Milarepa depicts the humble beginnings of the man who was to become Tibet’s greatest saint. A true story based on centuries-old oral traditions, a youthful Milarepa is propelled into a world of sorrow and betrayal after his father’s sudden death. Destitute and hopeless, he sets out to learn black magic – and exact revenge on his enemies – encountering magicians, demons, an enigmatic teacher and unexpected mystical power along the way. But it is in confrontation with the consequences of his anger that he learns the most.
Photographed in the stunning Lahaul-Spiti region of Northern India, Milarepa offers a provocative parallel to the cycle of violence and retribution we see consuming today’s world.
Milarepa, one of the most widely known Tibetan saints, is also revered for the verses he composed throughout his life, known as the Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa. His faithful devotion to his teacher, Marpa, astonishing perseverance, and ultimate attainment made his life story into a legend, inspiring millions.
Milarepa was born in 1052, the Year of the Water Dragon, in the shadow of Mount Tisi, in Tibet. His family name, Mila, came from a paternal ancestor, and he was given the surname Thopa Ga, Joy-to-Hear. His family was wealthy, but his father’s death, while he and his younger sister were still children, left Thopaga, his mother and sister at the mercy of a ruthless uncle and aunt, who robbed them of every possession, and forced them into servitude. At his mother’s urging, Thopaga sought the teaching of a sorcerer, in order to fulfill his mother’s desire for vengeance.
Once he acquired the adequate powers, Thopaga returned to his village, murdered most of his aunt’s and uncle’s family and then fled. He soon regretted his actions and, realizing the need to purify his karma, sought instruction in Buddhism. After a period of fruitless practice, his first teacher told Thopaga that his karmic connection was stronger with another lama named Marpa Lotsawa, “The Translator of Mar,” and sent Thopaga to find him.
Marpa was a married householder, a great teacher, and the translator of many Sanskrit Buddhist works that have become a standard part of the Tibetan canon. In India his principal guru was Naropa, whose principal guru was Tilopa, a direct successor of the Kagyu lineage. While basically warm and compassionate, Marpa could be quite stern, a method especially appropriate for purifying karmic obstructions. Marpa subjected Milarepa to several years of frustrating trials before he taught him directly. After much intense purification, Milarepa thoroughly devoted himself to practicing these teachings, and achieved his goal of personal liberation.
After Milarepa left Marpa, he pursued his practice continually, living mostly in caves in the desolate mountains of Tibet and Nepal. His austere habit of wearing only a single cotton robe year round earned him the title “repa,” (cotton clad) which, added to his family name, became “Milarepa.” Occasionally he interrupted his solitude to beg for food, and in return would recite extemporaneous teaching songs. Although Milarepa endured great difficulties, he always exhibited great courage, and his reputation grew far and wide.
Milarepa was known for a wry sense of humor and for his candid and direct style. Milarepa never welcomed fame, however, and it seemed as if he often rejected would-be disciples; but this is one of many paradoxes of his unique approach. Judging from the number of his accomplished disciples — particularly for someone who made such an effort to avoid people – he was extremely effective.
About the director:
Neten Chokling Rinpoche, born in Wandipodzong, central Bhutan in 1973, was recognized and enthroned by both the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa and Kyabj Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, from whom he received many teachings and transmissions. Renowned as an accomplished practitioner, he is the spiritual head of the Pema Ewam Choegar Gyurmeling Monastery in India and Tibet
Neten Chokling Rinpoche’s lineage is that of the great terton (treasure finder) Chokgyur Lingpa, and traces itself back to the Tibetan king, Trisong Detsen, who invited Guru Rinpoche to Tibet.
In previous incarnations Neten Chokling Rinpoche accomplished many great activities in association with Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820-1892), a renowned Buddhist saint who played a pivotal role in the revitalization and preservation of Buddhism in Tibet in the 19th century. Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo’s present incarnation is Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, aka Khyentse Norbu – the critically acclaimed film director.
Likewise, Neten Chokling Rinpoche is fascinated with the power of cinematic art and the emotional influence of storytelling through sound and movingpictures. He greatly admires the directors Yasujiro Ozu, Akira Kurosawa, Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou.
Neten Chokling was a principal actor in Khyentse Norbu’s The Cup; and assisted in his latest production Travellers and Magicians as a stuntman, assistant to the director and 2nd unit director. The tradition of accomplishing remarkable activities with Khyentse Norbu, which dates back many centuries, is apparently very much alive and well in this century.
Neten Chokling’s rigorous training in Buddhist meditation and philosophy, combined with a deep interest in the film medium, make him well-suited to bring the teachings alive in a way that is accessible to a modern audience.
For more information visit: The official Milarepa movie website
It will look like this: Milarepa – The Mystic Saint of Tibet Now on Screen