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The Holy Land Reborn: Pilgrimage and the Tibetan Reinvention of Buddhist India (Committee on Publications in Biology and Medicine)by Toni Huber
Synopses & Reviews
Insight meditation, which claims to offer practitioners a chance to escape all suffering by perceiving the true nature of reality, is one of the most popular forms of meditation today. The Theravada Buddhist cultures of South and Southeast Asia often see it as the Buddhaand#8217;s most important gift to humanity. In the first book to examine how this practice came to play such a dominantand#8212;and relatively recentand#8212;role in Buddhism, Erik Braun takes readers to Burma, revealing that Burmese Buddhists in the colonial period were pioneers in making insight meditation indispensable to modern Buddhism.
Braun focuses on the Burmese monk Ledi Sayadaw, a pivotal architect of modern insight meditation, and explores Lediand#8217;s popularization of the study of crucial Buddhist philosophical texts in the early twentieth century. By promoting the study of such abstruse texts, Braun shows, Ledi was able to standardize and simplify meditation methods and make them widely accessibleand#8212;in part to protect Buddhism in Burma after the British takeover in 1885. Braun also addresses the question of what really constitutes the and#8220;modernand#8221; in colonial and postcolonial forms of Buddhism, arguing that the emergence of this type of meditation was caused by precolonial factors in Burmese culture as well as the disruptive forces of the colonial era. Offering a readable narrative of the life and legacy of one of modern Buddhismand#8217;s most important figures, The Birth of Insight provides an original account of the development of mass meditation.
The Dalai Lama has said that Tibetans consider themselves “the child of Indian civilization” and that India is the “holy land” from whose sources the Tibetans have built their own civilization. What explains this powerful allegiance to India? In The Holy Land Reborn¸ Toni Huber investigates how Tibetans have maintained a ritual relationship to India, particularly by way of pilgrimage, and what it means for them to consider India as their holy land.
Focusing on the Tibetan creation and recreation of India as a destination, a landscape, and a kind of other, in both real and idealized terms, Huber explores how Tibetans have used the idea of India as a religious territory and a sacred geography in the development of their own religion and society. In a timely closing chapter, Huber also takes up the meaning of India for the Tibetans who live in exile in their Buddhist holy land.
A major contribution to the study of Buddhism, The Holy Land Reborn describes changes in Tibetan constructs of India over the centuries, ultimately challenging largely static views of the sacred geography of Buddhism in India.
About the Author
Toni Huber is professor of Tibetan studies at the Institute for Asian and African Studies at Humboldt University, Berlin. He is the author or editor of five books, including most recently Nomads of Eastern Tibet.
Table of Contents
List of Figures Acknowledgments
Note on Transliteration
Part One: Locating and Dislocating the Land of the Buddha
1 The Shifting Terrain of the Buddha
2 Buddhist Knowledge and Anachronism in Tibet
3 Journeying to the Centre of the World
4 Tantric Buddhist India and Its Tibetan Appropriation
Part Two: Reinventing the Holy Land in India
5 Nirvana in Assam
6 Return to the Centre of the World
7 The Allure of the Atsaras
8 The Precious Guru in the Punjab
Part Three: Modern Rebirths of the Holy Land
9 Archaeological and Discursive Rebirths of Buddhist India
10 Encountering the Modern Holy Land 11 Exile in the Land of the Buddha
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