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Marpa Lotsawa courtesy of Shechen Archives

Mahamudra (Skt. Mahāmudrā; Tib. ཕྱག་རྒྱ་ཆེན་པོ་, Chakgya Chenpo, Wyl. phyag rgya chen po), or ‘Great Seal’ is the meditation tradition of the Kagyü lineage which passed from Maitripa and Naropa in India to Marpa Lotsawa in Tibet. It is also practised in the other schools of Tibetan Buddhism.


Mudra means that it encompasses all phenomena of samsara, nirvana, and the path. In other words, they are 'sealed' within it. It is called maha or “great,” because nothing is superior to it.

Subdivisions or Levels of Interpretation

  • Mahamudra of the sutra system refers to the attainment of perfect enlightenment through the five paths and ten bhumis.
  • Tantric Mahamudra is related to the inner yogas and the practice of dzogrim.
  • Essence Mahamudra (Tib. ངོ་བོའི་ཕྱག་རྒྱ་ཆེན་པོ་, Wyl. ngo bo'i phyag rgya chenpo) is closer to Dzogchen and is described in terms of a meditative practice leading to the nature of mind.

Relationship to Dzogchen

Jamgön Kongtrul said that Mahamudra corresponds to the Semdé teachings of Dzogpachenpo.[1]


  1. Ringu Tulku, The Ri-me Philosophy of Jamgön Kongtrul the Great, Shambhala Publications, 2006

Teachings Given to the Rigpa Sangha

Further Reading

  • Dakpo Tashi Namgyal, Mahamudra, The Moonlight: Quintessence of Mind and Meditation, translated by Lobsang P. Lhalungpa, Wisdom Publications, 2nd ed. 2006.
  • Dzogchen Ponlop, Wild Awakening: The Heart of Mahamudra & Dzogchen (Boston: Shambhala, 2004)
  • Jackson, Roger R. and Kapstein, Matthew T. (ed.) Mahāmudrā and the bKa´-brgyud Tradition [PIATS 2006: Proceedings of the Eleventh Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies. Königswinter 2006], 2011
  • Kalu Rinpoche, The Union of Mahamudra and Dzogchen, Khyentse Özer, Rigpa, London, 1990.
  • Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Crystal Clear: Practical Advice for Mahamudra Meditators, translated by Erik Pema Kunsang, Ragjung Yeshe, 2004.
  • Roberts, Peter Alan. Mahamudra and Related Instructions: Core Teachings of the Kagyü Schools, Library of Tibetan Classics (Wisdom Publications, 2011)
  • Roberts, Peter Alan. The Mind of Mahamudra: Advice from the Kagyu Masters, translated and introduced by Peter Alan Roberts (London: Wisdom Publications, 2015)
  • Tsele Natsok Rangdrol, Lamp of Mahamudra, Shambhala, 1989.

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