Lamps for the Mind: Illuminations and Innovation in dPAL dbyangs's Mahãyoga

Takahashi, Kammie Morrison, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Germano, David, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Groner, Paul, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Lang, Karen, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

Mahayoga (rnal 'by0r Chen pa) was among the earliest forms of tantra to take hold in Tibet, and it provided both template and springboard for the development of later forn1s of Buddhism on the plateau, including the Great Perfection (rDz0gs Chen), the highest vehicle for the Translation School of the Ancients (snga' gyur rnying ma). The journey from India to Tibet in the eighth and ninth centuries of texts and teachings associated with Mahayoga tantra, and the course of their development as the paramount forn1s of tantric teachings there, involved both careful conservation and creative innovation. Though the details of this process have become largely obscured to modern historians, nir1th - century Tibetan master Pelyang (dPal dbyangs) emerges as the most influential and innovative figure in its early establishment on the plateau. The seven works comprising his extant corpus provide a full view of Pelyang's innovations, including his emphatic focus on view as opposed to practice, and a uniquely early form of a transcendent and evocative rhetoric which was, together with his focus on view, to become the visionary heart of the Great Perfection tradition approximately a century later. A close examination of these uniquely Tibetan characteristics deepens our understanding of the early religious history of Buddhist Tibet during the eighth and ninth centuries, providing a crucial missing link in the chain of developments leading to the Great Perfection.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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