Peter Skilling is a special lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, and an honorary associate, Department of Indian SubContinental Studies, University of Sydney, Australia. Until his retirement in 2017, he was a professor of the French School of Asian Studies (EFEO) based in Bangkok. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in the humanities by Chulalongkorn University in 2020. He is an honorary member of the Siam Society, Bangkok, and in 2017 he was elected an honorary fellow of the Asiatic Society of Mumbai. He has been visiting professor at Harvard University (2000), the University of California at Berkeley (2001), Oxford University (2002), Sydney University (2009), Soka University (2009), and Savitribai Phule Pune University (2016–17). He has published widely on the Buddhist literature, history, and epigraphy of South and Southeast Asia.
“In this volume, prose and verse join beautifully to celebrate the Dharma. The selections show how rich, how diverse, and how wonderful the Kangyur is—and how little we know about it.” —from the foreword by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse
“A stimulating and delightfully readable book . . . Peter Skilling is probably the most versatile scholar of Buddhology today, equally conversant with philosophy, history, ritual, doctrine, art, and iconography. He has selected from the Tibetan twenty-five sutras that were lost in India long ago, which he has translated into elegant English. His introduction and first two appendixes together form a most lucid and up-to-date discussion of Buddhist thought that should be compulsory reading in any field of Buddhology.” —Pratapaditya Pal, author of Quest for Coomaraswamy: A Life in the Arts
“Peter Skilling’s selection of Buddhist sutras comes with an informative introduction, a meticulous exploration of sources, and an attractive and reliable rendering in English. Textual discoveries and expositions of this quality are a substantial contribution to Buddhist studies.” —Romila Thapar, professor emerita of history, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
“A magnificent scholar and a magnificent human being, Peter Skilling has always been an example for us all, for his unbounded erudition combined with an unflinching modesty. This precious volume will serve as a reference and an inspiration to present and future generations.”
—Matthieu Ricard, Shechen Monastery, Nepal
QUESTIONING THE BUDDHA
A Selection of Twenty-Five Sutras
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In the forty-five years the Buddha spent traversing northern India, he shared his wisdom with everyone from beggar women to kings. Hundreds of his discourses, or sutras, were preserved by his followers, first orally and later in written form. Around thirteen hundred years after the Buddha’s enlightenment, the sutras were translated into the Tibetan language, where they have been preserved ever since. To date, only a fraction of these have been made available in English. Questioning the Buddha brings the reader directly into the literary treasure of the Tibetan canon with thoroughly annotated translations of twenty-five different sutras. Often these texts, many translated here in full for the first time, begin with an encounter in which someone poses a question to the Buddha.
Peter Skilling, an authority on early Buddhist epigraphy, archaeology, and textual traditions, has been immersed in the Buddhist scriptures of diverse traditions for nearly half a century. In this volume, he draws on his deep and extensive research to render these ancient teachings in a fresh and precise language. His introduction is a fascinating history of the Buddhist sutras, including the transition from oral to written form, the rise of Mahayana literature, the transmission to Tibet, the development of canons, and a look at some of the pioneers of sutra study in the West.
Sutras included in this volume are: Four Dharmas Not to Be Taken for Granted; The Benefits of Giving; The Exposition of Four Dharmas; The Merit of the Three Refuges; Four Dharmas Never to Be Abandoned; Advice for Bodhisatva Dharmaketu; Advice for Bodhisatva Jayamati; Sūtra Comparing Bodhicitta to Gold; Bodhisatva Maitreya’s Question about the Gift of the Dharma; Four Summaries of the Dharma Spoken to the Nāga King Sāgara; The Stanza of Dependent Arising; The Heart Formula of Dependent Arising; Prediction of the Boy Brahmaśrī’s Future Buddhahood; Kṣemavatī’s Prediction to Future Buddhahood; The City Beggar Woman; An Old Woman’s Questions about Birth and Death; The Questions of Śrīmatī the Brahman Woman; The Questions of the Laywoman Gaṅgottarā; Brahmā Sahāṃpati’s Question; Advice to King Prasenajit; Passage to the Next Life; Instructions for King Bimbisāra; Instructions for King Udayana; Buddhas as Rare as a Grain of Golden Sand; and Predictions on the Eve of the Great Final Nirvāṇa.
