The Arrow and the Spindle (Studies in History, Myths, Rituals and Beliefs in Tibet)

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Item Code: NAO716
Author: Samten G. Karmay
Publisher: Mandala Book Point, Nepal
Language: English
Edition: 2014
ISBN: 9789994655229
Pages: 230 (5 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 270 gm
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Book Description

About the Book

The first part of this book contains studies of historical documents such as royal decrees of the 10th and 11th centuries A.D.

The second part of deals with the history of Bon monastic establishment, the question of codification of the Bon Canonical texts as well as recent discoveries of ancient manuscripts of the Bon tradition that focus on the early Tibetan concepts of ritual practices.

The third part is devoted to a short presentation of a personal letter of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, founder of the modern state of Bhutan and the question of tulku institution in Tibet that had marred Tibetan political unity.

About the Author

Born in Amdo, northeastern Tibet, and educated in a Bonpo monastery, Samten G. Karmay studied Buddhist philosophy in Drepung, a Gelug monastery, in Central Tibet, till 1959. He also studied at the school of Oriental and African studies (SOAS), University of London where he obtained the M.Phil and PhD degrees. He was a research Fellow at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris and a visiting scholar in a number of academic institutions: Toyo Bunko, Tokyo; University of Tokyo; The National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Kyoto University and international institute of Asian Studies, Leiden.

In 1981, he become a charge de Recherche in the Center National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNCR), Paris and a member of Laboratoire d’ethnologie et de sociologie comparative,University de Paris-X. From 1989, he became a Director of Research in CNRS and was awarded the 1990 Silver Medal of CNCR for “Originality and elected President of the International Association or Tibetan Studides (IATS) at this 7th Seminar in Graz, Austria.

In 2007-2008 Curator of the exhibition of Bon Art in Bon Art in Rubin Museum of Art (RMA), New York. In September-October 2010 he gave public Lectures at Minzu University, Beijing.

He is the author of books including the Great Perfection, Brill 1988 (reprint 2007); Secret Vision of the Fifty Dalai Lama, Serindia 1 988 (reprint 2009), Vol. II Mandala Publications 2005 and The Illusive Play, the autobiography of the Fifty Dalai lama, Serindia 2014. He has published over 50 articles on various aspects of Tibetan civilization in English, French and Tibetan.


The first volume of the Arrow and the Spindle was published in 1998 by Mandala Book Point. This volume contains 32 articles and was reprinted in 2009.

Articles from Nos. 1-28 were translated into Tibetan by Dekhang Sonam Chogyal. This was published in Beijing by the Chinese Tibetological center in 2007 in two volumes under the title: mda’ dang ‘phang, mkbar rme’u bsam gtan gyi gsung rtsom phyogs bsgrigs. Sonam Chogyal has added two more articles of mine to this set. One is on the reign of the Tibetan king Lha sras Dar ma (vol. 1, pp.1-37) and the other deals with the origin of Dzogchen (vol. 1, pp. 142-168). I wrote the article on the king Lha sras Dar ma Directly in Tibetan. So it is not a translation of Sonam Chogyal.

The publication of the Tibetan translation has been very rewarding as it has attracted a lot of readers and quoted or referred to especially in scholarly published works in the universities both in Tibet and China. It is even selected as a text for the students in Minzu University in Beijing. Its first edition was soon sold out and as the interest in it continued it was reprinted in 2010.

The second volume of the Arrow and the Spindle was published in 2005 by Mandala Publications and contains 10 articles. It has been translated into Tibetan by the same translator. It is hoped that its publication will appear soon.

This third volume of the arrow and the Spindle contains 13 articles.

I whould like to express my thanks to Mr Madhab L. Maharjan who always takes an interest in my Writings and so patiently waited for the interminable preparation of this volume for its publication.


  Preface V
  Abbreviation xi
  Part 1. Early Historical Documents  
1 A decree of lHa Bla ma ma ye se'od 3
2 The Bon Religion referred to in the Newly Discovered Decrees of Lha Bla ma ye shes'od 11
3 A recently discovered rnam thar of Lha Bla ma Ye shes'od 19
4 King gNya' khri btsan po and his origin myths in the Dunhuage Manuscripts 31
  Part II. The Bon Religion  
5 A Historical overview of the Bon Religion 41
6 A new Discovery of Ancient bon Manuscripts from a Buddhist stupa in southern Tibet 61
7 Tibetan Indigenous Myths and Rituals with reference to the Ancient Bon Text: The gNyan 'bum 97
8 Queen of the World and her Twenty-seven Daughters 115
9 A Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century Treatise on Bon and Buddhist Doctrines 127
10 Le dieu bourdon qui dompte le Petit sri 145
  Part III: Religion and Politics  
11 The Letter of Zhabs drung Ngag dbang rnam rgyal (1594-1651) 167
12 Reply to the Question: "Under what circumstances did the PLA decide to march into Tibet?' 181
13 Coalition of Religion and Politics (Chos srid zung 'brel) 193
  Bibliography 199
  Indexes 211


Sample Pages

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