Roger Jackson: Saraha – Poet of Gnostic Bliss

Saraha, “the Archer,” is arguably the most important of the mahāsiddhas, the charismatic and sometimes outrageous Indian Buddhist tantric adepts of the 8th to 11th centuries CE. His poetic works – and especially his Treasury of Dohās or People Dohās – were analyzed and quoted both by his Indian successors and by scholars and contemplatives in all the great Tibetan traditions, where they are regarded as the fountainhead of the philosophical and meditative system focused on the nature of the mind known as mahāmudrā, the Great Seal.

This workshop will explore the context, life, and teachings of Saraha, drawing on our knowledge of his Indian milieu, the Tibetan hagiographical tradition devoted to him, and selected portions of his verse – most of which is only available in Tibetan, although some has been preserved in one or another Indic language. We will focus above all upon understanding Saraha’s Buddhist teachings, utilizing literary analysis and religious and philosophical investigation to get a sense of paradoxes and promises of his distinctive and deeply influential presentation of the Dharma. The workshop will include lecture, discussion, and some meditation. It is suitable for students with all levels of knowledge and experience.

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