Song for the King: Saraha on mahamudra meditation
Mahamudra is the basic meditation practice for many Tibetan Buddhists, particularly of the Kagyu tradition. It is particularly adaptable for modern people, since it involves no rituals and can be incorporated into all daily activities. Saraha’s “Song for the King” is a short verse text from classical India that is a basis for the tradition and is widely known in Tibetan Buddhist circles. It is often the basis for teachings given in the West, but there is only one outdated translation of it in print, first published in 1969. Michele Martin has produced a stellar new translation, which is accompanied by a commentary from the well-known teacher Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, who is uniquely skilled and concerned with making this method of meditation available to Westerners.
While pithy and accessible, the book easily stands up to academic scrutiny, and includes the original Tibetan as well—making it ideal for the popular, scholarly, and Tibetan audiences all at once.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche is a senior scholar within the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and the author of many books and commentaries. He was born in Kham, Tibet, in 1933 and entered Thrangu Monastery at age seven. He serves as the main tutor to His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa and travels worldwide giving teachings and leading retreats. Based in Nepal and India, he is also abbot of Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia and founder of Vajra Vidya Retreat Center in Crestone, Colorado.
“A Song for the King is the most important work in a generation about the pithiest and deepest of Saraha’s great trilogy of Indian Buddhist tantric songs. Michele Martin’s translation and annotations are lucid and well informed, and Thrangu Rinpoche’s learned but accessible commentary allows readers to use Saraha’s poem as key to seeing, meditating, and acting in the profound Indo-Tibetan tradition of mahamudra, the great seal of reality.”
—Roger Jackson, author of Tantric Treasures: Three Collections of Mystical Verse from Buddhist India and Professor of Religion at Carleton College
”Saraha’s Song for the King is a sublime ode to enlightenment, famous in Tibet for nearly a millennium. Traditionally counted as one in a trilogy of poetic songs offered by Saraha to the king, queen, and people of eastern India, A Song for the King uses a series of linked metaphors to lead the listener through the stages of mahamudra meditation. The oral teaching on Saraha’s Songby contemporary master Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, so smoothly translated here by Peter O’Hearn, is based upon a famous sixteenth-century commentary by Karma Trinlépa. Thrangu Rinpoche’s careful analysis helps the reader to savor both the aesthetic richness and the contemplative instructions of Saraha’s verses. This eloquent work is a welcome contribution to the literature on Saraha’s songs in English.”
—Kurtis R. Schaeffer, author of Dreaming the Great Brahmin: Tibetan Traditions of the Buddhist Poet-Saint Saraha. and Professor of Tibetan Buddhism at the University of Virginia