Bengal and Tibet: Travels, Encounters and Sacred Geographies


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




This book-project examines how Tibet enters the remaking of a sacred and scholarly landscape of Buddhism in colonial Bengal from the late-18th through the early-20th centuries, through a set of travels, exchanges, religious self-fashioning, explorations and modern cartographic exercises. It begins by recuperating the figure of Gosain Puran Giri, his liaison with Lobsang Palden Yeshe, the 6th Panchen Lama, and his role in the Bogle Mission of 1774-77. It then studies the emergence of Darjeeling as an important imperial ‘contact-zone’ in the Eastern Himalayas and assesses the careers of Sarat Chandra Das (apropos his two expeditions to Tibet, in 1879 and 1881-82) and his accomplice Ugyen Gyatso. Thereafter, it investigates a modern-day Buddhist intellectual resurgence in Bengal, through the late-19th and early-20th centuries, by following the careers of native Indologists and scholars like Rajendralala Mitra, Haraprasad Shastri and Rahul Sanskrityayan, and studies their roles in reclaiming Bengal’s sacred Buddhist past.