Envisioning a Tibetan Luminary examines the religious biography of Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen (1859-1934), the most significant modern figure representing the Tibetan Boen religion-a vital minority tradition that is underrepresented in Tibetan studies. The work is based on fieldwork conducted in eastern Tibet and in the Boen exile community in India, where traditional Tibetan scholars collaborated closely on the project. Utilizing close readings of two versions
of Shardza's life-story, along with oral history collected in Boen communities, this book presents and interprets the biographical image of this major figure, culminating with an English translation of his life story.
William M. Gorvine argues that the disciple-biographer's literary portrait not only enacts and shapes religious ideals to foster faith among its readership, but also attempts to quell tensions that had developed among his original audience. Among the Boen community today, Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen has come to be unequivocally revered for an impressive textual legacy and a saintly death. During his lifetime, however, he faced prominent critics within his own lineage who went so far as to issue
polemical attacks against him. As Gorvine shows, the biographical texts that inform us about Shardza's life are best understood when read on multiple registers, with attention given to the ways in which the religious ideals on display reflect the broader literary, cultural, and historical contexts within
which they were envisioned and articulated.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 328
Weight: 584 g
Dimensions: 243 x 163 x 24 mm
William Gorvine's Envisioning a Tibetan Luminary brings to life the figure of Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen, one of the most influential (and controversial) Boenpo scholars of all time. Much more than a biography, Gorvine's work is also an analysis of Shardza's writings and historical context. It is also, by the way, a wonderful introduction to Boen, Tibet's 'indigenous' religion. Erudite yet accessible, this book is a must read for anyone interested in
Tibetan religion. * Jose I. Cabezon, Dalai Lama Professor of Tibetan Buddhism and Cultural Studies, University of California Santa Barbara *
Envisioning a Tibetan Luminary is our most expansive exploration to date of traditional Tibetan approaches to Boen life writing. Gorvine illuminates for the first time the ways in which Boenpo authors sought to represent new forms of religiosity, self-identity, and institutional legitimacy in an overwhelmingly Buddhist landscape. This work does much to expand and complicate our understanding of religion in Tibet and the Himalayan region. * Andrew Quintman, Associate Professor of Religion at Wesleyan University and author of The Yogin and the Madman: Reading the Biographical Corpus of Tibet's Great Saint Milarepa *
Gorvine's narrative is a brilliant exposition of the general tenets of the Tibetan Boen religion. This represents an excellent introduction to the doctrine and ascetic practices of Boen as demonstrated through the life of one of its most beloved and celebrated recent masters. The rationale of this study is to highlight the function of a Tibetan literary genre, the hagiography (namtar), as a teaching device as well as to inspire practitioners and the
faithful. Gorvine not only manages to convey the full extent of the original two Tibetan works but is also able to contextualize the events reported as well as the nature and type of spiritual work Shardza was engaged in. In this way, students of Bon as well as scholars researching the material that is the basis for
practice amply demonstrated here are able to benefit from the reading of this very accessible study. * J. F. Marc des Jardins, Associate Professor of Religion and Cultures, Concordia University *