Saraha is one of the 84 mahasiddhas in India. There is no certainty as to either the time or place of Saraha's birth and life. Normally he was thought to be appeared in 8th century, but various accounts place him in periods centuries apart. This is not surprising but typical of much Indian hagiography, which was transmitted as legend rather than written down. What is certain is the profound influence that Saraha had upon Indian Buddhism. He was undoubtedly on the greatest mind's India has known.
The emanation of a great bodhisattva, he was born a Brahmin and grew up very erudite. He quickly became a highly-accomplished Buddhist master. He received many tantras from King Visukalpa, who had himself learnt them from the dakinis of Uddiyana.
According to the scriptures, the historical Buddha Sakyamuni, just before his passing from this world, was requested to impart the most profound core of his instruction. He traveled to Vidarbha, in the South of India, and transmitted it to an assembly of bodhisattvas. He prophesied that these teachings would later be spread properly in India by five great beings: Manjughosa, Avalokitesvara, Saraha, Nagarjuna and Savari. Some centuries later, the first two emanated as masters Ratnamati and Sukhanatha, respectively. Saraha received these mahamudra teachings from them and in turn transmitted them to his great disciples Nagarjuna and Savari.
Much of Saraha's teaching was given as spiritual song (doha, Three circle Doha), in verse. Teaching through doha was thereafter preserved as a sacred method of instruction through subsequent generations of the Kagyu lineage. Of particular note were Saraha's King Doha, Queen Doha and People Doha. Saraha was also a past incarnation of the Gyalwa Karmapas.