Public Talk: Newar Buddhist Literature

Punarvār śrībhagavānaṃ ājñādayakābijyāta:
Story, translation, print, and the making of modern Newar Buddhist literature

Dr. Christoph Emmrich

Dr. Christoph Emmrich

In 1914, the Kathmandu priest and public raconteur Niṣṭhānanda Vajrācārya published a life of the Buddha. He had compiled it from various sources transmitted as part of the Newar literary heritage in Sanskrit for centuries, rendering it into a more vernacular form of Newar that would become the model for writers of Newar literary prose in the 20th century, earning him the title gadyaguru, “the teacher of prose.” What gave this book, titled Lalitavistara, after one of the Nine Books (navagrantha) of Newar Buddhism, additional weight, was the fact that it was also the first book printed with modern equipment ever written exclusively in Newar. This talk reflects on how early 20thcentury Newar Buddhist storytelling, translation in a Sanskrit-Newar-Nepali multilingual environment, and the deployment of print technology under a political regime that opposed the formation of a Newar counter-public came together to shape, against all odds, the vibrant Newar religious and literary scene that we know today.

Christoph Emmrich (Ph.D. University of Heidelberg, 2004) engages with fields as diverse as Nepalese and Burmese Buddhism, Sanskrit, Pali, Newar, Burmese and Mon literature, and Tamil Jainism. He works with girl children, young women, and ritual specialists among the Newars in the Kathmandu Valley (Nepal) and in Yangon, Mandalay, and Mawlamyine (Burma) studying their involvement in Buddhist practices related to marriage, education, monastic ordination, and the consecration of images. In his work, he addresses questions of resemblance and resistance, transfer and translation, mimesis, and memory.

Wednesday, 2nd March 2022
19:30 NPT (Kathmandu)
08:45 EST (Toronto)

Zoom Link :

Meeting ID: 874 2653 7699

Password: 110690

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