Reinier Langelaar’s talk on early Tibetan treasure literature’s influences, inspirations, and narrative themes
Early Tibetan treasure literature was pivotal in the development of a distinctly Buddhist vision of Tibetan history. In formulating such narratives, two influential early works, the Ma-ṇi-bka’-‘bum and the Bka’-chems-ka-khol-ma, appear to have relied quite heavily on inspiration from Buddhist scriptures, as they refer to, and sometimes explicitly cite from, a raft of sūtra, dhāraṇī, and tantra. These sources include a somewhat enigmatic set of 21 scriptures that were taught to the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara.
This talk will explore to what degree Buddhist scripture in fact informed the composition of these two authoritative treasure texts. Were references and citations from Buddhist scripture chiefly window dressing, or did they provide genuine inspiration for the narratives formulated in these works? What narrative themes were adopted from Buddhist scripture? Did some sūtras play a particularly large role? By delving into such questions, this talk opens a window on the gestation of early Buddhist treasure texts, as well as the role that the Buddha’s Word (buddhavacana) played in Tibetan Buddhism during the phyi dar period.