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Production of Religious Knowledge (2/2)

27-214 | Thursday, 1:30 p.m. | 114
Session Chair: Katja Triplett

Gabriele Coura

Monastic Life in Nineteenth Century Tibet: Normative Texts by the First Kongtrul

The First Kongtrul Rinpoche, Lodrö Taye (1813-1899), was an outstanding figure in Tibetan religious history. Trained not only in Buddhism, but also in painting, medicine and Sanskrit, he was active in the non-sectarian (Rimé) movement, established the three-year retreat as a form of monastic training, as well as a center for its practice, and was a prolific writer. Among the texts authored by him, some treat various aspects of conduct appropriate for a Buddhist practitioner. Based on several of these writings, either already published in English or newly translated from Tibetan, the paper investigates Kongtrul’s approach to monastic discipline: To what extent is it innovative, to what extent conservative? Why did he consider innovation necessary? Which strategies of legitimization did he use? What was his view on the teacher-student relationship? How did the discipline requirements for three-year retreatants differ from those for members of open monastic communities?

Katrin Killinger

Beyond the Divide between Religion and Medicine – The Carakasamhita and the Ayurvedic Knowledge System

The medical system of Ayurveda was shaped during a power struggle between heterodox and orthodox religious groups in ancient India. As a result of this dynamic interchange, the earliest complete surviving document of Ayurvedic medicine, the Carakasamhita (100 BC – 400 AD), was compiled. Calling attention to the interconnectedness of religions and medicine in this Sanskrit source, the paper asks whether or not it is suitable to regard the medical theory of Ayurveda as secular or whether we can consider the Carakasamhita a religious document. Challenging in turn both assumptions, the paper shows how Indian medical discourse drew on Vedic and Buddhist traditions as well as aspects of Samkhya philosophy. Consequently, Ayurvedic medicine constitutes an innovative knowledge system that can only be comprehended in its historical and methodological relevance when we acknowledge the transformative and integrative power of traditional religious discourse, thus going beyond the divide between religion and secular medicine

Shriya Bandyopadhyay

Dharmā-thakūr, the “Healer of Wounds” and its peasant followers in eighteenth century Bengal

The cult of Dharmā-thakūr was very popular in eighteenth century Bengal, mainly among the marginal people of village society- agricultural laborers, landless peasants, manual scavengers. They imagined their divine as lord supreme who was harsh, benevolent and healer of wounds. This paper explores how changes in land revenue system under Nawāb Murshid Quli Khan and harsh methods of revenue collection were reflected in the imagination of Godhead and religious rituals of certain agricultural communities. The discussion will be based on a combined study of Dharmā-maṇgal religious genre and Gājan ceremony of the cult worshippers. In Gājan the worshippers of Dharmā practiced arduous rituals by self infliction of bodily pain to satisfy their God. The paper also looks at the process of Brahmanical adaptation of Dharma texts through control over literacy in order to incorporate the margins of society into mainstream Hinduism.