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MC3.3 Negotiating Boundaries in Religious Discourse and Practice

Buddhism between South Asia and Tibet – Negotiating Religious Boundaries in Doctrine and Practice

Coordination: Birgit Kellner


In almost every Buddhist community in the Himalayas one can observe the copresence of different religious systems: monastic and non-monastic practitioners of different Buddhist traditions hailing from Tibet, Bon pos, and religious specialists and ritual intercessors which may be loosely defined as “shamanic.” How do these agents relate to the general Buddhist ideology and worldview? Does the constitution of individual communities reflect past histories of migration? Are current political and social changes – such as the civil war in Nepal (1996-2006) – reflected in dynamics of the religious field? Can we observe continuities in the longue durée with historical processes of “Buddhification” on the Tibetan plateau? A main focus of investigation within this project are patterns of change and dynamics of appropriation among the Hyolmos of Nepal, whose religious field is characterized by a strong interaction between an amonastic Nyingmapa Buddhist tradition and a folk religion based on shamanic worldviews, rituals and practices.



Birgit Kellner

Group members

Jonathan Samuels
Davide Torri

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