Over the course of the last millennium in Tibet, some tantric yogins have taken on norm-overturning modes of behavior, including provoking others to violence, publicly consuming filth, having sex, and dressing in human remains. While these individuals were called "mad," their apparent mental unwellness was not seen as resulting from any unfortunate circumstance, but symptomatic of having achieved a higher state of existence through religious practice. This book is
the first comprehensive study of these "holy madmen," who have captured the imaginations of Tibetans and Westerners alike.
Focusing on the lives and works of three "holy madmen" from the fifteenth century - the Madman of Tsang (Tsangnyon Heruka, or Sangye Gyeltsen, 1452-1507, and author of The Life of Milarepa), the Madman of U (Unyon Kungpa Sangpo, 1458-1532), and the Madman of the Drukpa Kagyu (Drukpa Kunle, 1455-1529). DiValerio shows how literary representations of these madmen came to play a role in the formation of sectarian identities and the historical mythologies of various sects. DiValerio also conveys a
well-rounded understanding of the human beings behind these colorful personas by looking at the trajectories of their lives, their religious practices and their literary works, all in their due historical context. In the process he ranges from lesser-known tantric practices to central Tibetan
politics to the nature of sainthood, and the "holy madmen" emerge as self-aware and purposeful individuals who were anything but crazy.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 368
Weight: 494 g
Dimensions: 235 x 173 x 25 mm
This ambitious monograph constitutes a significant contribution to the study of Tibetan religion and culture ... The Holy Madmen of Tibet is an insightful work that challenges the reader to reconsider not only how the mad saints themselves should be conceived but also how the category of the holy should be approached in responsible scholarship. * Jay Valentine, H-Net *
The Holy Madmen of Tibet is a welcome contribution to the study of Tibetan religions and Tantric Buddhism.... And although DiValerio has only hinted at some of the possible connections of his work with the broad issue of antinomian religion, I recommend The Holy Madmen of Tibet without hesitation to those who may wish to ponder this question from a comparative angle as well. * Matthew T. Kapstein, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies *
The Holy Madmen of Tibet is among the pioneering studies about the tantric practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism. As a weighty contribution to the growing literature of Buddhism, this book challenges our perceptions of the tantric communities and Tibetan Buddhism in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It is invaluable reading for scholars and students of Tibetan Buddhism history. * Kai Chen, Journal of Religious History *
fascinating book * Alexander Studholme, The Mirror *