Wollein (2017), The Mūl Dīpaṅkara shrine

Andrea Wollein. 2017. ‘An ethnographic study of the Mūl Dīpaṅkara shrine in Bhaktapur (Nepal): the relationship between people and place’. University of Vienna: M.A. thesis (Masterstudium Kultur u. Gesellschaft des neuzeitlichen Südasiens). 189 pp., 87 figures. [official notice] [author: facebook]

Mul Dipankara
Wollein (2017:165) fig.74: The tilted face of the Mūl Dīpaṅkara. Photo by the author (August 2016).

Abstract: This thesis presents locality specific research in the form of an ethnography that draws both from fieldwork and published scholarly literature. The inter-disciplinary research is contextualized within the wider field of South Asian Studies and pertains to Himalayan, Buddhist and Newar Studies as well as to Tibetology. It is specifically concerned with the socioreligious dimension of Newar Buddhist monasteries (Skrt. vihāra, New. bāhā and bahī), the Buddhist deity Dīpaṅkara and the configuration of the relationship between the two of them as found in the setting of the Mūl Dīpaṅkara shrine in Bhaktapur. Continue reading “Wollein (2017), The Mūl Dīpaṅkara shrine”

Dina Bangdel (1965–2017)

Dr Dina Bangdel (5.12.1965–25?.7.2017) is well known among Nepal specialists as a historian of religious art. Her 1999 dissertation, Manifesting the Mandala, and co-authored 2003 exhibition catalogue, Circle of Bliss, emphasised the visual culture of the Cakrasamvara cycle in Newar Buddhism, which is traditionally kept secret. Dr Bangdel had been planning to show a selection of this and related art on a world-travelling exhibition and was scheduled to speak at the “New Research on Newar Buddhism” panel at IABS. This week Dr Bangdel passed away, reportedly after complications following surgery. She is survived by her husband Bibhakar Shakya and two children.

(Added 2018/1/20:) ‘Remembering scholars of Nepalese Art Mary Slusser and Dina Bangdel’ (Rubin Museum of Art)

Tamang, ‘Green Tara’ (Bangdel 2016, fig.6)

Continue reading “Dina Bangdel (1965–2017)”

Richardson (2016), Murals at Shalu

Richardson, Sarah Aoife. 2016. ‘Painted Books for Plaster Walls: Visual Words in the Fourteenth-century Murals at the Tibetan Buddhist Temple of Shalu.’ PhD diss., University of Toronto. 271+146+186 pp. URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/73147.

From the Abstract: Elaborate mural paintings made after a major renovation of the temple in the early fourteenth century included long Tibetan inscriptions, displaying sometimes large passages of Tibetan sacred texts as part of their communicative pictorial program. By variously projecting books onto the walls, the temple’s abbot, Butön Rinchen Drup (Bu ston rin chen ‘grub, 1290-1364) placed new textual collections, inherently scholastic and elite projects, assertively into a more public domain.

Sinclair (2017), Nepālamaṇḍalābhyantara-gata-buddhavihāranāmāni

Sinclair, Iain (traduction Caroline Riberaigua). 2017. Nepālamaṇḍalābhyantaragata-buddhavihāra-nāmāni = Noms des monastères bouddhiques de la région du Népal. Salamandre, Collège de France. [PDF (en Français, ébauche, 5 mai)]

Extract: This unique manuscript provides a list of ‘Names of Buddhist Monasteries situated within the domain of Nepal’, as its title states. Eighty-five sites are documented, written in Devanagari script in three columns: Sanskrit name – identity of main image – Newar name. […] The manuscript was written for Sylvain Lévi by the Newar Buddhist pundit Siddhiharṣa Vajrācārya (1879–1952), according to its colophon. Most likely it was produced in 1922, a year when Lévi mentions meeting with Siddhiharṣa [1929:37] as he gathered manuscripts and visited monasteries on his second trip to Nepal. […]

MS-SL 60 [Nepālamaṇḍalābhyantaragata-buddhavihāra-nāmāni], c. 1922, Collège de France, Institut d’Etudes indiennes, Origine: Sylvain Lévi (collectionneur).

Nepal’s April 25 quake: a view from afar

On April 25, 2015, just before midday local time, the Nepalese Himalayas was struck by an earthquake of magnitude ≥ 7.8. Its epicentral region was located about 80km west of Kathmandu, but the many aftershocks have been clustered around the Valley, shifting an entire region. At least ten thousand lives were lost or injured as a result. This horrific calamity was not caused by divine retribution, but rather by collisions occurring, with some predictability, between the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates. Several M ≥ 5 aftershocks are expected, with a greater than 50% chance of an M ≥ 6 aftershock, in the coming months (Source: USGS).

The quake originated in Lamjung district, with seismic activity focused around the Kathmandu Valley (Source: A. Lomax, via twitter).

Such widely felt effects, together with the increasing pervasion of social media, are generating an unprecedented flow of data. Making sense of it is difficult for people in the midst of the crisis, let alone those on the outside — though there are some worthy efforts (*). Many call for more aid, but some say there is too much. On live television, it seems to be business as usual in the Kathmandu Valley. However, the normality orchestrated on TV reveals nothing of the disruptions likely to come: critical shortages of manpower, water, fuel and electricity, failures of agriculture and transport, debilitated families, missionary predation, ever-growing dependence on foreigners.

