Yudra Nyingpo. The Great Image: The Life Story of Vairochana the Translator. Transl. by Ani Jinba Palmo. Foreword by Dilgo Khyentse. Introductions by Thinley Norbu, Dzongsar Khyentse, and Ala Zenkar. Boston, Mass.: Shambhala Publications, 2004. Paperback, xxxiii + 332 pp.
Vairocana (or Vairochana) counts among the most illustrious of scholar-adepts in Buddhism. In his foreword, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche calls him a “crown ornament of all the Indian and Tibetan scholars” and “equal in realization and accomplishment to the second buddha from Oddiyana (i.e., Padmasambhava). Even though Vairocana was a consummate translator and expounder of the Buddha Dharma, his excellence was anchored in his own enlightenment. Thus his life story, as he told it to his disciples toward the end of his earthly life, has special merit, because it is an account of the life of a buddha. Biographies or autobiographies of this kind are said to act as conduits of spiritual transmission for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see, that is, who have duly tilled the soil of their mind to receive the seed of initiation.
The present book consists essentially of a translation of the Tibetan text entitled Drabag Chenmo(“Great Replica”), here rendered as “Great Image.” It tells of Vairocana’s (Tib.: Vairotsana’s) journey to India at the age of fourteen and of his sixteen trials in the course of his extensive travels, as well as of his return to Tibet, aged fifty-seven, by means of “speed walking” and his many years of teaching the Dharma.
In Vairocana’s own words (as remembered in TheGreat Image, he studied with twenty-five masters and seventy-two accomplished scholars, learned 360 languages, and attained the age of 300 years. His mastery was such that he could say:
My lineage is one of rainbow body vidhadharas;
Leaving a corpse behind won’t do.
He is reported to have simply dissolved into thin air along with seven of his disciples in front of a large gathering.
Copyright ©2006 by Georg Feuerstein. All rights reserved.
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