Marpa Lotsawa (1012-1097)

The great scholar Marpa Chokyi Lodro was from Tibet. At that time back in Tibet, there were few teachers from whom he could study and receive teachings. From deep within his heart he felt that it was not sufficient. He therefore decided to travel to India to obtain more precious teachings.

In ancient times, it was not easy to travel to India. One had to walk a distance that took months and sometimes years to cover. Not to mention the Himalayan Mountainous range which one had to cross. Also in India the climate was hot and humid. One must have great strength and courage to undertake this challenge. Unlike nowadays, one can fly into Lhasa from India in just 45 minutes.

One could also read from the Lineage Prayers which say Marpa had the three great qualities for the successful quest of the Dharma, namely:

  • 1. Great Heart
  • 2. Great Wisdom
  • 3. Great Practice/Realization

The quality of ‘Great Heart’ refers to the courage, bravery and determination to cross the freezing cold Himalayan Mountains, to cross gigantic rivers, and to endure the effect of temperature difference while in India as well as many other hardship throughout the mission.

Marpa went to India not once but three times in all. His fearless state of mind to search for Naropa was undiminished. For this tenacity he is praised in the Lineage Prayers.

Marpa studied the Dharma with utmost diligence. For this he is praised for having 'Great Wisdom'.

Finally he found Naropa and received precious teachings from him, and with great diligence in his practice he achieved great realization. For this he is praised for ‘Great Practice’.- Marpa had also to carry all the Dharma Texts from India back to Tibet and later he and many others translated them into Tibetan for the benefit of future generations of Buddhist practitioners.

All in all, Marpa Lotsawa went to India three times and his stay in India totalled 16 years. He brought back to Tibet many Buddhist teachings and later translated them into Tibetan. Marpa had many disciples and among them were four main disciples as indicated in one of his dreams. They were described as the four main pillars as they were the four great disciples who later propagated his teachings which flourished into the future. Amongst the four was Milarepa who acquired the complete lineage transmission from the master, Marpa Lotsawa.