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- 680 pages
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Histories of Tibet
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The thirty-four essays in this volume follow the particular interests of Leonard van der Kuijp, whose groundbreaking research in Tibetan intellectual and cultural history imbued his students with an abiding sense of curiosity and discovery.
As part of Leonard van der Kuijp’s research in Tibetan history, he patiently and expertly revealed treasures of the Tibetan intellectual tradition in fourteenth-century Tsang, seventeenth-century Lhasa, or eighteenth-century Amdo. The thirty-four essays in this volume follow the particular interests of the honoree and express the comprehensive research that his international cohort has engaged in alongside his generous tutelage over the course of forty years. His inquisitiveness can be experienced through every one of his writings and can be found as well in these new essays in intellectual, cultural, and institutional history by Christopher Beckwith, Yael Bentor, the late Hubert Decleer, Franz-Karl Ehrhard, Jörg Heimbel and David Jackson, Nathan Hill, Isabelle Henrion-Dourcy, Matthew Kapstein, Todd Lewis, Kurtis Schaeffer, Peter Schwieger, Gray Tuttle, Pieter Verhagen, Michael Witzel, and others.
Coming soon! This book will be available in June 2023. Enter your name and email below to be notified when this book is available for purchase.
Senior scholars and former students celebrate the life and work of Janet Gyatso, professor of Buddhist studies at Harvard Divinity School. Inspired by her contributions to life writing, Tibetan medicine, gender studies, and more, these offerings make a rich feast for readers interested in Tibetan and Buddhist studies.
Janet Gyatso has made substantial, influential, and incredibly valuable contributions to the fields of Buddhist and Tibetan studies. Her paradigm-shifting approach is to take a topic, an idea, a text, a term—often one that had long been taken for granted or overlooked—and turn it inside out, to radically reimagine the kinds of questions that might be asked and what the answers might reveal. The twenty-nine essays in this volume, authored by colleagues and former students—many of whom are now also colleagues—represent the breadth of her interests and influence, and the care that she has taken in training the current generation of scholars of Tibet and Buddhism. They are organized into five sections: Women, Gender, and Sexuality; Biography and Autobiography; the Nyingma Imaginaire; Literature, Art, and Poetry; and Early Modernity: Human and Nonhuman Worlds. Contributions include José Cabezón on the incorporation of a Buddhist rock carving in Central Asian culture; Matthew Kapstein on the memoirs of an ambivalent reincarnated lama; Willa Blythe Baker on Jikmé Lingpa’s theory of absence; Andrew Quintman on a found poem expressing worldly sadness on the forced closure of a monastery; and Padma ’tsho on Tibetan women’s advocacy for full female ordination. These and the many other chapters, each fascinating reads in their own right, together offer a glowing tribute to a scholar who indelibly changed the way we think about Buddhism, its history, and its literature.
The Two Truths in Indian Buddhism
In this clear and exemplary approach to one of the core philosophical subjects of the Buddhist tradition, Sonam Thakchoe guides readers through the range of Indian Buddhist philosophical schools and how each approaches the two truths: ultimate truth and conventional truth. In this presentation of philosophical systems, the detailed argumentations and analyses of each school’s approach to the two truths are presented to weave together the unique contributions each school brings to supporting and strengthening a Buddhist practitioner’s understanding of reality. The insights of the great scholars of Indian Buddhist history—such as Vasubandhu, Bhāvaviveka, Kamalaśīla, Dharmakīrti, Nāgārjuna, and Candrakīrti—are illuminated in this volume, with profound implications to the practice and views of modern practitioners and scholars.
The Vaibhāṣika, Saūtrāntika, Yogācāra, and Madhyamaka schools provide a framework for a continuum of philosophical debate that is far more interrelated, and internally complex, than one may presume. Yet we see how the schools build upon the findings of one another, leading from a belief in the realism of external phenomena to the relinquishment of any commitment to realism of either external or internal realities. This fascinating movement through philosophical approaches leads us to see how the conventional and ultimate—dependent arising and emptiness—are twin aspects of a single reality.
Daughters of the Buddha
A testimony to the invaluable contributions made by the women who were direct disciples of the Buddha—and a source of inspiration to Buddhist women today.
