Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Indian Adept (siddha) - Tilopa

རྒྱ་གར་གྱི་གྲུབ་ཆེན། 印度大成就者
(item no. 130)
Origin Location Central Tibet
Date Range 1500 - 1599
Lineages Karma (Kagyu), Taklung (Kagyu), Drigung (Kagyu) and Drukpa (Kagyu)
Size 66.04x58.42cm (26x23in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1994.23.3
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Mahasiddha

Gender: Male

TBRC: P4024

Interpretation / Description

Tilopa and Naropa: among the principal figures from the famous set of 84 Mahasiddhas.

Seated at the left side, light brown in colour is Tilopa holding in the left hand upraised a fish and with the right a white skullcup at the heart. Adorned with a crown of gold and jewels, earrings, ribbons, necklaces and the like, he wears various coloured garments and a red meditation belt across the right knee. Above a tiger skin mat, moon disc and multi-coloured lotus blossom atop a lion supported Dharma throne he sits looking at his student Naropa. Dark brown in colour, gazing at his teacher, Naropa holds the right hand to the heart performing the mudra of blessing while holding to the breast with the left a bright white skullcup. Adorned and attired in similar raiment, seated in relaxed postures, they both share the moon disc and lion supported throne, each surrounded by a red nimbus and areola edged with gold design.

At the top center is the tutelary deity Chakrasamvara, dark blue in colour, with four faces and twelve hands, embracing the consort Vajrayogini, red, with one face and two hands. Standing above a corpse seat, sun and lotus, they are surrounded by the flames of wisdom. Seated along the top and bottom are Indian mahasiddhas, yogis and panditas of the Chakrasamvara lineage, most are adorned with the vestments of a mahasiddha, some attired in monastic robes.

The personages of Tilopa and Naropa figure prominently in many lineages of tantric practice - especially honoured in the early Kagyu lineage of teachers. The Tibetan Marpa Chokyi Lodro (1012-1099), founder of the Kagyu School, having journeyed three times to India, studied extensively with Naropa. In the Sakya School Naropa is honoured as the founder of an important cycle of Vajrayogini practice counted as one of the very special teachings of Sakya. Lineages from Tilopa and Naropa weave through all the Sarma Schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

Jeff Watt 4-99

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 6
Indian Adept Main Page (Mahasiddha)
Indian Adept: Naropa Main Page
Indian Adept: Tilopa Main Page
Tradition: Drigung Kagyu Main Page
Tradition: Taglung Kagyu Main Page
Tradition: Drugpa Kagyu Main Page
Painting Set: Karma Kagyu Lineage (Sertreng, misc.)
Tradition: Kagyu Founding Teachers
Indian Adept (Mahasiddha): Painting (Middle Period 15th-16th)