A Buddhist Place of Education: dPal spungs Monastery from the 18th to the Early 20th Century


Gabriele Coura

  • Betreuung: Klaus-Dieter Mathes

Ever since its founding in 1729 by the Eighth Si tu Chos kyi ’byung gnas, dPal spungs monastery in Khams was a place where monks could train in fields as diverse as meditation and ritual, scriptural studies, medicine and painting. It was one of the largest bKa’ brgyud monasteries in Eastern Tibet, with a population of 500 to 700 monks. In the dissertation, dPal spungs will be looked at as a structure that enabled education, with its various necessary substructures, such as buildings, hierarchies and time schedules. Additional factors that contributed to monastic learning were for instance the charisma of Buddhist teachers, the authority of their writings, the pedagogical strategies used and the systems of punishment applied. From a diachronic perspective, the main focus will be on the two outstanding figures of the period in question, the Eighth Si tu (1700-1774) and the First Kong sprul Blo gros mtha’ yas (1813-1899). It will be shown that monastic education took place in diverse contexts with a varying degree of formality, ranging from the rigid temporal, spatial and organizational structures of a teaching institution to mutual influence within the community, e.g. imitation of the good examples of one’s fellow monks and rejection of the bad ones; and that a multitude of topics was taught, ranging from the transmission of knowledge about scholarly subjects via training in meditation and practical skills up to enforcing behavior that is considered appropriate for members of a monastic community.