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List of Tibetan biographies
Asian Highlands Project
Biographies To Select For Final Papers
Early Modern Tibetan Biographies, Autobiographies and Treasure Text Biographies (of historically pre-modern figures)
Please let me know if you find other texts that should be included in this list.
1. Please spend some time familiarizing yourself with the works summarized on the webpages where your work will be posted:
a) pre-modern and early modern auto/biographies:
b) 20th century autobiographies:
2. And then select a biography from the following list (or one that find on your own and confirm with me).
I. Pre-modern Auto/Biographies:
Roach, Michael, and Christie McNally. 2008. King of the Dharma: the illustrated life of Je Tsongkapa, teacher of the first Dalai Lama : with the complete paintings and the original text of the All-knowing One, Jamyang Shepay Dorje, 1648-1721. Howell, N.J.: Rashi Gempil Ling, First Kalmyk Buddhist Temple.
Epstein, Lawrence. 1968.
The biography of the second Rgyal-Dbang Karma-Pa, Karma Ba[gamma]si: translation and annotation.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Washington, 1968. Check Proquest Digital Dissertations. If not, I may be able to get from Epstein.
ʼGyur-med-bde-chen, Cyrus Stearns, and Kun dgaʼ bsod nams grags pa dpal bzaṅ. 2007. King of the empty plain: the Tibetan iron-bridge builder Tangtong Gyalpo. Ithaca, N.Y.: Snow Lion Publications
Stearns, Cyrus. 1999. The Buddha from Dolpo a study of the life and thought of the Tibetan Master Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press.
Milarepa, two translations of the same text:
(Alex Whitman) Gtsaṅ-smyon He-ru-ka, and Lobsang Phuntshok Lhalungpa. 1977. The life of Milarepa. New York: Dutton.
(Archie Brechin) Gtsaṅ-smyon He-ru-ka, and Andrew Quintman. 2010. The life of Milarepa. New York: Penguin Books.
II. Early Modern (Auto)biographies of Tibetan Lamas
Padma-gliṅ-pa, and Sarah Harding. 2003. The life and revelations of Pema Lingpa. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications.
(Shan Wu) Achard, Jean-Luc. 2008. The life and works of Shardza Tashi Gyeltsen [1859–1935]. Leiden: Brill.
(Yuchen) Templeman, David. 2009. Becoming Indian: a study of the life of the 16-17th century Tibetan Lama, Tāranātha. Thesis (Ph.D.)--Monash University, 2009. Check Proquest Digital Dissertations. If not, I may be able to get from David.
(Samyak) Yonten, Dargye, Per K. Sørensen, and Tshering Gyonpo. Play of the Omniscient: Life and Works of Jamgon Ngawang Gyaltshen: an Eminent 17th-18th Century Drukpa Master. Thimphu: National Library & Archives of Bhutan, 2008.
(Mike Hickey) DiValerio, David M. 2016. The life of the Madman of Ü. New York, NY : Oxford University Press, 2016.
( Tenzin Dongchung) Mengele, Irmgard. 2012.
Riding a huge wave of Karma: the turbulent life of the Tenth Karma-pa
. Kathmandu: Vajra Publications. Although this is not a direct translation of a single early modern source, it is based so closely on a close reading and translation of numerous early modern sources on such an important figure, that this work deserves to be written up.
Gorvine, William A. 2006. The life of a B
npo luminary: sainthood, partisanship and literary representation in a 20th century Tibetan biography.
Ph. D. dissertation. University of Virginia 2006. The dissertation explores a distinctive instance of religious life-writing by focusing on the life-story of Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen. This project offers a detailed study of Shardza's religious biographies or namtar (rnam thar), composed in two versions by his disciple, Kelzang Tenp
Gyaltsen. Culminating in a translation and critical edition of a previously unavailable work (which should be the focus of your summary/report, though you can refer to the dissertation for background). Biography of
Gyaltsen, Sharza Tashi, -- 1859-1934, written by
Gyaltsen, Kelzang Tenp
, -- 1897-1959.
