Buddhism and Empire: The Political and Religious Culture of by Michael L. Walter

By Michael L. Walter

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Extra info for Buddhism and Empire: The Political and Religious Culture of Early Tibet (Brill's Tibetan Studies Library, V. 22)

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G. Koenig, in Der Weg zum Dach der Welt, Frankfurt am Main, 1982, pp. 318–320, and references there). The only persuasive evidence will be that which demonstrates either a Scythian ethnie as an early constituent of the peoples of the Tibetan Plateau, or, that while yet in the area of what is now Gansu or Qinghai, the precursors of the Tibetans (on which see Chapter Two, note 2) were conquered or strongly influenced by descendents or carriers of the “classical” Scythian culture of the Greek and Roman historians.

Despite later polemics, we have no evidence that any religion was systematically favored. 19 Indeed, it is difficult to believe that the rulers of the Imperium would have had a different attitude, since, in its early history, the Tibetan court was greatly influenced by Newars from Kathmandu Valley, where Buddhism and Hinduism had achieved a working harmony perhaps unique in South Asia. 20 Data on court doings (aside from treaty rites) are also not found in the best etic source about the Imperium, the Tang historical records, which otherwise religion and politics in tibet’s government 11 contain useful information about its religio-political customs.

The Tibetan ruling family, like that of the Scythians and Germans, formed groups separate in class and space from their subjects. Ironically, perhaps, this distance was combined with the virtue of loving guidance to create a political patriarchy. Scythians referred to their ancestral leaders as their fathers (Herodotus), and Tibetans referred to their deceased ancestral leaders (lha) as yab myes, literally ‘father[s]-ancestor[s]’ in the inscriptions, a similarly literal honorific for “forefathers”.

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