It’s a common perception that the earliest textual records don’t contain many, if any, teachings by the Buddha’s female disciples; yet, this is not the case. In fact, the earliest discourses record a range of teachings from Buddhist women, lay and monastic. Unfortunately their important contributions have so far not received the attention they deserve.
In Daughters of the Buddha, esteemed scholar-monk Bhikkhu Anālayo examines the accounts of the first female disciples in the canonical scripture, taking the reader back to the earliest period in the history of Buddhism that can still be accessed today. He dedicates each of the twenty-one chapters in the volume to an individual and remarkable woman, sharing her particular insights and teachings with the reader. Both nuns and laywomen are featured in these pages, and their diversity of voices and richness of thought will serve as instruction and encouragement for modern scholars and practitioners alike.
The Source of Supreme Bliss
The Source of Supreme Bliss contains the first English translations of important commentaries on the Highest Yoga Tantra system of the Heruka Chakrasamvara five deity practice.
Included is a lucid, practical, and deeply profound explanation of the generation stage by Ngulchu Dharmabhadra. This is followed by an extremely rare and profound commentary by the First Panchen Lama Losang Chökyi Gyaltsen on the completion stage, along with a commentary on how to perform a proper Chakrasamvara retreat. The second half of the book comprises translations of the ritual texts associated with the commentaries.
Indispensable for anyone who undertakes this practice, The Source of Supreme Bliss will also provide rich and profound insights for those interested in Highest Yoga Tantra.
The Dechen Ling Practice Series from Wisdom Publications is committed to furthering the vision of David Gonsalez (Venerable Losang Tsering) and the Dechen Ling Press of bringing the sacred literature of Tibet to the West by making available many never-before-translated texts.
This is the epic story of an international rescue effort to preserve a culture’s literary history.
Originally a Mormon from Utah, E. Gene Smith, founder of the Buddhist Digital Resource Center, became the unlikely mastermind behind an international effort to rescue, preserve, digitize, and provide free access to the vast Tibetan Buddhist canon, many volumes of which had been lost or destroyed during China’s Cultural Revolution.
Digital Dharma is a stunning visual experience offering a behind-the-scenes look into this unprecedented mission. Through hundreds of photographs taken during Smith’s trip to deliver drives containing the digitized volumes to remote monasteries in South Asia, you’ll gain extraordinary and intimate access to life inside Buddhist monasteries, to the rituals of Tibetan Buddhism, and to the insights of some of the world’s leading lamas and lineage holders. Throughout the journey, you’ll meet monks, local publishers, scholars, and dignitaries involved in the preservation movement to which Smith dedicated his life. With the accompanying historical and cultural background, you’ll develop a deeper and more personal understanding of Tibetan Buddhism and of the achievement of preserving and disseminating its sacred canon.
Gene Smith’s legacy lives on in the organization he founded in 1999, the Buddhist Digital Resource Center. BDRC’s founding mission was to digitally preserve the entirety of Tibetan Buddhist literature in order to secure it from destruction. In 2015, it expanded its mission to include all Buddhist traditions. More than twenty years later, BDRC has digitized and archived millions of pages of Tibetan, Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese, Khmer and Newari literature. BDRC is dedicated to seeking out, preserving, documenting, and disseminating Buddhist literature. With its text preservation programs, free online library, digital tools for researchers, and hard drive distribution programs, BDRC provides lamas, scholars, translators, Buddhist practitioners, and the general public with access to an unparalleled collection of Buddhist texts.
A History of Buddhism in India and Tibet
The first complete English translation of an important thirteenth-century history that sheds light on Tibet’s imperial past and on the transmission of the Buddhadharma into Central Asia.
Translated here into English for the first time in its entirety by perhaps the foremost living expert on Tibetan histories, this engaging translation, along with its ample annotation, is a must-have for serious readers and scholars of Buddhist studies. In this history, discover the first extensive biography of the Buddha composed in the Tibetan language, along with an account of subsequent Indian Buddhist history, particularly the writing of Buddhist treatises. The story then moves to Tibet, with an emphasis on the rulers of the Tibetan empire, the translators of Buddhist texts, and the lineages that transmitted doctrine and meditative practice. It concludes with an account of the demise of the monastic order followed by a look forward to the advent of the future Buddha Maitreya.
