Buddhists or Pagans?

Charles Ramble

in The Navel of the Demoness

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780195154146
Published online January 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199868513 | DOI:
  Buddhists or Pagans?

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This chapter further challenges the reduction of religion in culturally Tibetan villages to a confrontation between opposed ideologies: Buddhism on the one hand and the cult of autochthonous gods on the other. The fallacy of this simple dialectic is illustrated by an examination of a number of local documents and anecdotes. Whereas the most obvious interpretation of these reinforces the idea of an ideological clash between Buddhist tenets and “pagan” practice, closer analysis demonstrates that this attractive scenario is an irrelevance. Apparent inconsistencies in the examples are reconciled when they are examined not in terms of the conventional understanding of religion but rather from the point of view of the community. It is suggested that certain narratives that are ostensibly concerned with Buddhism are in fact celebrations of the morality of collectivity as opposed to the divisive (albeit lucrative) ethos of individualism.

Keywords: ideology; autochthonous gods; documents; Buddhism; pagan; community; narrative; collectivity; individualism

Chapter.  8101 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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