Knowledge and authority in Tibetan Middle Way Schools of Buddhism: a study of the Gelukba (dge lugs pa) epistemology of Jamyang Shayba ('jam dbyangs bzhad pa) in its historical context
Maher, Derek Frank, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Hopkins, Jeffrey, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Lang, Karen, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Germano, David, AS-Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Groner, Paul, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Barnett, Richard, AS-History, University of Virginia
This dissertation argues that the authority religious figures are able to wield is a reflection of the legitimacy they have been granted by their followers. That legitimacy is, in turn, acquired through a variety of historically-conditioned narrative strategies. Relying upon Max Weber's analyses of these issues, I demonstrate some of the ways religious traditions are legitimized and religious authority is exercised in Buddhist Tibet. In particular, I examine the life and historical context of Jamyang Shayba (1648-1722, 'Jam dbyangs bzhad pa), an astute textbook author of the Geluk School (dge lugs), whose analytical writings are studied at Gomang Monastery, Labrang Monastery, and scores of other institutions in Tibet and Mongolia.
In order to illustrate the different types of narrative strategies that were employed to assert the claim that Jamyang Shayba was religiously legitimized, I explore various genres of traditional literature, including his autobiography, a biography of him written by his subsequent incarnation, and a compendium of biographies of a number of his previous incarnations written by the same figure. The strategies utilized include a comprehensive account of his education, a detailed discussion of his many teachers and the teachings he received from them, an overview of the range of his scholarship, and his polemical and commentarial writings. I focus on Jamyang Shayba's efforts to uphold the epistemological doctrines of his school's founder, Dwngkaba, which lies at the core of the Geluk claim to legitimacy.
I elaborate a narrative of the larger historical context in which he lived in order to demonstrate some of the ways that he deployed his authority. I explore how his scholarship provided him access to significant political figures and important Tibetan and Mongolian patrons. I discuss his participation in many of the consequential political events of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, including his involvement with the Fifth and Sixth Dalai Lamas and Tibet's Regent, Desi Sangyay Gyatso, as they worked to legitimize the rule of a theocratic Geluk-dominated government envisioned by the Fifth Dalai Lama. Finally, I examine his founding of Labrang Monastery which enabled him to extend his religious influence to eastern Tibet and the Mongolian cultural regions beyond.
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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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