Posted by: Rajesh Shukla | January 17, 2013

THE GREAT MAHAMUDRA TRADITION


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THE GREAT MAHAMUDRA TRADITION:-

“ “So long as the brethren shall exercise themselves in the sevenfold higher wisdom, that is to say, in mental activity, search after truth, energy, joy, peace, earnest contemplation, and equanimity of mind. So long may the brethren be expected not to decline, but to prosper”-Mahaparinibbana Sutta

In Tibet many other Tantrika and yogic schools came in to existence while the tradition started by Atisa was still spreading its roots. Among them one of the most important Tantrika figure was Marpa ‘the translator’; he became famous in Tibet in about (1012 B.C). He was a junior contemporary of Atisa and a mystic from the Tankrik tradition of Padmasambhava. According to Tibetan scholars he brought with him some important tantrik texts from India and with fusion of Indian and Tibetan mystico-tantrik traditions started a new teaching school b-Kan-brGyud (oral tradition now popularly known as Kogyu lineage). Marpa’s tantrik tradition- the Kogyu School was carried on forward by Milarepa (a direct disciple of Marpa) and Gompopa who had popularized Mahamudra tradition in Tibet. It is an esoteric yoga tradition which is very closely associated with great Natha tradition of Sanatan Dharma. It was not only practiced by Kogyu tradition of yogis but also by many others. In the Kadam and Nyingma tradition too Mahamudra is practiced with great effort. In fact it was Kogyu School that established Mahamudra as a distinguished system of Yoga within Mahayana unparalleled to any existing form yoga system. In it Sutra,Yoga and Tantra all the three are united.  In all schools in which Mahamudra is practiced, it is practiced as Atisa wished it to be; that is not contradicting the Sutra Path. Tantrik path evolved with Sutra Path. In Mahamudra siddha yoga,Vinaya texts, logic,Madhyamika philosophy,Abhidharma and Prajnaparamita are taught as its foundation. It is not like abracadabra spiritualism, it is founded on a solid transcendental philosophy of Madhyamika; it is real ground of the path.

According to Kogyu tradition -Mahamudra ‘the symbol of perfection’ is the culmination and fulfillment of all the yoga and tantra practices hitherto existed. From Gompopa’s time this discipline of yogic and tantrik practice was integrated with Mahayana teachings of Buddhism ruled by Nagarjuna’s philosophy of emptiness. It has been interpreted in Buddhist Tantras from two points of view, one from the angle of Utter Tantra of Maitreya another from the angle of Vajrayana Tantrism. Tantrik practice is considered most important regarding to its realization i.e. the unity of Heruka and Prajna (or from another angle unity of voidness and compassion).  Symbolically Mahamudra is a great gesture of unity i.e. Yub-Yum in which diamond body, mind and speech is attained. It can also be interpreted from Mahayana contemplative point of view in which mental quiescence and insight is practiced. The task of Yoga is the contemplation of a body, speech and mind belonging to the originary body- speech- mind i.e. its indestructible form. Mahamudra Yogi is said to be a Vidyavrati of his own body, speech and mind whose ideal is Vairochana, however, it depends on of whose lineage he belongs to.  The ideal to be achieved by any yogi is Buddhas of five lineages.  Tson-kha-pa tells us that there are main five lineages but with each lineage there are twenty lineages and all belong to five skandhas.  However later he explains that five lineages become the secret three. The yogi who belong to rupa-skandha lineage realizes  the ideal of Vairochna while those belong to fire-skandha lineage realize ideal of Amitabh.  Basically Mahamudra meditation is theoretically based on Yogachar-Vijnanavada and Madhyamika Sunyavada philosophy of self-realization. It is also mentioned in the dharni mantra of ‘Heart Sutra’ as ‘purasmgate’ as many knower of the tradition do interpret. The intent of the dharni of Heart Sutra is that the mediator is no more, meditation is no more, and also the process of meditation is no more; one has reached the ground of The Ultimate. It is Yogic Advaita of Sahajyana. The Lankavatara says that duality of substantive and emptiness too is false view:

External reality is neither substantive not nothingness;
Even the mind is not an entity.
Elimination of all views is the criterion
For nonarising [emptiness].

