Di Castro & Templeman (eds), Asian Horizons (2015)

AsianHorizons1000519-3-2Angelo Andrea Di Castro and David Templeman (eds). Asian Horizons: Giuseppe Tucci’s Buddhist, Indian, Himalayan and Central Asian Studies. Serie Orientale Roma CVI / Monash Asia Series. Melbourne: Monash University Publishing, April 2015. xxvi+613 pp. AUD$99. ISBN (pb): 978-1-922235-33-6; (epub): 978-1-922235-34-3.

Contributors …… vii

Preface …… xi

Introduction …… xix


Gustavo Benavides. Giuseppe Tucci, Anti-Orientalist …… 3

Francesco D’Arelli. A Glimpse of some Archives on Giuseppe Tucci’s Scientific Expeditions to Tibet: 1929–1939 …… 16

Ruth Gamble. The problem with folk: Giuseppe Tucci and the transformation of folksongs into scientific artefacts …… 45

Alex McKay. ‘A very useful lie’: Giuseppe Tucci, Tibet, and scholarship under dictatorship …… 68

Francesco Sferra. The ‘thought’ of Giuseppe Tucci …… 83

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Nuggets of Untruth (II): On being called a Professor

A Correction: Contrary to a remark made in Greg Seton’s recent post on H-Buddhism (Nov. 22, 2008), I am not, at present, a Professor. Nor am I a PhD; nor have I ever claimed to be either.

This remark put me in an awkward position. One could post a correction to the list; but that would do more than merely add to the level of noise. It would also be to affirm a lowly status in the eyes of those who think that advanced degrees mean everything. Now that outcome, in itself, shouldn’t bother anyone in the slightest. Unfortunately, however, it does lead to difficulties, in my experience; for example in acquiring the all-important, yet notoriously elusive, primary materials for the study of Indo-Newar Buddhism. (For an example of what I’m talking about, note the desperate and isolated tone of Mr. Seton’s plea for manuscripts; and this guy is at Oxford, home to some of the most precious Sanskrit Buddhist manuscripts on the planet!)

The alternative is to say nothing. But this could be seen as deliberately failing to stop the dissemination of a falsehood. On the other hand, I hope you can understand why I may be reluctant to further associate myself with a thread that is plainly rife with errors and infelicities (which provided the spur for my emailing its author in the first place).

So, my solution for now will be to post a correction here, where it will be on the record, for anyone who wants to look for it, while being kept out of the face of the put-upon readers of H-Buddhism.

[And if you have made it this far, dear reader, I will let you in on something: this blog was actually started in response to dissatisfaction experienced in dealing with H-Buddhism; and it was resurrected earlier this year — something I was quite unwilling to do — for the very same reason. May the internet always grant us some mechanism(s) for circumventing the gatekeepers of official truth.]


Sarita Dash. The Bauddhatantis of Orissa: culture, identity, and resurgence of an ancient guild of Buddhist weavers. Birahakrushnapur (Puri District, Orissa): Society for Environment Action and Restoration of Cultural Heritage, 2002. 67 p. [ Worldcat ]

So one of the surviving pockets of Indian Buddhism is in Orissa? Now, I don’t buy the claim that the manuscript used in Shastri’s Bauddha gān o doha (1916) epitomizes the Oriyan struggle against the British Rāj. But something Bauddha is still going on there, it seems. The question is: what?

Plea: Still looking for a copy of this obscure work; the only one I know if is at the Library of Congress. My attempts to order it from India failed.

Nuggets of Untruth (I): Ron Davidson on Indian Esoteric Buddhism

Recently, a friend and scholar of tantric Buddhism asked me for comments on the following statement by Ronald Davidson, from ‘An Introduction to the Standards of Scriptural Authenticity in Indian Buddhism’:

Mantrayāna, developing as a system from the seventh century on, received no serious challenge from the Buddhist community in India.

Being a bit tied up at the moment, I could only answer in brief; and of course, those Vajrayāna traditions that were wiped out by Theravādins in Sri Lanka and Thailand have no living representatives there who can answer. Meanwhile, comments are open. Discuss!

Āryatārā Totally Looks Like Vanaratna's Wife

A magnificent Indian manuscript illumination of Tārā, purchased seven years ago by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, bears a striking resemblance to the well-known Newar painting of Vanaratna’s wife giving dāna to various Buddhist and non-Buddhist ascetics.* This further bolsters a claim by Dina Bangdel that the main figure in the latter work was depicted as Vanaratna’s favourite form of Tārā — a notion which could have used a lot more support when it was first proposed.

(However the suggestion that the event depicted is an “Abhishekha (Initiation)”, as is unfortunately recorded in LACMA’s catalogue, is quite without foundation; rather it is evidently a samyak, namely, a saṅghabhojana offered to all the monasteries of a district on some auspicious occasion — in this case, the first-year anniversary of Vanaratna’s parinirvāṇa.)

* References, etc. (including an explanation of what the famed sthavira was doing with a ‘wife’) are to be found in my [unpublished] review of Circle of Bliss.

Not submitted to totallylookslike.com.

I'm back.

Because it looks like I’m going to have to be.


It’s here – a place for exploring late Indian Buddhism, as represented in literature, art and living practice. Discussion will be mostly in English, with recourse to Sanskrit, Newari and other languages. Mainly for specialists, but all sentient beings welcome.