Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Like pouring water into water: Buddhist lineages, modernity and the continuity of memory in the twentieth -century history of Tibetan Buddhism
by Pitkin, Annabella Claudia, Ph.D., Columbia University, 2009, 374; 3393598
Abstract (Summary)

This thesis focuses on the life of the Indo-Tibetan scholar and yogi Khunu Lama Tenzin Gyaltsen (Khu nu bla ma Bstan 'dzin rgyal mtshan, 1895-1977). It considers the role of teacher-student transmission lineages (Tib. brgyud) in enabling or limiting intellectual innovation among Himalayan Buddhists. By examining oral and literary narratives of Khunu Lama's lineage relationships from multiple biographical and autobiographical genres, this dissertation investigates Tibetan Buddhist strategies for re-appropriating the past, and demonstrates that these strategies are marked by profound intellectual independence. The thesis further argues that such independence subtly locates authority within individual scholar-practitioners, resonating with intellectual moves associated with modernity, and calling into question common understandings of the term modernity (and its double, tradition) in both Religious Studies and Tibetan Studies. Via the example of Khunu Lama's life and work, this dissertation offers a preliminary view of alternative ways to understand modernity in the Himalayan context, while at the same time enriching understanding of related intellectual issues, including the role of life narratives in creating individual and communal Buddhist identity; the question of Tibetan Buddhist sectarianism and non-sectarianism; and the creative role of individuals from areas long thought of as at the Tibetan periphery.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor:
Commitee:
School: Columbia University
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 71/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Religion, History
Keywords: Buddhism, Himalayan region, Memory, Modernity, Tibet, Twentieth century
Publication Number: 3393598
ISBN: 9781109604733
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