The Rise of the Guru in Eleventh- to Thirteenth-Century Indian and Tibetan Buddhism


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


South and Southeast Asian Studies


The tantric Buddhist path of eleventh-century India was increasingly mediated by the figure of the guru. New preliminary practices (puraścaraṇa) prepared the student for the rarified encounters of initiation and esoteric meditation instruction. The more everyday foundational practices (ādikarma), meant for Buddhist householders, also emphasized the role of the guru. This dissertation project begins with an analysis of these two Sanskrit genres, then turns to the rise of preliminary practices (sngon ‘gro) in Tibet. The relevant ritual manuals reveal how innovative methods for worshipping the guru—such as the gurumaṇḍala—were first developed, then refashioned into larger ritual systems. The latter practices played a central role in the development of distinct Tibetan schools and their corresponding versions of the Buddhist path.