Mongolian Buddhism

Conference/Symposium | September 28 – 30, 2017 every day | 180 Doe Library

 Institute of East Asian Studies (IEAS), UC Berkeley Mongolia Initiative, Center for Buddhist Studies

Thursday, September 28, 4-5:30
Friday, September 29, 10-6
Saturday, September 30, 10-1

This conference explores the philosophies, texts, arts, and practices of Mongolian Buddhism. As Carolingians did with Christianity and Abbasids for Islam, Mongols have determined the history of Buddhism. During the Yuan dynasty their tutelage afforded the Buddhist community unprecedented means. Their grace tolerated venerations of Buddha that were of nothing but the finest quality. And their persuasions and predilections brought favor to certain schools and teachings leaving others to decline. During the period after having been expelled from China but before they would concede the Yuan dynasty, the predicament of one of their lords led to the ascendancy of the Gelugpa School and the creation of the Dalai Lama as an institution. And after their submission under the Qing dynasty they acted as intermediaries between Manchus and Tibetans to help promulgate a Gelugpa-Qing empire. Over time, as with every other nation in the Gelugpa fold—in bold defiance of logic’s law of the excluded middle—they became part and parcel of a greater Gelugpa world order and their own world order at the same time. As a world unto themselves, they forged their own brand of the Yellow Dominion and, making it strong, saw aspects of it come to be an influence abroad. Some twenty-five years ago, after three generations of repression, the fall of communism left a void for Buddhism to return. Yet the residual of communism’s modern understanding of religion has Mongols uncertain over what the role of Buddhism should be. Today, with world order foundering for loss of the meaning of religion, Mongols are in a position once again to determine the history of Buddhism.

Speakers include:

Agata BAREJA-STARZYNSKA, University of Warsaw
Brian BAUMANN, UC Berkeley
Isabelle CHARLEUX, National Centre for Scientific Research
Jacob DALTON, UC Berkeley
Hildegard Diemberger, University of Cambridge
Johan ELVERSKOG, Southern Methodist University
Matthew KING, UC Riverside
ErdeneBaatar ERDENE-OCHIR, UC Santa Barbara
Weirong SHEN, Renmin University of China
Uranchimeg TSULTEM, UC Berkeley
Vesna WALLACE, UC Santa Barbara, 510-642-2809

 Mongolian Buddhism Program

White Tara, © Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. Courtesy of the Government of Mongolia.