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Drawing Honey from Historiography: Analyzing the Oldest Extant Manuscript of the Oldest Extant History of Buddhism in Tibet

Tue, Sep 4, 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
Indiana Memorial Union, Persimmon Room
Tibetan Studies Student Association Lecture Series Presents
Daniel A. Hirshberg
Postdoctoral Faculty Fellow in Tibetan Studies, Department of Religious Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara

Drawing Honey from Historiography: Analyzing the Oldest Extant Manuscript of the Oldest Extant History of Buddhism in Tibet
Indiana Memorial Union
  Persimmon Room
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
12 – 1 p.m.
This paper focuses on the sole non-treasure text attributed to Nyang ral Nyi ma 'Od zer (1124-1192), The History of Buddhism [entitled] Flower Nectar: The Essence of Honey (Chos 'byung me tog snying po sbrang rtsi'i bcud),  and his renowned treasure narrative concerning Padmasambhava, “the Lotus-Born,” almost the entirety of which is preserved within this History of Buddhism.  Through a comparative analysis of all available recensions, it becomes clear that an old manuscript found in Nepal and currently preserved in Germany is the ancestor of the others. This manuscript preserves a number of unique features that elucidate the transmission of Nyang ral’s History of Buddhism and thus the ascension of the Padmasambhava narrative as the emic history of Tibet's golden age.

Daniel A. Hirshberg  recently completed his PhD at Harvard University in Inner Asian and Altaic Studies. His dissertation, Delivering the Lotus-Born: Historiography in the Tibetan Renaissance, explores the spiritual and textual innovations of Nyang ral Nyi ma 'Od zer (1124-1192), the first of the great Buddhist “treasure” (gter) recoverers, that enabled him to compile the first complete narrative of Padmasambhava and effectively revise how Buddhism was established in Tibet.