June 23, 2024

Hirshberg Publishes Book on Tibetan Buddhism and Cultural Memory

Dan Hirshberg, Assistant Professor of Religion, published his first book, Remembering the Lotus-Born: Padmasambhava in the History of Tibet’s Golden Age (Wisdom Publications, Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism). Relying on textual criticism of 12th-13th-century Tibetan texts and their surviving manuscripts, Remembering the Lotus-Born uncovers genealogies of some of Tibet’s most renowned religious phenomena, breaking new ground by demonstrating how Indian conceptions of karma, reincarnation and textual revelation were assimilated by allegedly enlightened Tibetans of later centuries who, in claiming to remember their past lives, present themselves as direct witnesses of Tibet’s conversion to Buddhism. In thereby seizing a special editorial license for the reformulation of the past, they reconstruct the emic history of Tibet’s golden age.

The collective remembrance of Tibet’s conversion unites Tibetans by means of a common identity drawn from a correlate past. This remains all the more critical as contemporary Tibetans continue to confront the pressures of Chinese administration in Tibet and the cultural diffusion of diaspora beyond it.