The composer of this remarkably ecumenical Buddhist history compiled some of the most important early sources on the Tibetan imperial period preserved in his time, and his work may be the best record we have of those sources today. Dan Martin has rendered the richness of this history an accessible part of the world’s literary heritage.
Ratnakīrti’s Proof of Momentariness by Positive Correlation (Kṣaṇabhaṇgasiddhi Anvayātmikā)
The Kṣaṇabhaṇgasiddhi is a masterpiece of skillful reasoning by the eleventh-century Indian Buddhist philosopher Ratnakīrti. This renowned scholar taught at the great Buddhist University of Vikramaśīla and was a master of almost every classical philosophical school that preceded him.
The present work is informed by centuries of debate between Buddhist advocates of momentariness and archrival Nyāya philosophers who believed that both selves and things endure.
This book is the first published translation of Ratnakīrti’s proof based on positive correlations, and includes a commentary explaining each step of his reasoning.
Sounds of Innate Freedom, Volume 4
Sounds of Innate Freedom: The Indian Texts of Mahāmudrā are historic volumes containing many of the first English translations of classic mahamudra literature. The texts and songs in these volumes constitute the large compendium called The Indian Texts of the Mahāmudrā of Definitive Meaning, compiled by the Seventh Karmapa, Chötra Gyatso (1456–1539). The collection offers a brilliant window into the richness of the vast ocean of Indian mahamudra texts cherished in all Tibetan lineages, particularly in the Kagyü tradition, giving us a clear view of the sources of one of the world’s great contemplative traditions.
Besides the individual dohās (couplets), vajragītis (vajra songs), and caryāgītis (conduct songs) in this second volume in publication, the three extensive commentaries it contains brilliantly unravel enigmas and bring clarity not only to the specific songs they comment on but to many other, often cryptic, songs of realization in this collection. These expressive songs of the inexpressible offer readers a feast of profound and powerful pith instructions uttered by numerous male and female mahāsiddhas, yogis, and ḍākinīs, often in the context of ritual gaṇacakras and initially kept in their secret treasury. Displaying a vast range of themes, styles, and metaphors, they all point to the single true nature of the mind—mahāmudrā—in inspiring ways and from different angles, using a dazzling array of skillful means to penetrate the sole vital point of buddhahood being found nowhere but within our own mind. Reading and singing these songs of mystical wonder, bliss, and ecstatic freedom, and contemplating their meaning, will open doors to spiritual experience for us today just as it has for countless practitioners in the past.
In Vimalakīrti’s House
Over the course of nearly half a century, Robert A. F. Thurman has left an indelible mark on numerous fields of study, including Buddhist literature, Tantric Buddhism, Tibetan studies, and the comparative sciences of mind. To celebrate his seventieth birthday, Thurman’s students and colleagues have come together to pay tribute to these contributions and to Thurman’s ongoing leadership in these fields by assembling a collection of essays of their own that extend and supplement his groundbreaking research.
In Vimalakīrti’s House is the result of this collaboration and represents a broad spectrum of cutting edge studies in areas central to Thurman’s own scholarly project. The resulting volume is itself a kind of “treasury of the Buddhist sciences,” insofar as its authors explore wide-ranging problems in art, literature, epistemology, history, ritual, buddhology, and lexicography.
Great Treatise on the Stages of Mantra (Sngags rim chen mo)
Tsong Khapa’s Great Treatise on the Stages of Mantra (Sngags rim chen mo)—considered by the present Dalai Lama to be one of Tsong Khapa’s two most important books (along with his Lam rim chen mo)—is his masterful synthesis of the principles and practices of all four classes of Tantra, which formed the basis of his innovation in creating the esoteric “Tantric College” institution and curriculum in the early fifteenth century. With detailed reference to hundreds of works from the Tibetan Kangyur and Tengyur, the chapters presented and studied in this volume concern his treatment of the creation stage (bskyed rim) meditations of Unexcelled Yoga Tantra. This includes a detailed analysis emphasizing how and why such creation stage practices—utilizing deity yoga to transform death, the between, and life into the three bodies of buddhahood are indispensible to creating a foundation for successfully entering the culminal yogic practices of the perfection stage. (A subsequent volume will present the perfection stage chapters of this essential masterwork.)
