Tibetan Renaissance: Tantric Buddhism in the Rebirth of Tibetan Culture / Edition 1

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How did a society on the edge of collapse and dominated by wandering bands of armed men give way to a vibrant Buddhist culture, led by yogins and scholars? Ronald M. Davidson explores how the translation and spread of esoteric Buddhist texts dramatically shaped Tibetan society and led to its rise as the center of Buddhist culture throughout Asia, replacing India as the perceived source of religious ideology and tradition. During the Tibetan Renaissance (950-1200 C.E.), monks and yogins translated an enormous number of Indian Buddhist texts. They employed the evolving literature and practices of esoteric Buddhism as the basis to reconstruct Tibetan religious, cultural, and political institutions. Many translators achieved the de facto status of feudal lords and while not always loyal to their Buddhist vows, these figures helped solidify political power in the hands of religious authorities and began a process that led to the Dalai Lama's theocracy. Davidson's vivid portraits of the monks, priests, popular preachers, yogins, and aristocratic clans who changed Tibetan society and culture further enhance his perspectives on the tensions and transformations that characterized medieval Tibet.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Buddhadharma - Benjamin Bogin

Offers a groundbreaking cultural history.

Journal of The Buddhist Society - Martin Boord

This truly fascinating book is bound to create something of a storm.

Journal of Asian Studies - Nikolay Tsyrempilov

[An] excellent book.

Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London - D. Seyfort Ruegg

In this volume Davidson has produced a noteworthy study of an important theme.

Journal of the American Oriental Society - Sam Van Schaik

[ Tibetan Renaissance] will influence the reading of Tibetan history for many years to come.


Davidson's book is important for the study of Buddhism and indispensable for Tibetan studies... Highly recommended.


Davidson's book is important for the study of Buddhism and indispensable for Tibetan studies... Highly recommended.

Offers a groundbreaking cultural history.

— Benjamin Bogin

Journal of The Buddhist Society
This truly fascinating book is bound to create something of a storm.

— Martin Boord

Journal of Asian Studies
[An] excellent book.

— Nikolay Tsyrempilov

Journal of the American Oriental Society
[ Tibetan Renaissance] will influence the reading of Tibetan history for many years to come.

— Sam Van Schaik

History of Religions

The awesome, generous Mahabharata will reward them all.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231134712
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 9/14/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 616
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Ronald M. Davidson is professor of religious studies at Fairfield University. He is the author of Indian Esoteric Buddhism: A Social History of the Tantric Movement (Columbia) and the coeditor (with Steven D. Goodman) of Tibetan Buddhism: Reason and Revelation.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

PrefaceList of Maps, FiguresPronunciation GuideIntroductionChapter 1: Early Medieval India and the Esoteric RhapsodyChapter 2: The Demise of Dynasty and a Poorly Lit PathChapter 3: Renaissance and Reformation: The Eastern Vinaya MonksChapter 4: Translators as the New AristocracyChapter 5: Drokmi: The Doyen of Central Tibetan TranslatorsChapter 6: Treasure Text, the Imperial LegacyChapter 7: The Late Eleventh Century: From Esoteric Lineages to Clan TemplesChapter 8: The Early Twelfth Century: A Confident Tibetan BuddhismChapter 9: The Late Twelfth to Early Thirteenth Century: Ethical Crises, International Chapter 10: Conclusion and Epilogue: The Victory of the Clan Structure, Late Tantric BuddhismNotesGlossaryTibetan Orthographic EquivalentsAppendix 1: Eastern Vinaya Temples, Cave TemplesAppendix 2: Translation and Text of the Root Text of the *MargaphalaAppendix 3: A Concordance of Early Commentaries on the Root Text of the *MargaphalaNotes to AppendicesNotes to the EditionAbbreviationsBibliographyIndex

Columbia University Press

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