This exquisite full-color presentation of the lives of the eighty-four mahāsiddhas, or “great accomplished ones,” offers a fresh glimpse into the world of the famous tantric yogis of medieval India. The stories of these tantric saints have captured the imagination of Buddhists across Asia for nearly a millennium. Unlike monks and nuns who renounce the world, these saints sought the sacred in the midst of samsara. Some were simple peasants who meditated while doing manual labor. Others were kings and queens who traded the comfort and riches of the palace for the danger and transgression of the charnel ground. Still others were sinners—pimps, drunkards, gamblers, and hunters—who transformed their sins into sanctity.
This book includes striking depictions of each of the mahāsiddhas by a master Tibetan painter, whose work has been preserved in pristine condition. Published here for the first time in its entirety, this collection includes details of the painting elements along with the life stories of the tantric saints, making this one of the most comprehensive works available on the eighty-four mahāsiddhas.
"Seeing the Sacred in Samsara is a gem that should adorn the library of every Tibetan Buddhist or that of anyone who has more than a passing interest in Tibetan Buddhism. This book brings to life the stories of the Indian mahāsiddhas, hugely important figures in the imagination of the Tibetan Vajrayana tradition." —Thupten Jinpa, Principal English Translator to His Holiness the Dalai Lama
"Commissioned from an artist in eastern Tibet by a senior member of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama’s government but never displayed or published before, these remarkable paintings offer fresh insight into the workings of a master painter and the conversion of religious concepts into images. Written with his characteristic clarity and elegance, Professor Lopez has produced a book that will be a delight for admirers of Tibetan painting and a wonderful resource for students of Tibetan Buddhism." —Clare Harris, Professor of Visual Anthropology, University of Oxford
"This book makes available for the first time a beautiful set of paintings of the Indian siddhas from early twentieth century Tibet. Lopez’s introduction provides the reader with a marvelous overview of the siddhas, their social context, the tantric tradition to which they belonged, their doctrines, and their depiction in Tibetan art history. A feast for both the eye and the mind, Seeing the Sacred in Samsara is a superb primer on one of the most important and fascinating saintly confederations in all of Buddhist history." —José Cabezón, Dalai Lama Professor of Tibetan Buddhism and Cultural Studies, University of California Santa Barbara