An important work for both scholars and practitioners, this annotated translation is supplemented with extensive support materials.
The Adamantine Songs (Vajragīti)
Presented here in English for the first time is a set of three of Saraha’s “Adamantine Songs” (Skt. Vajragīti; Tib. rdo rje’i glu), poetic works that play a central role in the Great Seal (mahāmudrā) tantric tradition of both India and Tibet. The tantric adept (siddha) Saraha was among the most notable figures from India’s late first millennium, a time of rich religious and literary activity. His influence on Buddhist practice and poetry extended beyond the Indian subcontinent into Tibet, where it continues to affect every tradition that engages the practice and philosophy of the esoteric Great Seal.
In these songs, Saraha’s views on the nature of mind are presented as both evocative poetry and theoretical exegesis. These songs offer a new perspective on the religious life of Buddhist India and the figure of one of its most famous adepts.
Braitstein opens the door to this important set of texts by Saraha through her elegant translation, critical edition of the Tibetan texts, and in-depth analysis of the three poems. She situates Saraha and his work both in the Tibetan Buddhist sphere and in a broader South Asian literary and religious context, closely treating the central themes in Saraha’s poems, highlighting the specific siddha worldview espoused in his oeuvre, and at the same time unpacking the cryptic references contained in the songs’ individual verses. With this book, Braitstein substantially increases the amount of Saraha’s poetry available to an English-speaking audience and contributes to the ever-increasing movement to explore the culture of the tantric adepts.
Nāgārjuna’s Reason Sixty (Yuktiṣaṣṭikā)
The Reason Sixty is the most concise philosophical work by the second-century Indian Buddhist philosopher Nāgārjuna. It is one of that master’s works most often cited by Centrist (Madhyamaka) commentators, and it is included in the Sixfold Canon of Reason (rigs tshogs drug) which forms the textual basis for Centrist studies in the Tibetan philosophical curriculum. Standing midway between his other masterpieces on philosophy and religion, in the Reason Sixty Nāgārjuna describes the central thrust of his therapeutic philosophy of language—the elimination of cognitive bias and affective resistances to the gradual cultivation of nondualistic wisdom and compassion.
The seventh-century Centrist master Chandrakīrti, concerned with applying his language therapeutic method to define the social epistemology of Centrism, likewise links the critical hermeneutic-pedagogy and the practical therapeutic-anthropology of his other works in his acclaimed Reason Sixty Commentary.
Includes detailed introductory essays, annotated translations, critical Tibetan editions, trilingual glossary, intellectual-historical and biographical tables, bibliography, and index.
“This book is a treasure of subtle revelation.”
—Bonnie Nadzam, Lion’s Roar
The view is the wisdom of being empty
Meditation is luminosity without fixation
Conduct is a continual flow free of attachment
Fruition is nakedness bare of any stain
This is the first stanza of Milarepa’s Ultimate View, Meditation, Conduct, and Fruition: pith instructions originally sang to the great yogi Rechungpa, Milarepa’s disciple. These teachings are Milarepa’s direct offering to his disciple of his own profound realization, gained after many years of dedicated practice. Karl Brunnhölzl, acclaimed translator and senior teacher at the Nalandabodhi community of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, calls this hard-earned understanding “kungfu”: “Gong means ‘skillful work,’ ‘hard training,’ or ‘endeavor,’ and fu means ‘time spent…’ The term refers to Milarepa’s diligent and skillful training in the techniques to realize the nature of his mind and benefit countless sentient beings.”
Ultimate View, Meditation, Conduct, and Fruition is a work of remarkable depth and clarity. In just five verses, Milarepa gives incisive instructions for progressing and for avoiding pitfalls in the stages of practice:
- View: the basis or ground from which the proper meditation, conduct, and fruition of mahāmudrā can arise
- Meditation: the training in or the familiarization with that view
- Conduct: the natural outflow of having familiarized with the view in meditation
- Fruition: the final outcome of having fully assimilated and realized the view, whose essence is not different from it
Milarepa dedicates one verse to each stage, and Karl dedicates one chapter to each verse, weaving in wisdom from other Milarepa songs, comments by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyatso and from Karl’s own insight. Readers can thus fully immerse themselves in each point of Milarepa’s extraordinary teaching.
