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Title: Religious authority and pastoral care in Tibetan Buddhism : the ritual hierarchies of Lingshed Monastery, Ladakh
Author: Mills, Martin A.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1997
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The thesis provides an ethnographic and anthropological account of Tibetan Buddhist ritual and monasticism in Lingshed village in Ladakh, North-West India. Two fundamental issues are addressed: firstly, the nature and form of religious and ritual care provided by the monks of Lingshed monastery to those villages in its vicinity which act as its patrons; secondly, the structure and ideology of Tibetan Buddhist notions and practices relating to ritual and religious authority, especially those of the Gelukpa Order of Tibetan Buddhism, of which Lingshed monastery is a part. Addressing the relationship between local understandings of the purposes and methods of Buddhism, the thesis presents a microscopic analysis of the relationship between ritual practice and indigenous notions concerning the person as ritual actor and the nature of divinity in Tantric Buddhism. It therefore includes an in-depth discussion of a series of ritual practices essential to Tibetan Buddhism in general, and to the monastery at Lingshed in particular, including rites to protector divinities and methods for cleansing ritual pollution. The work particularly highlights the practice of sangs-sol, that is offerings to local divinities, as performed by monastic personnel. As part of characterising the nature of religious authority in Tibetan Buddhism, the thesis discusses two dominant modes of religious and spiritual renunciation: clerical and tantric. The first of these two modes characterises the celibate monastic career of most members of the Gelukpa Order, whilst the second, tantric renunciation, refers to the employment of highly complex ritual techniques aimed at consubstantiating the practitioner with certain tantric deities. Since this latter method classically involves the use of sexual yoga, the thesis explores the manner in which such methods have been integrated into the strict celibate monasticism of the Gelukpa Order. The conclusion arising from this is that, the tension between tantric method and monasticism centres real ritual authority within the Gelukpa Order (and other forms of monastic Buddhism in Tibetan areas) onto a select group of 'incarnate lamas', who are therefore essential to the continued survival of the tradition.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available