Nomenclature and etymology
Although the Tibetan translation for Lui is "the fish-gut eater" (Wylie: nya lto zhabs), the root of the word is probably Old Bengali lohita, a type of fish (the rohu) and the names like Luidhar, Luichandra and Luiya mentioned in the Dharmamangals of the late medieval period originated from the same root.
Ayyappapanicker & Akademi (1997: p. 599) amplify the view of prior scholarship in that the nomenclature "Luipa" is related to the Brahmaputra River:
Several scholars, such as K. L. Barua and Dimbeswar Neog, hold the view that his poetic name is reminiscent of his earlier days spent on the bank of the Luit, i.e. the Brahmaputra. His vocabulary and diction are clearly old Assamese."
Luipa appears in the The Legends of Eighty-four Siddhas (Wylie: grub thob brgyad bcu tsa bzhi'i lo rgyus), a Tibetan namtar detailing the lives of Indian mahasiddhas. It was written by the Tibetan monk Mondup Sherab and was probably a translation of the Chaturashiti-Siddha-Pravritti, based on what was narrated to him by Abhayadattashri of Champaran (c. 12th century). In the Caturasiti-Siddha-Pravritti, Luipa is said to be the second son of a very rich king of Singhaladvipa, believed to be Sri Lanka. However, several other regions were also known as Singhaladvipa, and one of them was Oddiyana, which other sources mentioned as the place of birth of Luipa.
Luipa's father chose him as his successor, but he left his kingdom to achieve bodhi, i.e. enlightenment. Luipa first headed for Ramesvaram and then went to Vajrasana, known today as Bodh Gaya, the place where Gautama Buddha achieved enlightenment. There Luipa received his first teaching from a dakini. Later, when he reached Saliputra, or Magadha, a Loka-Dakini advised him to get rid of the slightest pride of his royal blood to achieve enlightenment by leaving aside all prejudices regarding the purity of foods. Following her advice, Luipa consumed only the guts of the fishes thrown away by the fishermen on the Ganges for twelve years. This practice led to him being known as Lui, one who eats fish-guts.
Luipa also appears in the Chaturashiti-Siiddha-Pravritti, where he meets the king of Magadha, Indrapala and his Brahmin minister. These two became his disciples and were known as Darikapa and Dengipa. Luipa initiated them into the mandala of Cakrasaṃvara.
In Buton Rinchen Drub's History of Buddhism (Wylie: chos-'byung), Luipa is mentioned as the son of King Lalitachandra of Oddiyana. When the prince met Śabara, a disciple of Saraha, he was immensely impressed by this great adept and begged him for instruction. He received initiation into the tantra of Cakrasaṃvara. The initial part of his penance was completed when he joined a circle of twenty-four Dakas and Dakinis in a ganachakra in a charnel ground which climaxed in consumption of the corpse of a sage. With a final blessing from his Guru he left Oddiyana and became a mendicant sage. The period ended when, feeling the need for sustained one-pointed meditation practice, he sat down to meditate beside a pile of fish-guts by the banks of the River Ganges in Bengal, where he remained till he had attained mahamudra-siddhi, the highest level of spiritual attainment in Vajrayana Buddhism.
The Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism records that Luipa's was a kayastha or scribe, at the court of Dharmapala, the emperor of Varendra in northern Bengal. While begging for alms at Dharmapala's palace Savaripa recognized the scribe Luipa as a suitable recipient for his Samvara lineage; his extraordinary talent was evident in the versified letters he wrote to the king's correspondents, a task requiring a pointed concentration.
The account of Luipa found in the work of Taranatha, a scholar from the Jonang school of Tibetan Buddhism, differs significantly from that found in Buton's work. Here, Luipa was a scribe to the King of Oddiyana and was initiated into the Vajravārāhī mandala.
Poetry of Luipa rendered into English
The following poetic extract of Luipa is from his work, Kāā Tarubara, the first pada of the Charyapada (c. 9-10th century) and rendered into English by Mahendra Bora and cited in Ayyappapanicker & Akademi (1997: p. 599):
- The body is a gentle tree with its branches five in number,
- Into the stuff of unsteady mind enters Time the wrecker.
- Get your mind steadied and enjoy the bliss never-waning,
- Lui counsels, know it from your teacher just by asking:
- Why all these modes of meditation one should toil and try,
- When going through joy and sorrow all must one day die?
- Ignoring this bond of deception, trust in sense-perception,
- Riding on the wings of pure void, make her your companion.
- Lui testifies, I have seen her clear in my meditation,
- Seated on twin mats doing inhalation and exhalation.
Date of Luipa
The most significant information available from the legends of the Sakya school is that Luipa worked at the court of the Maharaja of Varendra, Dharmapala. If this king is same as Pala Emperor Dharmapala, then this identification places Luipa as a younger contemporary of Dharmapala (770 – 810 CE). If Luipa was initiated in his youth, his date of initiation must be at the end of the eighth century or the beginning of the ninth century.
