Bryan Cuevas, “Hagiography and Polemic: A Few Remarks on the Composition of the Life of Ra Lotsawa”
Propaganda and polemic are characteristic features of the hagiographer’s craft, self-consciously promoting the supremacy of the life and deeds of the saintly protagonist. Such elements in hagiography also provide important clues about the dating and composition of the work. The notorious Life of Ra Lotsawa is a particularly illuminating example for reflections on this issue. Though the text was ostensibly written sometime during the twelfth or early thirteenth century, the exact date of composition is unknown and there are sound reasons for calling its antiquity into question; its many anachronisms, language, and polemical positions suggest a much later date. In highlighting one or more exemplary episodes from the Life of Ra Lotsawa, I hope to contribute to our discussions about hagiography in Tibet and the composition of such literary works.
You can download Bryan’s materials HERE.
Holly Gayley, “Oral Styles of Versification in the Love Letters of a Buddhist Visionary Couple”
The letters exchanged between the Buddhist visionaries Mkha’ ‘gro Tā re lha mo (1938-2002) and Nam sprul ‘Jigs med phun tshogs (1944-2011) are almost entirely in verse and employ a range of styles—from ornate poetics to folk songs—in order to express their blossoming affection and to prophesize their future religious activities as “treasure revealers” (gter ston). Given their separation across the province borders of Qinghai and Sichuan, their extended courtship from 1978 to 1980 took place primarily through the correspondence; the future couple met only once during this period. From their corpus of fifty-six letters, I have selected examples that draw on oral styles of versification, including the Gesar epic (sgrung) and Amdo love songs (la gzhas), in order to explore the fluidity between literature and orality in Tibetan letter writing.
You can download Holly’s materials HERE.