Speaker: Georgios T. Halkias (University of Hong Kong)
When: 10 am–1 pm, Thursday, March 8, 2018
Venue: Ghent University
Abstract: Professional practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism belong either to the ‘red sangha’ (dge ‘dun mar po) that includes celibate nuns and monks who wear the maroon robes, or the ‘white sangha’ (dge ‘dun dkar po), a lay community of male and female tantrists or ngakpa (sngags pa / sngags ma; Skt. māntrin). The latter are also known as those who wear the ‘white cloth’ and have uncut ‘braided hair’ (gos dkar lcang lo can), two distinctive markers of lay, and usually non-celibate, tantric practitioners. It would be fair to say, that the ngakpa of Rebkong in the north-eastern part of the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai province, are well known in the Tibetan cultural world for comprising the largest community of householder tantric practitioners. In this presentation, I will briefly introduce the history of the Rebkong community of ngakpas that belong to the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, known as the Reb kong snangs mang (a group of tantrists from Rebkong), and share some audio-visual material and observations from my fieldwork participation in the ceremony of the ‘100 peaceful and wrathful deities,’ the Shitro (zhi khro), that took place in June 2017 at the village of Shakarlung in the district of Rebkong.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Georgios T. Halkias is a specialist on Tibetan forms and practices of Buddhism in Tibet, Central Asia and the NW Himalayas. He completed his M.A. (Comparative Philosophy) at the University of Hawai‘i and his D. Phil (Oriental Studies) at the University of Oxford. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Tibetan Buddhism at the Centre of Buddhist Studies, the University of Hong Kong. He has held several research posts at the Warburg Institute, at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, and has been a British Academy Post-doctoral Fellow at SOAS, University of London. Dr. Halkias has authored many publications including a substantial monograph on the history and development of Pure Land Buddhism in Tibet, Luminous Bliss: a Religious History of Pure Land Literature in Tibet. With an Annotated Translation and Critical Analysis of the Orgyen-ling golden Small Sukhāvatīvyūha-sūtra (Hawaii: University of Hawai‘i Press 2012) and various articles and book chapters. Dr. Halkias is currently researching the translation history of Buddhism in Tibet.