In the Abhisamaya-Vibhanga of the Tengyur, Atiśa is mentioned as a co-author of the text along with him but it seems that actually Atisha had either completed his text or wrote a Vibhanga (commentary) on his Abhisamaya. So, it is more probable that he belonged to the 10th century.
From Luipa’s date, his guru Śabara's time can be fixed, along with the dates of his disciples Darikapa and Dengipa, and also Dombi Heruka, whom Luipa taught. Since Kilapa was probably one of his descendants, his date can also be fixed.
Identification with Minapa/Matsyendranath
Many modern scholars have attempted to identify Luipa with Matsyendranath, the adiguru and the founder of the Nath Sampradaya. There are several similarities between them. Both of their names Lui and Mina mean fish. Both of them were associated with fisherman caste, Sri Lanka and eastern India and both of them were originators of yogini-tantra lineages (Luipa Samvara and Minapa Yogini-kaula). While Luipa was considered as adisiddha, Matsyendranath was known as adiguru. But, if Luipa was born in the eighth century CE, he cannot be identified with Matsyendranath, who belonged to c. 9th - 10th century.
The Chaturashiti-Siddha-Pravritti begins with the legend of Luipa. This may be a reflection of the belief prevalent during the period of the narrator or the translator, that Luipa was the first siddha (adi-siddha) in terms of either time or status. The first Pada of the Charyapada was also attributed to Luipa and in its commentary in Sanskrit, Munidatta mentions him as the Adisiddhacharya. It is also an indicator of the contemporary belief. But some modern scholars like Rahul Sankrityayan claimed Saraha as adi-siddha. Luipa was definitely born after Saraha, since Luipa's teacher Savaripa was Saraha's disciple, but their lifetimes probably overlapped. Both Saraha and Luipa were originators of Samvara-tantra lineages, but it was Luipa who received the title of Guhyapati (Master of Secrets) in addition to his status of adi-siddha in the lineage that practiced the Samvara-tantra according to the method of Luipa. He received direct transmission from the Dakini Vajravarahi. If Luipa obtained his original Samvara revelation in Oddiyana, the home of several of the wisdom (mother) tantras, he probably was one of the siddhas responsible for propagating this tantra in Eastern India. But whatever the tantra's provenance, Luipa became the great exemplar of Saraha’s preachings, as confirmed in the Padas assigned to him in Charyageetikosha, and his sadhana (practice) became the inspiration and example for some of the most respected names amongst the siddhas, Kambalapa, Ghantapa, Indrabhuti, Jalandharipa, Kanhapa (Krishnacharya), Tilopa and Naropa all of whom initiated into the Chakrasamvara-tantra according to the method of Luipa. Sakya tradition maintains that, three principal Guru Sampradaya (lineages of teachers) of the practice of Chakrasamvara-tantra are of Luipa, Ghantapa and Naropa. Marpa Dopa transmitted this tantra to Tibet, where it has continued as the principal yidam sadhana (practice) of the Kagyu school till date.
Major literary works
In the bStan-'gyur, he has been mentioned as the author of the texts, the Shribhagavad-Abhisamaya, the Vajrasattva Sadhana, the Tattvasvabhava-Dohakosha-Gitikia-Drishti-Nama, the Luhipada-Gitika, the Shrichakrasamvara-Abhisamaya-Tika and the Buddhodaya. He was also mentioned as the co-author of the Abhisamaya-Vibhanga along with the great scholar Atisha. The Padas 1 and 29 of the Charyageetikosha (or the Charyapada) are also ascribed to him.
- Sen, Sukumar (2002). Charyageeti Padabali (in Bengali), Ananda Publishers, Kolkata, ISBN 81-7215-458-5, pp.20-1
- Ayyappapanicker, K. & Akademi, Sahitya (1997). Medieval Indian literature: an anthology, Volume 3. Sahitya Akademi. ISBN 81-260-0365-0, ISBN 978-81-260-0365-5. Source:  (accessed: Friday March 5, 2010)
- "Luipa by Keith Dowmen". Retrieved 2007-06-15. Cite error: Invalid
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- Dasgupta, Shashibhusan (1995). Obscure Religious Cults, Firma KLM, Calcutta, ISBN 81-7102-020-8, p.384ff, 385
- Shastri, H. (1916, reprint 2006). Hajar Bacharer Purano Bangala Bhashay Bauddhagan O Doha (in Bengali), Kolkata:Bangiya Sahitya Parishad, p.5
- Shastri, H. (1916, reprint 2006). Hajar Bacharer Purano Bangala Bhashay Bauddhagan O Doha (in Bengali), Kolkata:Bangiya Sahitya Parishad, p.xxi
- Chattopadhyaya, Alaka (1998). Churashi Siddhar Kahini (in Bengali), Kolkata: Anushtup, ISBN 81-85479-68-2.