Pencil on paper

Original size: 29 x 29 cm

Mahasiddha Tilopa

Traditional Thangka Painting by

Thomas Yeshe Dalarud

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Detail of

Mahasiddha Tilopa’s face

Mahasiddha Tilopa (988-1069 a.d.) Tilopa is regarded as one of the important Mahasiddhas of India that were instrumental in the propagation and transmission of the Tantric path of Buddhism that was spreading across India and beyond at his time. During a meditation Tilopa received a vision of Buddha Vajradhara and, according to legend, the entirety of Mahāmudrā teachings was directly transmitted to him. After having received the transmission, Tilopa embarked on a wandering existence and started to teach. Mahāmudrā is a body of teachings that represents the culmination and fulfillment of all the practices within the various lineages of practices that eventually arrived in Tibet as the Sarma tradition; —new tradition. The traditions belonging to this category in the Tibetan tradition today is: Kagyu, Sakya and Gelupa. Ningmapa Lineage of Tibet is representing the older introduction of Buddhism to Tibet and is therefor called Ningma tradition; —”old” tradition.

Tilopa is regarded as the human founder of the Kagyu Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism and is regarded as the Buddha Vajradhara in person. He appointed Naropa, his most important student, as his successor. Naropa later became the Guru of Marpa Lotsawa who brought his teachings back to Tibet.

Mahāmudrā was by no means introduced to Tibet solely through the lineage of Tilopa. Many other masters and translators also went to India and met with other masters of the Mahāmudrā teachings and received the transmissions.

Tilopa is often depicted holding a fish in his left hand.

(For enlargement please click on the main image)

Detail of the lower body of


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