Forthcoming translation of Ralo's namthar

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Palzang Jangchub
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Forthcoming translation of Ralo's namthar

Post by Palzang Jangchub »

Just learned that Dr. Bryan Cuevas --- my former Tibetan professor at Florida State University --- will be using some recently awarded grant money to publish his English translation of the biography of one of Tibet’s most controversial Buddhist saints, Ra Lotsawa Dorje Drak. Some of you may know him as the infamous Vajrabhairava practitioner who claimed to have killed Darma Dodé, the son of Marpa Lotsawa. Ralo’s life story, formally titled “The All-Pervading Melodious Drumbeat,” has never been translated into any other language from its original Tibetan.

Ra Lotsawa's namthar will be published by Penguin Classics in late 2014 or early 2015.

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“Among the most illustrious Buddhist saints of Tibet, Ralo stands tall as one of the most notorious figures in the history of Tibetan Buddhist culture, equal in celebrity to Tibet’s beloved poet Milarepa (1040-1123 A.D.),” Cuevas said. “But whereas Milarepa is viewed as Tibet’s ideal Buddhist contemplative yogin(a master of yoga), who in a single lifetime transformed himself from great sinner to great saint, Ralo is his shadow double.”

Was Ralo, who was born in 1016 and died around 1100 A.D., an enlightened saint or a murderous villain? Nearly 1,000 years later, the answer to that question is still somewhat ambiguous. According to legend, he killed more than a dozen Tibetan lamas, or Buddhist high priests — many of them famous and with large numbers of followers of their own. But according to texts of the Yamāntaka and Vajrabhairava traditions of Buddhist practice that he brought from India and Nepal, translated and then popularized in Tibet, Ralo was compelled to “liberate” those who were on the wrong path so that they could eventually reach a state of enlightenment.

Faithful supporters viewed Ralo’s actions as heroically virtuous, both because they served to promulgate a “truer” Buddhism and to subjugate his enemies.

“He is the paradigmatic sinister yogin, Tibetan Buddhist antihero and wonder-worker, who deployed his magical abilities to defeat his competitors and to gain abundant riches, worldly power and spiritual influence,” Cuevas said. “His achievements, however, were not confined to the promotion of hostile practices in defense of Buddhism but included translations from Sanskrit of major Indian Tantric Buddhist scriptures — hence the name ‘Lotsawa,’ the Tibetan term for ‘translator,’ which was reserved for only the most learned of Buddhist linguistic scholars.”

Cuevas says his translation of “The All-Pervading Melodious Drumbeat” will challenge popular and overly romantic conceptions of Buddhism as a thoroughly pacifist and non-violent religion.

“The topic of Buddhist violence has been attracting a growing audience in recent years, and a few excellent books on the topic have now appeared,” he said. “To date, however, there have been no sustained scholarly studies on the history of Buddhist sorcery and ritual magic. Buddhist sorcery has been a legitimate expression of religious and political action throughout Buddhist history. In Tibet, magic and spiritual warfare have been inextricably tied to conventional Buddhist forms of ritual action and deeply embedded in Tibetan religious ideology.”

Readers of Ralo’s translated biography, Cuevas said, will discover “extravagant accounts of Ralo’s magical exploits, as well as the more conventional episodes in the life of a Buddhist saint — wondrous birth, remarkable childhood, quest for the guru, enlightenment, meritorious works and expansive preaching career.”
The full article can be found here: http://artsandsciences.fsu.edu/In-the-N ... fellowship
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"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྩ་བའི་བླ་མ་སྐྱབས་རྗེ་མགར་ཆེན་ཁྲི་སྤྲུལ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་ཁྱེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ།།
རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་མཁས་གྲུབ་ཀརྨ་ཆགས་མེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ། ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོཿ
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Konchog1
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Re: Forthcoming translation of Ralo's namthar

Post by Konchog1 »

http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.ph ... wa#p184531" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Two rough efforts whille we wait
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Palzang Jangchub
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Re: Forthcoming translation of Ralo's namthar

Post by Palzang Jangchub »

Konchog,

I actually came across your previous post on DW and read some of the version posted on that site. The only reason I refrained from mentioning it was due to uncertainty as to the source of that translation, since on the home page of RaLotsawa.com there's a reference to a "well researched translation by Brian J Cuevas" and the way the statement is worded, it's unclear to me if the contents are a rough translation by Peter Alan Roberts, the site's author, or if it's indeed somehow Cuevas' work. I don't mean to imply that Roberts somehow pirated what Cuevas wrote, as this would seem unlikely... just that without being sure I didn't feel confident enough to mention it myself.

Perhaps Dr. Cuevas and FSU simply weren't aware of Mr. Roberts' online efforts when they mentioned that The All-Pervasive Melodious Drumbeat was currently only extant in Tibetan; or maybe they meant to say that, to date, a translation of Ralo's namthar hasn't been published in book form. Not sure.

I don't know PAR, but the more I read about him the more I like what I hear. From the information I could find, he appears to be a legitimate and very well-respected translator, having interpreted for Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche for quite some time and even translated several of his books. He's also listed as a contributor to the 84000 project started by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. And last but not least, he's the author of The Biographies of Rechungpa: The Evolution of a Tibetan Hagiography, a work which I know bears some importance for the Kagyu lineage in particular. Pretty impressive credentials, if you ask me.

If it's his own translation of Ra Lotsawa's bio on that site, as it would seem to be, then why not publish somewhere online where it would get more online visibility? For that matter, why not take his work to one of the publishers he's worked with before? He's dealt with Shambhala, Namo Buddha, Routledge, and the Library of Tibetan Classics, so there should've been no shortage of places to turn to.

:shrug:

Maybe he put it out there for the edification and enjoyment of the people with the karma to find it, or simply didn't care to get any notoriety for being the first to have translated it. Perhaps he didn't want to deal with having a publisher, and decided to post it directly to his site in lieu of the extra steps that printing his work would take.

I've sent Peter a message on Facebook inquiring about this, and will let you know what he says on the matter if he gets back to me. Whatever the case, thank you for bringing him to my attention...

:thumbsup:
Image

"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྩ་བའི་བླ་མ་སྐྱབས་རྗེ་མགར་ཆེན་ཁྲི་སྤྲུལ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་ཁྱེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ།།
རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་མཁས་གྲུབ་ཀརྨ་ཆགས་མེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ། ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོཿ
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Konchog1
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Re: Forthcoming translation of Ralo's namthar

Post by Konchog1 »

It's an odd website. For example, there's no link to the text on the front page. I randomly found the page through google. I don't remember the search terms but it wasn't as simple as 'ra lotsawa'
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
Phenomniverse
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Re: Forthcoming translation of Ralo's namthar

Post by Phenomniverse »

There's another (brief) biography here:
http://www.treasuryoflives.org/biograph ... TBRC_p3143" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
wisdomfire
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Re: Forthcoming translation of Ralo's namthar

Post by wisdomfire »

There is already a translation into Chinese some years ago.
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Karinos
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Re: Forthcoming translation of Ralo's namthar

Post by Karinos »

Karma Jinpa wrote: Some of you may know him as the infamous Vajrabhairava practitioner who claimed to have killed Darma Dodé, the son of Marpa Lotsawa
Infamous in Kagyu, VERY famous in Gelugpa hahaha :)

well ... he is lineage Guru in Vajrabhairava tantra and practice which is practiced widely in Gelugpa (just stating obvious :twothumbsup: )
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