An inter­view with

David Seyfort Ruegg

Pos­i­tion & Affil­i­ation: Buddho­lo­gist; School of Ori­ent­al and Afric­an Stud­ies, Uni­ver­sity of Lon­don, Uni­ver­sity of Hamburg
Date: Feb­ru­ary 3, 2018 in Lon­don, United Kingdom
Inter­viewed by: Anna Sehnalova
Tran­script by: Rachael Griffiths

Cite this archive

Oral His­tory of Tibetan Stud­ies. (2021, Decem­ber 2). An inter­view with Dav­id Sey­fort Ruegg. Retrieved 30 Janu­ary 2023, from
“An inter­view with Dav­id Sey­fort Ruegg.” Oral His­tory of Tibetan Stud­ies, 2 Dec. 2021,
Oral His­tory of Tibetan Stud­ies. 2021. An inter­view with Dav­id Sey­fort Ruegg. [online], Avail­able at: [Accessed 30 Janu­ary 2023]
Oral His­tory of Tibetan Stud­ies. “An inter­view with Dav­id Sey­fort Ruegg.” 2021, Decem­ber 2.

Dis­claim­er: The views and opin­ions expressed in this inter­view are those of the inter­viewee and do not neces­sar­ily rep­res­ent the offi­cial pos­i­tion of the Oral His­tory of Tibetan Stud­ies project.


List of Acronyms: DSR=Dav­id Sey­fort Ruegg, IN= Inter­view­er

IN: Pro­fess­or Sey­fort Ruegg, thank you very much for agree­ing to be inter­viewed for The Oral His­tory of Tibetan Stud­ies pro­ject.

DSR:   My pleasure.

Family and Background

IN: For us it is an hon­our. Could you start by telling us about your ori­gin and fam­ily background?

DSR:   I’ll start a bit later, with how I became inter­ested in Tibet and Cent­ral Asia. I knew some people who had trav­elled in Tibet and Mon­go­lia. For that reas­on, I was 12 at the time, I became rather fas­cin­ated. I had already been inter­ested in India through my moth­er, who was an artist, you can see some of her work, and she was very inter­ested in India. So, that’s the background.

Then I had to find a place where I could study Indo­logy, Indo-Tibetan Stud­ies, and Tibetan. In this case it was pos­sible at SOAS (School of Ori­ent­al and Afric­an Stud­ies), in Lon­don, and also in Switzer­land (Uni­ver­sity of Zürich). At that time there wer­en’t many pos­sib­il­it­ies. Then I moved to Par­is, where I remained for most of the time, except for field trips, research trips, for 20 years.

IN:      But you came from the USA?

DSR:   I was born there, yes.

IN:      And you did all your school­ing in Britain?

DSR:   No, in vari­ous places. My uni­ver­sity stud­ies were mainly in France.

IN:      Who were these people that you said inter­ested you, apart from your mother?

DSR:   These were people who had trav­elled in Tibet, Mon­go­lia, and else­where. I knew this per­son for a year or so, he lived next door, and in that way, he often talked about his travels. There had been fam­ily con­nec­tions, of course, for a long time, above all my moth­er, who was very open to non-paro­chi­al think­ing, should I say. She her­self had stud­ied in Par­is in the 1920s. My stud­ies were in Par­is in the 1950s and 1960s.


IN:      So the people you met were trav­el­lers, not scholars?

DSR:   Well, they had a very ser­i­ous interest, but they were not pro­fes­sion­al schol­ars, no. But they were schol­arly people, well-educated.

University and memories of teachers including Marcelle Lalou and Rolf Stein

IN:      How did you begin to study this at university?

DSR:   I star­ted in 1950 with Mar­celle Lalou in Par­is, I stud­ied with her for a couple of years and then went off to India for anoth­er couple of years, [and] came back to France to work on the thes­is for the École [Pratique] des [Hautes] Études. So, I came back to France after two years in India and I did the first thes­is at the École Pratique des Hautes Études. That was on lin­guist­ic philo­sophy in India.

Then, I went off to India again in 1956 for five years where I was study­ing in Dar­jeel­ing dis­trict, largely. That was Tibetan. I was study­ing Indi­an stud­ies else­where, but Tibetan Stud­ies in Dar­jeel­ing dis­trict, Kalimpong. Then I came back to France where I worked on my main thes­is, the Doc­tor­at d’État es Lettres.

IN:      How do you remem­ber India at that time?

DSR:   Well, it was a much quieter place. It was already inde­pend­ent, of course, but

pol­lu­tion had­n’t become as much of a prob­lem as it is now. I remem­ber Del­hi, clear blue skies in winter and a lovely cli­mate. Now, of course, with the pol­lu­tion, it’s become any­thing but a lovely climate.

IN:      Why did you go to Kalimpong specifically?

DSR:   For Tibetan Studies.

IN:      Did you study with someone there?

DSR:   Yes, I was in con­tact with Dhardo Rinpoche, not exactly as a teach­er but as some­body I could go and talk to, give me advice, and so forth. I also knew a couple of oth­er people, whose names I’ll have to look up for you if you wish to know them.

Then I came back to France in 1961 and, as I said, wrote the Doc­tor­at d’État, which was on the the­ory of the tathāgatagarbha.

IN:      Did you also learn spoken Tibetan in Kalimpong?

DSR:   Some. Not sys­tem­at­ic­ally, very unsys­tem­at­ic­ally in fact.

IN:      How do you remem­ber the Tibetan com­munity at Kalimpong at that time?

DSR:   Some mem­bers, yes. I was telling you about Dhardo Rinpoche and a few oth­ers. Of course, there were many Tibetans. There was also a small mon­as­tery there and Gendun Lodrö, who later came to Ham­burg, his broth­er was the khenpo (mkhan po, abbot) of [that mon­as­tery]. Well, the Tibetans say broth­er, I don’t know wheth­er it was exactly a broth­er or a cous­in. I met Gendun Lodrö first in India, in Kalimpong, and by the time I’d got to Ham­burg I’m afraid he was already dead.

IN:      Why did you decide to study Tibetan before you went?

DSR:   Well, I had a feel­ing from my early years on, from the age of 12 on I had the interest, and I came to real­ise more and more that from the point of view of philo­sophy, from the point of view of his­tory, from the point of view of cul­ture, Tibet has extremely inter­est­ing forms.

So, it’s not really his­tory and philo­sophy in the usu­al sense, for instance, the donor-don­ee rela­tion­ship, of which I have writ­ten, which brings up the prob­lem, which is not really a Tibetan one but is wide­spread, of the spir­itu­al author­ity and the tem­por­al power. So, I wrote a book on that, which you may have seen. But my main con­cen­tra­tion was on the cul­tur­al his­tory, and above all the his­tory of Tibetan thought.

IN:      Why was this your main interest? What did you find so fascinating?

DSR:   I can­’t tell you. I just knew that I was inter­ested, as hap­pens with young people if they’re lucky.

IN:      How do you remem­ber the French uni­ver­sity envir­on­ment in the 1950s? and at SOAS after the war?

DSR:   It was inter­est­ing. There were a lot of stu­dents at SOAS, this was in 1948–1949. There were many stu­dents at SOAS who’d been in India as mem­bers of the armed forces. I knew most, not well, expect for one. They were mostly his­tor­i­ans; I think that was the development.

I also invest­ig­ated the situ­ation in Cam­bridge, where [Dav­id Roy] Shack­leton Bailey had been, but I real­ised he was becom­ing more and more dis­in­ter­ested in Tibetan Stud­ies and more and more inter­ested in Lat­in Stud­ies. So, I real­ised there was no point in going to Cam­bridge for Tibetan. I also knew the oth­er Bailey, H.W. (Har­old Wal­ter) Bailey, who, of course, was quite remark­able and a char­ac­ter. A very nice man and a remark­able scholar.

IN:      Who were your main teach­ers at SOAS?

DSR:   It was, I would say, John Brough, who was a Sanskrit­ist, he moved to Cam­bridge, and Basham, A.L (Arthur Llewellyn) Basham.

IN:      What did you study with them? How did the classes look?

DSR:   Well, Basham gave a course of one term on ancient Indi­an his­tory. There was a small group of us, about five or six people I sup­pose. So, I was trained in Indi­an his­tory with him.

Then quite a remark­able sem­in­ar which John Brough organ­ised for a very seni­or stu­dent of his, Sid­ney Allen, who’s a lin­guist, Sanskrit­ist, worked on Indi­an phon­et­ics. This sem­in­ar con­sisted of, I was really there as an aud­it­or because it was my first year and, well, I was begin­ning to learn, but I was simply struck by how fas­cin­at­ing this inter­change between the pro­fess­or, Brough, and Sid­ney Allen, the very seni­or stu­dent, was. So, I began to see what prop­er aca­dem­ic work was.

IN:      What was the inter­change like?

DSR:   Well, just a point of, shall I say, per­haps, con­ten­tious points that they dis­cussed, the views of their pre­de­cessors and con­tem­por­ar­ies, and back and forth they dis­cussed them. It was very inter­est­ing to see how it was done. I wondered how good aca­dem­ic work can be.

IN:      So it has been influ­en­tial on you?

DSR:   Oh yes, yes, I will always remem­ber that.

Then I real­ised that, finally, I would do bet­ter in Par­is, where I stud­ied first with Mar­celle Lalou, and then later with Rolf Stein, who’s quite a remark­able schol­ar. He was a Sino­lo­gist to begin with but had become a Tibet­o­lo­gist too. He was speak­ing about the influ­ence that the Tibetan schol­ars had on West­ern schol­ars, but that was a case in point, he had with him in Par­is at that time Tibetan schol­ars, in par­tic­u­lar Dagpo Rinpoche, who com­pletely changed his out­look, his under­stand­ing on Tibet.

IN:      How do you remem­ber Rolf Stein as a teacher?