The situation in the Valley — since it’s what I know, it’s the part I can assess — now seems to be as follows. In the Durbar Square of Lalitpur, the Jagannarayan and Hari Shankar temples have fully collapsed. Hiraṇyavarṇa-mahāvihāra, the Golden Temple, is undamaged. There is widespread damage in Bungamati, with Amarāvati-mahāvihāra mandir laid waste. The chariot of Karuṇāmaya (‘Macchendranath’), now on its twelve-year yātrā, has been hit. In Kathmandu Durbar square, Kasthamandap, Maju Dega, Kam Dev temple and Trailokya Mohan Narayan temple were destroyed; the Kumari House stands unaffected. Kalmochan temple at Thapathali and Bhimsen Tower, a.k.a. Dharahara, have fallen down. The Swayambhu caitya has not been obviously affected, though some surrounding buildings, including the Pratappur temple, are shattered. Although a hairline crack has appeared in the Bodhnath stūpa it remains intact, apart from a collapsed stūpa on its periphery (misleadingly photographed in front of the main structure).

The old cities of Bhaktapur, Sankhu, Kirtipur and Khokana have suffered severe damage and loss of life. Beyond the Valley, in Gorkha, Sindhupalchowk and Nuwakot, whole villages have been wiped out, and reportedly, hundreds of thousands are affected in the Tibet Autonomous Region. It looks like the communities at these places will receive some aid from outside, sooner or later. Whether it arrives in good time, reaches the people who need it, is usable, makes things better rather than worse — or is needed at all — are altogether different questions.

Today nobody knows how much is being stolen from heritage sites. While UNESCO has funds to hire security, and jurisdiction over the entire Valley, the Kathmandu office says it can only work on its database. Fortunately, the job is somehow getting done. The false opposition ‘protect lives, not buildings’ is also getting a lot of airtime. Buildings are there to improve lives (unless built in a failing state). That’s why the displaced people who shivered under tarpaulins for a while have gone back to their homes as fast as they can, in spite of the risks.

The proposition that traditional spaces merely “serve as an anchor for aspiration and memory” and have nothing to do with livelihoods, shelter, storage, commerce, discourse, traffic, and the experience of pleasure and meaning is very mistaken. This damning with faint praise is no ordinary lapse of judgment; the Newars’ spaces seem to incite real unease among those who don’t belong there. This shows that they work as intended, and that their value comprises far more than the sum of their parts. Even in times of weakness, the Kathmandu Valley’s precious urban landscape can resist the neuroses projected onto it from outside. Nonetheless,this priceless quality won’t continue of its own accord. It needs intelligence, attention and work. That is how lives are renewed.

Longdok Nima (2012), Mandalas of Tibetan Buddhism

བསྟན་འཛིན་ལུང་རྟོགས་ཉི་མ། མཐུ་སྟོབས་རྣམ་རྒྱལ། ཨོ་རྒྱན་རིག་འཛིན། 《བོད་བརྒྱུད་ནང་བསྟན་སྔ་འགྱུར་བཀའ་གཏེར་དཀྱིལ་འཁོར་དཔེ་རིས་》 གྲུབ་དབང་རྫོགས་ཆེན་སྔ་འགྱུར་བཀའ་གཏེར་སྒྲུབ་འཕྲིན་ཕྱག་བཞེས་ཉམས་གསོ་ཆོགས་པ། བོད་ལྗོངས་མི་དམངས་དཔེ་སྐྲུན་ཁང། (ལྷ་ས་)

旦増·龍多尼瑪 / 士多尼瑪 等 (主編) 《藏传佛教坛城度量彩绘图集》 西藏人民出版社 2012年6月 680元

Tenzin Longdok Nima (ed.-in-chief.) Mandalas of Tibetan Buddhism. Lhasa: Dzogchen Monastery’s Early Tradition Canonical and Treasure Teaching Revival Group & Tibet People’s Press, 2012. xi+226+ii pp. ISBN 9787223035569.

From the Preface

This volume “Mandalas of Tibetan Buddhism” features over sixty detailed mandalas. It is the result of over two years of dedicated research and preparation by a group of eminent scholars from the famous Dzogchen Monastery, one of the six major monasteries of the Nyingma tradition.

དཔལ་དུས་ཀྱི་འཁོར་ལོའི་ཚོན་ལྡན་དཀྱིལ་འཁོར། (2012:112-113)
དཔལ་དུས་ཀྱི་འཁོར་ལོའི་ཚོན་ལྡན་དཀྱིལ་འཁོར། (2012:112-113)

Wood, ‘The Shalu Abbatial History’ (2012)

Benjamin Wood. ‘The Jeweled Fish Hook: Monastic Exemplarity in the Shalu Abbatial History’. PhD diss., University of Toronto, 2012. iii+284 pp. [URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/34970]

From the Abstract

This dissertation is an in-depth study of the nineteenth-century Shalu Abbatial History, a collection of biographies of abbots and other important religious masters, or lamas, from the Tibetan monastery of Shalu, located in the Tibetan region of Tsang.

Yoshizaki: ‘Dr. Kulman, who taught Kawaguchi Ekai’ (2012)

Which of the nineteenth-century Kulamāna Vajrācāryas was the confrere of Ekai Kawaguchi (and of Sylvain Lévi,* et al)? Mr. Kazumi Yoshizaki digs into his Index of Personal Names in Newari Historical Materials (forthcoming) to find out:

吉崎 一美 (Yoshizaki, Kazumi). 「河口慧海に梵語文法を教授したクルマン博士」 (Dr. Kulman who Taught Sanskrit Grammar to Rev. Kawaguchi Ekai in Nepal). 『印度學佛教學研究』 第六十一巻第一号 (Journal of Indian and Buddhist studies vol.61 no.1), pp.508–504/(11)–(15), 2012-12-20. [PDF at CiNii]

* “Le vieux pandit Kulamâna, de Patan, gagne sa vie à enseigner des rudiments de catéchisme et à copier des manuscrits” (Lévi, Le Népal: étude historique d’un royaume hindou, 1905 II:27).