Identity, Ritual and State in Tibetan Buddhism: The Foundations of Authority in Gelukpa Monasticism

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This is a major anthropological study of contemporary Tibetan Buddhist monasticism and tantric ritual in the Ladakh region of North-West India and of the role of tantric ritual in the formation and maintenance of traditional forms of state structure and political consciousness in Tibet. Containing detailed descriptions and analyses of monastic ritual, the work builds up a picture of Tibetan tantric traditions as they interact with more localised understandings of bodily identity and territorial cosmology, to produce a substantial re-interpretation of the place of monks as ritual performers and peripheral householders in Ladakh. The work also examines the central and indispensable role of incarnate lamas, such as the Dalai Lama, in the religious life of Tibetan Buddhists.