July 3, 2022


Tsangyon Heruka: The Life of Milarepa
Penguin Classics – Religion
July 2010, $16.00
Translated by Andrew Quintman
Introduction by Donald S. Lopez, Jr.
Cover art: Collection of Dr. David Nalin

The Life of Milarepa is one of the most beloved stories of the Tibetan people and a great literary example of the contemplative life. This biography, a dramatic tale from a culture now in crisis, can be read on several levels.
A personal and moving introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, it is also a detailed guide to the search for liberation. It presents the quest for purification and buddhahood in a single lifetime, tracing the path of a great sinner who became a great saint. It is also a powerfully evocative narrative, full of magic, miracles, suspense, and humor, while reflecting the religious and social life of medieval Tibet.
Tsangyon Heruka (Gtsang Smyon Heruka, 1452-1507), the self-proclaimed “Madman of Central Tibet,” was both an iconoclastic tantric master and a celebrated author, best known for his versions of The Life of Milarepa and The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa.
Andrew Quintman is assistant professor of religious studies at Yale University. He specializes in the Buddhist traditions of Tibet and the Himalayas, with his teaching and research focusing on Buddhist doctrinal literature and sacred biography, visual and ritual cultures of the wider Himalayan region, and the esoteric Buddhist traditions of tantra in Tibet and South Asia.
He served as the academic director of the School of International Training’s Tibetan Studies program based in Kathmandu for seven years and also held the Cotsen-Melon Fellowship in the History of the Book through Princeton University’s Society of Fellows. He currently serves as the co-chair of the Tibetan and Himalayan Religions Group of the American Academy of Religion and is leading a five-year seminar at the AAR on “Religion and the Literary in Tibet.”
Donald S. Lopez, Jr. specializes in late Indian Mahayana Buddhism and in Tibetan Buddhism. He is an Arthur E. Link Distinguished Professor and department chair at the University of Michigan and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000. He is the author of The Madman’s Middle Way: Reflections on Reality of the Tibetan Monk Gendun Chopel, and he was also the editor of Penguin Classics’ Buddhist Scriptures.

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