Lucia Galli (University of Oxford), "The Price of Enlightenment: The Travel Account of Kha stag ʼDzam yag, a Pilgrim and a Tshong dpon (1944-1956)"
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Frontier territories characterised by intense socio-economic, political, and cultural inter-actions, in the mid-nineteenth century the easternmost fringes of the Tibetan plateau saw the rise of the ris med movement, an influential religious approach fostering inclusiveness and non-sectarianism. Teachings, empowerments, and transmissions of various schools and lineages were actively sought and received, through a constant flow of masters, adepts, and pilgrims from one monastery to the other. Testimony to these thriving interactions was Kha stag 'Dzam yag, a Khams pa trader from a nomadic area in ‘Bri zla zal mo gangs and author of a travel account describing his thirteen-year long pilgrimage from eastern Tibet to Lha sa and gZhi ga rtse, and from there to northern India and Nepal. During his travels through the Tibetan plateau, the author visited monasteries and sacred sites belonging to different schools of Tibetan Buddhism, receiving blessings and instructions from masters of various religious lineages. The pious candor of his record reveals the inextricable bond between spiritual and mundane affairs, since the connection between a master and a disciple was based on a mutual giving and receiving. Whereas the first provided teachings and refuge, the latter was expected to repay his guru’s kindness through offerings and gifts.
Kha stag 'Dzam yag’s personal experiences as both a pilgrim and a trade agent for the Khang gsar bla brang of Ngor E wam chos ldan, a monastic community he had actively supported in the years preceding the 1950s, exemplify the intertwining of economics and religion and help to shed some light on the influence exerted by the monasteries of central Tibet on their branches in the sGa pa and sDe dge areas.
International conference “Territories, Communities, and Exchanges in the Sino-Tibetan Kham Borderlands,” Februray 18-20, 2016. This conference is an outcome of a collaborative ERC-funded research project (Starting grant no. 283870). For more information, please visit the project's Website: http://kham.cnrs.fr
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