Three Vajras

Nagarjuna and the Prajnaparamita Teaching

Nagarjuna was presumably born between 150-250 AD in the south of India. There are several versions of his birth and early years. According to one of them Nagarjuna was a sick child, so he was sent to a mountain monastery in order to improve his health. There, near a mountain lake, he experienced a vision of the Nagas’ king and his underwater palace. He had a vision of a Stupa, surrounded by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Nagarjuna opened this stupa and saw inside it another one, which was just identical to…read more

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Machig Labdron

Machig Labdron lived in Tibet in the 11th century. Legend says that Padmasambhava predicted that she would be born as a reincarnation of Yeshe Tsogyal. When she was a child she used to read the Prajnaparamita sutra for wealthy patrons. It was thought that repetitively reading the sutra brought merit, and as she was able to read very fast, her services were highly valued (merits’ size was determined by the number of readings). Machig used to walk from house to house until she met the teacher named Lama Sonam Drapa…read more

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Niguma

Niguma, a yogini, bodhisattva, and dakini, lived presumably in the eleventh century. There is not much information about Niguma’s life nor about her birth. Information about her is rather controversial and is wrapped in mystery. According to one legend Niguma was born in Kashmir, in a region called the Country of the Great Magic. During the lifetime of the previous Buddha this land was cowered with water and belonged to the King of Nagas. More recently, this region has become the birthplace of many mahasiddhas, among whom was also Naropa….read more

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Ananda

Ananda was Buddha’s cousin as well as one of his closest disciples. Though Buddha had different assistants, they were not always around. When Buddha was 55 years old he felt that he was getting older and needed an assistant to help him with his affairs. When the sangha gathered to discuss the matter many suggested themselves; only Ananda remained silent. Buddha made his choice of Ananda for his modesty, devotion and purity of intentions. Buddha and Ananda were of approximately the same age. For the following 25 years, until Buddha’s…read more

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Asanga

(4-5th century) Asanga’s name is translated as “Free from attachments”. Asanga and his brother Vasubandhu were born in India, to a Brahmin family. When the boys became old enough to choose their future occupation their mother dissuaded them from worldly occupations and directed them to the path of studying Dharma: “I gave birth to you not for wordly occupations. You have to purify your minds and to preach the Teaching.” Following his mother’s instructions, filled with unbreakable determination to meet Buddha Maytreya and to obtain his teaching, Asanga headed to…read more

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Hakuin

Hakuin Ekaku (1686-1768) was born to a family in charge of managing a postal station in a small village in Japan. His family was a respected.  There were samurais in his family, and his grandfather was a Zen priest. His family followed the local religious traditions. Hakuin himself was very an impressive child; keenly perceiving his surroundings. He was eleven when he first attended a sermon concerning the torments awaiting sinners in the hell realms. This overwhelmed him with fear. Searching for liberation from suffering, Hakuin decided to devote his…read more

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Jina Mahavira

(Buddhism and Jainism) Jina Mahavira, also known by the name Nigantha Jnataputta, lived around the same time as the Buddha, the 6 century BC. Mahavira was probably a little older than Buddha. Mahavira was the founder of Jainism. The lives of Buddha and Mahavira have much in common: like Buddha, Mahavira was born to a noble family and was given a brilliant education and marital training. The name “Mahavira”, meaning the “great warrior”, was given to Mahavira after he tamed a cobra and a wild elephant. It was when Mahavira’s…read more

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Mahaprajapati Gautami, Buddha’s Aunt

Buddha’s mother passed away soon after giving birth to him, so he was raised by his aunt Mahaprajapati Gautami, his mother’s younger sister. Mahaprajapati had a son of the same age as Buddha Shakyamuni, and the two children were raised together, but in particular Buddha was raised by her as the future king. After Buddha attained enlightenment his aunt became his disciple, the first among women. A few times she approached him with the request to start teaching Dharma to other women. At that time women were considered and treated…read more

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