Reading the Biographical Corpus of Tibet's Great Saint Milarepa
Tibetan biographers began writing Jetsun Milarepa's (1052-1135) life story shortly after his death, initiating a literary tradition that turned the poet and saint into a model of virtuosic Buddhist practice throughout the Himalayan world. Andrew Quintman traces this history and its innovations in narrative and aesthetic representation across four centuries, culminating in a detailed analysis of the genre's most famous example, composed in 1488 by Tsangnyön Heruka, or the "Madman of Western Tibet." Quintman imagines these works as a kind of physical body supplanting the yogin's corporeal relics.
The most important study yet published about the literary tradition surrounding the greatest single work in Tibetan literature. It does more than any previous study to give historical access to the life (and lives) of Tibet's most revered and influential yogin and poet.
Roger R. Jackson, Carleton College
This book studies the making of perhaps the greatest masterpiece in Tibetan history. Quintman shows how a bare account of events is transformed into a human story that touches the lives of both its author and its avid readers, making a signal contribution to the study of literature and its place in religion.
Janet Gyatso, Harvard Divinity School
AcknowledgmentsIntroduction1. Earliest Sources: A Biographical Birth2. Proto-Lives: Formations of a Skeletal Biography3. Biographical Compendia: Lives Made Flesh4. A New Standard: Tsangnyön Heruka's Life and Songs of Milarepa5. The Yogin and the Madman: A Life Brought to Life6. ConclusionsEpilogue: Mila Comes Alive!List of AbbreviationsAppendix 1: Gampopa's Life of Jetsün MilaAppendix 2: ColophonsAppendix 3: Outlines and ConcordancesNotesBibliographyIndex
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