Spring 2017 Events:

Each semester the UVa Tibet Center hosts several internationally renown scholars, researchers, organizers, and other experts to speak on Tibet’s past, present, and future.


Maitripa, 19th c. thangka, HAR 60674

Tuesday, January 17th at 5pm

Klaus-Dieter Mathes presented on “A Fine Blend of Mahāmudrā and Madhyamaka: Maitrīpa’s Collection of Works on Non-conceptual Realization” at 5pm in Nau Hall 342.  Professor Mathes is head of the Department of South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies at the University of Vienna. This event was co-sponsored by the Center for South Asian Studies and the Virginia Center for the Study of Religion.


Friday, February 17th at 3:15pm

Matthew Kapstein will present “Other People’s Philology: Uses of Sanskrit in Tibet and China, 15th-18th c.” in Monroe Hall 124.

Sakya Pendita Künga Gyeltsen (HAR 74044)

Abstract: The long Tibetan preoccupation with the translation of the Buddhist literature of India reached a dénouement of sorts during the 13th century, when, guided by the influence of Sa-skya Paṇḍita Kun-dga’-rgyal-mtshan (1182-1251), translators turned their attention increasingly to the Sanskrit language arts (Smith 2001, Kapstein 2003), including metrics (chandas, Hahn 1971), synonymics (abhidhāna), and tropology (alaṃkāraśāstra, van der Kuijp 1995). Although Tibetan Sanskrit studies grew decadent in some respects during the centuries that followed (Tucci 1957), a growing body of scholarship (Verhagen 1993, 2001; Lin 2011) has begun to show that Tibetan contributions in this field nevertheless merit close attention. With the appearance of newly discovered manuscript sources, moreover, it now seems that late Tibetan traditions of Sanskrit language learning have more to offer to contemporary research might have been previously imagined. The presentation proposed here will review the state of the field and introduce some of the resources that have only recently appeared. Developments in China inspired by Tibetan engagements with Sanskrit will be illustrated as well.

Professor Kapstein is Directeur d’études, École Pratique des Hautes Études and Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies, University of Chicago. Co-sponsored by the East Asia Center, the Virginia Center for the Study of Religion, and the Center for South Asian Studies.


Wednesday, March 15th at 4pm
Dorje Drolo, 18th c., LACMA

Dorje Drolo, 18th c., LACMA

Dan Hirshberg will speak on “Himalayan Syncretism and the Emergence of Padmasambhava as Rdo rje gro lod” in Nau 211. Padmasambhava, the renowned eighth-century tantrika credited with establishing Buddhism in Tibet, is scarcely noted among imperial-era sources, and yet he becomes the protagonist of a vibrant biographical tradition several centuries thereafter. One mode of defining him and his activities was through the introduction and delimitation of eight “names” (mtshan), each of which becomes associated with distinct qualities. Among them, the tiger-riding Dorjé Drolö (Rdo rje gro lod) emerged both nominally and iconographically as the synthesis of tantric Buddhism with indigenous Himalayan religions, thereby offering insight into the syncretism that produced a distinctly Tibetan Buddhism.

Dan HirshbergPh.D. is Assistant Professor of Religion at the University of Mary Washington. Specializing in the popular narrative of Tibet’s conversion to Buddhism and the attendant apotheosis of its protagonist, he published his first book, Remembering the Lotus-Born: Padmasambhava in the History of Tibet’s Golden Age, in October 2016. This event is co-sponsored by the East Asia Center.