Virupa (Skt. Virūpa; Tib. bi ru pa or bir wa pa, lit. "ugly one"), also known as Virupaksa and Tutop Wangchuk, was an 11th or 12th century Indian mahasiddha and yogi, and the source of important cycles of teachings in Tibetan Buddhism.
He is especially known as the source of the Lamdré ("path-fruit", Skt. mārga-phala) system held by the Sakya school and is thus seen as the Indian founder of their lineage. A series of verses called the Vajra verses, which are pith instructions on the Hevajra tantra, are also attributed to him.
Tibetan sources mention that he was born in Tripura in East India and studied at the Somapura Mahavihara as a monk and practiced tantra, particularly Cakrasamvara. The Tibetan historian Taranatha also says that he lived in Maharashtra.
Tibetan sources further state that after years of tantric practice with no results, he gave up tantra and threw his mala in the toilet. Then he received a vision from the deity Nairatmya which became his main deity and he subsequently received teachings and empowerments from her. He eventually left the monastery and traveled throughout India teaching tantra, performing various magical feats (siddhis) as well as "converting non-Buddhists (tirthikas), destroying their images and stopping their sanguinary rituals."
According to Indologist James Mallison, a text called the Amṛtasiddhi, which is the earliest confirmed text to teach Hatha yoga techniques, is attributed to Virupa. He also appears as a mahasiddha in various non-Buddhist texts, especially Nath works.
- Davidson, Ronald M. Indian Esoteric Buddhism: Social History of the Tantric Movement, p. 259
- Mallinson, James. Kalavañcana in the Konkan: How a Vajrayana Hathayoga Tradition Cheated Buddhism’s Death in India. 2019
- Ringu Tulku (2007). The Ri-Me Philosophy of Jamgon Kongtrul the Great: A Study of the Buddhist Lineages of Tibet, Shambhala Publications, p. 127.
- Davidson, Ronald M. Tibetan Renaissance: Tantric Buddhism in the Rebirth of Tibetan Culture, Motilal Banarsidass, 2008, pp. 49-50.
- Powers, John. Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, Revised Edition (2007) Snow Lion Publications, p. 433.
- Powers, John. Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, Revised Edition (2007) Snow Lion Publications, p. 434.
- Davidson, Ronald M. Tibetan Renaissance: Tantric Buddhism in the Rebirth of Tibetan Culture, Motilal Banarsidass, 2008, pp. 49, 53.