The Robe and the Sword: towards a history of the dGe lugs pa vis-à-vis the Tibetan Army

February 3rd, 17.00, Inalco, talk by Federica Venturi, researcher, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, research unit CRCAO – Centre de Recherche sur les Civilisations de l’Asie Orientale

The existence of a military apparatus within the ecclesiastical government of the dGa’ ldan pho brang, controlled by religious hierarchs, reveals a dichotomy between an administration in theory committed to Buddhist values but in practice often pressed by concerns of realpolitik. In fact, on several occasions in its three-hundred year history, the government of the Dalai Lamas and the dGe lugs pa hierarchy have had to contend with adverse situations that spurred them to utilize, support or otherwise involve the Tibetan army. While the XIII Dalai Lama (1876-1933) may be the ecclesiastical figure whose support for the army is universally recognized, other hierarchs who preceded him also found ways to reconcile their religious beliefs with the necessity to solve impelling practical questions. This talk aims at illustrating some of the historical situations that required the involvement in military matters of dGe lugs pa hierarchs, and the conceptual discourses employed by them to justify and promote the use of the army.