*I could not find any others that had not already been covered on the website: HYPERLINK "
But feel free to look and ask Lauran Hartley or work with Tibetan/Chinese versions, as there are many more options. For instance, all the Dalai Lamas’ biographies have been translated into Chinese.
III. Collections of Short Biographies (not all from early modern period)
(Xiaobai Hu)Janice Dean Willis. 1995. Enlightened beings: life stories from the Ganden oral tradition.Boston : Wisdom Publications, 1995. The core of this book are five short biographies of figures who lived from 14th-17th c, collected by an 18th c figure.
Ngag Dbang Bstan 'Dzin 'Jigs Bral Dbang Phyug Chos Kyi Rgyal Mtshan (??1808-1887??). [published between 1980 and 1998]. Birth series history of dZatrul Rinpoche: a lineage of devotional luminaries. Kathmandu, Nepal: Vajra Yogini Temple.
Jam dbyangs rdo rje, Smyo shul Mkhan po; Richard Barron. A marvelous garland of rare gems: biographies of masters of awareness in the Dzogchen lineage: a spiritual history of the teachings on Natural Great Perfection. Junction City, CA : Padma Pub. 2005.
(Zenong Xi)Riggs, Nicole. Like An Illusion: Lives of the Shangpa Kagyu Masters. Eugene, Or. : Dharma Cloud Press, 2001.
*There are many other collections of biographies I have not listed here, but if you find one you want to work on, please just run it by me.
IV. Other temporal oddities
(Pre-modern/ mythic figures)
(avoid these biographies, unless you cannot find another):
i-ma-ʼod-zer, Erik Pema Kunsang, and Marcia Binder Schmidt. 1993. The lotus-born: the life story of Padmasambhava. Boston, Mass: Shambhala Publications. The biography was written by
Nyang ral Nyi
'od zer (1124-1192).
Gyalwa, C., N. Ningpo, et al. (1999). Lady of the Lotus-Born: The Life and Enlightenment of Yeshe Tsogyal. Shambhala, Boston.
Doney, Lewis. 2014. The Zangs gling ma: the first Padmasambhava biography : two exemplars of the earliest attested recension. Andiast: IITBS GmbH, International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies. The biography was written by
Nyang ral Nyi
'od zer (1124-1192).
Thubten Kalsang. 1984.
Atisha: a biography of the renowned Buddhist sage
. New Delhi: Mahayana.
Kramer, Ralf, and Blo-gros-ʼbyuṅ-gnas. 2007.
The great Tibetan translator: life and works of rNgog Blo ldan shes rab (1059-1109)
. München: Indus Verlag.
Karma-blo-gros-chos-dpal-bzaṅ-po, and Peter Roberts. 2001. A spiritual biography of Rechungpa: based on The radiance of wisdom: the life and liberation of the Ven. Rechung Dorje Drak = Je bhun ras chung rdo rje grags paʼi nam thar rnam mkhyen thar lam gsal baʼi me long ye shes snag ba bzhugs so. Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications. This is apparently NOT a translation of an actual text of Rechungpa’s life, the earliest extant version of which was written in the sixteenth century as The Life of Rechungpa by Tsangnyön Heruka’s pupil, Götsang Repa). Maybe this is a modern oral version.
Thrangu (Rinpoche), Peter Alan Roberts, Sandy Garson, and Rgod-tshaṅ-ras-pa Sna-tshogs-raṅ-grol. 2002. Rechungpa, a biography of Milarepa's disciple: based on The mirror illuminating the path to liberation. Boulder, CO: Namo Buddha Publications. This is apparently NOT a translation of an actual text of Rechungpa’s life, the earliest extant version of which was written in the sixteenth century as The Life of Rechungpa by Tsangnyön Heruka’s pupil, Götsang Repa). Maybe this is a modern oral version.
(Yunzheng Chen)Shamar Rinpoche (b. 1952). A golden swan in turbulent waters: the life and times of the Tenth Karmapa Choying Dorje. Lexington, Virginia: Bird of Paradise Press, 2012.
