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Mahasiddha KarnarepaKarnaripa / Āryadeva (‘phags pa lha): “The One-Eyed”/”The Lotus Born


At birth, Aryadeva sprang magically from the pollen filled heart of a lotus flower. Soon he was ordained in Sri Nalanda and in time, became the abbot of the monastery. However, after many years of selfless service, he grew restless and feels that he had not realized his own perfect potential. Finally, he decided to search for the guru Nagarjuna in hope to gain ultimate knowledge. On his journey, he chanced a meeting with a humble fisherman whom he recognized as the Bodhisattva Manjusri. Aryadeva prostrated and presented him many offerings. When Manjusri offered to grant him a favor, the abbot asked if he could tell him where Nagarjuna was.

Manjusri pointed him the direction and Aryadeva set of to search for Nagarjuna. Soon he came upon a humble hut of woven grass. There he saw Nagarjuna and prostrated himself before the master. Nagarjuna sensed an extraordinary presence and agreed to his pupil’s desire for instruction. He gave him initiation in the mandala of Guhyasamaja and taught him the accompanying precepts and allowed Aryadeva to remain with him to practice his sadhanas.

Each day, the two masters journeyed to a nearby town to beg for food, but Nagarjuna had the greatest difficulty getting offerings while Aryadeva would come back with a feast. After awhile, Nagarjuna grew cranky told Aryadeva to eat only what he can lift with the point of a pin. Aryadeva obeyed, but soon the women of the town prepared cunning little barley cakes and balanced on the point of a pin, which he offered to his guru. However, the guru grew suspicious and forbade him to enter town. From then on, Nagarjuna would beg for them both.

The next day when the master went to town, a beauteous tree nymph appeared bearing a feast for Aryadeva. When Nagarjuna returned, his pupil told him about the visit and the master called out for the nymph asking why she have not appeared before him but to his disciple. The tree nymph chastised the guru, and said because Aryadeva is free and pure while Nagarjuna have traces of passion embedded. The guru reflected on that.

That very day, Nagarjuna perfected his elixir of eternal youth and anointed his tongue with a few drops. But when he handed the bowl to his disciple, Aryadeva threw the contents to a dead tree which immediately sprang into full blossom. Shocked, Nagarjuna asked his pupil to replace the contents of that bowl, and obedient as ever, Aryadeva took a bucket of water and peed into it. Then he stirred the contents with a twig and handed it to his guru. Stating that he have made too much, Aryadeva splashed half the contents onto another dead tree and it also restored to radiant life.

Nodding his head, Nagarjuna said, “it’s quite obvious to me that you’re already fully realized. Why do you insist on staying in samsara?” whereupon, Aryadeva was infused with ecstasy and levitated to the height of 7 palm trees. Fully liberated from birth, as are all the lotus-born, he needed only a word from his guru to convince him of what he had been too innocent to see before.

He began teaching the Buddha’s message to all beings, aiding them to bring their minds to maturity. And when he finished his labors, he turned the soles of his feet to the sky, placed his palms together in adoration and prostrated himself before his guru. And as the heavenly host gathered to shower flowers down upon him, he simply vanished.