Larsson S. & af Edholm K (eds.), Songs on the Road. Stockholm: Stockholm University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16993/bbi.d

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Published on June 22, 2021


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