Naropa

Mahasiddha Naropa

Progenitor of the Vajrayogini Lineage

In 1016 AD, one of the previous incarnations of Dorje Shugden took rebirth as a prince in Pullahari, in what would later become modern day Kashmir. He was exceptional in his maturity, wisdom and compassion, and would eventually be counted as one of the 84 great Mahasiddhas of ancient India, the Mahasiddha Naropa.

Naropa was originally known as Samantabhadra and was raised as a noble aristocrat. His father, the reigning monarch, wanted him to inherit the kingdom and rule over the people. However, by the age of eight, his inclination towards religion and higher thought became more apparent. He was very learned and was renowned as a notable scholar from a very young age.

When Naropa came of age, his parents arranged for him to be married to a girl by the name of Vimaladipe. Although they enjoyed marital bliss, he continued his spiritual pursuits to the point that even his wife became his student.

Naropa eventually left the palace in order to receive his novice vows in a monastery in Kashmir. He engaged in formal studies for three years before entering Nalanda Monastery, where he received full ordination vows and graduated at the age of 28. At that time, Nalanda was a prestigious institution of higher learning with over 500 lecturers teaching various subjects and with numerous students from all over India, Nepal, Ceylon, Indonesia, Greece and even faraway China. The educational curriculum spanned 10 years and was famed for being extremely rigorous.

Nalanda Monastery has four main entrances and near each entrance is the residence of one of the monastery’s most brilliant professors. These professors are known as Mahapandits and Naropa was said to have ascended the ranks to become one of these professors. During his tenure, he was known as Mahapandit Abhayakirti. Thus, he became very famous throughout ancient Buddhist India and acquired many students. However, everything was about to change when he had a strange encounter with an old woman.

While studying the great treatises under a banyan tree, an old woman appeared to him and asked if he understood what he was reading. Naropa replied without much thought, “Yes, of course.” The old woman then laughed hysterically and proceeded to ask if he had experienced what he was reading. Yet again, the master responded by saying, “Yes, of course.” The old woman then wept hysterically. This disturbed Naropa and he asked the old woman why she wept.

The old woman replied that she was overjoyed to hear that he understood the teachings but wept while explaining:

You have not experienced Enlightenment and so you cannot possibly really know the actual meaning. You are a scholar. And yet you mistakenly believe that intellectual comprehension equates genuine enlightened experience.

Realizing that she was correct, Naropa stopped reading his books and asked, “How can I realize enlightenment?” She responded, “My brother is the great yogi Tilopa and he can guide you on the path of direct mystical experience.” Naropa was filled with faith upon hearing Tilopa’s name.

Thus, Naropa left the monastery and became a mendicant. He chased every whisper of his Guru’s name and searched all over India. One day, he chanced upon another mendicant, whom he instinctively recognized to be his Guru, Tilopa. But Tilopa refused to accept him and rebuked and hit him with a stick instead.

However, Naropa remained steadfast and endured what is now known as the ‘twelve major and twelve lesser trials’ before Tilopa finally accepted him as a student. Each trial represented an aspect of the teachings and a method for his Guru, Tilopa, to skillfully break through his student’s pride. Naropa’s suffering while enduring those trials purified his mind to the extent that he was able to gain enlightenment swiftly, through the later instructions of his Guru.

Upon attaining enlightenment, Naropa returned to Pullahari and gave teachings to his wife, who eventually became known as the great yogini, Niguma. Some accounts claim that she was actually Naropa’s sister but regardless, a lineage of her special instructions descended and survives to this day.

Another of Naropa’s most celebrated disciples is the Tibetan master, Marpa of Lhodrak. He traveled to India in his youth in order to study and translate the teachings and on his travels down south, he stayed at Pharping for a time to acclimatize before continuing his journey into tropical India.

At Pharping, Marpa encountered two yogis who were students of Naropa. This encounter led him to seek out Naropa and become his student. Naropa bestowed on Marpa the Four Transmissions of Oral Instructions of Tilopa, and also further instructions on Dream Yoga and the Intermediate state. These collectively became known as the Six Yogas of Naropa.

Naropa was also widely known to be the progenitor of the Vajrayogini Tantric practice. After being initiated into the practice of Vajravarahi, Naropa gained a vision of Vajravarahi in the form of Vajrayogini, who initiated him into a new practice that is also based on the Cakrasamvara cycle of teachings. Hence, Vajrayogini is often called Naropa’s Dakini and this Vajrayogini lineage is known as Naro Kacho.

After entering clear light, Naropa left behind numerous students and especially the living practice of Vajrayogini and the Six Yogas of Naropa.

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.…Instead of turning away people who practise Dorje Shugden, we should be kind to them. Give them logic and wisdom without fear, then in time they give up the ‘wrong’ practice. Actually Shugden practitioners are not doing anything wrong. But hypothetically, if they are, wouldn’t it be more Buddhistic to be accepting? So those who have views against Dorje Shugden should contemplate this. Those practicing Dorje Shugden should forbear with extreme patience, fortitude and keep your commitments. The time will come as predicted that Dorje Shugden’s practice and it’s terrific quick benefits will be embraced by the world and it will be a practice of many beings.

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