Chapter

Introduction

in The Holy Land Reborn

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780226356488
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226356501 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226356501.003.0001
Introduction

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If there is one place, one land, which the peoples of Tibet have held in highest esteem, above all others—even often above their own land—it is India. In Tibetan thought and action, Tibet and India are inextricably bound together. India gained its high standing in Tibetan civilization as the land of the Buddha and of Buddhism, and also as the source or origin place of high culture. This book explores how the idea of India as a religious territory or sacred geography has been utilized by Tibetans as a type of cultural resource in the development of religion and society in Tibet itself. It argues that the “real” India of direct experience has mostly been irrelevant in Tibet, and that Tibetan constructs and appropriations of India have taken on a life of their own. Indeed, they have come to constitute an important type of cultural resource that individuals and institutions in Tibetan societies have often drawn upon as agents in their own internal negotiations of power, authority, and legitimacy.

Keywords: Tibet; India; Buddhism; Tibetans; sacred geography; religion; society; power; authority; legitimacy

Chapter.  4854 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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