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Introducing Tibetan Buddhism

Introducing Tibetan Buddhism

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Introducing Tibetan Buddhism

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  1. Introducing Tibetan Buddhism Chapter 9: Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan identity

  2. Main topics covered • Introduction • Local and regional identity: local gods, lineages, clans, households • Local and regional identity: Buddhist saints and pilgrimage sites • Regional and national identity: Buddhism as a unifying factor • The stories of Ling Gesar • Conclusion

  3. Key points 1 • Tibetan identity was mostly regional or local until recent times. Nationalism, as elsewhere in the world, was largely a modern invention. However, Tibetan regions as a whole had a common written language, a largely shared religion and many shared cultural items. • Local and regional identity was linked with cults of local and household deities, and local sacred places. The la or spirit-essence was thought of as connected with the surrounding environment. Aristocratic families often claimed descent from local mountain-gods. Sang offerings to the local gods remain an important part of Tibetan religion, often carried out in a style strongly influenced by Buddhism.

  4. Lungta and sacred lake Lungta by sacred lake in Sikkim. Photo by Ruth Rickard, 2011

  5. Mountain deity The mountain deity of Yarlha Shampo, Central Tibet, ancestral mountain-god of the Yarlung dynasty, photo 1987

  6. Key points 2 • Households are an important building block of Tibetan communities and the continuation of households through time is a significant value. Lineage or family descent is also important, especially among the nomadic pastoralist communities.

  7. Tibetan house House in Ladakh. Photo by Ruth Rickard, 2011

  8. Key points 3 • Many important pilgrimage sites throughout Tibet and the Himalayas are linked to important Tibet-wide figures of history and legend, including Guru Padmasambhava and the epic hero Ling Gesar.

  9. Pilgrimage place Cave associated with the female saint Machik Labdrön , near Taktsang, Paro, Bhutan. Photo 2009

  10. Tomb of Tibetan emperor Tomb of an early Tibetan emperor, Yarlung Valley, photo 1987

  11. Ling Gesar, the epic hero Painting of Ling Gesar in possession of Namkha Drimé Rinpoche, Chandragiri, Orissa, photo 1990

  12. Place associated with epic Rock in Kulu Valley, identified with demoness in Gesar story, photo 1992

  13. Key points 4 • Tibetan nationalism began to develop in the 1920s, but has become a significant force mainly in resistance to Chinese rule from the 1950s onwards.

  14. The end