The Allure of the Atsaras

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:
The Allure of the Atsaras

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In 1757, the British began conducting a series of military campaigns in Bihar and Bengal. These campaigns resulted not only in the combined provinces being granted to the East India Company in 1765 but also in Benares being restored to the state of Oudh by the British during the same year. In particular, Tibet was quickly drawn into a sphere of new relations with India to the south. It is within this dynamic context, during the second half of the eighteenth century, that a series of official pilgrimage missions were dispatched to India by the Third Panchen Lama, Losang Pelden Yeshe (1738–1780), and also the presence in Tibet of increasing numbers of Indian mendicant pilgrim-traders. This chapter shows how the renewed eighteenth-century flow of persons between Tibet and India contributed significantly to a new and unique Tibetan understanding of India as a land of Buddhism. It was an understanding in which a whole variety of unambiguously Hindu holy sites and their Indian worshippers were interpreted as actually representing a major survival of Buddhism in India.

Keywords: Tibet; India; pilgrimage; Third Panchen Lama; Losang Pelden Yeshe; Buddhism; holy sites; Bihar; East India Company

Chapter.  15206 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Buddhism

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