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Religions 2017, 8(3), 40; doi:10.3390/rel8030040

Constituting Canon and Community in Eleventh Century Tibet: The Extant Writings of Rongzom and His Charter of Mantrins (sngags pa’i bca’ yig)

Department of History, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-0710, USA
Academic Editors: Michael Sheehy and Joshua Schapiro
Received: 2 September 2016 / Revised: 26 February 2017 / Accepted: 1 March 2017 / Published: 15 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pedagogy and Performance in Tibetan Buddhism)
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Abstract

This paper explores some of the work of Rongzom Chökyi Zangpo (hereafter Rongzom) and attempts to situate his pedagogical influence within the “Old School” or Nyingma (rnying ma) tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.1 A survey of Rongzom’s extant writings indicates that he was a seminal exegete and a particularly important philosopher and interpreter of Buddhism in Tibet. He was an influential intellectual flourishing in a period of cultural rebirth, when there was immense skepticism about Tibetan compositions. His work is thereby a source of insight into the indigenous Tibetan response to the transformations of a renaissance-era in which Indian provenance became the sine qua none of religious authority. Rongzom’s “charter” (bca’ yig), the primary focus of the essay, is an important document for our understanding of Old School communities of learning. While we know very little of the social realities of Old School communities in Rongzom’s time, we do know that they were a source of concern for the emerging political and religious authorities in Western Tibet. As such, the review below argues that the production of the charter should be seen, inter alia, as an effort at maintaining autonomy in the face of a rising political power. The analysis also provides insights into the nature of the social obligations operant within Rongzom’s community—constituted as it was by a combination of ritually embodied and discursive philosophical modes of learning. View Full-Text
Keywords: Old School; Nyingma; pedagogy; philosophy; ethics Old School; Nyingma; pedagogy; philosophy; ethics
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Sur, D. Constituting Canon and Community in Eleventh Century Tibet: The Extant Writings of Rongzom and His Charter of Mantrins (sngags pa’i bca’ yig). Religions 2017, 8, 40.

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