Excavating the Roots of Buddhist Tantra: Buddhajñanapada's Vision of a Tantric Buddhist World


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


My dissertation focuses on the medieval Indian Buddhist yogin and tantric exegete Buddhajñānapāda, remembered as the founder of the Jñānapāda School of tantric theory and practice. Through an in-depth study of his oeuvre, I attempt to excavate the late 8th-century world of tantric Buddhism as it emerges in his narrative, doctrinal, and ritual writings. I focus, in particular, on the Dvikramatattvabhāvanā-mukhāgama in which Buddhajñānapāda uses autobiographical narrative and visionary revelation to frame assertions about the nature of reality and outline rituals that lead to its realization. Unlike much modern scholarship which examines narrative, doctrine, and ritual separately, I explore how Buddhajñānapāda employed each of these to articulate his vision of the tantric Buddhist world.