This is a new and improved edition of an early work of the author, first published in 1957. In the preface to this second edition he draws attention to changes in interpretation and perspective which have quite properly taken place over the years, noting in particular comparisons with his Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, published thirty years later in 1987. While bearing in mind such changes, we, nevertheless, quote the original blurb much as it stands.-
The book begins with the earliest Buddhist period and describes the various developments which have led up to present-day Tibetan Buddhism. It is history of a rather suggestive kind in that it attempts to show Buddhism throughout from theTilbetan, Buddhism is largely of Indian origin, the account is mainly one of past cultural contacts between India and Tibet, either direct or with Nepal as intermediary. It is in Himalayan regions that we must seek thec ultural and arch'ological traces of past contacts, and here also that we meet with the active influence of Ti.betan religion in districts that have turned to the Tibetans for guidance now that Buddhism has all but disappeared in the land of its origins.
While the substance of such an account must be sound research, the inspiration has been provided by the author's own travels in these remote areas. In the present case he refers to his early travels in Spiti and Lahul, once an old part of Western Tibet, also in the district of Solu-Kumbu (Shar-Khumbu) in eastern Nepal and in the Nepal valley itself. Later travels have taken him to the Tibetan-speaking regions of north-western Nepal, to Bhutan, and to Ladakh and Zangskar.
His work over the years has been based in the School of Oriental African Studies (London). He is Doctor of Literature in the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of the British Academy and Professor Emeritus of the University of London.
Traccia di una intervista del 2004
Born in 1920 in Portsmouth as father a naval officer; moved to Hampshire countryside; parents; brother also in the Navy but died during the war; got scholarship to Christ’s Hospital, Horsham; went to Southampton University to study French and German; war came and entered the army; went to India; got there by boat via Cape Town; officers and other ranks
Landed in Bombay in 1943; in charge of a reconnaissance group; sent to Barrakpore, Calcutta; working in intelligence; during leave went to Sikkim; at that time nobody went there; did tour on two occasions.
Became interested in Tibetan religion; met the Maharaja of Sikkim and family; at that time simple Himalayan country but more advanced than Dolpo; attached to an American unit by the end of the war.
Had been in touch with Sir Basil Gould who was in charge of the mission in Gangtok; applied to join Indian Civil Service to get into the political service to get into Tibet; back in England took examinations at India Office and accepted; lasted three months due to Indian Independence.
With knowledge of India and Tibetan decided to continue academically; met Sir Harold Bailey in Cambridge; went to Queen’s to study Sanskrit and Tibetan; Bailey was tutor, he only had three students; had already past the Government of India examination in Tibetan; had learnt both to speak and write Tibetan with the help of a Lama who had been at Calcutta University; also had a Tibetan servant whom I found in Kalimpong; was my batman and accompanied me through all tours.
Memories of Sir Harold Bailey; graduated and offered a post in London in Tibetan at School of Oriental and African Studies; post originally at Readership level but eventually got personal Professorship; started in 1950, before which went to Rome to study with Guiseppe Tucci for a year.
First went to Nepal in 1953-4; large part of Northern Nepal Tibetan in religion and culture; Tucci had been to Mustang and had travelled extensively in Western Tibet; Pasang personal assistant; first went to Solo Khumbu; in Nepal when Everest first climbed; in 1953 walked into Nepal over the hills; then Nepal an enclosed Himalayan Kingdom; large stocks of Sanskrit manuscripts in libraries, nothing comparable in India as all destroyed; had to get permission to travel within Nepal.
Name of Dolpo unknown at that time, but wanted to explore in the Tibetan frontier area; Ekai Kawaguchi had been through it earlier and written about it but he thought Dolpo was name of one town, not the area; went there in 1956 with Pasang and back in 1960-1; Pasang had no problem in communicating with Dolpo people; never learnt Nepali properly but relied on Pasang; he could manage with any Tibetan dialect; had originally met him in Kalimpong where he was the disciple of a Mongolian Lama; had had trouble with my Christian servant and wanted to find a Tibetan as I had during the war; Pasang, a Sherpa, was recommended
To get to Dolpo walked all the way up the Gandaki valley; lack of maps; longest tour took 8 months in 1956; fortunate to be able to spend long periods on research leave
At S.O.A.S. could teach as I liked; never had to give general courses; did series of general lectures on Tibet with the British Museum.