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Title: Keeping the faith : an investigation into the ways that Tibetan Buddhist ethics and practice inform and direct development activity in Ladakh, North-West India
Author: Butcher, Andrea
ISNI:       0000 0004 2745 8601
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2013
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The thesis examines the encounter between the normative ideology of sustainable development on the one hand, and Buddhist Ladakh’s older ceremonial landscape on the other, whereby the reproduction of material and religious life is managed with the assistance of enlightened monastic rulers, transcendental Buddhist protector deities, sacred technology, and supernatural beings inhabiting the landscape. It narrates the religious historical discourse of a decline into an “era of demerit”, evidenced through aspects of economic and technological transformation, increasing climate instability, and the threat of conflict along the disputed national borders with Pakistan and China. It examines also the participation of supernatural beings in the political landscape; as guardians of religious law, governors of weather, and landlords of the soil and water, supernatural beings can dictate the delivery of development by punishing transgressions that upset the moral order or pollute their abodes. This was profoundly experienced when Ladakh’s settlements were devastated by a cloud burst and flooding previously unwitnessed, and expressed locally as a sign of religious demerit and supernatural retribution for ritually and morally unchecked social transformation. When this occurs, ritual intervention from monastic specialists is required to restore order. The thesis is thus an account of two distinct approaches to history operating in the same social and political landscape: an objective, evidential account of history in which progress is determined by the existence of a rationally-organised modern economy and bureaucratic structures of governance; and a mythical historical narrative of progress and decline, requiring ceremonial offering and ritual intervention to maintain blessing and prevent religious decline. It examines how the two approaches to history and governance combine to produce a locally-contextualised modern identity in which the discourses and technologies of modern government are utilised to ensure that the Tibetan Buddhist teachings, and their attendant ceremonies, remain relevant in the contemporary era.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Arts & Humanities Research Council (Great Britain) ; Frederick Williams Fieldwork Grant
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Buddhist ethics ; Lada¯kh (India)