Project

Blessings from the Valley of Abundance: An Environmental History of Sikkimese Buddhism

Program

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

Department

School of Religion

Abstract

How does place and environment shape the practice of Buddhism? This project considers this question by examining the history of Buddhism in the northeast Indian state of Sikkim. The environment of Sikkim historically inspired mountain deity cults, forest medical traditions, and agriculture that provided the resources for powerful monasteries that were part of the government. In 1975, Sikkim was absorbed into India, but Buddhism has remained central to Sikkimese life even as relationships with the landscape changed due to the introduction of new forms of development such as hydroelectricity. Patterns of land and water resource management and local conceptions of ecology provide a rich avenue for exploring the interaction between Buddhism and the environment in the era of the anthropocene.