Atisa Dipamkara Srijana

Year of birth : 980
Place of birth : Bikrompur, Bengal, Pala Empire
Parents : Kalyana Shri, Shri Prabhavati

Books by the Master

" Bodhipathapradipa " ... " Charya-sanggraha-pradipa " ..." Satya-dvayavatara " ... " Bodhi-sattva-manyavali " ..." Madhyamaka-ratna-pradipa " ... " Mahayana-patha-sadhana-sanggraha " ..." Shiksa-samuchchaya Abhisamya " ... " Prajna-paramita-pindartha-pradipa " ..." Ekavira-sadhana " ... " Vimala-ratna-lekha "


Atisha dipamkara srijnana was said to have been born the second son of a royal house in eastern India, given the name Candragarbha at birth. His father was Kalyana the Good and his mother Prabhavati the Radiant. After experiencing a vision of Tara at the age of eleven, on the eve of his marriage, he entered a religious path, initially practicing Hevajra in the company of tantrikas. Atisha was said to have studied with a number of the Indian Mahasiddhas, including Jetari, Kaṇha, Avadhutipa, Dombipa, and Naropa, and it is reported that he received the bodhisattva vow at Nalanda from Bodhibhadra. 

One day, as Atisa considered practising his tantra with all the energy he could summon until he achieved his full potential he was confronted by a contending voice. The Black Mountain Yogi appeared to him in a dream, and advised him to take his time through steady practice in order to achieve the enlightenment he was seeking. Rather than extend all his powers at once, the Black Mountain Yogi warned, he should endeavour to become a "spiritual seeker who has renounced family life", a monk. Therefore, in his twenty-ninth year, Atisa was formally declared a monk under an ordination of the great Silaraksita, and given the new name of Dipamkara srijnana, meaning "He whose deep awareness acts as a lamp." One of his teachers was Dharmaraksita, who is remembered as the reputed author of the Wheel of Sharp Weapons. 

Even as a monk, Dipamkara srijnana yearned for the fastest and most direct means of attaining perfect enlightenment. He made a pilgrimage to Bodhgaya and, as he was circumambulating the great stupa there, had a vision consisting of two materialisations of Tara. Thus, at the age of thirty-one, the monk arranged for a perilous journey, traveling for thirteen months to Sumatra in order to study under the reputable Suvarnadvipi dharmakirti, a supposed master of bodhichitta. Under the guidance of Suvarnadvipi dharmakirti, Atisa remained on the island of Sumatra for twelve years studying bodhichitta and exclusive mind training techniques of oral origination. Finally, after over a decade of intensive training, Suvarnadvipi dharmakirti advised Atisa to "go to the north. In the north is the Land of Snows." Suvarnadvipi Dharmakirti was referring to Tibet, a region with a Buddhist tradition forever changed after the arrival of Atisa Dipamkara srijnana. From his Master, Suvarnadvipi Dharmakirti, Atisa learnt one meditation that became one of Tibetans fundamental meditation techniques, i.e. Tongleng Meditation. A meditation that aims to recycle supposedly negative energy into loving and healing energy. 

Atisha resided in Tolung for three years, giving teachings that gave birth to his masterpiece, the Bodhipathapradipa, or Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment. The short text, in sixty-seven verses, lays out the entire Buddhist path in terms of the three vehicles: Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana, and became the model for subsequent texts in the genre of Lamrim (lam rim), the stages of the path. There he also met the man who would become his closest disciple, Dromton gyelwa jungne.