Je means Lord and Tsun means purity discipline. One of the number one biographies of Tibetan masters is the biography of Jetsun Milarepa. Jetsun Milarepa is one of the Tibetan Yogi enlightened in one lifetime. 

Milarepa was born in the year 1052 at the Gungtang Kya Nga Za near Phikutso Lake. Gungtang village is located around 100 km from Saga, approximately 150 km from Old Tingri, and about 100 km from Kyirong town. 

His father was a great businessman named Mila Sherap Gyaltsen. When Mila Sherap was on a business trip, Jetsun Milarepa was born. When his mother delivers the message with messengers to his father to pick a name for him. His father was so pleased after hearing the great news of his newly born son. He said it is a great joy to hear this news so let's call my son" A joy to hear " which is the real name of Jetsun Milarepa "To Pa Gah" (also meaning pleasant to hear)

When Jetsun Milarepa was around eight years old, a severe illness caught his father, and he can't even wake up from bed, so he called Jetsun Milarepa's Uncle and Aunty to take good care of the family and wealth until Jetsun Milarepa reach the age of 15. The Uncle and Aunty agreed with the agreement letter from the father.

After his father passed away, Uncle took all the men's wealth; Aunty took all the women's wealth of the family. They even let his mother, his younger sister Peta and himself be the servant of the family. It was a hard time for them.

After a few years passed by, his mother sold a small field and gathered all the villagers and people who were present during the agreement time including his Uncle and Aunty. 

Mother urges the Uncle and Aunty about the agreement, but instead of giving the wealth back, they start criticizing his mother and family that the wealth belonged to them from the beginning since Uncle has so many sons, so no one was ready to raise their voice and help Jetsun Milarepa and his mother.  

Uncle shouts that if you have more people's support, bring them to war with me and if you don't have, use black magic to destroy and leave the house, slowly everyone left home. The words from Uncle created a deep sadness in his family. After a few years, his mother sent him to U Tsang to learn black magic with some gold. Mother told him that if he returns without learning the black magic, she will suicide. 

After learning black magic, he came back to the Gungtang and used black magic that killed 33 people including the sons of Uncle during the marriage ceremony. 

He went back to his black magic teacher and told him that even though I have defeated my enemies, why there is a sense of emptiness in my mind. His teacher urges him to seek enlightenment for himself and all beings since if he doesn't look for a teacher who can show him the path to enlightenment, hell is the only destination for him since he has killed so many people.

His teacher sent him to a Nyingmapa master who has very high teaching which if we practice in the day, we will enlighten in the day. If we practice at night, we will enlighten in the night. If they are anyone with a karmic connection with this teaching in the past life, they can even enlighten while hearing the teachings. 

After hearing these from the Nyingma lama, Jetsun Milarepa slept for a few days since he thought enlightenment is more accessible than practicing black magic which took him around two weeks. 

After seeing Jetsun Milarepa not do the things Lama told him, Nyingma lama said: you should go and look for Lama Je Marpa since Lama Je Marpa, and you have a karmic connection.

Just hearing the name of Lama Marpa, great joy arises in the mind of Jetsun Milarepa. Later met Lama Je Marpa in Lhodrak town. Lama Marpa let him build a 9th-floor monastery known as Sey Kar Gutok (9th-floor prince palace ) all by himself. They were wounds on his back with blood bleeding. Lama Je Marpa's wife said: I have seen animals with scars on the back and bleeding but never seen human bleeding and crying. 

Photo: Lama Je Marpa 

Lama Je Marpa let Jetsun Milarepa to built the 9th-floor monastery to purify his karmic debts. After staying with Lama Je Marpa for around 6-7 years. Later Jetsun Milarepa went to the village and meditated in solitude for many years in the Kang Tsuk Phuk, Drak Kar Taso, Mamo Dzong, Lapchi, and many other retreat areas and enlightened. 

He has benefited many great disciples, the sun-like disciple is Je Gampopa Dakpo Laje, and the moonlike disciple is Je Rechung Dorje Drakpa. 


When Je Marpa asked his four great disciples to look for a dream to predict the future of Marpa Kagyu. Jetsun Milarepa has the vision that one Vulture is flying high in the mountain giving birth to a Crane. The Crane was giving birth to many Cranes and flew all the different directions giving a glimpse of Kagyu today. 

The Vulture is Jetsun Milarepa; he will be staying in the high mountains his whole life meditating and teaching Dharma to humans, gods, spirits, and animals. 

The Crane is his sun-like disciple Je Gampopa, he has so many great disciples including Je Pakmo Drupa, Je Karmapa, Je Dharma Wangchuk, and Je Zundru Drak. 

They took the Kagyu even further by having great disciples like Je Kyopa Jigten, Je Lingrepa, Je Tsangpa Gyare, Je Tsang Nyon, Je U Nyon, Je Drukpa Kunley, and many others. 

Thank you for reading the shorter version biography of Jetsun Milarepa.  Some quotes from Jetsun Milarepa. 

Jetsun Milarepa's flesh body has lived around 84 years; his mind is a legend that remains even nowadays in the heart of many seekers.

Written By :Tenzin

Feb 10, 2023


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