Tibetan Renaissance: Tantric Buddhism in the Rebirth of Tibetan Culture

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Columbia University Press, Jun 19, 2012 - Religion - 616 pages
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How did a society on the edge of collapse and dominated by wandering bands of armed men give way to a vibrant Buddhist culture, led by yogins and scholars? Ronald M. Davidson explores how the translation and spread of esoteric Buddhist texts dramatically shaped Tibetan society and led to its rise as the center of Buddhist culture throughout Asia, replacing India as the perceived source of religious ideology and tradition. During the Tibetan Renaissance (950-1200 C.E.), monks and yogins translated an enormous number of Indian Buddhist texts. They employed the evolving literature and practices of esoteric Buddhism as the basis to reconstruct Tibetan religious, cultural, and political institutions. Many translators achieved the de facto status of feudal lords and while not always loyal to their Buddhist vows, these figures helped solidify political power in the hands of religious authorities and began a process that led to the Dalai Lama's theocracy. Davidson's vivid portraits of the monks, priests, popular preachers, yogins, and aristocratic clans who changed Tibetan society and culture further enhance his perspectives on the tensions and transformations that characterized medieval Tibet.

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List of Maps Figures and Tables
Pakpa and the Mongol Endgame
The Sakya Paradigm and the Present Work
Early Medieval India and the Esoteric Rhapsody
The Buddhist Experience and Institutional Esoteric
Siddhas and the Margins of Society
The Great Pandita Goes Native
The Doyen of Central Tibetan Translators
Treasure Texts the Imperial Legacy and the Great
A Confident Tibetan
Esoteric Clarification and the Integration of
The Buddhist Context and Early Sakya Pedagogical

Mr Ugly Comes to Town
Hagiography Lineage and Transmission
Emerging Indian Rituals
The Eastern Vinaya
Translators as the New Aristocracy
Chokyi Gyelpo
Eastern Vinaya Temples Cave Temples
Notes to Appendices
Notes to the Edition

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About the author (2012)

Ronald M. Davidson is professor of religious studies at Fairfield University. He is the author of Indian Esoteric Buddhism: A Social History of the Tantric Movement (Columbia) and the coeditor (with Steven D. Goodman) of Tibetan Buddhism: Reason and Revelation.

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