DSR:   Well, he was a very good teach­er. He had a good know­ledge of writ­ten Tibetan, clas­sic­al Tibetan, and his excerpts were very good, his approach was that of one of the French schools of Sino­logy. He had been him­self a stu­dent of Mar­cel Granet and fol­lows a lot in that tra­di­tion and applied it to Tibet. So, it was a bit in the line of the work that Stein had been inter­ested in.

IN:      And how was he as a person?

DSR:   Dif­fi­cult to get to know, but a nice man. I came to like him and respect him very much. It took a little time.

IN:      And Mar­celle Lalou, how do you remem­ber her as a teacher?

DSR:   Well, she taught on the basis of her inter­ac­tions with Tibetan, and that’s the way she worked in the class to begin with. And then, actu­ally, we looked at these texts includ­ing Dun­huang, because at that time she was busy com­pil­ing her cata­logue of Dun­huang mater­i­al, Tibetan mater­i­al from Dunhuang.

IN:      How was she as a person?

DSR:  She was very pleas­ant, very nice. I liked her.

IN:      What did your classes look like?

DSR:   Well, Anne-Mar­ie Blon­deau was there and, let’s see, who else was there at the time? Michel Soymié, who was a Sino­lo­gist, became a Sino­lo­gist, I saw more of him in [the] classes of Rolf Stein.

IN:      Did you mostly read texts? How did you study?

DSR:   We used texts, yes, because that was the tra­di­tion in France, [to] use texts. But later, Stein him­self, after he brought the Tibetans there, one of the Tibetans became a lec­turer at the École nationale des langues ori­entales vivantes (ENLOV), and so he was teach­ing mod­ern spoken Tibetan, which he spoke beautifully.

IN:      So that was an innov­a­tion at that time, probably?

DSR:   Well, this was the, let me see, it was the early 1960s.

IN:      What was the situ­ation of French uni­ver­sit­ies in the 1960s? How was the environment?

DSR:   Well, on the one hand, I did up to 1968, which, of course, was not a very pleas­ant exper­i­ence for many people, though the French still look back on it with nos­tal­gia. But I was­n’t much con­cerned with all that because I was very spe­cial­ised already in Indi­an Stud­ies, we were a small group of say 10 or 15 in Indi­an Stud­ies and Indo-Tibetan Studies.

IN:      Was there someone else among your class­mates, someone import­ant? or someone influ­en­tial on you?

DSR:   Well, I sup­pose, the people who did, by meet­ing them and sit­ting with them every week, read­ing texts, trans­la­tion, so on and so forth, the vari­ous people.


Actu­ally, the McDon­alds were there, Alex­an­der, Sandy as he was called, and his wife for a time. And yes, I sup­pose, I learnt a good deal about the anthro­po­lo­gic­al approach, but he was an anthro­po­lo­gist open to read­ing texts, already in the 1960s. And, of course, some anthro­po­lo­gists were, but it was­n’t, per­haps, as com­mon as it should’ve been.

IN:      If you were to com­pare the aca­dem­ic envir­on­ment in France, or Par­is, and Lon­don, what would be the differences?

DSR:   I could­n’t describe them, but they’re very different.

IN:      But in both places the learn­ing was focused on texts?

DSR:   Well in Lon­don, you see, it was the first year for me and we simply used Lan­man’s Sanskrit Read­er. So, the texts from the Sanskrit Read­er and Perry­’s Intro­duc­tion to Sanskrit. 

IN:      So, in gen­er­al, there wer­en’t many text­books around? it was usu­ally primary texts?

DSR:   At that point there were few, but the Read­er was very well done. For learn­ing Sanskrit, [there were] not many good text­books. A few were ser­vice­able, they were use­ful. But I think there are many more recent ones that are prob­ably more useful.

IN:      So both the envir­on­ments have prob­ably influ­enced you in dif­fer­ent ways?

DSR:   Totally.

IN:      Could you describe that?

DSR:   No, I can­’t really.

IN:      OK. So, in France you com­pleted your PhD. How did you choose the top­ic? You sub­mit­ted two theses?

DSR:   Well, how did I choose them? The first [thes­is], as I said, I had already from Brough’s sem­in­ar some con­tact with Indi­an lin­guist­ics, because he was very inter­ested in that him­self, and then the seni­or stu­dent of his, Sid­ney Allen, was a lin­guist, [a] spe­cial­ist in clas­sic­al lan­guages, actu­ally. What we call clas­sic­al lan­guages, namely Lat­in and Greek. So there was that.

And then the per­son I stud­ied with in Par­is, Sanskrit, was Louis Ren­ou. I had a great interest in that. I also stud­ied extens­ively in Sanskrit, espe­cially Buddhist Stud­ies, with Jean Filliozat.

IN:      How would you remem­ber these two teach­ers, Louis Ren­ou and Jean Filliozat?

DSR:   Well, I found them both won­der­ful people to study with in their very dif­fer­ent ways. Again, I don’t think it’s very easy to char­ac­ter­ise them.

Fil­lioz­at was a, well actu­ally he was a doc­tor of medi­cine in addi­tion to being a Sanskrit­ist, stu­dent of Sylvain Levy. So, he car­ried on the tra­di­tion of Sylvain Levy at the École des Hautes Études and later at the Collège de France when he became pro­fess­or there. Ren­ou was an agrégé de Gram­maire in the best French tra­di­tion, and he had writ­ten Sanskrit gram­mar (Gram­maire San­scrite) and worked on a Sanskrit-French dic­tion­ary for stu­dents. He was cer­tainly an inter­est­ing per­son. His par­tic­u­lar interest was Veda but not exclus­ively Veda.

IN:      Jean Fil­lioz­at also wrote on Indi­an Medi­cine, I think?

DSR:   He did.

IN:      How did he become a schol­ar of Indi­an Stud­ies if he was a doctor?

DSR:   Well, I think a bit of the same thing with me, from the time he was a boy he became attrac­ted. In addi­tion to med­ic­al stud­ies, he was an oph­thal­mo­lo­gist, he stud­ied with Sylvain Levy at the Collège de France and the École des Hautes Études. The pro­fess­ors at the Collège de France were usu­ally also at the École des Hautes Études at that time.

IN:      Yes, it’s interesting.

DSR:   You might say that the prac­tic­al work, the sem­in­ar type, was done at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, while form­al lec­tures were done at the Collège de France.

IN:      Nick Allen, for instance, was also trained as a doc­tor at first, and then he became an anthro­po­lo­gist. Fernand Mey­er also stud­ied medicine.

DSR:   Who?

IN:      Fernand Meyer.

DSR:   Oh yes. Yes, he car­ries on the tradition.

IN:      Yes, it’s inter­est­ing to see. You also sub­mit­ted a short­er thes­is on But­on Rinpoche?


DSR:   Well, that was­n’t a thes­is. That was just a book pub­lished by Pro­fess­or Tucci in Rome.

IN:      How did you become inter­ested in this Tibetan scholar?

DSR:   But­on? I thought it would be very use­ful to work on a namtar (rnam thar)in oth­er words an auto­bi­o­graphy; half is an auto­bi­o­graphy by But­on him­self, and half a bio­graphy by his stu­dent Drat­sepaI thought it would be very, it would put one in dir­ect, it would throw one into the middle of a Tibetan life, which I think is the value of read­ing namtarsThat’s the same for purely philo­soph­ic­al works or purely his­tor­ic­al works.

IN:      And it was your own idea to study this namtar?

DSR:   Yes. Yes, it was quite usu­al. One chose one’s top­ic and then dis­cussed it with one’s pro­fess­or, asked per­mis­sion to use it as a thes­is, which in both cases was done. In some places the pro­fess­or will sug­gest a top­ic, a theme, which they them­selves have been work­ing on and have put aside, per­haps. And so they ask a good stu­dent to do that. So, that’s anoth­er way, but it did­n’t hap­pen to be the way it worked with me.

IN:      Could you tell us more about how your research interests developed, why did you pick cer­tain top­ics? You also worked on the chöyön (mchod yon, pat­ron-priest) relationship?

DSR:   Yes. So, I think that’s a very inter­est­ing rela­tion­ship and has a lot to say for the Indo-Tibetan view of the rela­tion­ship between the spir­itu­al and the tem­por­al. The spir­itu­al and tem­por­al aren’t divided as they tend to be in the West in recent times. They’re not anti­thet­ic­al but com­pli­ment­ary. They’re dif­fer­ent, dis­tinct and dif­fer­ent, but they are com­pli­ment­ary. And, But­on, of course, was the chöné (mchod gnas, object of ven­er­a­tion) of the Zhalu gurus.

IN:      Your book on chöyön is on the read­ing list of all stu­dents of the MPhil in Tibetan Stud­ies at Oxford.

DSR:   Really?

IN:      Yes, so all of us have read it.

DSR:   I’m sur­prised, because usu­ally it’s ignored.

IN:      There’s an old copy in the lib­rary, so, in fact, all stu­dents bor­row this copy.

DSR:   Well, I’m most sur­prised to hear this because usu­ally it’s been ignored.

IN:      No, I don’t think so. I think you would be surprised.

DSR:   Well, I’m also sur­prised by the people who write on the sub­ject and have no idea of the his­tor­ic­al, reli­gious, and cul­tur­al aspects of it.

IN:      So, at Oxford we do read your book and we have it in a PDF ver­sion. So it also cir­cu­lates in this way.

DSR:   Yes, you can put it on a computer.

Development of research interests

IN:      Yeah, and people know it. Do you have any­thing else to add about how your interests developed?

DSR:   Well, you know, it’s very dif­fi­cult. One wakes up one day, and one real­ises that one’s inter­ested in a top­ic, at least that’s what hap­pens to me. And, of course, Tucci had already touched on the top­ic sev­er­al times in his Indo-Tibet­ica and Tibetan Painted Scrolls, so I’m far from being the first per­son to of thought of this, any­thing but. So, I sup­pose, per­haps, Tucci was indir­ectly, I mean not per­son­ally but by his writ­ing, the per­son who dir­ec­ted my atten­tion to it.

