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Buddha’s Truthful Heirs? Indo-Tibetan relations in Tibetan Polemical Discourse by Dr. Markus Viehbeck

Dr. Viehbeck will explore a major controversy among two influential Tibetan intellectuals in the 19th century that revolved around the correct interpretation of an important Indian Buddhist text. While Tibetan Buddhism shows manifold cultural influences, the Indian tradition occupies a particularly significant position. It served as a source of general cultural knowledge, but also as a concrete authority for specific Buddhist teachings, via texts translated into Tibetan. Aligning oneself with a specific Indian Buddhist text could provide a Tibetan scholar authority to one’s own scholastic elaborations. At the same time, such texts provided an inexhaustible source for controversial discussion. How then did Tibetan scholars relate to the Indian tradition in such discussions? How can their creative contribution to Buddhist thought be reconciled with the master narrative that often depicts Tibetan scholars as passive protectors of original teachings?

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