Himalayan Art Resources

Indian Adept: Naropa Biography

Naropa Main Page

Naropa, the Dauntless

Eighty-four Great Mahasiddha Sets:
- Abhayakara Gupta #20
- Vajrasana #16
- Shri Sena #
- Sakya/Shalu #72
- Gyantse #
- Others...

The son of a liquor merchant and the product of a mixed-caste union, Naropa grew up to become a wood gatherer. Unhappy with his life of gathering wood and selling at the market, Naropa heard word of the great teacher Tilopa and began to seek him. After many years of searching, Naropa finally met Tilopa by chance on a dusty road and immediately began to respectfully bow to him and inquire about his health. Tilopa angrily struck Naropa on the face and told him that he was not his teacher.

Naropa didn't give up and continued to follow Tilopa, taking his abuse without complaint, the whole time never receiving one word of spiritual instruction. It continued in this manner for twelve years with Naropa's faith never faltering.

One day Naropa was begging for food at a wedding feast whose host was very generous. The host gave him eighty-four different types of food, one of which was a delicious and rare delicacy. Tilopa, in turn, was pleased with the special dish, and giving Naropa the smallest amount of praise he asked him to go get more. Having never before received any praise from Tilopa, Naropa was overjoyed and returned to the wedding to fetch more of the dish. He returned four times and each time was given the food without complaint. On his fifth trip he felt ashamed to continue but also could not bear the thought of displeasing his master. He decided to steal one more bowl. Tilopa was delighted with Naropa's determination and perseverance and calling him 'my diligent son'. He instructed Naropa in meditation and gave him initiations and blessings. After six months of practice, Naropa achieved supreme Mahamudra and became a respected Guru and educator, known throughout the world. After years of selfless work with thousands of students, Naropa rose to the Dakini's paradise.

Monty McKeever 3-2006 [updated 12-2021]

(The images below are only a selection of examples from the Naropa Main Page).