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This section Mahamudra and the Six Yogas, the sublime content of the Kagyu lineage
The Tibetan masters of the Karma Kagyu lineageThe Gyalwa Karmapas, supreme masters of the Karma Kagyu lineage

Mahasiddha Savari

was guided to liberation by Nagarjuna, from whom he received the complete teachings of mahamudra. According to certain traditions, Savari later received this same quintessential dharma directly from the bodhisattvas Ratnamati and Sukhanatha, and also from Saraha, at the mountain retreat of Sriparvata (i.e. Nagarjunakonda in South India). Savari means "hill-person" and the few biographical fragments we have of Savari's life describe him sometimes as a hunter and sometimes as a dancer.

The hunter Savari is said to have met bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, who wagered his boast of being able to kill 100 animals with one arrow against a promise from Savari to abstain from hunting for one month. Avalokitesvara killed the 100 animals (which were in fact his emanations) with a single shot. After the month of not killing, Savari and his wife were shown their terrible future rebirth, created by all they had killed. Shocked to see their own future suffering in hell-realms, they became devoted tantric Buddhists and each eventually reached liberation. They are often shown in consort form.

His main disciple was Maitripa. Theirs seems to have been an extraordinary relationship, as the famous scholarly Maitripa received from this former hunter detailed clarifications on the profound meaning of the mahamudra scriptures (such as the Druppa Dedjin of mahamudra, the Nyingpo Kordruk, the twenty-four sections of Amanasi, and the extensive and concise texts of the Doha). It shows the metamorphic power of these teachings.