IN:      Yeah, the philo­sophy must have been very dif­fi­cult and, I sup­pose, one of the sub­jects of the Indo-Tibetan Studies.

DSR:   Well, yes, I became par­tic­u­larly inter­ested in the Mad­hya­maka because it had become a rather pop­u­lar sub­ject of dis­cus­sion in the 1950s and 1960s and has remained so largely since. I felt there were many things that had to be cla­ri­fied in our under­stand­ing of Mad­hya­maka that has noth­ing to do with nihilism.

Even if one trans­lates śūnyatā into empti­ness that is a con­ven­tion­al trans­la­tion, a trans­la­tion that has to be defined not by a European dic­tion­ary defin­i­tion of empti­ness or vide (empti­ness in French) or leere (empti­ness in Ger­man), but by the Sanskrit and Tibetan definitions.

So, it means empti­ness of, what I call, self-exist­ence or svab­hāva and, in oth­er words, the refus­al, the cātuṣkoṭika, and then the refus­al to pos­it an entity in pos­it­ive or even in neg­at­ive terms, or even in both pos­it­ive and neg­at­ive terms. In oth­er words, the catuṣkoṭi is an import­ant theme in this con­nec­tion, and I’ve writ­ten on that. It was one of my first major art­icles on the Mad­hya­maka, what the catuṣkoṭi means, to try to show that it has noth­ing to do with nihil­ism. To refute, to pos­it, to hypo­thes­is an entity, a bhava, a rang­zh­in (rang bzh­in, self-entity or self-nature)which char­ac­ter­ises Mad­hyami­ka through­out its his­tory. I felt that needed a good deal of atten­tion, which I tried to give it.

IN:      And at that time there was a gen­er­al interest in Buddhism?

DSR:   Oh cer­tainly. That was very wide­spread by the time I was study­ing in the 1950s and 1960s. After all, that goes back two cen­tur­ies earlier.

IN:      Were you able to vis­it any Tibetan com­munit­ies in Tibet at this time?

DSR:   Well, I only appeared on the scene after the Chinese occu­pa­tion of Tibet, and I did­n’t feel that the situ­ation was suit­able for a visit.

IN:      So you knew Tibetan cul­ture from Kalimpong?

DSR:   From the Him­alay­an area, and also the diaspora.

Research and travels in India and Nepal

IN:      Were there some oth­er places you went to in India or Nepal?

DSR:   Oh many, yes.

IN:      You were trav­el­ling there in the 1960s?

DSR:   I researched there. Start­ing in the 1950s, totalled about sev­en or eight years.

IN:      Do you have some memor­ies of your travels there?

DSR:   Well, I sup­pose I have many but not organ­ised in a way that I can repeat, except I found it a fas­cin­at­ing exper­i­ence to be in India at the time, which was shortly after inde­pend­ence and some of the pre-inde­pend­ence schol­ars, many of them were of course still there, at that time. Sanskrit Stud­ies has gone through tri­als in India since.

IN:      Did you have some teach­ers of Sanskrit in India?

DSR:   Up to a point, yes. I stud­ied Kash­mir Shaiv­ism with a Rus­si­an Jew liv­ing in Srinagar.

IN:      Oh, so you stayed in Srin­agar as well?

DSR:   That was partly due to the influ­ence [of], or at least a know­ledge of and con­tact with, Lili­an Sil­burn, who had been work­ing extens­ively on Kash­mir Shaiv­ism and also in her work on Buddhism, her book on Instant et Cause. 

IN:      So, from these travels and your stay, what do you think was the most influ­en­tial on you?

DSR:   I can­’t say which was the most, many of them were very influ­en­tial, that’s the way I would put it. Many of them were very influential.

IN:      Where did you study? Kalimpong and Srinagar?

DSR:   And Varanasi. Mainly the first two, but some in Varanasi.

IN:      With whom did you study there?

DSR:   Well, it was more a ques­tion of vis­it­ing schol­ars there. For instance, I went to see Gop­inath Kaviraj, who was very inter­ested to meet, and I did. Then of course on the Buddhist side there was Nal­inaksha Dutt. I did­n’t study with him, but I met him and taught with him.

IN:      Did the Varanasi Insti­tute exist at that time?

DSR:   Yes. The Tibetans I brought to Leiden; they were actu­ally at the col­lege in Varanasi. Before it became the Tibetan Insti­tute of High­er Stud­ies it had anoth­er name includ­ing Sanskrit, it was part of the Sanskrit university.

IN:      Could you say a bit about how the uni­ver­sity looked at that time?

DSR:   Well, they cer­tainly had some inter­est­ing teach­ers, but things were already chan­ging rap­idly. India was in the course of fairly rap­id change, which was prob­lem­at­ic in many ways. I don’t want to go into that.

Position at the University of Leiden, memories of working with Tibetans in Europe including Ngawang Nyima and Dagpo Rinpoche

IN:      OK. Could you tell us a little about your engage­ment with Leiden and how you brought the monks there?

DSR:   Yes. There was Ngawang Nyima and his attend­ant, and we worked togeth­er for sev­er­al years in Leiden until his retire­ment. He went first to Switzer­land, for a brief peri­od, and then became a khenpo of Gomang in India. He was a Gomang monk in Tibet, although he him­self was a Bury­at Mon­gol. Some of the best schol­ars, espe­cially in Gomang, not only in Gomang, but espe­cially in Gomang, were Mongols.

IN:      You worked togeth­er on Gelugpa philosophy?

DSR:   Not Gelugpa only, on the tathāgatagarbha the­ory, I was edit­ing my book on tathāgatagarbha there with him. I had already worked on it very extens­ively with a Tibetan stu­dent of Nyima’s, Dagpo Rinpoche, who was a Rock­e­feller fel­low to begin with in Par­is. So, I worked with him for sev­er­al years, and star­ted my work on the tathāgatagarbha the­ory accord­ing to the Tibetan sources with him. So, all these things inter­con­nect in some way or another.

IN:      How did your research devel­op afterwards?

DSR:   After Leiden, I went to, for a peri­od, the Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton, and there was a col­league in the depart­ment of philo­sophy, [a] pro­fess­or of Indi­an Philo­sophy, Karl Pot­ter. At that time there was intense interest in Mad­hya­maka and there seemed to be a num­ber of mis­con­cep­tions, not on Pot­ter­’s part, in par­tic­u­lar, but in the lit­er­at­ure. Using words like nihil­ism and so on, which is com­pletely inap­pro­pri­ate. Empty could be inter­preted as noth­ing. The trans­la­tion is one thing, the defin­i­tion is anoth­er. As I said to you earli­er, the defin­i­tion is not accord­ing to a European dic­tion­ary, but accord­ing to the Sanskrit and Tibetan tra­di­tions. So, nobody is using the Eng­lish or French or Ger­man or whatever term conventionally.

IN:      How do you remem­ber work­ing with schol­ars com­ing from the tra­di­tion that you were studying?

DSR:   Oh well, work­ing with Dagpo Rinpoche in Par­is was an exper­i­ence, and I learned enorm­ously much from him, as I said in the pre­face to my thesis.

IN:      And how did you work together?

DSR:   Oh, we sat togeth­er at his desk and talked.

IN:      You would read texts together?

DSR:   Oh yes, def­in­itely. On the basis of texts but also on the basis of the oral tra­di­tion, which he was, although at that time still quite young, he had­n’t even become [a] géshé (dge shes, Tibetan Buddhist aca­dem­ic degree for monks and nuns) yet, because he had to leave Tibet due to the Chinese occupation.

IN:      And at this time were you some­how involved in, or in touch with, people organ­ising vis­its of oth­er import­ant fig­ures of Tibetan Buddhism, of Tibetan Studies?

DSR:   In a way, yes. That was beginning.

IN:      For instance?

DSR:   Well, as I said, there was the Tibetan Rock­e­feller fel­lows. I don’t remem­ber, I think it was five or six European and Amer­ic­an insti­tu­tions. At Leiden there were more of them. And then, of course, aside from Par­is it was Lon­don, and Ham­burg, where Gendun Lodrö went, and Bonn, yes, and Rome.

IN:      Were you in touch with these figures?

DSR:   Yes, I’m afraid I’m not totally good at nar­rat­ing these sorts of things because there were so many threads to this tex­tile, to this tapestry, that it’s dif­fi­cult for me to sep­ar­ate them into a mean­ing­ful and clear nar­rat­ive. They all inter­act, as they do in a piece of cloth.

IN:      At this time there were also Tibetan lamas com­ing to see their fol­low­ers or to give teach­ings here?

DSR:   Well, Dagpo Rinpoche had a num­ber of vis­it­ors always.

IN:      Were you some­how engaged with this?

DSR:   Up to a point, yes.

IN:      With fol­low­ers of Tibetan Buddhism in the West?

DSR:   Fol­low­ers of Tibetan Buddhism in the West, not spe­cific­ally. You came across them occa­sion­ally and had inter­est­ing, use­ful con­ver­sa­tions with them. Dagpo Rinpoche, for instance, had a centre in, first in and then near, Paris.

IN:      Did you go?

DSR:   Oh yes.

IN:      How do you remem­ber the centre when it was beginning?

DSR:   I only was there a day or two, because I worked with him in Paris.

IN:      Would you remem­ber some­thing about the begin­nings of the centre?

DSR:   Of the centres? Well, really I can­’t, unfor­tu­nately, because I know they were being estab­lished and that he was amongst oth­ers estab­lish­ing them. Of course, those in Lon­don were doing some­thing similar.

Then on the con­tin­ent, on the European con­tin­ent, the centre was the Tibetan centre in Switzer­land, I assume, once it was built, with help from the Swiss. At Rikon. So, all the Tibetans used to gath­er there, in a hol­i­day town. Nyima was there and, I did­n’t men­tion Munich, the two Tibetans in Munich, who used to come to Rikon, and so forth.

Then there was Dro­gon, the name sticks in my mind for the moment, [and] Rakra Rinpoche, who was in charge of the Tibetan house for Tibetan refugee children.

