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Buddhadharma : Winter 2017
Buddhadharma: The PracTiTioner’s QuarTerly 43 in TranslaTion The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa: A New Translation by Christopher Stagg TranslaTor’s InTroducTIon Milarepa (ca 1051–ca 1135), Tibet’s great singing yogi, is argu- ably the most renowned figure in Tibetan culture, the quintessential Tibetan folk hero. Milarepa committed grave crimes at an early age, then later had a radical change of heart. He sought out and followed a spiritual master, finally attaining the ultimate state of awakening within a single lifetime. Though Milarepa’s own practice tradition was the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, followers and practitio- ners of all the Buddhist lineages in Tibet reflect and meditate upon Milarepa’s life story and songs. Copies of Milarepa’s Life and Songs can be found in nearly every Tibetan-language or dharma library. The version of Milarepa’s life story and songs most widely read today was compiled by Tsangnyön Heruka (1452–1507) approxi- mately 350 years following the protagonist’s death. Tsangnyön composed the work in two parts intended to be read consecutively. The first is a shorter volume recounting the overall narrative of Mil- arepa’s life first published with the full title The Life of the Great Lord of Yogis, the Jetsun Milarepa, Demonstrating the Path of Lib- eration and Omniscience. It now has at least three widely circulated Milarepa (detail) Tibet, 18th century Ground mineral pigment on cotton Rubin Museum of Art Gift of Shelley and Donald Rubin C2006.66.460 (HAR 921)