But the state in which it ceases is stated perfectly in the following Upanishadic verse:

मनोदृष्यमिदं द्वैतं यत्किंचित्सचराचरं।
मनसो ह्यमनीभावे द्वैतं नैवोपलभ्यते।।
When mind becomes unman(amnibhava) duality cease to exist-Mandukya

tilopa
Mahamudra teaching says that phenomena are mind alone and it has in reality no essence. It is empty in its nature, even mind itself is no entity, it is just a flow of awareness; it’s like space. Therefore Mahamudra is not any goal which has to be achieved; it is mind’s own nature that is Mahamudra. It is practiced on three levels: the Mahamudra of ground, of path, and of result. The core of the teaching is focused on the awakening or understanding of the true nature of phenomena. It says that being and non -being, appearance and emptiness, the moving and the abiding, the substantial and insubstantial embracing the whole of time and space, never departs from the sky-like original nature. Knowing this fully that the whole of appearance is the Dharmakaya/absolute being, there is no coming no going, there is neither birth nor death. When innate nature never departs from oneself one enters in the great awakening, in the Mahamudra-in the great seal. In fact in one word the great seal is nothing else that the undiscriminating intelligence of Advaita”neh nanasti kinchana”. Mahamudra is a gesture of the great Bodhisattvas attaining which they never fall in the dark pit of great suffering. It is said to be the gesture of the vast openness in which abide all the divine virtues and siddhi.

TRADITION OF EIGHTY FOUR SIDDHAS:-
In the Buddhist tantrik tradition there are eighty four siddhas who have been considered to be the great accomplishers in all kind of spiritual, yogic and mystic powers. Majority of them did belong to India especially from Bengal for in those days Bengal was the seat of tantrik and spiritual teachings. The the great Gurus of  Sanatan Dharma from Bengal gave a mystic blend to Buddhist Tantrism of Tibet.  Tantrik school of Buddhism is hugely indebted to not only Bengal but also to South of India. Of Nath tradition Matsyendra Nath and Gorakh both are considered maha siddha in tantrik Buddhism while Matsyendranath is said to original guru of this Mahamudra yoga.  Interestingly the symbol of fish symbolizes Mahamudra which is yoga symbol given by maha siddha Matsyendra Nath. A Sanskrit text ‘chaturasiti-siddha-pravrtti’ gives a brief sketch of the life and of the eighty four Siddhas. They being master in Vajrayana practice and having realized the Buddha nature, guided innumerable living beings on the path of enlightenment. The name of these Siddhas is as follows-1.Luyipa 2.Lilapa 3. Virupa 4.Dombipa 5. Savaripa 6.Saraha 7.Kankaripa 8. Minapa 9.Goraksa 10.chaurangi 11.Vinapa 12.Santipa 13.Tantipa 14.Chamaripa 15.khandagapa 16.nagarjuna 17.Kanhapa 18.karnaripa 19.khangapa 20.Thanganapa 21.Naropa 22.Shalipa 23.Tilopa 24.Catrapa 25.Bhadrapa 26.khandipa 27.Kalapa 28.Dhombipa 29.kankana 30.kambala 31.Tengipa 32.Bhandepa 33.Tendhepa 34.Kukuripa 35.Kuchipa 36. Dharmapa 37. mahipa 38.Achinta 39.Babhahi 40.Nalina 41.Bhusuku 42.indrabhuti 43.Mekopa 44.Kotoli 45.Kamparipa 46.jalandhari 47.Rahula 48.dharmapa 49.dhokaripa.50.Medhina.51. Panama 52.gandhepa 53.Oogipa 54.caliki 55.Gorira 56.lokika 57.Niguna 58.jayananda. 59. Pacari 60.Champaka 61.Bhiksana 62.Telopa 63.kumaripa 64. Kaparipa 65.Manibhadra(f) 66.Mekhala (f) 67.Kanakhala (f) 68.kalakala 69.kantali 70.Dhahuli 71.Udheli 72.Kapalapa 73.kirava 74.Sakara 75.Sarvabhaksa 76.Nagabodhi 77.Darika 78.Patali 79.Panaha 80.kokalipa 81.Ananga.82.Laxminkara 83.Samudra.84.Vyali.
In these eighty four siddhas majority of them are named after their deeds, for example-Telopa was he who was always found engrossed in preparing oil from tila (sesame), some were also got their name on what they wore or carried as Dhokripa since he always found carrying ( dhokri- a pocket made of unstitched cloth to carry some food etc.), Kukiripa was he who lived in the company of dogs.
All the siddhas were living practiceners of Bodhidharma but they had received all their yogic and tantrik techniques from Indian siddhas. In Siddha tradition  Hindu yoga traditions especially Natha Panth is regarded with great respect in Buddhism.
A verse from Dhombipa’s teachings  gives us a general idea about the spiritual understanding of the masters, it runs thus:
 “by the scolding water of mudras
the stains of the body are cleansed
by the water of vowels and consonants,
the stains of speech are purified,
joining thee hero and heroic lady
the stains of the mind are wiped away.”

