Essential poetic teachings from beloved Tibetan Buddhist masters in their first-ever English translation.
Presented here for the first time in English is a collection of dohas, or songs of realization, carefully and thoughtfully selected and translated from the large compendium the Indian Texts of the Mahamudra of Definitive Meaning, which was compiled by the Seventh Karmapa and drawn primarily from the Tengyur.
Beautiful, profound, and often outrageous, these verses were frequently composed spontaneously and thus have a moving sense of freedom, openness, and bliss. They range from summaries of the entire path of Mahamudra to pithy four-liners that point directly to the buddha within us. The authors include famous masters such as Saraha and Naropa, dakinis, kings, and also courtesans and cobblers—showing that realization is accessible to all of us, right here in our lives.
“In this small but profound and utterly delightful volume, Karl Brunnhölzl brings to light the mahamudra songs of a wide range of Indian Buddhist mahasiddhas, most of them never before translated into a Western language. Brunnhölzl’s typically learned and lucid introduction ably situates the songs within their social, religious, and literary context, and compares them fruitfully with religious poetry from many corners of the world, while the translations themselves capture beautifully the wordplay, mystical wonder, and ecstatic sense of freedom expressed by their mysterious and charismatic authors. Luminous Melodies gives us a unique and inspiring view of the Indian sources of one of the world’s great contemplative traditions and ought to be in the collection of anyone who appreciates Buddhist poetry, Buddhist practice, and the places where they meet.”
– Roger R. Jackson, author of Mind Seeing Mind
“We are indeed fortunate that Karl Brunnhölzl has extracted this collection of songs of realization from the six volumes of Indian Mahamudra texts compiled by the Seventh Karmapa, Chötra Gyatso. There is enough in these profound pith instructions to contemplate for a very long time. Brunnhölzl’s translations are both daring and playful. There is much here that seems to make no ‘sense,’ and yet, these pith instructions have great power. Reading these songs, contemplating their meaning, and meditating within that understanding will open doors to experience—and perhaps even realization—just as they did for practitioners in the past.”
– Andy Karr, author of Contemplating Reality
“These beautiful songs of experience offer glimpses into the awakened minds of the Mahamudra masters of India. Karl Brunnhölzl’s masterful translations are a joy to read for how they express what is so often inexpressible.”
– His Eminence the Twelfth Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche
“This delightful volume of Mahamudra songs by male and female mahasiddhas—some well known, most not—offers us a window into their world of realization. Many thanks to Karl Brunnhölzl for his excellent translations and introduction, which provide us with more sources and greater awareness of the rich Buddhist tradition of expressing the inexpressible through song.”
– Elizabeth Callahan, translator of Moonbeams of Mahamudra
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