Famous Buddhist Teachers

Bodhidharma | Historical Overview

Bodhidharma (ca. early 5th century), known in China as Damo and in Japan as Daruma; traditionally considered the 28th patriarch of Indian Buddhism and the founder of the Chan (Jpn., Zen) school of Chinese Buddhism. The most important source for Bodhidharma’s life is the Continued Biographies of Eminent Monks, a work written by Daoxuan in 645 and revised before his death in 667:

Bhāviveka | Life

Bhāviveka (c. 490-570 CE), also known as Bhavya or Bhāvaviveka - was an Indian Buddhist philosopher and historian, and founder of the Svātantrika-Madhyamaka School: As all of Bhāviveka’s works are lost in the original Sanskrit and preserved only in Tibetan translations, the scholarly world came to know of him only through Candrakīrti (c. 580-650 CE), who refuted Bhāviveka’s position in the 1st chapter of the Prasannapadā (Clear words).

Aśoka | the Buddhist Emperor

Aśoka (ca. 300-232 BCE.), the 3rd and most powerful of the Mauryan emperors who once dominated the Indian subcontinent (4-3rd centuries BCE), figures centrally in historical as well as legendary accounts of the early Buddhist community’s transformation into a world religion. Aśoka’s landmark reign (c. 268-232 BCE) laid structural foundations for subsequent South Asian imperial formation and his memory has continued to inspire and shape Buddhist practices and politics.

Longchenpa | Life & Works

Longchenpa (Longchen Rabjampa, 1308-1363) is perhaps the most important philosophical author in the history of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism and one of the great figures in 14th century Tibet, a time of larger-than-life authors and systematizations of sectarian traditions. Longchenpa is renowned as the systematiser of the Nyingma tradition of the Great Perfection (Dzogchen), which he expounded in a series of brilliant texts.

Bodhidharma

Within the Chan School or tradition, Bodhidharma (ca. early 5th century) is considered the First Patriarch of China, who brought Chan teachings from India to China, and the 28th patriarch in the transmission of the torch of enlightenment down from Śākyamuni Buddha. Bodhidharma is the subject of countless portraits, where he is represented as an Indian wearing a full beard with rings in his ears and a monk’s robe.

Nāgārjuna | Life & Works

The Indian philosopher Nāgārjuna (c. 150 – c. 250 CE) is probably the single most important Buddhist philosopher. Nothing reliable is known about his life; modern scholars do not accept the traditional account whereby Nāgārjuna lived for some 600 years and became a Tantric wonderworker (siddha), although it is believed that Nāgārjuna was the teacher of Āryadeva. There is a number of works attributed to this Nāgārjuna.

Nāropa

Nāropa (1016-1100) was an Indian tantric adept and scholar who is counted among the 84 Mahāsiddhas, or great adepts. He is widely revered in Tibet for his tantric instructions. Nāropa received monastic ordination and in 1049 entered the Buddhist University of Nālanda, in present-day Bihar. He excelled as a scholar and subsequently served a term as abbot and senior instructor at Nālanda. Later he developed Six Yogas of Nāropa.

Barompa | Barom Kagyu

Barompa Darma Wangchug (b.1127 - d.1194). The boy took novice ordination in his 7th or 8th year and received the name by which he would from then on be known, Darma Wangchug. In 1153 Gampopa presented Darma Wangchug with a piece of gold and advised him to go and meditate at a hermitage in Barom. During his 7 year retreat in Barom the community grew into what became known as Barom Monastery.

Lama Zhang | Tsalpa Kagyu

Zhang Yudrakpa Tsondru Drakpa (b.1123 - d.1193). Zhang Yudrakpa Tsondru Drakpa, also popularly known as Lama Zhang was born in 1123 at Tsawadru in the valley of the Lhasa River south of Lhasa. Lama Zhang later became the founder of the Tsalpa Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and a prominent religious figure, but his extensive involvement in the political and military conflicts of Tibet was controversial at the time.

Gampopa | Life and Legends

Gampopa (1079-1153) PART ONE: Early Life, Finding the Guru. Gampopa, also known as Dagpo Rinpoche, is one of the most important figures in the Kagyu lineage: The foremost disciple of Jetsun Milarepa, he truly consolidated the Kagyu tradition by integrating its special teachings with those of the other main trends of Buddhism: Fulfilling his promise, and inwardly very happy to renounce worldly life, he took monk's vows and went into retreat.

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