Tilopa Sahaja


These words are from the Dohakosha of the great Indian Mahasiddha Tilopa. He lived around 10th/11th CE in Bengal. Tilopa’s sahajīya poetry – his dohas, are composed in Apabhramsha, a dialect spoken those days in the North Indian plains which is one of the precursors of modern day Hindi. 


māraha citta ṇivvāṇeṃ haṇiā

tihuaṇa suṇṇa ṇirañjaṇa pasiā


Kill the mind !

Having destroyed it with nirvāna,

Enter the undefiled [wisdom of]

The emptiness of the triple world.


– Mahasiddha Tilopa


Explanation of the verses

The mind which is caught in the net of myriad concepts is the mind of samsara – going weary in its confused pursuits. This samsaric mind is annihilated when wisdom (prajna) blazes high and reveals the emptiness (sunyata) of all these concepts. Nirvana is the annihilation of this mind of confusion (vibhrānta citta). With nirvana Tilopa Sahajathere is the undefiled wisdom (nirañjana jnana) of the empty (sunya) nature of the three worlds. Then, though the three worlds appear with all its vividness, they are seen to be illusory and empty of essence. The myriad displays of the phenomenal world is no more powerful in entrapping one in myriad concepts. Then, the co-arisen wisdom (sahaja jnana) – the inborn wisdom of the original nature of mind – can no longer be overpowered. 


Sahaja means the co-arisen. Particularly, it refers to the stainless wisdom that is the very nature of mind. Ordinarily, we miss to recognize that nature of mind and wanders in contrived and distorted states of mind in Samsara. The Yogi recognizes the Sahaja which is non-dualistic (advaya) and non-abiding (apratisthitha).


About Mahasiddha Tilopa

Born in Bengal Tilopa entered the Mahayana Buddhist Monastery of Somapura which was also a centre of Vajrayana practice. His main gurus are said to be Nagarjuna, Krishnacarya, Lavapa and a yogini named Subhagini. Later he leaves monastery and lives among the Candalas. Some records say that he stayed and practiced in the banks of Ganga in the North and the charnel grounds of Kanchi in South India. Tilopa pounded sesame, producing sesame oil. His name is supposedly derived from that (til – sesame). Living that way he attained sahaja jnana. 


Later when he started teaching, he made his life into his message, which is in essence –

Just as how till oil is hidden in till as an essence, Sahaja jnana is hidden in our own mind.


Yogini Abhaya Devi
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