Milarepa's life story has captivated and inspired practitioners for centuries. As the embodiment of the unrelenting devotion and compassion required to genuinely traverse the path in a single life, Milarepa is widely regarded as Tibet’s greatest yogi, famous for his strict mountain retreats, beautiful songs of realization, and devotion to his teacher, Marpa.
Here Milarepa is depicted in a relaxed posture.
After training in dark magic and exacting revenge on his abusive family, Milarepa became filled with remorse and traveled to Lhodrak in search of a true Dharma teacher. He spent over six years as Marpa’s servant, accomplishing without question his teacher’s commands. After many trials, Marpa empowered Milarepa with the transmissions, instructions, and empowerments of Tantra, in addition to the lineage of Mahamudra. Thus, the Mahamudra lineage was passed down from Tilopa, Naropa, Maitripa, and Marpa to Milarepa. After practicing in caves and retreat huts for over twelve years, Milarepa attained the complete state of enlightenment. He then began to wander and teach, spreading his songs of realization throughout Tibet.
Milarepa was not born as an incarnation of a past master. Rather, without any miraculous events, scholarly accomplishments, or yogic insights he was a son born to a family of worldly concerns. His youth was filled with struggles, doubts, and inner conflicts. Despite his troubled past, Milarepa serves as an inspiring example of the process of developing from a regular person to a genuine spiritual master, replete with all the signs of realization.
In hisHomage to Milarepa,Nāropa sings:
In the darkness of the lands to the North
Is one just like a snow-capped peak in the rising sun,
He who is known as Töpa Ga, 'Joyous to Hear,'
To that great being, I pay homage!