The Life of the Madman of Ü (Oxford University Press, 2016) is a translation of the biography of a man named Künga Zangpo (1458–1532), who became renowned as “the Madman of Ü” as a result of his taking on an odd ascetic lifestyle that included dressing in ornaments made from human bones, eating the brains of corpses, and defying social norms through his actions. He was also an inspiringly dedicated ascetic, spending more than a third of his life in meditative retreats. The two parts of the biography were first published in 1494 and 1537.
As Bryan Cuevas, John F. Priest Professor of Religion at Florida State University, has written:
This wild story of the fifteenth-century tantric yogin Künga Zangpo is a remarkable piece of Tibetan Buddhist sacred biography. Composed in two parts, during and shortly after Künga Zangpo’s life, the biography offers intimate and captivating descriptions of his yogic experiences, miracles and magical attainments, and his daring role in society as an exemplary saintly madman. David DiValerio’s exceptional translation makes the Life accessible to English readers for the first time.
A scholarly review of the book has been published on the American Academy of Religion’s website, Reading Religion.
A page from The Life of the Madman of Ü (1494)