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Title: Purity, embodiment and the immaterial body: An exploration of Buddhism at a Tibetan monastery in Karnataka, South India
Authors: Clay, Gemma
Advisors: Staples, J
Beatty, A
Hirsch, E
Keywords: Anthropology;Ethnography
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Brunel University London
Abstract: This thesis examines the ritual worship within a monastery from the Dzogchen lineage of Tibetan Buddhism situated in Karnataka, South India. During the Cultural Revolution in Tibet, many monasteries were destroyed and the monks fled to re-establish their religious practices in exile in India. As a result, Tibetan Buddhism now has a much wider international participation group. My research looks specifically at the Dzogchen Buddhist doctrinal understanding of purity and its embodiment in the trikaya; the three pure bodies. I consider the rituals practised in the pursuit of the trikaya, and the associated social processes that are thought to enable the embodiment of purity. I explore folk notions of purity and how they shape bodily experience for the multi-national community that congregate together at the monastery. Practitioners of Dzogchen Buddhism believe that the embodiment of purity results in a dissolution of the body and leads to an “immaterial body”. The achievement of the immaterial, however, is wholly dependent on a very physical, material set of rituals. Drawing upon doctrinal and folk notions of purity, I propose a four-part analytical understanding of purity; that purity exits on a continuum, that the Dzogchen lama is both a symbolic and literally pure, that purity is able to be transmitted, and that purity is situational but dependent on the presence of the lama. I support my argument with ethnographic data from the rituals of the khatag exchange [offering of ceremonial scarves], rabnye [the sanctification of statues], and two types of embodied worship: prostrations [full length bows] and kora [circumambulation of sacred sites].
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University London.
Appears in Collections:Anthropology
Dept of Social and Political Sciences Theses

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