Cover image for Buddhism in contemporary Tibet : religious revival and cultural identity
Title:
Buddhism in contemporary Tibet : religious revival and cultural identity
Author:
Goldstein, Melvyn C.
Publication Information:
Berkeley : University of California Press, [1998]

©1998
Physical Description:
x, 207 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Contents:
The revival of monastic life in Drepung monastery -- Re-membering the dismembered body of Tibet : contemporary Tibetan visionary movements in the People's Republic of China -- A pilgrimage of rebirth reborn : the 1992 celebration of the Drigung Powa Chenmo -- Ritual, ethnicity, and generational identity -- Concluding reflections.
ISBN:
9780520211308

9780520211315
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Following the upheavals of the Cultural Revolution, the People's Republic of China gradually permitted the renewal of religious activity. Tibetans, whose traditional religious and cultural institutions had been decimated during the preceding two decades, took advantage of the decisions of 1978 to begin a Buddhist renewal that is one of the most extensive and dramatic examples of religious revitalization in contemporary China. The nature of that revival is the focus of this book. Four leading specialists in Tibetan anthropology and religion conducted case studies in the Tibet autonomous region and among the Tibetans of Sichuan and Qinghai provinces. There they observed the revival of the Buddhist heritage in monastic communities and among laypersons at popular pilgrimages and festivals. Demonstrating how that revival must contend with tensions between the Chinese state and aspirations for greater Tibetan autonomy, the authors discuss ways that Tibetan Buddhists are restructuring their religion through a complex process of social, political, and economic adaptation. Buddhism has long been the main source of Tibetans' pride in their culture and country. These essays reveal the vibrancy of that ancient religion in contemporary Tibet and also the problems that religion and Tibetan culture in general are facing in a radically altered world.


Summary

Following the upheavals of the Cultural Revolution, the People's Republic of China gradually permitted the renewal of religious activity. Tibetans, whose traditional religious and cultural institutions had been decimated during the preceding two decades, took advantage of the decisions of 1978 to begin a Buddhist renewal that is one of the most extensive and dramatic examples of religious revitalization in contemporary China. The nature of that revival is the focus of this book. Four leading specialists in Tibetan anthropology and religion conducted case studies in the Tibet autonomous region and among the Tibetans of Sichuan and Qinghai provinces. There they observed the revival of the Buddhist heritage in monastic communities and among laypersons at popular pilgrimages and festivals. Demonstrating how that revival must contend with tensions between the Chinese state and aspirations for greater Tibetan autonomy, the authors discuss ways that Tibetan Buddhists are restructuring their religion through a complex process of social, political, and economic adaptation. Buddhism has long been the main source of Tibetans' pride in their culture and country. These essays reveal the vibrancy of that ancient religion in contemporary Tibet and also the problems that religion and Tibetan culture in general are facing in a radically altered world.


Author Notes

Melvyn C. Goldstein is John Reynolds Harkness Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Research on Tibet at Case Western University. Matthew T. Kapstein is Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, and Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies in the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. His publications include a translation of Dudjom Rinpoche's The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism (1991) and the catalogue and ten-volume edition of The 'Dzam-thang Edition of the Collected Works of Kun-mkhyen Dol-po-pa Shes-rab-rgyal-mtshan (1992/3).


Melvyn C. Goldstein is John Reynolds Harkness Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Research on Tibet at Case Western University. Matthew T. Kapstein is Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, and Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies in the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. His publications include a translation of Dudjom Rinpoche's The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism (1991) and the catalogue and ten-volume edition of The 'Dzam-thang Edition of the Collected Works of Kun-mkhyen Dol-po-pa Shes-rab-rgyal-mtshan (1992/3).


Reviews 2

Choice Review

The useful introduction in this well-edited collection outlines the history of the destruction and revival of Tibetan Buddhism under the regime of the People's Republic of China. Its core, however, consists of four chapters that examine this contemporary revival not only in the Tibet Autonomous Region but also in Sichuan and Qinghai. Each of the writers is an expert in either the cultural anthropology/ethnology of Tibet or in Tibetan Buddhism. Goldstein (Case Western Reserve) focuses on the revival of monastic life in Drepung monastery, Tibet's largest. David Germano is concerned with contemporary Tibetan visionary movements, particularly that of Khenpo Jikphun. Kapstein (Univ. of Chicago) presents an anthropological study of the 1992 celebration of the pilgrimage and teaching festival known as the Drigung Powa Chenmo. Lawrence Epstein and Peng Wenbin focus on a folk ritual known as Lur"ol and its implications for the definition of ethnicity and generational identity. Reflections by Kapstein conclude the volume. A common theme throughout is the way in which Chinese communist policy toward Tibet has been alternately tightened and loosened. At once scholarly and readable, this work offers much of value and of interest to specialist and neophyte alike. Highly recommended for general readers and all academic levels. J. P. McDermott; Canisius College


Choice Review

The useful introduction in this well-edited collection outlines the history of the destruction and revival of Tibetan Buddhism under the regime of the People's Republic of China. Its core, however, consists of four chapters that examine this contemporary revival not only in the Tibet Autonomous Region but also in Sichuan and Qinghai. Each of the writers is an expert in either the cultural anthropology/ethnology of Tibet or in Tibetan Buddhism. Goldstein (Case Western Reserve) focuses on the revival of monastic life in Drepung monastery, Tibet's largest. David Germano is concerned with contemporary Tibetan visionary movements, particularly that of Khenpo Jikphun. Kapstein (Univ. of Chicago) presents an anthropological study of the 1992 celebration of the pilgrimage and teaching festival known as the Drigung Powa Chenmo. Lawrence Epstein and Peng Wenbin focus on a folk ritual known as Lur"ol and its implications for the definition of ethnicity and generational identity. Reflections by Kapstein conclude the volume. A common theme throughout is the way in which Chinese communist policy toward Tibet has been alternately tightened and loosened. At once scholarly and readable, this work offers much of value and of interest to specialist and neophyte alike. Highly recommended for general readers and all academic levels. J. P. McDermott; Canisius College