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Tibetan Medicine, Buddhism, and the State: A Case of Early Modernity?

Tibetan Medicine, Buddhism, and the State: A Case of Early Modernity?
Saturday, October 3, 2009

This talk will explore the importance of medicine in Tibetan cultural history, and the ways in which it drew on Buddhist ideas but also was frequently at odds with the aims of Buddhism. It will also examine the implications of medicine for the Tibetan Buddhist state, especially during the heyday of the Fifth Dalai Lama and his regent Desi Sangye Gyatso. In some ways the interaction between the fortunes of medicine and Buddhism in Tibet was not unlike that between religion and science in early modern Europe, but in other ways the differences are striking.

Janet Gyatso

Janet Gyatso
Harvard Divinity School
Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies

Janet Gyatso is a specialist in Buddhist studies with a concentration on Tibetan and South Asian cultural history. She is the cochair of the Buddhism Section of the American Academy of Religion and former president of the International Association of Tibetan Studies. Her books include Apparitions of the Self: The Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary; In the Mirror of Memory: Reflections on Mindfulness and Remembrance in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism; and Women of Tibet. She teaches Buddhist history, ideology, ritual, Tibetan literary practices, and religious history. She is committed to widening the spectrum of intellectual resources to enhance the understanding and interpretation of Buddhist history. Her current book project is an intellectual history of traditional medical science in Tibet and raises questions about early modernity and disjunctures between religious and scientific epistemologies.


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