V. Imperial Period Figures, Mythic Histories, Post-Imperial Figures, etc.
(Pre-modern mythic figures written about by modern authors)
Ye-śes-mtsho-rgyal, gter-ston O-rgyan-gliṅ-pa, and Tarthang Tulku. 1978. The life and liberation of Padmasambhava. Berkeley, Calif: Dharma Pub.
Stag-śam Nus-ldan-rdo-rje. Mother of knowledge : the enlightenment of Ye-shes mTsho-rgyal. “by” Nam-mkhaʾi-snying-po ; oral translation by Tarthang Tulku ; edited by Jane Wilhelms.Berkeley, CA : Dharma Pub. 1983. A rediscovered Terma text, “written by” one of Yeshe Tsogyel’s fellow disciples.
Bsam gtan gling pa (b.1655)
. The lives and liberation of princess Mandarava the indian consort of Padmasambhava. Lama Chonam and Sangye Kandro, trans. Boston, Mass: Wisdom Publications.
Stag-śam Nus-ldan-rdo-rje, Mchog-gyur-gliṅ-pa, Tseten Dorji, Ye-shes-mtsho-rgyal, and Tāranātha. 1973. Accounts of the lives of manifestations of Gu-ru Rin-po-che from the discoveries of Stag-śam Nus-ldan-rdo-rje and Mchog-gyur-gliṅ-pa and the Slob dpon Padmaʼi rnam thar Rgya gar lugs of Taranatha. Tezu, Arunachal Pradesh: Tibetan Nyingmapa Monastery.
Stag-śam Nus-ldan-rdo-rje. Mother of knowledge: the enlightenment of Ye-shes mTsho-rgyal. 1983. “by” Nam-mkhaʾi-snying-po ; oral translation by Tarthang Tulku ; edited by Jane Wilhelms.Berkeley, CA : Dharma Pub. A rediscovered Terma text, “written by” one of Yeshe Tsogyel’s fellow disciples. (compare with the wikischolar entry on a different translation of this text:
Stag sham Nus ldan rdo rje, Dowman, Keith (trans). 1984.
. London; Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul).
Dowman, Keith, Padma Sambhava, and Mchog-gyur-gliṅ-pa. 1973. The legend of the Great Stupa = mChod-rten-po-bya-rung-kha-sor-gyi-lo-rgyus-thos-pas-grol-ba. The life story of the lotus born Guru = O-rgyen-mam-thar-dpag-bsan-lyong-sing. Berkeley, Calif: Dharma.
Blo-bzaṅ-chos-kyi-ñi-ma, and Craig Earl Watson. 1976. “An abridged biography of Dgongs-pa Rab-gsal / a critical transcription and translation by Craig Earl Watson.” Thesis (M.A.)--Indiana University, 1976.
Molk, David, Tsering Wangdu, Chos-kyi-seṅ-ge, and Kun-dgaʼ. 2008. Lion of siddhas: the life and teachings of Padampa Sangye. Ithaca, N.Y.: Snow Lion Publications. Sungoh.
[Corbin Hines] Sangye Tenzin, and Richard Guard. 1995. The twelve deeds: a brief life story of Tonpa Shenrab, the founder of the Bon religion. Dharamsala, H.P.: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives.
Ye-śes-seṅ-ge, and Bryan J. Cuevas. 2015.
The all-pervading melodious drumbeat: the life of Ra Lotsawa
New York, New York : Penguin Books, 2015. You will need to track down Cuevas' article about the dating of this book to sort that out; he thinks it is an early modern (17th? c author).
VI. no obvious date:
Tshe-dbaṅ-'chi-med-mgon-po, and Chos-kyi-dbaṅ-phyug. 1979. Collected writings and autobiographical material of Mdo-chen-pa Tsche-dbaṅ-'chi-med-mgon-po. Dalhousie: Damchoe Sangpo.
VI. Contemporary (Auto-)Biographies of Modern Figures
) Namkhai Norbu, and Enrico Dell'Angelo. 2012. The lamp that enlightens narrow minds: the life and times of a realized Tibetan master, Khyentse Chökyi Wangchug. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books.
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