IN:      Where was the house?

DSR:   In Tro­gen. Pestalozzi Kinderdorf.

IN:      Do you remem­ber the begin­nings of Rikon?

DSR:   Well, not the very begin­nings, because when I first vis­ited it was already built. But that was an inter­est­ing ini­ti­at­ive on the part of the Swiss.

What happened was that there was this Swiss cut­lery man­u­fac­turer, under the name of Rikon, actu­ally, you see their products some­times for sale in shops, they do vari­ous kit­chen appli­ances and cut­lery. And he thought one day of help­ing the Tibetan refugees, it was quite simply to take them to Switzer­land to have them work in his fact­ory, so they’d learn how to do some­thing use­ful, and he would also bene­fit from that. But, along with oth­er people, oth­er Swiss, there was [also] the estab­lish­ing of Rikon Monastery.

Then there was also Mont Pèler­in, very appro­pri­ately named, and that was out­side Lausanne. Where, actu­ally, Buddhist Stud­ies were very act­ively pur­sued. First by Jacques May and then by Jacques May’s successor.

IN:      Do you remem­ber what the situ­ation was for the Tibetans who moved to Switzerland?

DSR:   Oh, very var­ied. Those who had jobs in the fact­ory, I don’t know wheth­er they stayed there until retire­ment or not, but they were there a cer­tain num­ber of years. Some of them would’ve returned to India, I doubt that many of them went back to Tibet.

On his retire­ment, as I said, Ngawang Nyima spent some time at Rikon, sev­er­al months, before he was called back to India to be abbot, khenpo, of Gomang.

IN:      So you were in very lively con­tact with these figures?

DSR:   Yes.

The first meeting of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, memories of Michael and Anthony Aris

IN:      And you were at the meet­ing which led to the cre­ation of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation of Tibetan Stud­ies (IATS), which took place in 1977?

DSR:   Well, it was arranged by Michael Aris, yes.

IN:      Ah yes. There was also one in Zurich in 1977.

DSR:   I was­n’t there. That was, I think, the year before. I don’t remem­ber, but I was­n’t there.

IN:      Could you say some­thing about the first IATS meet­ing in Oxford in 1979?

DSR:   Well, as I was say­ing, it was organ­ised by Michael Aris, and you saw the photo of the people who were there. So, a very large num­ber, it looks like 30 or 40 people. So, it was quite a busy ses­sion. And, from then on it used to meet, but unfor­tu­nately Michael died some years later actually.

I don’t quite know what his role in Oxford was, he was­n’t a pro­fess­or there, but he was at St Anthony’s Col­lege. He worked on Tibetan his­tory, and above all on Bhutan, where he had lived sev­er­al years.

IN:      How do you remem­ber the atmo­sphere of this meet­ing? It was the first time that Tibetan Stud­ies’ schol­ars and research­ers came togeth­er, includ­ing well-estab­l­ished schol­ars like Hugh Richardson.

DSR:   Yes.

IN:      How did people feel? or how did you feel?

DSR:   Well, I think people felt very pos­it­ive about it and it was at Oxford, the meet­ing, the IATS was foun­ded. It’s become a rather dis­em­bod­ied entity ever since, it only works on the inter­net nowadays, which I think is a grave mis­take. I think it’s a fun­da­ment­al mis­take because I think when journ­al art­icles are ready, are in suf­fi­ciently good shape, they should be prin­ted on paper in a journal.

To have them only avail­able in an inter­net journ­al is not, to my way of think­ing, suf­fi­cient. But I know oth­er people, espe­cially young people, per­haps I’m just too old fash­ioned, but there are also prob­lems with elec­tron­ic ver­sions, tech­nic­al prob­lems when the tech­no­logy changes and they want to no longer use the exist­ing tech­no­logy, and one has to know how to alter it one­self or know some­body else who can con­vert it into the new tech­no­logy. I’m afraid I was nev­er up to that, and I found the whole thing very misguided.

IN:      Yes, I understand.

DSR:   As I say, I think pre-prints, what are called pre-prints, espe­cially in the sci­ences, that’s a very use­ful thing, when some­body has a second or third draft of an art­icle but not the final draft, they put it online as a pre-print, where it’s online for per­haps a year or two, even more and then finally it appears on paper in a journ­al, but in Tibetan Stud­ies, unfor­tu­nately, it nev­er gets onto paper. Same thing is the case with the journ­al Revue d’Et­udes Tibé­taines, which is avail­able only online. I think it’s a great mistake.

IN:      Who did you inter­act with at the first IATS? Who were the lead­ing fig­ures of Tibetan Stud­ies at that point?

DSR:   Well, I knew some of them already, of course. I knew Lokesh Chandra from India, and [Josef] Kolmaš I met there, yes that’s true. I met him again in Hun­gary. Then of course I got to know Michael, really, for the first time then, or shortly before, shortly before.

IN:      How do you remem­ber Michael?

DSR:   Oh well, he was some­body who had been doing what one might call field work for a num­ber of years in Bhutan, and he was very deep in this, yes. He was a per­son that one cer­tainly had respect for, and he was doing very well, both pub­lic­a­tions and help­ing to organ­ise the IATS.

IN:      Did you also meet Anthony Aris?

DSR:   Oh yes.

IN:      How do you remem­ber him?

DSR:   He was very dif­fer­ent; they were very dif­fer­ent people. Michael was very much the schol­ar and Anthony was inter­ested in schol­ar­ship, but he was­n’t per­son­ally a schol­ar, I don’t believe. He pub­lished of course, many of these books.

IN:      Did you have some inter­ac­tions with him as an author?

DSR:   No, not inter­ac­tions. What was the name of his series? I forget.

IN:      Serindia.

DSR:   Ser­in­dia, yes. It was a good series.

IN:      Yes, and it was influential.

DSR:   Yes, of course.

Teaching in North America

IN:      You’ve also worked in the United States, could you say some­thing about that?

DSR:   Well, not in a few words, no. I mean, I was there for sev­er­al years, at the Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton, and also as a Vis­it­ing Pro­fess­or in New York and in Toronto.

IN:      And how was it?

DSR:   Well, they were very, very dif­fer­ent places. Seattle was one thing, Toronto was anoth­er, and the State Uni­ver­sity of New York, at that time was in Stony Brook, was again quite dif­fer­ent. It had an insti­tute for the vast study of world reli­gions, run by a Chinese whose name slips my mind. Chris­toph­er George was there.

IN:      What were your impres­sions of Amer­ic­an academia?

DSR:   Well, Toronto, to begin, was very dif­fer­ent because it was run by what’s his name, the spe­cial­ist in Indi­an lit­er­at­ure. He had assembled quite an inter­est­ing group in Toronto, sev­er­al people. There was a depart­ment for South Asia. So, that was an inter­est­ing time. I don’t know why his name, in con­ver­sa­tion I for­get names. I’ll think of him soon.

And then Stony Brook was still some­thing else. That was still some­what experimental.

IN:      In what way?

DSR:   Well, as I said, the Insti­tute of World Reli­gions was fin­anced and act­ively engaged in by this Chinese, whose name I for­get now. You must have heard of him, you’ll see their pub­lic­a­tions, you must know. Shane, I think his name was, Shane. And Chris­toph­er George was the Amer­ic­an in charge there.

IN:      In what way was Amer­ic­an aca­demia dif­fer­ent from aca­demia in Europe?

DSR:   Very. Even more bureaucratic.

IN:      Even more? OK, I would think the opposite.

DSR:   Well, it depends on where you are. Stony Brook was not bur­eau­crat­ic nor was Toronto.

IN:      What did you like about Amer­ic­an aca­demia that was dif­fer­ent from Europe?

DSR:   Well, there were cer­tainly a lot of stu­dents, very inter­ested and attempt­ing to get into these stud­ies. And, well, I knew Dav­id Jack­son, for instance, as a stu­dent. He was­n’t my stu­dent, but he did attend my lec­tures and then I brought him to Ham­burg for one year. When I left Ham­burg, he took over.

Then there’s Paul Nietupski, you know him?

IN:      Yes.

DSR:   He was a stu­dent of mine in Seattle. A very nice man, and I think doing very inter­est­ing work.

IN:      How do you remem­ber your teach­ing at Seattle? Your time there?

DSR:   Well, the teach­ing part was alright, but try­ing to organ­ise any­thing was rather difficult.

IN:      Why was it difficult?

DSR:  Per­haps I was attempt­ing to do too much, per­haps that was some­what the situ­ation. Too much before it was time.

IN:      Did you like teaching?

DSR:   Oh yes, the sem­in­ar type teach­ing, which I came to know at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, that type of teach­ing. I think giv­ing form­al lec­tures is, well I have done it, actu­ally, as the Vis­it­ing Pro­fess­or at the Collège de France, that’s what one does, and as a pro­fess­or too, unfortunately.

I don’t much hold by lec­tures. They are valu­able, but not through­out a year. If you invite some­body to give say a series of three, four, five, six lec­tures, that’s one thing, but you can­’t have a prop­er rela­tion­ship, I don’t find, in a teach­ing envir­on­ment which con­sists of young stu­dents, first or second year, advanced stu­dents, fifth, sixth, sev­enth year, and then lec­tur­ers sit­ting around a table, which is what happened as I described with Brough. I was in my first year, Allen was an advanced schol­ar, and Brough was a mas­ter in his field.

IN:      Was your stay in the USA some­how influ­en­tial on you?

DSR:   I sup­pose so, yes. It could not be otherwise.

IN:      In what way?

DSR:   It’s too dif­fi­cult to describe. One could see how oth­er people work, how oth­er insti­tu­tions are set up, but they do fall through in the United States. Everything goes through an upheav­al every five or 10 years, except in very few places. At Har­vard and at Yale there were estab­lished chairs, but at places like Seattle they had to anpass (adapt in Ger­man)it would be said in Ger­man to be polite, every few years, which I think is not the way to do things. You have to fol­low through, fol­low up and fol­low through. That the Amer­ic­ans have dif­fi­culty under­stand­ing. Everything is innov­a­tion and dis­rup­tion there. Even in the schol­arly field. Those who feel that way inclined respond by becom­ing overpedantic.