“With my diagnosis of grade IV brain cancer, I no longer observe the truth of impermanence from a critical, analytical distance. I am crashing into it, or it into me.”
Facing a terminal cancer diagnosis, Karen Derris—professor, mother, and Buddhist practitioner—instinctually turned to books. By rereading ancient Buddhist stories with fresh questions and a new purpose in mind, she discovered evolving ways to make them immediate and real. Storied Companions interweaves Karen’s memoir of her lived experiences of trauma and terminal illness with stories from Buddhist literary traditions, sharing with the reader how she found ways to live fully even with the reality that she won’t live as long as she needs—or wants.
Using her knowledge, practice, and imagination, Karen illustrates how placing yourself within narratives can turn them from distant and static sources into companions, and from companions into guides. Reading along with her, you’ll realize how this practice of reading and these ancient narratives can help us come to terms with impermanence, develop empathy and compassion, and realize our own interconnectedness.
Honest, powerful, and insightful, Storied Companions itself becomes an invaluable companion, guiding the reader to discover new ways of facing and experiencing life, death, and impermanence.
The Lamp for Integrating the Practices (Caryāmelāpakapradīpa)
The Lamp for Integrating the Practices (Caryāmelāpakapradīpa) by Āryadeva, is a systematic and comprehensive exposition of the most advanced yogas of the Esoteric Community Tantra (Guhyasamāja-tantra) as espoused by the Noble (Nāgārjuna) tradition, an influential school of interpretation within Indian Buddhist mysticism. Equal in authority to Nāgārjuna’s famous Five Stages (Pañcakrama), Āryadeva’s work is perhaps the earliest prose example of the “stages of the mantra path” genre in Sanskrit. Its systematic path exerted immense influence on later Indian and Tibetan traditions, and it is widely cited by masters from all four major lineages of Tibetan Buddhism.
This volume presents the Lamp in a thoroughly annotated English translation. It includes an introductory study discussing the history of the Guhyasamāja and its exegetical traditions, surveying the scriptural and commentarial sources of the Nāgārjuna tradition, and analyzing in detail the contents of the Lamp. The book also features a detailed, trilingual glossary.
Simultaneously presented online for scholars are a version of its Sanskrit original, critically edited from recently identified manuscripts, and a critical edition of the eleventh-century Tibetan translation by Rinchen Zangpo, including notes on readings found in “lost,” alternative translations.
Four Tibetan Lineages
The newest translation from master translator Sarah Harding.
Drawing primarily from the Pacification, Severance, Shangpa Kagyü, and Bodongpa traditions, Four Tibetan Lineages presents some of Tibet’s most transformative yet lesser-known teachings on meditative practice. Most works in this volume are drawn from a Tibetan anthology known as the Treasury of Precious Instructions compiled by Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thayé (1813–1900). A vast preservation project, this anthology reflects Kongtrul’s attempt to rescue rare teachings from disappearing. By foregrounding the teachings of masters like Khedrup Khyungpo Naljor (d. 1135), Dampa Sangyé (d. 1117), Machik Labdrön (1031/55–1126/50), Jonang Tāranātha (1575–1634), and Jamyang Khyentsé Wangpo (1820–92), this volume extends Jamgön Kongtrul’s preservation efforts into the modern world.
The Play of Mahamudra
“This new collected edition of Khenpo Migmar Tseten’s Play of Mahamudra volumes constitutes a veritable treasure for all who are deeply engaged on the path to enlightenment. Khenpo Migmar’s translation of Mahasiddha Virupa’s Treasury of Dohas and of Sachen Kunga Nyingpo’s Praise to Virupa makes us intimately familiar with the essence of these root texts, and his elucidation of the Dohas offers us a deep and clear understanding of their core meaning. Anyone who truly contemplates on Mahasiddha Virupa’s words is certain to attain realization.”
—His Holiness the Sakya Trichen
In this collection, renowned Tibetan Buddhist teacher Lama Migmar Tseten provides essential commentary on the mystical songs of the Indian Buddhist rebel-saint Virupa. One of the most celebrated tantric masters of Buddhist India, Virupa’s songs describe his realization of mahamudra, the ultimate nature of reality. Intimate and highly engaging, The Play of Mahamudra unpacks these songs with meticulous clarity, making Virupa’s insights accessible to modern readers.