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Bon and the so-called Indigenous and Archaic Traditions

by Lemardelé Élise - published on

Principal Investigators : Jean-Luc Achard, Charles Ramble

Disciplines Philology, Religious Sciences

Participants :

Full Members

Jean-Luc Achard, Charles Ramble

International Collaborators

Prof. David Germano (University of Virginia), Prof. Jacob Dalton (University of Berkeley), Prof. Kurt Keutzer (University of Berkeley), Prof. Anne Klein (Austin University), Prof. Daniel Berounsky (Charles University, Prague), Dr Henk Blezer (University of Leiden), Dr Dan Martin (University of Jerusalem), Prof. Michael Friedrich (University of Hamburg), Dr Agnieszka Helman-Wazny (University of Hamburg), Rev Tenpa Yungdrung (Triten Norbutse Institution, Katmandou), Prof. Jean-Marc des Jardins (Concordia University, Montréal)

Post-docs

Alexander Smith, Daniel Scheidegger (sans rattachement, ex-université de Berne)

PhD Candidates

Bazhen Zeren, Wang Yuewei, Valentina Punzi, Maria Arizaga (toutes EPHE)

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The rDzogs chen teachings are found in the two oldest spiritual traditions of Tibet: the Bön and the rNying ma school of Buddhism. Research carried out on this teaching system over the next five-year programme will be based on the study of one of the most influential textual collections of the whole history of rDzogs chen: sNying thig ya bzhi. This collection consists of a set of five corpora belonging to the Most Secret Cycle (yang gsang) of the Section of the Precepts (Man ngag sde): 1. The Bi ma snying thig (3 volumes, end of the 10e c.), 2. The Bla ma yang tig (2 volumes, of Klong chen pa, 1308-1364), 3. The mKha’ ‘gro snying thig (2 volumes, 14e c), 4. The mKha’ ‘gro yang tig (3 volumes, of Klong chen pa), and 5. A summary of the set in the Zab mo yang tig (2 volumes of Klong chen pa). The aim of this program is to give an analysis of these five corpora (spanning a total of 11 volumes), with a preliminary catalogue, a systematic description of all the texts that compose it, and a translation of the biographies of the most important figures associated with this collection. Sources that predate the collection and later sources based on it will also be examined and translated selectively.

This project will examine Bon rituals from two different perspectives. The first is textual, with a corpus of texts that will be selected for study and its contents rendered accessible through reproduction, paraphrase and translation. A compilation of ritual texts consisting of 890 folios subdivided into a hundred sections will constitute the project’s core corpus although other canonical and non-canonical Bonpo material will also be studied. An important part of the project’s textual component will be to study collections of Bonpo manuscripts in collaboration with the Centre for Manuscript Studies of the University of Hamburg in order to identify distinctive codicological features that might be typical of Bonpo texts. The project’s second aspect deals with ritual performance. Special attention will be given to the activities of priests or monks and their assistants; the participation of non-specialists will also be taken into consideration. It is possible to follow the development of the project on a dedicated website (www.kalpa-bon.com) where images and texts are linked to subtitled video recordings.

Scientific output and planned scientific activities
Publishing contract signed with Khyung-Lung Editions; publication of a collective work with SUNY Press (edited by D. Germano et al.); articles published in specialised journals.
Publishing contract signed with Serindia Publications for a study of Bon rituals in three volumes; development of the www.kalpa-bon.com website, which has already been created; publication of articles and a collective work; workshops and symposiums.