IN:      What happened after your time at Seattle?

DSR:   I went to Hamburg.

Position at the University of Hamburg and memories of students

IN:      How was Hamburg?

DSR:   Well, that was a very good insti­tute, with [Lam­bert] Schmithausen in Buddhist Stud­ies and [Albrecht] Wez­ler in Sanskrit.

IN:      Was there also Michael Hahn?

DSR:   No longer, he had already left for, well, he was in Bonn and then in Marburg.

IN:      Did you teach at Hamburg?

DSR:   Yes, of course.

IN:      Who do you regard as your most import­ant stu­dents through­out your career?

DSR:   Well, I won’t say they are my stu­dents exclus­ively, for instance, they’d also be

Schmithausen’s too as we’d share the same stu­dents. He used to have Japan­ese schol­ars come and go usu­ally, Mimaki [Kit­sumi] used to spend time in Ham­burg. So, I worked with Mimaki.

IN:      Can you say some­thing about work­ing with him?

DSR:   Well, he was an out­stand­ing, ser­i­ous, and com­pet­ent schol­ar, and I think his pub­lic­a­tions are excellent.

IN:      Did you also spend some time in Japan?

DSR:   I have been to Japan twice, but only for short peri­ods, only for a mat­ter of weeks or even days for con­fer­ences. The Tibet­o­lo­gic­al con­fer­ence in 1988, I think, 1989, rather.

IN:      How do you remem­ber your time there?

DSR:   Fas­cin­at­ing, of course. I have a num­ber of col­leagues there, in addi­tion to Mimaki, who was the young­est. There was Hat­tori, Kajiyama [Yui­chi], and of course Nagao [Gadjin], but they were from dif­fer­ent place. Most of them were from Kyoto at that time. I did know the Tokyo people too, Nakamura [Hajime] and some of his young­er colleagues.

IN:      Were you also involved in the begin­nings of the IATS?

DSR:   Well, yes. I was in Oxford, of course, and atten­ded sev­er­al of their con­fer­ences. Actu­ally, they asked me to become pres­id­ent at one time, but I had to decline because I was mov­ing from place to place.

The International Association of Buddhist Studies

IN:      What about the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation for Buddhist Stud­ies (IABS), where I think you are an hon­or­ary member?

DSR:   Well, I was the pres­id­ent for eight years. When I became pres­id­ent, it needed to be revived some­what. That took a lot of work. I’ve men­tioned already Alex­an­der Mac­don­ald, he was the sec­ret­ary, I was the pres­id­ent. Then when he retired because he felt he was too old, which he was­n’t but he felt he was, Oskar von Hinüber became the sec­ret­ary. So, I worked with both of them. The first term with Alex­an­der Mac­don­ald, the second with von Hinüber.

IN:      Which year was this?

DSR:   1991–1999.

IN:      Could you see some devel­op­ment with­in the association?

DSR:   Well, we were able to re-estab­l­ish it on a firm basis, and then Cristina Scherrer-Schaub’s

con­tri­bu­tion, an import­ant contribution.

IN:      The asso­ci­ation star­ted in the 1970s?

DSR:   Yes, or even before, late 1960s, I think 1968.

IN:      Were you some­how involved in this?

DSR:   Not the first meet­ing, no.

IN:      How would you say the asso­ci­ation has changed over time?

DSR:   Well, it has become awfully large. I don’t know how many mem­bers there are now, but we’re get­ting on to a 1000. So, the meet­ings now are really rather unman­age­able. I mean, you simply can­’t fol­low all that’s going on. It’s nice when the meet­ings are smal­ler, say up to 100 people, and that’s already a lot. It’s even bet­ter when there are only 20 or 30 at a spe­cial meet­ing, at a col­loqui­um. Then one is able to attend all the con­tri­bu­tions, all the papers.

IN:      Apart from the size, what would you say were the major developments?

DSR:   As I say, the journ­al, owing to Cristin­a’s con­tri­bu­tion. She became the pres­id­ent for one

term after­wards. Now she’s the chair­man in Switzer­land. She is Swiss.

IN:      And the gen­er­al approach to Buddhism with­in Buddhist Stud­ies, has it changed over time?

DSR:   Well, yes, it’s been evolving cer­tainly. The art­icles are of mixed stand­ard; some of them

are import­ant found­a­tion­al art­icles, oth­ers are not. There’s an awful lot that’s been pub­lished because people don’t have prop­er advice in their uni­ver­sit­ies. I’ve found this is a great problem.

People write on the tathāgatagarbha the­ory, talk­ing utter non­sense some­times. Because they haven’t been prop­erly guided by anybody.

IN:      Do you see that often?

DSR:   Yes, unfortunately.

To begin with, I think it’s a good thing with one’s first pub­lic­a­tions to show them to a seni­or schol­ar and just talk about them, listen care­fully to any cri­ti­cism and guid­ance. I was for­tu­nate in being able to have that up to a point. I would have liked even more; one becomes rather greedy.

IN:      Over the years, have you observed changes in the IATS?

DSR:   Well, as I said, since it’s gone online, I don’t have any con­tact with it any­more because I

simply can­not read things online. I haven’t atten­ded their con­fer­ences recently; they don’t invite me. I can­’t travel any­more, unfor­tu­nately, oth­er­wise I would go. Everything is done online now. I haven’t received an invit­a­tion in years and years.

IN:      When were you asked to be pres­id­ent of the IATS?

DSR:   At the first meet­ing, but as I said, I was mov­ing about so could­n’t [accept]. I was cer­tainly inter­ested, but bet­ter not.

IN:      Who became the president?

DSR:   I’m not very sure who the first pres­id­ent was. I think it was [Tur­rell] Wylie.

IN:      Yes, you are right. Could you tell us some more about the devel­op­ment of the IATS?

DSR:   Well, I really can­’t because I’ve been out of touch with it. I gave a paper there in 2003 but that’s the last ses­sion I attended.

IN:      What about the dif­fer­ence between the IATS in Oxford in 1979 and again in Oxford in 2003?

DSR:   I don’t remem­ber wheth­er there were any oth­ers or not for me, I can­’t recall. I may have been to one oth­er. I did­n’t go to the Munich one, the one in Hohen­kam­mer. Actu­ally, there was one in Van­couver, which I did­n’t go to.

Memories of family, growing up in the USA, and seeing Shakabpa in New York

IN:      I, and oth­ers, are puzzled with your name. What’s the ori­gin of your fam­ily name?

DSR:   Yes, they seem to have a prob­lem with it. Ruegg is a Swiss name, from Zürich.

IN:      Does your fam­ily go back to Switzerland?

DSR:   Not any­more. They used to, of course. My fath­er did. My grand­fath­er, of course, main­tained close rela­tion­ships. I spend time in Switzer­land myself from time to time, I wanted to see the Tibetan com­munit­ies there.

The Sey­fort part was my mother­’s name, actu­ally. We’ve added it to Ruegg, which was my father­’s name.

IN:      Sey­fort is also a name in the Czech Repub­lic, it’s not that uncommon.

DSR:   It ori­gin­ally was Sei­fried. Dur­ing the First World War, you can under­stand, it became Seyfort.

IN:      I assume it is a Ger­man surname?

DSR:   Yes, it’s Ger­man, but not exclus­ively, not only Ger­man. As you said, it’s [also] Czech. It’s not Swiss as far as I know.

Speak­ing of names, in Bri­tain people have a spe­cial prob­lem with the names of con­tin­ent­al schol­ars. There was Louis de La Vallée-Poussin and they nev­er knew wheth­er they should put it under ‘P’. His pupils would refer to him as Prof Poussin, which, of course, is ridiculous.

IN:      The Bodlei­an Lib­rary has your works under ‘R’.

DSR:   Well, that’s pos­sible. There should be a ref­er­ence to ‘Sey­fort Ruegg’. The But­on book was pub­lished under the name of Ruegg only.

IN:      Can I ask you where you grew up?

DSR:   Well, mostly, I was born in Amer­ica, vari­ous parts of Amer­ica, New York and New Mex­ico. It was in New Mex­ico and Boston, New York that I first developed these interests [in Tibetan Stud­ies], when I was 12. There was Coomaraswamy col­lec­tion at the Boston Museum, a col­lec­tion of Indi­an sculp­tures, which I found very inter­est­ing. Then in New York, of course, I remem­ber see­ing Shak­abpa on the street, the Tibetan del­eg­a­tion to the UN in 1948. I was on a bus and saw this per­son in Tibetan dress.

IN:      What did you think?

DSR:   Well, I was already inter­ested. I knew about the del­eg­a­tion to the UN. Yes, it must have been 1948.

IN:      That was in New York?

DSR:   Yes. Well, the UN was still at Lake Pla­cid then, but people came to New York first and then went up to Lake Pla­cid, which was­n’t ter­ribly far away. It’s a resort, which they turned into the first home of the UN before the sky­scraper was built. I don’t know when the sky­scraper was com­pleted, prob­ably in the very early 1950s.

IN:      Was Shak­abpa the first Tibetan you saw?

DSR:   Alive, yes.

IN:      He was the only Tibetan?

DSR:   No, he had people with him, but I know he was the lead­er of the Tibetan delegation.

IN:      A very inter­est­ing encounter.

DSR:   Yes, it was rather strange. On the 5th aven­ue bus.

IN:      When you were grow­ing up was there a pres­ence of Asi­an cul­ture in your house through your mother?

DSR:   Through my moth­er def­in­itely, yes. My fath­er had been in Japan.

IN:      Why did he go there?

DSR:   Because of his business.

IN:      What kind of business?

DSR:   Tex­tiles.

IN:      So, the Asi­an cul­ture was quite strong then?

