Khenpo Sherab Sangpo taught from January to May 2022, on The Bodhisattva’s Garland of Jewels by Atiśa Dīpaṃkara. To watch the entire playlist of nine videos from this class series on YouTube, click here.


Biography of Atiśa Dīpaṃkara

The leadership of Vikramaśila is said to have refused to allow the Tibetans to take Atiśa away, and the hagiographies make much of the subterfuge employed to prevent the success of their mission. Nevertheless, Atiśa, said to have been urged by Tārā herself to accept the Tibetan invitation, and engaged in some deception of his own in order to obtain permission from his abbot: he told his abbot that he was going to show the Tibetans the pilgrimage sites of India. The abbot, Ratnakara, saw through the deception, but permitted Atiśa to leave on the condition that he return in three years.


In 1040, Atiśa and Naktso set out for Tibet, accompanied by Gya Lotsāwa, who had aided them at Vikramaśila, serving as translator. Gya Lotsāwa did not survive the journey, passing away en route to Nepal. There, according to some, Atiśa met Marpa, whom he asked to become his translator. Marpa declined. After two years of travel they reached Tolung, the capital of the Purang Kingdom.


Atiśa resided in Tolung for three years, giving teachings that gave birth to his masterpiece, the Bodhipathapradīpa, or Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment. The short text, in sixty-seven verses, lays out the entire Buddhist path in terms of the three vehicles: Hīnayāna, Mahāyāna, and Vajrayāna, and became the model for subsequent texts in the genre of Lamrim, the Stages of the Path. There he also met the man who would become his closest disciple, Dromton Gyelwa Jungne.


Excerpt from the biography written by Alexander Gardner for The Treasury of Lives

Online Resources for Atiśa Dīpaṃkara

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