ReviewEssays.com - Term Papers, Book Reports, Research Papers and College Essays
Search

The Social, Cultural, and Religious Context of the Epic of Gesar of Ling

Essay by lars rutenberg  •  May 2, 2018  •  Research Paper  •  7,189 Words (29 Pages)  •  413 Views

Essay Preview: The Social, Cultural, and Religious Context of the Epic of Gesar of Ling

Report this essay
Page 1 of 29

Lehrstuhl für Religionswissenschaft Fakultät für Evangelische Theologie Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Studiengang: 1-Fach-MA Religionswissenschaft

Modul: MR19 - Zentralasiatische Religionsgeschichte

Lehrveranstaltung: 210028 - Sacred spaces at the intersection between cultures,

religions, and empires - The emergence of Gesar rituals at the border between Tibet, Mongolia, and China

Dozent: Gregory Forgues Semester: SS 2017

Hausarbeit als Modulprüfung im Modul MR19

The Social, Cultural, and Religious Context of the Epic of Gesar of Ling

Lars Rutenberg eingereicht am: 20.09.2017

Matrikelnr.: 106016271607

Studienfach: 1-Fach-MA Religionswissenschaft Fachsemester: 2.

Anschrift: Am Stadtpark 24, 47137 Duisburg Tel.: 01639852131

E-Mail: Lars.Rutenberg@rub.de

1

Table of Contents

1. Introduction...................................................................................................................3 1.1 Overview.................................................................................................................3 2. The Divine Landscape...................................................................................................5 2.1. The Mountain Cult.................................................................................................5 2.1.1. Shamanic mediums and the religious Bard....................................................8 2.1.2. Early Gesar rituals........................................................................................10 3. The Narrative of the Golden Age.................................................................................12 4. The new Gesar Cult.....................................................................................................14 5. The Clan-structure as the Basis of Tibetan Society.....................................................17 Bibliography....................................................................................................................19

2

1. Introduction

The epic of Gesar of Ling is one of the biggest and longest poems ever created. Its story, although several centuries old, is still being performed and undoubtedly qualifies as a piece of living history. The core story of the great Eastern Tibetan hero Gesar from the land Ling has stayed the same for most of its existence, but because there are still verses and episodes added to it to this day, it continues to grow. The many elements of Tibetan culture, religion, and social structures that can be found in this work of art are so manifold, it takes more than this paper to give a full picture of the magnitude of its symbolism and its potential to provide information about the many belief systems, political developments, or religious and cultural influences that shaped it throughout its lifetime. What I will do in this paper is to highlight cultural, religious, political, and historical elements that have been found and written about in the literature available, but due to the limited scope of a work such as this, I will only briefly touch on every aspect. The aim is to provide the reader with a structured, although of course necessarily superficial overview over the Tibetan cultural and religious elements that were foundational in the conception in the epic of Gesar of Ling.

1.1 Overview

My approach in this paper is guided by the assumption that the epic of Gesar is, apart from an entertaining and engaging story, an amalgamation of symbolism of various origins, is strongly influenced by the culture of the people performing and re-telling it, and ultimately a product of the long time it has existed. Although it is difficult to express in words the multidimensional complexity of the interplay of cultural, religious, political, economic, historical, and many other systems inside such an imagined sphere like the word and image "Tibet", I will try to show what the most prevalent elements of this image are.

The many centuries since its inception and first passing on did not pass by this work without repeatedly influencing details, changing it to fit into then contemporary frameworks of beliefs, political ideologies, and cultural or religious developments. The purpose of this paper, though, is to show what researchers that have worked in this field

3

have found to be those repeating elements, tropes, narratives, and characteristics that have been and to this day are influential and decisive elements of this fluid story.

The basic structure of the epic follows a specific story line, that is briefly summarized by Geoffrey Samuel and does not need to be repeated here.1 Therefore, the structuring of the paper will be as follows: The first aspect to be approached is a description of the sacred landscape and the pan-Tibetan mountain cult that is so dominant in the Tibetan culture and assumes that the landscape of Tibet is animated by innumerable supernatural beings, from the powerful ones living on top of mountains or in the many lakes, to the, (granted, less powerful, but still influential) spirits of local sites. I will try to show here how the belief in these beings, their role in everyday life up to the most important state decisions, and especially the interaction with them through rituals is structured and how these elements had influence on the epic.

The second aspect that I will approach in this paper is that of the narrative of the imperial era. One of the most important narratives used throughout Tibet is that of its golden era, in which divine kings ruled over a country that was far bigger and more influential than it ever was afterwards and Tibet was blessed by the great tantric Buddhist masters from India that are responsible for the flourishing of Tibet into a Buddhist nation. These narratives are part of the culture of Tibet in that they represent the brilliant and shining past of Tibet that can never be regained but striven for. It is useful to look at these narratives and try to find their portrayal in the depiction of society and the personal, societal, and religious ideals propounded in the epic. In a later part of this segment I will also go into the historical arising of a revised and restructured and thoroughly

...

...

Download as:   txt (44 Kb)   pdf (96.2 Kb)   docx (32.5 Kb)  
Continue for 28 more pages »
Only available on ReviewEssays.com
Citation Generator

(2018, 05). The Social, Cultural, and Religious Context of the Epic of Gesar of Ling. ReviewEssays.com. Retrieved 05, 2018, from https://www.reviewessays.com/essay/The-Social-Cultural-and-Religious-Context-of-the/81432.html

"The Social, Cultural, and Religious Context of the Epic of Gesar of Ling" ReviewEssays.com. 05 2018. 2018. 05 2018 <https://www.reviewessays.com/essay/The-Social-Cultural-and-Religious-Context-of-the/81432.html>.

"The Social, Cultural, and Religious Context of the Epic of Gesar of Ling." ReviewEssays.com. ReviewEssays.com, 05 2018. Web. 05 2018. <https://www.reviewessays.com/essay/The-Social-Cultural-and-Religious-Context-of-the/81432.html>.

"The Social, Cultural, and Religious Context of the Epic of Gesar of Ling." ReviewEssays.com. 05, 2018. Accessed 05, 2018. https://www.reviewessays.com/essay/The-Social-Cultural-and-Religious-Context-of-the/81432.html.