DSR:   Well, it was present. There were Chinese and Japan­ese objects of art in the house. Then my moth­er, although she did­n’t yet have any Indi­an ones, those she got later. That’s one of hers over the fireplace.

IN:      It’s very nice and put into the clas­sic­al format, tra­di­tion­al hanging.

DSR:   Well, that’s Japan­ese style, actu­ally. What’s it called, kake­mono. 

IN:      Did you have any siblings?

DSR:   Yes, I have a sis­ter, who also stud­ied Sanskrit.

IN:      Where did she study?

DSR:   At Harvard.

IN:      She did­n’t become a Sanskritist?

DSR:   No, she mar­ried. She main­tained an interest but not a pro­fes­sion­al interest.

IN:      So, the whole fam­ily were some­how engaged?

DSR:   Yes, mem­bers of the fam­ily had Indi­an con­nec­tions from the end of the eight­eenth cen­tury onwards. That was­n’t uncommon.

IN:      Would you say that there was a con­sid­er­able num­ber of people inter­ested in Asia at the time?

DSR:   Oh, well yes. That was noth­ing new, that was the case already. It began in the eight­eenth cen­tury, I would say. At the very end of the sev­en­teenth, actu­ally. Even in Greek times and Roman times there were con­nec­tions. Then it became estab­lished as a fach (sub­ject in Ger­man) in Ger­many in the 1800s, early 1800s.

IN:      Were your par­ents the first gen­er­a­tion in their respect­ive fam­il­ies to be con­nec­ted to Asia?

DSR:   No, as I said, from the end of the eight­eenth cen­tury on. I don’t think it had any dir­ect influ­ence on the people con­cerned, on my grandparents.

IN:      Your grand­par­ents wer­en’t engaged like your parents?

DSR:   No, not a bit. Not a bit.

IN:      Do you know how your par­ents became interested?

DSR:   Well, my moth­er through the art, also the Indi­an dance.

IN:      Did she dance?


DSR:   She did her­self, yes. But not Indi­an style, school I mean.

I see you have a very wide interest and know­ledge of some of these things. It’s good.

IN:      Well, I find it interesting.

DSR:   It’s inter­est­ing. As you work through the years as a schol­ar, you’ll find these flashes that occur when one’s very young solid­i­fy later.

IN:      I find all this very inter­est­ing. Pro­fess­or Sey­fort Ruegg, is there some­thing else you’d like to add about your life?

DSR:   Speak­ing of the dance, a friend of my mother’s and myself, Alice Boner, a Swiss lady, was the per­son who helped bring Uday Shank­ar to Par­is in the 1930s.

IN:      Very inter­est­ing, these connections.

DSR:   Yes. As I said, it’s like the threads of a tex­tile. Sep­ar­ate threads that are uncon­nec­ted which become con­nec­ted once put in a tex­tile. In a kind of way, the tex­tile, one­self [is] profit­ing, bene­fit­ing from these threads, which take on a form, a silent form.

I’ve nev­er been inter­ested in writ­ing these things down, so it’s dis­con­nec­ted jot­tings in my case. That’s per­haps why I haven’t been able to give you a ter­ribly inter­est­ing inter­view, I don’t know.

IN:      It’s very inter­est­ing. Do you know how your fath­er became a trader in Japan­ese textiles?

DSR:   No, he was­n’t a trader in Japan­ese tex­tiles. He was Swiss and in the silk busi­ness, which was very import­ant in ZürichLyon and Switzer­land were the two centres.

Reflections on career, biggest challenges, achievements, and contributions 

IN:      I have some con­clud­ing ques­tions, which we ask every­one we inter­view. The first is, what has your career in Indo-Tibetan Stud­ies giv­en to you in your life?


DSR:   My life, I would say. The answer is quite simple, my life. It’s been a mar­vel­lous adven­ture; adven­ture in the best sense.

IN:      What do you find the most inter­est­ing and most chal­len­ging in your work?

DSR:   When I’m work­ing on a sub­ject that, for the time being, is the focus. I recog­nise a very wide range of interests, some of which I’ve been able to explore, oth­ers I haven’t. But I recog­nise them, nevertheless.

IN:      What did you find the most chal­len­ging dur­ing your work?

DSR:   Well, on the cul­tur­al level, for instance, the yönchö (yon mchod) rela­tion­ship, and this book I wrote on the sym­bi­os­is of Buddhism with the oth­er reli­gions of the area in which it developed. Anoth­er book which has led to com­plete mis­ap­pre­hen­sions and so forth. The review that appeared of it in the Journ­al of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety was utterly laugh­able. People had no idea what I was talk­ing about. People have the most rigid and ele­ment­ary notions of things.

I think the ques­tion of the rela­tion­ship between Hinduism and Buddhism is a fas­cin­at­ing one, and I’m not a fol­low­er of [Alex­is] Sander­son, at all. But [he] has been instru­ment­al, per­haps, in his use of the word ‘bor­row­ing’ less, and he speaks of ‘text-flow’, which I think is a much bet­ter concept, much bet­ter. But he does­n’t under­stand how Indi­an civil­iz­a­tion worked, I don’t think. Although he was the pro­fess­or at All Souls [Col­lege, Uni­ver­sity of Oxford] of Ori­ent­al reli­gions, I think.

His whole ques­tion of bor­row­ing, well, per­haps his notion of bor­row­ing is dif­fer­ent from mine, but for me bor­row­ing means a depend­ence, and this kind of bor­row­ing is, if it’s bor­row­ing, cre­at­ive. To begin with the Buddhists are Indi­ans or in India, then Tibetans in Tibet. So, you can­’t say the Tibetans have bor­rowed from Bon or from the pre-Buddhist tra­di­tions of Tibet. Being Tibetans, they nat­ur­ally inher­it that along with Buddhism, which they are very well aware of the ori­gins of.

In fact, I find it fas­cin­at­ing, what the Tibetans did with Buddhism. I think is utterly remark­able, and also admir­able. It’s not purely his­tor­ic­al. Although they were the world’s first Indo­lo­gists, as I once wrote, a slight exag­ger­a­tion to say the least.

They com­pletely absorbed Indi­an texts. For instance, there’s Tsongkhapa, who nev­er went to India, oth­ers did, of course, but he nev­er went, yet he has a view for under­stand­ing the prob­lems of the Mad­hya­maka, but from his time. In oth­er words, a much more advanced form of Mad­hya­maka that was actu­ally attested, expli­citly in India. It’s poten­tially, I think, in Nāgār­juna, and even in Chandrakīrti, but above all in Nāgār­juna. I feel, in a way, he was very faith­ful to Nāgār­juna, although from anoth­er point of view he was very innov­at­ive and made a major con­tri­bu­tion. But you may know my art­icle on that sub­ject. That was my paper [at the IATS] in Oxford in 2003.

IN:      What do you con­sider your biggest contributions?

DSR:   Well, as I said, the yönchö book, I think, is very import­ant. The book isn’t final, I don’t pre­tend it’s defin­it­ive any more than I regard my book on the sym­bi­os­is of Buddhism with Hinduism and the loc­al cults, you might say, of Tibet, for instance the moun­tain cult, to be com­pletely absorbed into it. It’s not some­thing oth­er, it’s part of daily prac­tice of Buddhism, but not part of Indi­an Buddhism, obvi­ously. At least not in the same way, if it’s there. There may be pre­curs­ors there, but pre­curs­ors they would be. It’s an enorm­ous sub­ject, one would have to write sev­er­al books on the subject.

IN:      What do you regard as your most sig­ni­fic­ant aca­dem­ic contribution?

DSR:   Well, in a way, the tathāgatagarbha work. Though it was a rather early work.

The rela­tion­ship of Buddhism with Hinduism, Brah­min­ism, all the pre-Buddhist tra­di­tions of Tibet, it involves a very inter­est­ing pair of cat­egor­ies. Do you know Sanskrit?

IN:      A little bit.

DSR:   In Sanskrit it’s called, laukika and lokot­tara, two cat­egor­ies, jiktenpa (‘jig rten pa) and jikten­lé dépa (‘jig rten las ‘das pa) [in Tibetan]. That was my work, it was not anthro­po­lo­gic­al and, above all, not soci­olo­gic­al, but his­tor­ic­al philo­lo­gic­al. So, I was fol­low­ing up, not using but fol­low­ing up, the ques­tion of the laukika and lokot­tara, oppos­i­tions and at the same time com­pli­ment­ary, and even inter­pen­et­ra­tion because in Tibet, as you prob­ably noticed, a loc­al divin­ity can finally become a yidam (yi dam, tutelary deity) some­times. These are struc­tur­ally opposed cat­egor­ies but not socially opposed cat­egor­ies, any more than the spir­itu­al author­ity and cent­ral author­ity, they are socially opposed, yes, but not struc­tur­ally. How to put it, they are com­pli­ment­ary in the Indi­an and the Tibetan view.

So, the jiktenpa and jikten­lé dépa dis­tinc­tion is some­times one of oppos­i­tion, even hos­til­ity, it can be, but some­times, as I just men­tioned, a loc­al divin­ity will finally become a yidam. Espe­cially in East Tibet, as far as we know, but per­haps that’s because more stud­ies have been devoted to this ques­tion in East­ern Tibet. Prob­ably the same thing hap­pens in Cent­ral and West­ern Tibet too, probably.

I think that all of this con­cep­tion­al­ist comes from Buddhist-Bon sub­straten, I use the word ‘sub­straten’ for lack of a bet­ter word, in the West­ern Him­alay­as. I think that’s where it had its ori­gin. Not enough mater­i­al is avail­able to me, or per­haps to any­body else, so far. One would have to bring togeth­er a great deal of mater­i­al, there may be by now enough mater­i­al to work on that.

Tucci, you see, was going in that dir­ec­tion in his big art­icle in East and West. I’m afraid I’ve for­got­ten the name. He was explor­ing these aven­ues. Of course, for polit­ic­al reas­ons he was not able to vis­it many of those areas. He even had dif­fi­culties in Tibet itself. He had an insight into these things. Some­what rather super­fi­cial, you might say, from the point of view of the later work that’s been done on it but, nat­ur­ally, as a pion­eer, he had to move quickly over the sur­face. I think his insights were cer­tainly up to value.

