Encountering the Modern Holy Land

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:
Encountering the Modern Holy Land

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An encounter between two alternative systems of knowledge about the holy sites of the Buddha took place in India at the beginning of the twentieth century. One of these knowledge systems was in the hands of a tradition-bound but nevertheless culturally creative Tibetan Buddhist elite in Tibet, as well as an itinerant population of mendicants, traders, and pilgrims moving back and forth between Tibet and India. Pilgrimage to India provided one of the main opportunities for a wide spectrum of Tibetans to experience personally for the very first time a rapidly developing South Asian colonial modernity. In the development of a new twentieth-century Tibetan relationship with Buddhist India, the phenomenon of Buddhist modernism, especially as it was embodied in the works of the Maha Bodhi Society, played a central role. Several Tibetan Buddhists became instrumental in creating a new generation of pilgrimage-related rituals at the holy sites of the Buddha which were chiefly occupied by the Maha Bodhi Society. Another, longer-lasting influence is that reflected in the life and works of the first modern Tibetan intellectual, Amdo Gendun Chöphel.

Keywords: India; holy sites; Buddha; pilgrimage; Tibet; Amdo Gendun Chöphel; Maha Bodhi Society; rituals; pilgrims; modernism

Chapter.  17771 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Buddhism

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