by Swami Sivananda
Tibet's Great Yogi: It was in the first autumn month, on the twenty-fifth day of A.D. 1052 under the influence of an auspicious star that Milarepa was born. His father gave him the name Thopaga (which means "delightful to hear"). He had one sister by name Peta. Milarepa's father was Mila-Sherab-Gyaltsen. Milarepa was born in a rich family. His hair was plaited with gold and turquoises when he was young. When Milarepa reached the age of seven, his father died. His uncle was in charge of the estate of Milarepa. He deceived Milarepa and his mother and ill-treated them. Milarepa was a black-magician in the beginning. He destroyed his enemies by launching a hailstorm just to please his mother. Then he repented very much and turned to the "white path" or the path of virtue.
Marapa was the Guru of Milarepa. Milarepa was also known by the name of Jetsun. Marapa tested Jetsun very much in various ways.
With great difficulty Milarepa got the highest initiation from his Guru, and became his pet disciple. He practised severe austerities and meditation in solitary caves. Demema, the wife of Marapa, treated Milarepa with kindness and tender affection, because Milarepa was energetic, sincere, hardworking and intelligent. He was shut up in a cave. Food was passed inside by the servant of Marapa through a small aperture in the side. Milarepa used to sit in a rigid posture with a lighted-lamp on his head, without moving till the light was out, were it night or day.
Milarepa meditated in various caves. His body was reduced to a skeleton owing to severe austerities. He lived on nettles only for several months. He followed the instructions of his Guru to the very letter. He developed various Siddhis. Just as Lord Krishna multiplied himself and appeared in the house of all the Gopis, so also Milarepa had the power to take as many forms as he liked. He played with his disciples by multiplying himself.
Milarepa once transferred his pain to the door of his meditation room. The door began to emit sounds of cracking and splitting. It throbbed and vibrated and was on the point of crumbling down.
Milarepa attained the state of Buddha-hood. The caves where he practised devotion and meditation are even now places of pilgrimage and worship. He had a large number of followers. Even now there are people in Tibet who belong to his school. He died in A.D. 1135 at the age of eighty-four. Those who desire to have a detailed study of his life can get a copy of the book "Tibet's Great Yogi—Milarepa" (by W.Y. Evans Wentz, Jesus College Oxford) from the Oxford University Press, London.