It is impossible to overstate the impact on Tibetan religious and cultural history of Atiśa Dīpaṃkara (982-1054) and his thirteen year-long sojourn in the Land of Snows. Tibetan historians would come to consider the arrival in 1042 of the “Precious Lord” in Western Tibet from Bengal as an epoch-making event, equivalent to the discovery of a spiritual Rosetta Stone that would serve to establish the correct understanding and practice of the Buddha’s Dharma.
This talk questions the utility of this viewpoint as overly simplistic. In examining Atiśa’s teaching career in the context of reemerging Indian Mahayana Buddhism in 11th century Tibet, it hopes to hope a more nuanced and rich understanding of his extraordinary and innovative role in the formation of an orthodox consensus for practice and scriptural interpretation beyond his time.
Dr. John Campbell serves as the Director of Sanskrit Preservation for the Asian Classics Input Project, a preservation initiative digitizing, cataloging, and inputting endangered manuscript collections in South and East Asia. Dr. Campbell holds a Doctorate in Religion from Columbia University with a specialization in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies.
Organized by the Religious Studies Department and Religious Graduate Council at University of the West, this lecture was presented on September 30, 2020.