A monastery at Milarepa's cave.

This is an intermediate level Classical Tibetan language course that uses biographical literature as its focus. Over ten lessons, students in this course read an abridged version of a fifteenth-century lifestory of the meditation master and poet, Milarepa. Milarepa is one of the most well-known figures in Tibetan literature, and The Life of Milarepa offers a dramatic story of his search for liberation while presenting an intimate portrayal of Buddhism and society in medieval Tibet.

In this course, each unit includes video lectures on grammar, a structure for guided reading and translation, a traditional Tibetan grammar verse and exercises for grammar review, pronunciation guidance, and supplementary video lectures on topics relevant to the study of Tibetan biography and Classical Tibetan language. You can watch an Introduction to Reading and Translating with Nettle Tibetan for an overview of how the course is used at the University of Toronto.

This course has been developed around an abridged version of The Life of Milarepa authored by Tsangnyon Heruka (1452-1507). The source text was input by the Tibetan Works Research Project at Otani University's Shin Buddhist Comprehensive Research Institute, based on a 117-folio block print edition of unknown origin, kept in The Library of Otani University (Zogai no.11854). The electronic text reproduced the block print without emendation.

The abridged version of The Life of Milarepa in use for this course was created by Khenpo Kunga Sherab. The English language translation of the abridged text was prepared by Frances Garrett as an adaptation of Andrew Quintman's translation of the full biography, published by Penguin Books in 2010. This translation was rendered in an intentionally literal (and therefore not so eloquent) format to assist students' comprehension.

The full Life of Milarepa electronic text used here was grammatically tagged as part of the Tibetan in Digital Communication research project at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, funded by the U.K's Arts and Humanities Research Council and conducted primarily by Edward Garrett and Nathan W. Hill, which created a part-of-speech tagged corpus together with an automatic word segmenter and part-of-speech tagger. These tags were retained in the abridged text for use in this course.

The course development team for this project is primarly based at the University of Toronto, with funding to develop the course provided by the Canadian Ministry for Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU)’s Ontario Shared Online Course Fund and the Online Undergraduate Course Initiative (OUCI) at the University of Toronto.