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Title: A critical study of the life of the 13th-century Tibetan monk U rgyan pa Rin chen dpal based on his biographies
Author: Li, Brenda W. L.
ISNI:       0000 0003 5896 0912
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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U rgyan pa Rin chen dpal (1230-1309) was a great adept of the bKa' brgyud school of Tibetan Buddhism, particularly renowned for his knowledge of the Kālacakra tantra and the unique teaching known as the Approach and Attainment of the Three Vajras (rDo rje gsum gyi bsnyen sgrub), said to have been given to him in his vision by Vajrayoginī (rDo rje rnal 'byor ma) in the Miraculous Land (sprul pa'i zhing) of U rgyan. He was the student of the 2nd Karma pa, who entrusted him with the Black Hat, which he passed to the 3rd Karma pa. He was also a great traveller who journeyed widely across and beyond Tibet. He met Qubilai Khan in the capital of Yuan China and visited sacred Buddhist sites in South India. He has been aptly described by van der Kuijp as "the great Tibetan yogi, thaumaturge, scholar, alchemist, and traveler". Thanks to the availability of a large amount of hitherto unknown materials from eleven biographies, the thesis has put considerable weight on the bibliographical comparison and analysis of the different works in an attempt to establish the possible relationship between them. This is supplemented by summaries of the biographies, to give an overview of the protagonist's life in Part One of the thesis. Part Two consists of a critical study of the different phases and aspects of U rgyan pa's life in the unique historical, political and religious context of each phase, drawing materials from the corpus of biographies and in the light of other primary and secondary sources in Tibetan, Chinese and Western languages. In Chapter I, U rgyan pa's family lineage, childhood and early studies are discussed in order to find out how his innate propensities and early studies are represented as having influenced his character. In Chapter II, the account of U rgyan pa's journey to West Tibet and U rgyan is studied. A sixteen-stanza song in his own words epitomising this journey, supplemented by route maps, will be used as a framework to illustrate and reconstruct his journey to the Land of the Ḍākinīs. In Chapter III, the teachings he received and the subsequent transformation of his character and status, are explored. In Chapter IV, his career as a tantric master, his other pilgrimages and benediction trips, and his conflicts with various religious and political authorities, are examined. The materials will be scrutinised in the hope of separating as far as possible fact from fiction.
Supervisor: Ramble, Charles Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Tibetan and Himalayan Studies ; History of Asia & Far East ; Tibetan history ; Tibetan biography ; U rgyan pa Rin chen dpal