160 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Buddhism about their New Books
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New Books in Buddhist Studies Marshall Poe

    • Religion & Spirituality
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Interviews with Scholars of Buddhism about their New Books
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    Teaching Buddhist Studies Online: A Discussion with Kate Hartmann

    Teaching Buddhist Studies Online: A Discussion with Kate Hartmann

    Join Raj Balkaran as he talks with Dr. Kate Hartmann, Assistant Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Wyoming and Director of Buddhist Studies Online, a new educational platform providing coursework on the history, philosophy, and practices of Buddhism. Founded in 2021 by Seth Powell as a sister institute to Yogic Studies, Buddhist Studies Online provides accessible, affordable, and high-quality courses for the broader community interested in learning more about Buddhism in a non-sectarian way. It aims to bridge the gap between widespread interest in meditation and other aspects of Buddhist traditions and the all-too-often inaccessible research of the academy.
    Raj and Kate discuss the mission of BSO, the surprising role the NBN podcast played in BSO's origin story, and growing landscape of public-facing teaching and scholarship. How should scholars think about how to address multiple publics? How can they make their research and teaching available and meaningful to popular audiences while still being academically grounded and responsible? How do platforms like BSO fit into the larger landscape of lineage-based Buddhist teachers, mindfulness coaches, and orientalizing discourses about Asian religions? Kate and Raj draw on their respective experiences with BSO and the School of Indian Wisdom in this wide-ranging conversation about what it means to be a scholar in this exciting new era of the humanities.
    Plus, learn about Buddhist Studies Online's first course, BSO 101 | Intro to Buddhism: History, Philosophy, and Practice, which runs from May 3 to June 11, and get a sneak peek about future courses with Jay Garfield, Daniel Stuart, and Sonam Kachru!"
    Raj Balkaran is a scholar, educator, consultant, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran.com.
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    • 1 hr 7 min
    Bhante Saranapala: The Urban Buddhist Monk

    Bhante Saranapala: The Urban Buddhist Monk

    What does wisdom have to do with kindness? This podcast features words of wisdom form Bhante Saranapala, also known as The Urban Buddhist Monk. An International Monk, Teacher, and Speaker, Bhante is the Founder and President of Canada: A Mindful and Kind Nation, he teaches loving-kindness meditation and offers private consultation and public speaking.
    Raj Balkaran is a scholar, educator, consultant, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran.com.
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    • 50 min
    A. Castiglioni and F. Rambelli, "Defining Shugendo: Critical Studies on Japanese Mountain Religion" (Bloomsbury, 2020)

    A. Castiglioni and F. Rambelli, "Defining Shugendo: Critical Studies on Japanese Mountain Religion" (Bloomsbury, 2020)

    Andrea Castiglioni and Fabio Rambelli's edited volume Defining Shugendo: Critical Studies on Japanese Mountain Religion (Bloomsbury, 2020) presents the newest studies on Shugendō-related practices and traditions from both Japanese and non-Japanese scholars. Contributors in their chapters explore how Shugendō constructed topologies and invented chronologies, how their practitioners were imagined and fictionalized, as well as how the tradition was reflected through materiality and visual cultures. The book also delves into the intellectual history of Shungendō studies in Japan, at the same time reflecting on how mountain beliefs in Japan have been studied in the West. 
    Part One of the book features a chapter by Suzuki Masataka on the formative processes of Shugendō as an institutionalized religious tradition from a historiographical perspective. Suzuki traces how different generations of scholars have presented Shugendō, taking into account the influence of concepts such as "ethnic religion" and "ethnic culture" in the Meiji period and the subsequent reinterpretations of Shugendō with nationalistic overtones in the first half of the Shōwa period. 
    Part Two looks into premodern regional variations of Shugendō institutions and religious practices as four different cultic sites: the Kumano Sanzan area in the Kii Peninsula, Mount Togakushi in Nagano prefecture, Mount Haguro in Yamagata prefecture, and Daigoji in Kyoto. The chapters of this section show how Shugendō centers regulated complex networks based on symbiotic interactions between Shugendō professionals, Buddhist monks, lay members of religious confraternities, and lay devotees. 
    Part Three investigates how narrative strategies were set up to support Shugendō groups and identities in the premodern period. This section examines the foundational narratives of temples and shrines (jisha engi) of the medieval period, as well as how Shugendō practitioners were depicted in Edo period literary sources such as vernacular fictions and dramas. 
    Part Four highlights the role of material and visual culture related to Shugendō, such as copper statues, devotional paintings, stelae, mounds, and paper talisman. The chapters of this section demonstrate that Shugendō materiality allowed for a network of religious interactions between humans (Shugendō practitioners, lay devotees, artisans) and nonhuman agencies (sacred objects) for the formation and diffusion of shared Shugendō discourses in society. 
    Daigengna Duoer is a Ph.D. student at the Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara.
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    • 52 min
    Thomas Robinson and Hillary Rodrigues, "World Religions Reader: Understanding Our Religious World" (ROBINEST, 2020)

    Thomas Robinson and Hillary Rodrigues, "World Religions Reader: Understanding Our Religious World" (ROBINEST, 2020)

