The Holy Madmen of Tibet

Paperback | July 20, 2015

byDavid M. DiValerio

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Throughout the past millennium, certain Tibetan Buddhist yogins have taken on profoundly norm-overturning modes of dress and behavior, including draping themselves in human remains, consuming filth, provoking others to violence, and even performing sacrilege. They became known far and wide as"madmen" (smyon pa, pronounced nyonpa), achieving a degree of saintliness in the process. This book offers the first comprehensive study of Tibet's "holy madmen" drawing on their biographies and writings, as well as tantric commentaries, later histories, oral traditions, and more.Much of The Holy Madmen of Tibet is dedicated to examining the lives and legacies of the three most famous "holy madmen" who were all of the Kagyu sect: the Madman of Tsang (author of The Life of Milarepa), the Madman of U, and Drukpa Kunle, Madman of the Drukpa Kagyu. Each born in the 1450s, theyrose to prominence during a period of civil war and of great shifts in Tibet's religious culture. By focusing on literature written by and about the "holy madmen" and on the yogins' relationships with their public, this book offers in-depth looks at the narrative and social processes out of which sainthood arises, and at the role biographical literature can play in the formation of sectarianidentities. By showing how understandings of the "madmen" have changed over time, this study allows for new insights into current notions of "crazy wisdom." In the end, the "holy madmen" are seen as self-aware and purposeful individuals who were anything but insane.

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Throughout the past millennium, certain Tibetan Buddhist yogins have taken on profoundly norm-overturning modes of dress and behavior, including draping themselves in human remains, consuming filth, provoking others to violence, and even performing sacrilege. They became known far and wide as"madmen" (smyon pa, pronounced nyonpa), achi...

David M. DiValerio is Assistant Professor of History and Religious Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:368 pages, 9.09 × 6.1 × 1.1 inPublished:July 20, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199391211

ISBN - 13:9780199391219

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"Nyonpas, or religious madmen, stand among the most colorful and influential figures in the transmission of Buddhism across the Himalaya. Blending translation, historical analysis, and contemporary ethnography, DiValerio offers our broadest and most textured account to date of this fascinatingtradition. The Holy Madmen of Tibet is a major contribution to the study of Tibetan religion and culture." --Andrew Quintman, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Yale University