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Paintings > Thangka > Milarepa and Scenes from His Life
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Milarepa and Scenes from His Life

Milarepa and Scenes from His Life

Milarepa and Scenes from His Life

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Tibetan Buddhist Thangka Painting

16.5" X 22.0"
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Milarepa and Scenes from His Life

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Viewed 3929 times since 2nd Oct, 2008
Milarepa, the "cotton clad" yogi saint of Tibet is shown here in his Pure Land of the Himalayan mountains, the location of his many ascetic abodes. He is sometimes thought of as the first ordinary Tibetan to become a perfect Buddha in one lifetime. His autobiography is one of the greatest classics of world literature. His father died when Milarepa was young, and he, his mother, and his sister were cheated of their inheritance by a wicked uncle. Through Milarepa's suffering, effort, and eventual triumph, the Tibetan landscape itself became his Pure Land., within which his beloved Tibetans could begin to find their own way to Buddhahood.

Snow-covered peaks and blue-green rocky cliffs with tumbling waterfalls rise behind Milarepa as he sits at ease on a splendidly colourful lotus with his white robe loosely draped around him. A red colored meditation belt, used during long sessions of meditation to keep the body upright, is slung across his right shoulder.

Surrounding him are the main personages and deities of his life experience. On the central axis, above his head, which is beautifully framed by a lilac-colored halo, is the seated figure of Marpa, his teacher. Above Marpa is the dark blue Vajradhara, the supremely eminent Buddha. Tilopa, with the golden fish, and Naropa, with the skull bowl, the two Indian Great Adepts special to the lineage of Marpa and Milarepa, are to the left and right respectively, amid the profusion of clear cut clouds. These figures are the spiritual lineage of the Kagyupa (founded by Marpa) school.

On Milarepa's right is Rechungpa and to his left Gampopa, his two main, "moon and sun," disciples, respectively. Below his lotus pedestal, which rests on a rocky plateau spread with offerings, are the five flesh-eating Dakinis (Tseringma and her sisters), who threatened Milarepa with demonic visions during his meditation, but whom he conquered. Tseringma, chief of the sisters, rides an orange and white snow lion. Two dark blue and green snow lions lounge beside the group.

In the lower left corner the birth of Milarepa is depicted. A messenger (lower middle) is shown going to get the father at the market place (lower right), who returns home to give his son the name Topaga (return to lower left).

The shadowless figures in this painting seem to exist in a very pure world, one that irrevocably draws the viewer into its lovely environment and intriguing scenes.

This description by Nitin Kumar, Executive Editor, Exotic India.


Beer, Robert. The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1999.

Chakraverty, Anjan. Sacred Buddhist Painting. New Delhi: Roli Books, 1998

Fisher, Robert E. Art of Tibet. London: Thames and Hudson, 1997.

Getty, Alice. The Gods of Northern Buddhism. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1978.

Lipton, Barbara, and Ragnubs, Nima Dorjee. Treasures of Tibetan Art: Collection of the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Pal, Pratapaditya. Art of Tibet. Los Angeles: The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1990.

Rhie, Marylin M. & Thurman, Robert A.F. Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet. London: Thames and Hudson, 1996.

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