Doringpa’s ‘spiritual biography’(rnam thar) & the 10th Shamarpa: on the Trail of an 18th century Renegade Lama
The Shamarpas (zhva dmar pa), or Red Hat Lamas, are the second-oldest reincarnate lineage in Tibet and among the highest ranked hierarchs of the Kagyu School. In earlier times, the Shamarpas were renowned for their contributions to poetry, philosophy, political mediation, and for the establishment and maintenance of monasteries. The events surrounding the life of the 10th Shamarpa, Chodrup Gyatso (1742-1792) mark a dramatic shift in that perception, one that led to a 171-year long ban on his reincarnation. This talk studies the life and death of this now infamous figure from Tibet’s past in light of the diary of the 18th century Tibetan politician Tenzin Peljor Doringpa (bstan ’dzin dpal ’byor rdo ring pa), which suggests that there are many ways to interpret the life and death of this renegade Rinpoche, and much to be learned from how his story has been remembered.
Lara Braitstein is Associate Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism in the Faculty of Religious Studies, McGill University. She teaches courses on Classical Literary Tibetan, Mahayana Buddhism, Vajrayana Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism. Her principal areas of research include esoteric traditions of Tibetan and Indian Buddhism, Classical Tibetan literature, and Buddhist Sanskrit literature. Her work has appeared in the Indian International Journal of Buddhist Studies, Studies in Religion, and Consciousness, Literature and the Arts.