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New Book in Buddhist Studies by Markus Viehbeck

08. Apr. 2015

How core teachings of Indian Buddhism are negotiated on the Tibetan plateau is the topic of a new book by Dr. Markus Viehbeck. It is now available in print and online.

"Polemics in Indo-Tibetan Scholasticism: A Late 19th-Century Debate between 'Ju Mi pham and Dpa' ris Rab gsal" investigates a series of debates on the correct interpretation of a central text from Buddhist India. The controversies flared up in Eastern Tibet in the late nineteenth century and involved the major centres of Tibetan scholasticism in the almost thirty years of their development. Main protagonists were the "Rnying ma" master 'Ju Mi pham (1846–1912) and his contemporary opponents from the "Dge lugs" school – in particular Dpa' ris Rab gsal (1840–1912). They were discussing Mi pham's "Nor bu ke ta ka", an innovative commentary on the ninth chapter of Śāntideva's "Bodhi(sattva)caryāvatāra" (BCA), a text that the Tibetan tradition regards as an authoritative presentation of Indian Madhyamaka thought.

The first part of the book explores the larger context of the debates, both in terms of literary genre, but also in its socio-historical dimension. The second part analyses the critical treatises that were exchanged between Mi pham and Rab gsal and follows their exchange of arguments across this body of literature. Finally, a last section provides supplementary material for specialists working on the topic.

"Polemics in Indo-Tibetan Scholasticism", 355 pages, was published by the "Arbeitskreis für tibetische und buddhistische Studien Universität Wien" as part of their series on Tibetan and Buddhist studies. The book is an outcome of Dr. Markus Viehbeck's dissertation at the University of Vienna and his work in the research project D16 "Reasoning in South Asian and Tibetan Buddhism" at the Cluster. It is available in print and as an Open Access online version which was supported by the Cluster.

Dr. Markus Viehbeck is Assistant Professor at the Chair of Buddhist Studies of the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies, which is held by Prof. Birgit Kellner. He is also one of the coordinators of the Cluster's research project D19 "Kalimpong".


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