Memories of Giuseppe Tucci

IN:      Did you ever meet Tucci?

DSR:   Yes.

IN:      How do you remem­ber him?

DSR:   A dynam­ic per­son, to say the least.

IN:      When and where did you meet him?

DSR:   Well, I’ve been in the same area as him, in the peri­phery. The first meet­ing was not per­son­al, it was his col­lec­tion, the Musée Cernus­chi in Par­is in 1951, I think it was. He exhib­ited his col­lec­tion of tangka [paint­ings]I was nat­ur­ally very impressed by that.

Then I wrote my book on But­on, and I sent it to him and asked if he would make any sug­ges­tions and cor­rec­tions, and at the same time ask­ing him if he would be inter­ested in pub­lish­ing it. He said he would, and he did in the Estremo Ori­ente series.

So, I went to see him in 1961 in Rome. He received me in his flat. Yes, he was an impress­ive per­son. He was almost a force of nature, one might say. But he was able to organ­ise, but all that’s fallen apart now in Italy. His centre, his museum was abol­ished in the [Silvio] Ber­lusconi era. There is a museum but it’s elsewhere.

IN:      Where is it?

DSR:   It’s in Rome, but I haven’t been there. And his lib­rary, of course, is still there and is being cata­logued by his disciples.

To return to this ques­tion of the, what I call, mundane. Either the supra­mundane or the trans­mundane, and the inter­re­la­tion­ship between them, I think, is a major top­ic of interest. But nobody seems to have been able to under­stand it. Well, I won’t say nobody, Tourni­er, Vin­cent Tourni­er under­stood it cor­rectly, but so many people just turned it into non­sense because of too much influ­ence, I’m going to be frank now, too much influ­enced by soci­ology and anthro­po­logy, West­ern style. They do the work of Pro­crustes, they all too often cut bits of the Buddhist or Hindu or whatever tra­di­tion, or they stretch it on the bed. So, Pro­crustes is, I find, anthro­po­logy and soci­ology has been much too Pro­crustean. Of course, it’s becom­ing less so, and all anthro­po­lo­gists are cer­tainly not Pro­crustean. I mean, already years ago [there were] import­ant exceptions.

I think the basic meth­od­o­logy remains the his­tor­ic­al philo­lo­gic­al. Without that, it’s hope­less. Most of the soci­olo­gists and anthro­po­lo­gists did­n’t think it was neces­sary to learn the lan­guages prop­erly. At least the lit­er­ary lan­guages, they might be able to speak the pelké (phal skad, ver­nacu­lar Tibetan) but not the chöké (chos skad, form­al lit­er­ary and reli­gious style). They did­n’t read the chöké. Mac­don­ald was an excep­tion; he had some very import­ant points. I don’t see eye-to-eye with so many oth­ers. I think using words like ‘bor­row­ing’ in the case of Sander­son and oth­er mis­nomers, ‘nihil­ism’ in the case of Mad­hya­maka, it just makes non­sense of these systems.

IN:      Would this be your answer to the ques­tion on your most sig­ni­fic­ant aca­dem­ic contribution?

DSR:   The con­flu­ence of these vari­ous strands again. The chöyöone, the sym­bi­os­is one, the tathāgatagarbha book, and my work on the Madhyamaka.

IN:      Pro­fess­or Sey­fort Ruegg, I did­n’t ask you what sub­jects you taught?

DSR:   Well, always related to Sanskrit or Tibetan cul­ture and philosophy.

IN:      You taught Sanskrit as a language?

DSR:   Both. I don’t make the dis­tinc­tion, you see. The lan­guage and what’s writ­ten in the lan­guage are intim­ately connected.

IN:      And then you taught Tibetan?

DSR:   Yes. Sanskrit more than Tibetan, but still Tibetan also.

IN:      What did you like to teach the most?

DSR:   I rather liked the namtars because the oth­er works were too dif­fi­cult for most stu­dents, and even some­times for the pro­fess­or to com­mu­nic­ate prop­erly. Mad­hya­maka texts can be very difficult.

IN:      What do you like about namtars in gen­er­al?

DSR:   Well, I said to you early, they pro­ject one into life of the mon­as­tery or the place or the time, and so on. But­on’s time in the case of the But­on namtar, Tsongkhapa’s time in the case of his bio­graphy, there’s no auto­bi­o­graphy as far as I know. In But­on’s, there’s a part of the auto­bi­o­graphy that’s rather nice, then it’s con­tin­ued by his disciple.

IN:      Are there top­ics you’d still like to pur­sue and research?

DSR:   Oh, I still do nat­ur­ally think about it. I’m still work­ing on prob­lems con­nec­ted with the tathāgatagarbha, but more from the more gen­er­al, com­par­at­ive point of view. For instance, in an art­icle, which is still to appear, on innov­a­tion in rela­tion to tra­di­tion. I do not oppose tra­di­tion and innov­a­tion. I think tra­di­tion remains alive through innov­a­tion, partly, not exclus­ively, but partly. Tra­di­tion allows for innov­a­tion, but not dis­rup­tion. This dis­tinc­tion is not clearly enough made, and that’s what my art­icle will be about.

A message for future generations of students and researchers

IN:      As we con­duct this pro­ject for con­tem­por­ary and future research­ers and stu­dents, do you have a mes­sage for them?

DSR:   Well, what I’ve been telling you, I sup­pose. Don’t be Pro­crustean, don’t stretch things and don’t chop things. In oth­er words, use the emic meth­od first and then, if you wish, the etic meth­od. But you can­’t use the etic without mas­ter­ing the emic first, in my view. The best way for the emic is the his­tor­ic­al philo­lo­gic­al. While the etic view could well be in soci­ology, in anthro­po­logy, and oth­er things.

In oth­er words, don’t mis­handle your sources in the sense that you dis­tort them. Leave them, absorb them, agree with them or not as the case may be, you may dis­agree with them, that’s anoth­er mat­ter, and you can say so, of course. But don’t try to make them fit an Iron Maiden.

Additional info



  1. Con­tri­bu­tions à l’his­toire de la philo­soph­ie lin­guistique indi­enne. Pub­lic­a­tions de l’In­sti­tut de Civil­isa­tion Indi­enne (Sor­bonne, Par­is), Fas­cicule 7.  133 pp.  Par­is, E. de Boc­card, 1959.  (= Thèse, École Pratique des Hautes Études, Sor­bonne, 1957.)
  2. The life of Bu ston Rin po che. Serie Ori­entale Roma, Volume XXXIV. XVIII + 192 pp., fac­sim­ile plates.  Rome, Isti­tuto Itali­ano per il Medio ed Estremo Ori­ente, 1966.
  3. The study of Indi­an and Tibetan thought: Some prob­lems and per­spect­ives. Inaug­ur­al Lec­ture, Chair of Indi­an Philo­sophy, Buddhist Stud­ies and Tibetan, Uni­ver­sity of Leiden.  48 pp.  Leiden, Brill, 1967.
  4. La théor­ie du tath­­āgatagarbha et du gotra: Études sur la sotéri­olo­gie et la gnoséo­lo­gie du bouddhisme. Pub­lic­a­tions de l’É­cole française d’Ex­trême-Ori­ent, Volume LXX.  531 pp.  Par­is, École française d’Ex­trême-Ori­ent, 1969.
  5. Le traité du tathāgatagarbha de Bu ston Rin chen grub. Pub­lic­a­tions de l’É­cole française d’Ex­trême-Ori­ent, Volume LXXXVIIIXII + 162 pp.  Par­is, École française d’Ex­trême-Ori­ent, 1973.
  6. The lit­er­at­ure of the Mad­hya­maka school of philo­sophy in India. His­tory of Indi­an Lit­er­at­ure, ed. J. Gonda, Volume VII, Fasc. 1.  IX + 166 pp.  Wies­baden, Otto Har­rassow­itz, 1981.
  7. Buddha-nature, Mind and the prob­lem of Gradu­al­ism in a com­par­at­ive per­spect­ive: On the trans­mis­sion and recep­tion of Buddhism in India and Tibet. (Jordan Lec­tures 1987.) 219 pp.  Lon­don, School of Ori­ent­al and Afric­an Stud­ies (Uni­ver­sity of Lon­don), 1989.
  8. Ordre spirituel et ordre tem­porel dans la pensée bouddhique de l’Inde et du Tibet. Collège de France, Pub­lic­a­tions de l’In­sti­tut de Civil­isa­tion Indi­enne, Fas­cicule 64. 172 pp.  Par­is, Édi­­tion-Dif­­fu­­sion de Boccard,1995.
  9. Stud­ies in Indi­an and Tibetan Mad­hya­maka thought, Part 1. Three stud­ies in the his­tory of Indi­an and Tibetan Mad­hya­maka philo­sophy. Wien­er Stud­i­en zur Tibet­o­lo­gie und Buddhis­muskunde, Heft 50. XIV+322 pp. Vienna, Arbeit­skre­is für Tibet­ische und Buddhistische Stud­i­en, Uni­versität Wien, 2000.
  10. Stud­ies in Indi­an and Tibetan Mad­hya­maka thought, Part 2. Two pro­leg­om­ena to Mad­hya­maka philo­sophy: Candrakīrti’s Prasannapadā Mad­hya­makavṛt­tiḥ on Mad­hya­makakārikā I.1 and Tsoṅ kha pa Blo bzaṅ grags pa/rGyal tshab Dar ma Rin chen’s dKa’ gnad/gnas brgy­ad kyi zin bris. Wien­er Stud­i­en zur Tibet­o­lo­gie und Buddhis­muskunde, Heft 54.  XIV+299 pp.  Vienna, Arbeit­skre­is für Tibet­ische und Buddhistische Stud­i­en,  Uni­versität Wien, 2002.
  11. The sym­bi­os­is of Buddhism with Brahmanism/Hinduism in South Asia and of Buddhism with ‘loc­al cults’ in Tibet and the Him­alay­an region. Öster­reichis­che Akademie der Wis­senschaften, Philo­soph­isch-His­t­or­is­che Klasse, Sitzungs­berichte, 774. Band (Beiträge zur Kul­tur- und Geistes­geschichte Asi­ens, Nr. 58, Wien, 2008).
  12. The Buddhist philo­sophy of the Middle. 442 pages. [Reset reprint of selec­ted art­icles from 1963 to 2006 on the Indo-Tibetan Mad­hya­maka, with the addi­tion of a gloss­ary and indexes.]  Boston  MA, 2010.


