Epistolary Buddhism: Tibetan Letter-Writing Manuals and the Growth of Geluk Buddhism During the Qing


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


The objective of this dissertation is to investigate the early modern rise of the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism through the lens of epistolary culture. The Geluk school’s influence reached from Lhasa to Mongolia to the Qing Court in Peking; managing these long-distance Buddhist networks proved to be not only an administrative challenge, but also a scholastic one. Through their development of a Buddhist approach to letter-writing, Géluk scholar-monks literally set the terms by which Buddhist relationships among institutions, priests, and patrons would be articulated across vast geopolitical distances. This dissertation analyzes letters and letter-writing manuals produced by several of the most prominent Géluk scholars from the High Qing period (the long eighteenth century).