Chapter

Buddhist Knowledge and Anachronism in Tibet

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/9780226356501.003.0003
Buddhist Knowledge and Anachronism in Tibet

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Buddhist inhabitants of the Tibetan plateau have maintained religious contacts with India for more than a millennium, and for almost as long they have consistently defined India as the most important place in their universe. However, when we begin to consider how and why Tibetans first came to know and to value India both as the land of the Buddha and as the origin place of their religion and high culture, we often find ourselves faced with more questions than answers. This chapter explores the importance of the manner in which knowledge of India was acquired in Tibet and its consequences. It points out that there is precious little reliable evidence of accurate, firsthand knowledge about India being in circulation in early Tibet. Based on the earliest Tibetan sources, there are two different country names, Gyagar and Magadha, both being used to designate an entity we can recognize as “India.” This chapter also discusses Sumpa Khenpo's General Description of the World, known to have been a popular text among premodern readers of Tibetan.

Keywords: India; Tibet; knowledge; Buddha; Buddhism; Sumpa Khenpo; General Description of the World; Gyagar; Magadha; Tibetans

Chapter.  7667 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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