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The goal of these Mahasiddhas is Mahamudra Siddhi the great mystical experience of the Advaita (oneness) i.e. ultimate truth and phenomenon are one thing as Vedanta teaches. It is essentially Mahayana teaching as in Lankavatara it is taught that Samsara and Nirvana is the same thing. A passage of Lankavatara explains it very beautifully “Again, O Mahamati, there  may be other Sramanas and Brahmanas who hold the following views: that all things have non self-substance, they are like cloud, like a circle traced out by a revolving fire-brand, or like the air castle of Gandharvas; that they are unborn, that they are like Maya or mirage or the moon in water or a dream; that external objects are manifestations of the mind erroneously perceived due to false discrimination since time immemorial, that by thus viewing the world one ceases to be conditioned by discrimination worked out in one’s own mind, one does away with the terminology belonging to such false discrimination and with the signification of words such as predicating and predicated,; that when one understands that the body, property, and abiding place are particularization of the Alaya-Vijnanan, one is freed from no-image or shadowlessness. O Mahamati, such a Bodhisattva -Mahasattava will before long realize the sameness of Samsara and Nirvana.”
According to D.T.Suzuki the highest stage of Buddhist experience is reached when a man comes to realize that things are devoid of a self substance or that they are not after all final, irreducible realities, for they never have been created, they what they are from the beginningless past or they does not exist as we perceive them this will imply that individualization is ultimate fact, which however is contrary to the truth inwardly perceived by an enlightened mind. Since Mahasiddhas belong to Mahamudra tradition they did believe in the lineage teachings in which Mahayana teaching of sunyata is considered the ultimate which was their goal, and this is what we find in the teachings of siddhas. Tilopa the great Siddha says in his song the essence of the great truth of Mahayana very symbolically in the following verse:-

The oil which is the essence of the sesame, although known even by the ignorant to be    in the seed, cannot be extracted unless it is learnt how to do so.

Likewise, the Innate Gnosis (sahaja-jnana), though always present in the hearts of beings, is not realized unless the way is explained by a wise Guru.

By pounding the sesame, removing the husks, it is possible to extract the essential oil.

Likewise, when on attends to the Guru’s Instruction, the truth of Absolute: (Tathata) is revealed. This is the symbolism of the sesame. Indivisible and one is the isness of all that exists! 0! So vast, so deep, the meaning is now perfectly clear! How wonderful!

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