Buddhist Masters of Enchantment
Buddhist Masters of Enchantment

Buddhist Masters of Enchantment

The Lives and Legends of the Mahasiddhas

By Keith Dowman

This book describes the inspirational lives of 84 extraordinary practitioners of Buddhist Tantra. These Mahasiddhas lived from the 8th-12th Centuries when Vajrayana flourished in India.

After a short introduction which clarifies the key terms of Vajrayana, Keith Dowman summaries 54 of these stories, together with line drawings and paintings. This style of presentation makes the book accessible to people who may have little time to read – but who are none-the-less interested in how Manibhadra (‘The Model Wife’), Tantipa (‘The Senile Weaver’), or Thaganapa (‘The Master of Lies’) attained complete realisation in one life. By illustrating those stories, the book gives a straight and direct insight into the nature of Vajrayana as it is still practiced today. It concerns ordinary people who embrace the nature of their lives and who are simultaneously aware of their confusion. Through extraordinary luck each potential Mahasiddha meets a realised master who recognises that the nature of their derangement is indivisible from its remedy. The practitioner receives a practice from a vajra master, and they practice as they were instructed within the frame of their life circumstances. They gain realisation and become teachers themselves.

The stories are straightforward in terms of their content yet mystical in their style. This corresponds perfectly with the fact that—however terrible, wonderful or boring one’s life circumstances might be—such extraordinary stories are always occurring in the here and now.


Aro offers retreats on the method of the Mahasiddhas.

Another book on the Mahasiddhas is Masters of Mahamudra, also by Keith Dowman.

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