Buddhist Masters of Enchantment: The Lives and Legends of the Mahasiddhas

Overview

A beautifully illustrated collection of the stories of the Mahasiddhas, the magicians and saints who founded the lineages of the Tantric tradition.
A highly readable translation of legends from the Tibetan oral tradition.

Recounts stories of the masters who embodied various paradigms for psychic and spiritual awakening.

There is no better illustration of the nature of Tantric Buddhism than the lives of the ...

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Overview

A beautifully illustrated collection of the stories of the Mahasiddhas, the magicians and saints who founded the lineages of the Tantric tradition.
A highly readable translation of legends from the Tibetan oral tradition.

Recounts stories of the masters who embodied various paradigms for psychic and spiritual awakening.

There is no better illustration of the nature of Tantric Buddhism than the lives of the masters who founded it. Extraordinary men and women who attained enlightenment and magical powers by disregarding convention and penetrating to the core of life, the Mahasiddhas show us a way through human suffering into a spontaneous and free state of oneness with the divine.

Keith Dowman's highly readable translation of these legends from Tibetan oral tradition is enhanced by the beautifully realized illustrations of the Tantric saints by artist Robert Beer.

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Editorial Reviews

Small Press
"These are extraordinary, riveting tales. . . a book of high merit and high adventure, a marvel of inspired creation. . . stories through whose cosmic transparency shines the illimitable Buddha-nature."
Frank Olinsky
"Robert Beer is a master. His own story of being rescued by Tibetan art is almost as amazing as the stories of the Mahasiddhas."
From the Publisher
"These are extraordinary, riveting tales. . . a book of high merit and high adventure, a marvel of inspired creation. . . stories through whose cosmic transparency shines the illimitable Buddha-nature."

"Robert Beer is a master. His own story of being rescued by Tibetan art is almost as amazing as the stories of the Mahasiddhas."

Small Press
These are extraordinary, riveting tales . . . a book of high merit and high adventure, a marvel of inspired creation . . . stories through whose cosmic transparency shines the illimitable Buddha-nature.
Frank Olinsky
Robert Beer is a master. His own story of being rescued by Tibetan art is almost as amazing as the stories of the Mahasiddhas.
Tricycle Magazine
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780892817849
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Publication date: 6/28/1998
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Keith Dowman has spent 30 years traveling widely in India and Nepal and is an initiate of the Nyingmapa school of Tibetan Buddhism. He is the author of The Divine Madman and Power Places of Kathmandu. Robert Beer studied Tibetan thangka painting in India and Nepal with Khamtrul Rinpoche, the greatest living thangka painter of his time, and with Jampa-la, the state painter of Tibet. He currently lives with his family in Oxford.

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Table of Contents

Buddhist Masters of Enchantment
The Lives and Legends of the Mahasiddhas
Autobiographical Note by the Illustrator
Introduction
The Mahasiddhas
Minapa, The Bengali Jonah
Luipa, The Fish-Gut Eater
Virupa, Master of Dakinis
Dombipa, The Tiger Rider
Saraha, The Great Brahmin
Lilapa, The Royal Hedonist
Savaripa, The Hunter
Goraksa, The Immortal Cowherd
Tantipa, The Senile Weaver
Khadgapa, The Master Thief
Caurangipa, The Limbless One
Kankaripa, The Lovelorn Widower
Aryadeva, The Lotus-Born
Nagarjuna, Philosopher and Alchemist
Vinapa, The Music Lover
Thaganapa, Master of the Lie
Camaripa, The Divine Cobbler
Syalipa, The Jackal Yogin
Naropa, The Dauntless Disciple
Tilopa, The Great Renunciate
Santipa, The Academic
Mekopa, The Wild-Eyed Guru
Kambala, The Yogin of the Black Blanket
Vyalipa, The Courtesan's Alchemist
Tantepa, The Gambler
Kukkuripa, The Dog Lover
Kanhapa, The Dark-Skinned One
Acinta, The Avaricious Hermit
Bhadrapa, The Snob
Kalapa, The Handsome Madman
Bhusuku (Santideva), The Lazy Monk
Kotalipa, The Peasant Guru
Indrabhuti, The Enlightened King
Jalandhara, The Chosen One
Bhiksanapa, Siddha Two-Teeth
Ghantapa, The Celibate Monk
Campaka, The Flower King
Kumbharipa, the Potter
Godhuripa, The Bird Catcher
Kapalapa, The Skull Bearer
Carbaripa (Carpati), The Sidda Who Turned People to Stone
Kantalipa, The Rag Picker
Jayananda,The Crow Master
Dhilipa, The Epicure
Darikapa, Slave-King of the Temple Whore
Udhipipa, The Flying Siddha
Laksminkara, The Mad Princess
Nirgunapa, The Enlightened Moron
Mekhala and Kanakhala, The Headless Sisters
Kirapalapa (Kilapa), The Repentant Conqueror
Nagabodhi, The Red Horned Thief
Saravabhaksa, The Empty-Bellied Siddha
Manibhadra, The Model Wife
Saroruha, The Lotus Child

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2003

    Ancient Indian superheroes, anyone?

    This book is supposed to be a translation of a certain work dating back many centuries, written by this guy named Abhayadatta and relating the biographies of several dozen 'mahasiddhas' -- people who acquired all sorts of fancy superpowers after following various 'spiritual' practices called 'sadhanas'. I honestly don't know what to make of this whole 'mahasiddha' business. The original teachings of the Buddha were concerned with one thing and one thing alone: suffering, and how to get rid of it. The Buddha just couldn't care less about acquiring all sorts of fancy powers (though he acknowledged the possibility of acquiring them) -- he was supposed to have even condemned them. It just makes me angry in this respect how people in later times had to add all sorts of new fancy stuff to the Buddha's original teachings. If you want to assert that the Buddha DID in fact teach such things as what the 'mahasiddhas' practiced, you need to explain why you don't find such things in, say, Thai or Sri Lankan Buddhism. Or if you want to say that people of later times discovered special methods of enlightenment the Buddha didn't know (!!), fine, show me an enlightened 'mahasiddha', or a 'sadhana' I can try, or some articles from respected journals documenting the findings of various scientists or scholars regarding the reality of the 'mahasiddhas' and the efficacy of their 'sadhanas'. Dowman offers none of these. And even if you just want to treat these biographies as fairy tales or fantasy stories, or read them for inspiration, they fail to deliver. Most of them follow a very standard formula: someone has a personal problem, someone else comes along and offers him/her a 'sadhana', s/he practises it diligently, and lo and behold s/he is now a 'mahasiddha', and after years of selfless service to all sentient beings s/he finally leaves the world and enters... no, not Nirvana (!!), but this place called the 'Paradise of the Dakinis'. And you also find repeated use of stock phrases like 'kingdoms with 84,000 households'. It's almost like a children's essay-writing primer for writing your own 'mahasiddha' story. And you honestly end up wondering if these biographies were not all made up by dear uncle Abhayadatta himself. Turning to Robert Beer's illustrations, most of which are airbrush work in full color, they are all very fine and some of them are in fact quite beautiful as well (I like the Nagarjuna portrait very much), but I honestly find most of the 'mahasiddhas' depicted in the illustrations to be positively repulsive to look at. It would seem that good-looking 'mahasiddhas' are in very short supply indeed. To make things worse, one comes across pictures of stark naked females showing you their privates or copulating with men in the air, or cutting off their own heads (!!) with blood spurting everywhere. What a book. Mahasiddhas? I'd rather go for DC superheroes. Ultimately the only thing this book is good for is learning about some of the incomprehensible peculiarities of Indo-Tibetan culture.

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