One of the most influential figures of precolonial Southeast Asia was the monk known as Dharmakīrti of the Golden Isles. In the early 11th century ce, the famous Atiśa, “Dīpaṃkara” (986–1054), sailed across the Bay of Bengal to study with him. Today this Dharmakīrti is remembered as the forefather of a religious tradition that was brought to Tibet by his illustrious student. However, few attempts have been made to locate his life and work in his nominal homeland. Little is known about what he taught, his exact whereabouts, or why Atiśa searched for him across the seas. This paper looks into and beyond Tibetan hagiography to examine potential traces of the Golden Isles Dharmakīrti in the Malay Peninsula, South India and China, as well as in the vast literature of late Buddhism. Accordingly, the authorship of 10th- and 11th-century works attributed to figures called Dharmakīrti will be investigated here, including the Āryācalasādhana, Vajrasūcī and Rūpāvatāra. Secondary studies routinely state that the Golden Isles Dharmakīrti lived in Sumatra, but the only part of the region that is definitely linked to him is Lembah Bujang in Kedah. It has already been established that a king of Kedah, Cūḍāmaṇivarman (fl. 1003–05), sponsored the major work of the Golden Isles Dharmakīrti, the Durbodhālokā. Here it will be shown that Kedah’s location is also consistent with the itinerary of Atiśa’s hazardous ocean voyage, and with information in an illuminated manuscript created in 1015 with unusual knowledge of the region. Tradition states that South Asian students were drawn to the Dharmakīrti of the Golden Isles by his reputation; however, they clearly also sought to travel to the Golden Isles at a time when Buddhism on the subcontinent was starting to be engulfed in chaos.