Oneness without oneness – On Mahasiddha Shavaripa

Mahasiddha Shabaripada

Though he expresses with manifold variety of chattering,
The mind of the Yogi does not depart from the one.
In that oneness, there is not even oneness!
Therefore, the manifold is also free from any basis.
He dwells like a madman, careless and vacant,
In effortless conduct, like a baby.

In the state of carefree enjoyment of one’s realization,
When the plight of confused beings become evident,
Tears come forth through the power of overwhelming compassion.
Exchanging self for others, (the Yogi) engages for the benefit of others.

– Mahasiddha Shabaripada (Shavaripa)

Mahasiddha Shavaripa (Shabaripada) was one among the acclaimed 84 Mahasiddhas of Buddhism in India who attained the Mahamudra realization. He sang the above verses (from his Doha-kosha) regarding how the direct realization of emptiness and dependent arising leads to the carefree and unfabricated conduct of the Mahasiddhas, and how that manifests as great compassion to all beings.

The Yogi who attained Mahamudra realization sees all phenomena to be in one taste, that of Great Bliss (Mahāsukha). Though the Yogi engages in the manifold worldly expressions for communicating with others, his inner experience and realization never departs from that oneness of one taste. He does not experience anything whatsoever to be devoid of Great Bliss. He also sees that in this oneness of one-taste, there is not even one thing that can be found and grasped. It is utterly empty, yet it is ceaselessly experienced. And, since even that oneness is devoid of ‘one essence’, what needs to be told about the multitude of phenomena arisings! Even though he engages in a multitude of worldly expressions, he sees them to be utterly baseless, because even the oneness of one-taste is devoid of essence.

Mahasiddha Shavaripa’s quote from Doha-kosha on carefree conduct and compassionSince there is nothing to cling on to in the entire phenomenal arisings and in its one-taste, he is utterly free from hopes and fears. He has nothing to reject and nothing to hold on to. Therefore, he dwells careless and vacant, like a madman, nothing whatsoever bothering him and no phenomenal arising being capable of affecting the great bliss. He is as effortless as an infant in his conduct, because there are no consequences to fear.

Ordinary sentient beings are shattered by suffering. Since they have not realized the great bliss nature of all phenomena, they remain in confusion and delusion. And, they are tormented by hopes and fears. Tears roll down from an accomplished Mahasiddha upon seeing this plight of sentient beings, by being overwhelmed by great compassion (Mahakaruna). This is so, even though he is ceaselessly in his state of carefree enjoyment. Thus naturally, self is exchanged for the other. It means, the purpose of others is seen to be even more important than that of oneself.

It needs to be noted that for an accomplished Mahasiddha, there is no special meaning to be attributed to one action versus another. Because all actions and all results are experienced in the one taste of Great Bliss (Mahasukha). For one’s own purpose the carefree conduct is possible, and nothing more than a carefree conduct is required. Yet, by being overwhelmed the plight of other beings, the Mahasiddha sees greater benefit in one action versus others, because other beings may derive more benefit from than action. And, thus he engages in compassionate deeds of benefitting others by always keeping others before self.

Mahasiddha Shabaripada (known in Tibet as Mahasiddha Shavaripa) was originally a hunter by profession. He is called Shabaripada, because he comes from the hunting tribe called Shabara. Later, Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara introduced him to great compassion. Then, he stopped killing animals. Later, the Bodhisattva introduced him to the entire teachings of the Buddha. He is also said to have learned from Mahasiddha Saraha. Shavaripa practiced the teachings rigorously and soon accomplished the Mahamudra.

His realization of mahamudra and non-duality was later expressed beautifully by a later scholar in this way, by drawing parallels to his earlier life.

In the forest of ignorance lurks a deer,
The deer called alienation.
Taking out the great bow of wisdom and skillful means,
And shooting the single arrow of ultimate truth,
The deer dies – yes, conceptual thoughts die!
There is the flesh – a feast of non-duality,
And, the taste is that of Great Bliss (Mahāsukha),
And the goal, the Mahamudra is accomplished!

Yogi Prabodha Jnana
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