Acri ed. (2016), Esoteric Buddhism in Mediaeval Maritime Asia

Acri, Andrea (ed). 2016. Esoteric Buddhism in Mediaeval Maritime Asia: Networks of Masters, Texts, Icons. Nalanda-Sriwijaya Series 27. Singapore: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. xii+468 pp. ISBN: 978-981-4695-09-1 (whole book, digital), ISBN 978-981-4695-08-4 (print). [PDF: Introduction, Bibliography, Index]

Official site: ISEAS. OCLC: 958714872. TOC: Andrea Acri at Review:

Acri 2016, Esoteric Buddhism in Mediaeval Maritime Asia

Contents Continue reading “Acri ed. (2016), Esoteric Buddhism in Mediaeval Maritime Asia”

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.

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

II Continue reading “Di Castro & Templeman (eds), Asian Horizons (2015)”

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)

Bellezza, ‘Death and Beyond in Ancient Tibet’ (2013)

John Vincent Bellezza. Death and Beyond in Ancient Tibet: Archaic Concepts and Practices in a Thousand-Year-Old Illuminated Funerary Manuscript and Old Tibetan Funerary Documents of Gathang Bumpa and Dunhuang. Denkschriften der philosophisch-historischen Klasse 454; Beiträge zur Kultur- und Geistesgeschichte Asiens 77. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences Press, 2013 [official]. 292 pp. ISBN 978-3-7001-7433-2.

John Bellezza in Kathmandu after walking from China, September 2007. (Photograph © I. S.)
John Bellezza in Kathmandu after walking from China, September 2007. (Photograph © I. S.)

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:]

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.

Sorensen, Legitimation and Innovation in Chöd (2013)

Michelle Janet Sorensen. ‘Making the Old New Again and Again: Legitimation and Innovation in the Tibetan Buddhist Chöd Tradition’. PhD diss., Columbia Univ., 2013. [URL / PDF]

(Texts translated: Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa zab mo gcod kyi man ngag gi gzhung bka’ tshoms chen mo; Shes rab khyi pha rol tu phyin pa’i man ngag yang tshoms zhus lan ma bzhugs pa; Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa’i man ngag nying tshoms chos kyi rtsa ba.)

Steinkellner, Krasser & Lasic, Viśālāmalavatī 2 (2013)

Ernst Steinkellner, Helmut Krasser, Horst Lasic (eds.) Jinendrabuddhi´s Viśālāmalavatī Pramāṇasamuccayaṭīkā Chapter 2. Sanskrit Texts from the Tibetan Autonomous Region, Vols. 15/1, 15/2. Beijing & Vienna: China Tibetology Publishing House Austrian Academy of Sciences Press, 2013. 149+111 pp. ISBN-13: 978-3-7001-7134-8.

斯齐,卡热萨,斯坦因凯勒校勘 (編) 《吉年陀罗菩提《集量论》广大清净疏第二章:全二册 梵文、英文分享到》 中国藏学出版社 2013

[Publisher information updated from provided cover image, 2013/7/3. See also: Series’ official site]