The Holy Land Reborn: Pilgrimage and the Tibetan Reinvention of Buddhist India

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The Dalai Lama has said that Tibetans consider themselves “the child of Indian civilization” and that India is the “holy land” from whose sources the Tibetans have built their own civilization. What explains this powerful allegiance to India? In The Holy Land Reborn¸ Toni Huber investigates how Tibetans have maintained a ritual relationship to India, particularly by way of pilgrimage, and what it means for them to consider India as their holy land.
Focusing on the Tibetan creation and recreation of India as a destination, a landscape, and a kind of other, in both real and idealized terms, Huber explores how Tibetans have used the idea of India as a religious territory and a sacred geography in the development of their own religion and society. In a timely closing chapter, Huber also takes up the meaning of India for the Tibetans who live in exile in their Buddhist holy land.
A major contribution to the study of Buddhism, The Holy Land Reborn describes changes in Tibetan constructs of India over the centuries, ultimately challenging largely static views of the sacred geography of Buddhism in India.

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Editorial Reviews

Per Kvaerne
"$1"—Per Kvaerne, University of Oslo, Norway
Sheldon Pollock
"The transformation of fluid space into bounded place, with knife-edged and therefore inevitably bloody borders, has been the work of modernity. In this engaging metageography of southern Asian Buddhism, Toni Huber rediscovers another world—India as a Tibetan place—demonstrating the deep, if sometimes confused and contested, connections that Tibetans have reinvented over ten centuries, whether through travel visions, pilgrimages, or exile. He thereby provides an exquisite demonstration of the fact that the certitudes by which people live their lives are as real and consequential as the hard truths of modern science."—Sheldon Pollock, Columbia University
Janet Gyatso
"$1"—Janet Gyatso,

Harvard Divinity School

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226356488
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 8/15/2008
  • Series: Buddhism and Modernity Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Toni Huber is professor of Tibetan studies at the Institute for Asian and African Studies at Humboldt University, Berlin. He is the author or editor of five books, including most recently Nomads of Eastern Tibet.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures
Note on Transliteration

Part One: Locating and Dislocating the Land of the Buddha
1 The Shifting Terrain of the Buddha
2 Buddhist Knowledge and Anachronism in Tibet
3 Journeying to the Centre of the World
4 Tantric Buddhist India and Its Tibetan Appropriation

Part Two: Reinventing the Holy Land in India
5 Nirvana in Assam
6 Return to the Centre of the World
7 The Allure of the Atsaras
8 The Precious Guru in the Punjab

Part Three: Modern Rebirths of the Holy Land
9 Archaeological and Discursive Rebirths of Buddhist India
10 Encountering the Modern Holy Land
11 Exile in the Land of the Buddha


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