    Preparing online materials since 2005 (including Hindusim the EBook, 2016), Dr. Hillary Rodrigues has been working on a fantastic resource for anyone interested in studying or teaching world religions. See www.robinest.org. 
    Designed as an introductory reader for a World Religions course, the eBook World Religions Reader: Understanding Our Religious World (ROBINEST, 2020) provides key texts from Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Shintoism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, along with a chapter on ancient religions of the Mediterranean and Mesopotamian worlds. There are 125 passages, 33 symbols, 22 photos, 10 Quick Facts pages, 7 audio clips, and links to hundreds of audio files of technical terms related to the study of religion. Each textual selection has an introduction and footnotes to help the reader understand the context of the passage.
    Raj Balkaran is a scholar, educator, consultant, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran.com.
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    • 42 min
    Uranchimeg Tsultemin, "A Monastery on the Move: Art and Politics in Later Buddhist Mongolia" (U Hawaii Press, 2020)

    Uranchimeg Tsultemin, "A Monastery on the Move: Art and Politics in Later Buddhist Mongolia" (U Hawaii Press, 2020)

    How, and why did a ger (yurt) develop into the largest and most important monastery in Mongolia, and how did it support the authority of its main resident, the Jebtsundampa Khutugtu? These are the questions that Uranchimeg Tsultemin answers about the mobile encampment of Ikh Khüree and the Jebtsundampa reincarnation lineage in A Monastery on the Move: Art and Politics in Later Buddhist Mongolia (University of Hawaii Press, 2020).
    This monastery on the move is referred to as Ikh Khüree in textual sources, meaning "great encampment." It is also commonly known as Urga and Bogdiin Khüree (Bogd's Khüree). Initially built in 1639 by Khalkha Mongolian nobles for the First Jebtsundampa reincarnate ruler, Zanabazar (1635-1723), Ikh Khüree was first the ger-residence of the lama, but it gradually became Mongolia's political, social, and cultural center. Between 1639 and 1855, it migrated across Inner Asia while expanding in its size, functions, architecture, arts, and population before settling permanently. In 1924, Ikh Khüree was transformed into a Soviet-style city and renamed Ulaanbaatar ("Red Hero").
    Although Ikh Khüree is central to the history of Buddhism in Mongolia and is an incredibly unique case for being an entire Buddhist monastery on the move, it has only recently begun attracting scholarly interest. In this book, Uranchimeg Tsultemin consults visual, architectural, and oral traditions in addition to texts to reveal that Ikh Khüree was indeed created as the political center in northern Mongolia, and Zanabazar as the new Buddhist ruler of the Khalkha Mongols.
    Tracing surviving art and architecture of Ikh Khüree, the oeuvre of Zanabazar, the portraits of Jebtsunadampa reincarnations, and the double cityscapes of the mobile monastery, Uranchimeg discovers that Zanabazar's own architectural and artistic endeavors were based on traditional Mongol perceptions of political authority derived from understandings of Chinggisid lineages. She points out that the architectural spaces of Ikh Khüree and the widely proliferated portraits of the Jebtsundampa lamas show that the Khalkha Mongols envisioned Zanabazar as a theocrat comparable and equal to the contemporaneous Fifth Dalai Lama (1617-1682) of Tibet. Uranchimeg argues that this Khalkha vision of the "Buddhist government" as its own theocracy did not conform with the Qing narrative, but was eventually realized with the Eighth Jebtsundampa (1869-1924) in 1911 when he became Bogd Khan.
    Daigengna Duoer is a Ph.D. student at the Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara.
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    • 1 hr 14 min
    Brenton Sullivan, "Building a Religious Empire: Tibetan Buddhism, Bureaucracy, and the Rise of the Gelukpa" (U Pennsylvania Press, 2020)

    Brenton Sullivan, "Building a Religious Empire: Tibetan Buddhism, Bureaucracy, and the Rise of the Gelukpa" (U Pennsylvania Press, 2020)

    How did Geluk Buddhism become the most widespread school of Tibetan Buddhism in Inner Asia and beyond? In Building a Religious Empire: Tibetan Buddhism, Bureaucracy, and the Rise of the Gelukpa (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020), Brenton Sullivan reveals the compulsive efforts by Geluk lamas and "Buddhist bureaucrats" (bla dpon) in the early modern period to prescribe and control a proper way of living the life of a Buddhist monk and to define a proper way of administering the monastery. 
    Using monastic constitutions (bca' yig) and rare manuscripts dating primarily to the eighteenth century collected from research trips to Tibet and Mongolia, Sullivan shows that Geluk monasteries regulated scholastic curricula, liturgical sequences, financial protocols, and so on. These documents also appeal to notions of "impartiality" and "the common good," revealing a kind of preoccupation with rationalization and bureaucratic techniques normally associated with state-making.
    Sullivan points out that unlike with leaders of other schools of Tibetan Buddhism, Geluk lamas devoted an extraordinary amount of time to the institutional framework within which aspects of monastic life would take place. He argues in Building a Religious Empire that "this privileging of the monastic institution fostered a common religious identity that insulated it from nationalism along the lines of any specific religious leader, practice, or doctrine."
    Sullivan also reminds us that the remarkable success of Geluk Buddhism's spread to various places in Inner Asia can also be attributed to the mobility of monks and lamas, which "both ensured a degree of uniformity among Geluk monasteries and was facilitated by that uniformity." This mobility facilitated the creation of a system of overlapping networks and loyalties that collectively made up the Geluk school across Tibet and Mongolia. Mobility was also an important part of the Geluk lamas' administrative duties. Sullivan identifies that the Geluk school was "polycephalous," or "multi-headed," and "hydra-headed" at the same time, for it did not rely on a single lama or monastic seat for promoting and maintaining its teachings and organization but on a proliferation of such lamas in various monastic centers that are also regenerative. 
    Daigengna Duoer is a Ph.D. student at the Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara.
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    • 1 hr 12 min

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