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dPal spungs (Palpung) Monastery from the 18th to the Early 20th Century: A Buddhist Place of Education and Its Similarities and Differences with Medieval Christian Monastic Institutions

Bearbeiterin: Gabriele Coura

Ever since its founding in 1729 by the Eighth Si tu Chos kyi ’byung gnas (Situ Chökyi Jungné), dPal spungs monastery in the Eastern Tibetan region of Khams (Kham) was a place where monks could train in fields as diverse as meditation and ritual, scriptural studies, medicine and painting. It was one of the largest monasteries of the bKa' brgyud (Kagyü) tradition in Eastern Tibet, with a population of 500 to 700 monks.

In the dissertation, dPal spungs will be looked at as a structure that enabled education, with its various necessary substructures, such as buildings, hierarchies and time schedules. Additional factors that contributed to monastic learning were for instance the charisma of Buddhist teachers, the authority of their writings, the pedagogical strategies used and the systems of punishment applied. From a diachronic perspective, the main focus will be on the three outstanding figures of the period in question, the Eighth Si tu (1700-1774), the First Kong sprul Blo gros mtha’ yas (Kongtrul Lodrö Thayé, 1813-1899) and mKhan po gZhan dga' (Khenpo Shenga, 1871-1927).

It will be shown that monastic education took place in diverse contexts with a varying degree of formality, ranging from the rigid temporal, spatial and organizational structures of a teaching institution to mutual influence within the community, e.g. imitation of the good examples of one’s fellow monks and rejection of the bad ones; and that a multitude of topics was taught, ranging from the transmission of knowledge about scholarly subjects via training in meditation and practical skills up to enforcing behavior that is considered appropriate for members of a monastic community.

The findings serve as a basis for comparison of education in Tibetan Buddhism and medieval Christianity. Differences between the two educational systems can be traced back either to the existence or absence of a centralized institution ("church") or to the different soteriology in both religions.

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Gert Melville

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Technische Universität
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04. Dezember 2018, 18:30 Uhr
C. Stephen Jaeger, University of Illinois


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