  1. Védique addhā et quelques expres­sions par­allèles à tathāgata. Journ­al asi­atique, 1955, pp. 163–170.
  2. The term buddhi­vi­par­iṇāma and the prob­lem of illus­ory change. Indo-Ira­n­i­an Journ­al 2 (1958), pp. 271–283.
  3. Review art­icle of: Gaur­inath Sastri, Philo­sophy of word and mean­ing. Indo-Ira­n­i­an Journ­al 4 (1960), pp. 173–179.
  4. Vārṣagaṇya and the Yogācār­ab­hūmi. Indo-Ira­n­i­an Journ­al 6 (1962), pp. 137–140.
  5. A pro­pos of a recent con­tri­bu­tion to Tibetan and Buddhist stud­ies. Jour­nal of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 82 (1962), pp. 320–331.
  6. The Jo naṅ pas, A school of Buddhist onto­lo­gists. Journ­al of the Amer­ican Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 83 (1963), pp. 73–91.

Reprin­ted (with no proofs sup­plied for cor­rec­tion) in: P.Williams (ed.), Buddhism, Crit­ic­al con­cepts in reli­gious stud­ies, Vol. 6 (Lon­don, 2005), pp. 363–91.

  1. Sur les rap­ports entre le bouddhisme et le «sub­strat reli­gieux» indi­en et tibé­tain. Journ­al asi­atique, 1964, pp. 77–95.
  2. On a Yoga treat­ise in Sanskrit from Qïzïl. Journ­al of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 87 (1967), pp. 157–163.
  3. Ārya and Bhad­anta Vimuktis­ena on the gotra the­ory of the Pra­jñāpāram­itā. Beiträge zur Geistes­geschichte Indi­ens: Fest­s­chrift für Erich Frauwall­ner = Wien­er Zeits­chrift für die Kunde Süd- und Ostas­i­ens 12–13 (1968), pp. 303–317.
  4. The dGe lugs pa the­ory of the tathāgatagarbha. In: Pratidā­nam, Stud­ies presen­ted to F. B. J. Kuiper (Janua Lin­guar­um, Series Maior 34), pp. 500–509. The Hag­ue, Mouton, 1968.
  5. Le Dhar­mad­hātustava de Nāgār­juna. In: Études tibé­taines dédiées à la mém­oire de Mar­celle Lalou, pp. 448–471. Par­is, Lib­rair­ie d’Amérique et d’Ori­ent Adrien Mais­on­neuve, 1971.
  6. On the know­ab­il­ity and express­ib­il­ity of abso­lute real­ity in Buddhism. Indogaku Bukkyōgaku Ken­kyū (Journ­al of Indi­an and Buddhist Stud­ies) 20/1 (1971), pp. 1–7.
  7. Ded­ic­a­tion to Th. Stch­er­b­at­sky. Journ­al of Indi­an Philo­sophy 1 (1971), pp. 213–216.
  8. On Rat­nakīrti Journ­al of Indi­an Philo­sophy 1 (1971), pp. 300–309.
  9. On trans­lat­ing the Buddhist Can­on. In: Stud­ies in Indo-Asi­an art and cul­ture, Volume 5 (= Śata­p­iṭaka Series, Volume 209), ed. Per­ala Rat­nam, pp. 243–261.  New Del­hi, Inter­na­tion­al Academy of Indi­an Cul­ture, 1973.
  10. Pali gotta/gotra and the term gotrab­hū in Pali and Buddhist Sanskrit. In: Buddhist stud­ies in hon­our of I. B. Horner, ed. L. Cous­ins et al., pp. 199–210. Dordrecht, Reidel, 1974.
  11. A recent work on the reli­gions of Tibet and Mon­go­lia (on G. Tucci and W. Heis­sig, Die Reli­gion­en Tibets und der Mon­golei, Stut­tgart, 1970). T’oung Pao 61 (1975), pp. 303–324.
  12. La tra­duc­tion du can­on bouddhique selon une source tibéto-mon­gole. In: Études tibé­taines, Act­es du XXIXe Con­grès inter­na­tion­al des Ori­ent­al­istes (Par­is, 1973), pp. 61–64. Par­is, L’Asiathèque, 1976.
  13. The mean­ings of the term gotra and the tex­tu­al his­tory of the Rat­na­gotra­vibhāga. Bul­let­in of the School of Ori­ent­al and Afric­an Stud­ies 39 (1976), pp. 341–363.
  14. On the supra­mundane and the divine in Buddhism. The Tibet Journ­al 1/3–4 (1976), pp. 25–28. Reprin­ted in Buddhist and West­ern philo­sophy, ed. N. Katz, pp. 421–424. New Del­hi, Ster­ling Pub­lish­ers, 1981.
  15. La philo­soph­ie tibé­taine. In: Dieux et démons de l’Himâlaya: Art du bouddhisme lamaïque, pp. 28–31. Par­is, Édi­tions des Musées Nationaux, 1977. [Ger­man ren­der­ing, unseen and uncor­rec­ted by the author, in: Tibet, Kunst des Buddhis­mus, Munich, Haus der Kunst, 1977.]
  16. The uses of the Four Pos­i­tions of the catuṣkoṭi and the prob­lem of the descrip­tion of real­ity in Mahāyāna Buddhism. Journ­al of Indi­an Philo­sophy 5 (1977), pp. 1–71. Reprin­ted (with no proofs sup­plied for cor­rec­tion) in: P. Wil­li­ams (ed.), Buddhism, Crit­ic­al con­cepts in reli­gious stud­ies , Vol. 4 (Lon­don, 2005), pp. 213–77.
  17. The gotra, ekayāna and tathāgatagarbha the­or­ies of the Pra­jñāpāram­itā accord­ing to Dharmamitra and Abhayākaragupta. In: The Pra­jñāpāram­itā and re­lated sys­tems: Stud­ies in hon­or of Edward Conze (Berke­ley Buddhist Stud­ies Series 1), ed. L. Lan­caster et al., pp. 283–312. Berke­ley, 1977.
  18. Math­em­at­ic­al and lin­guist­ic mod­els in Indi­an thought: The case of zero and¸śūnyatā. Wien­er Zeits­chrift für die Kunde Südasi­ens 22 (1978), pp. 171–181.
  19. The study of Tibetan philo­sophy and its Indi­an sources: Notes on its his­tory and meth­ods. In: Pro­ceed­ings of the Csoma de Körös Memori­al Sym­posi­um held at Mátrafüred, Hun­gary, 24–30 Septem­ber 1976 (= Bib­lio­theca Ori­ental­is Hun­gar­ica, Volume XXIII), ed. L. Ligeti, pp. 377–391. Bud­apest, Akadémi­ai Kiadó, 1978.
  20. Ahiṃsā and veget­ari­an­ism in the his­tory of Buddhism. In: Buddhist stud­ies in hon­our of Wal­pola Rahula, pp. 234–241. Lon­don, Gor­don Frazer, 1980.
  21. On the recep­tion and early his­tory of the dBu-ma (Mad­hya­maka) in Tibet. In: Tibetan stud­ies in hon­our of Hugh Richard­son (Pro­ceed­ings of the Inter­na­tion­al Sem­in­ar on Tibetan Stud­ies, Oxford 1979), ed. M. Aris et al., pp. 277–279. Warmin­ster, Aris and Phil­lips, 1980.
  22. A fur­ther note on Pali gotrab­hū. Journ­al of the Pali Text Soci­ety 9 (1981), pp. 175–177.
  23. Autour du lTa ba’i khy­ad par de Ye šes sde. Journ­al asi­atique, Année 1981 (Numéro spé­cial: Act­es du Col­loque Inter­na­tion­al, Manuscrits et In­scriptions de Haute Asie, Par­is, 1979), pp. 207–229.
  24. Deux problèmes d’exégèse et de pratique tan­triques. In: Tan­trik and Tao­ist stud­ies in hon­our of R. A. Stein = Mélanges chinois et bouddhiques 20 (1981), pp. 212–226.
  25. Towards a chro­no­logy of the Mad­hya­maka school. In: Indo­lo­gic­al and Buddhist stud­ies, Volume in hon­our of Pro­fess­or J. W. de Jong, ed. L. Her­cus et al., pp. 505–530. Can­berra, Fac­ulty of Asi­an Stud­ies (Aus­trali­an Nation­al Uni­versity), 1982.
  26. In memori­am Arnold Kunst (1903–1981). Journ­al of Indi­an Philo­sophy 11 (1983), pp. 3–5.
  27. On the thes­is and asser­tion in the Madhyamaka/dBu ma. In: Con­tri­bu­tions on Tibetan and Buddhist reli­gion and philo­sophy, ed. E. Steinkell­ner and H. Tauscher (Wien­er Stud­i­en zur Tibet­o­lo­gie und Buddhis­muskunde, Heft 11 = Pro­ceed­ings of the Csoma de Körös Sym­posi­um held at Velm-Vienna 13–19 Septem­ber 1981, Volume 2), pp. 205–241. Vienna, Arbeit­skre­is für Tibet­ische und Buddhist­ische Stud­i­en, Uni­versität Wien, 1983.
  28. Prob­lems in the trans­mis­sion of Vajrayāna Buddhism in the West­ern Hima­laya about the year 1000. In: Stud­ies of mys­ti­cism in hon­or of the 1150th an­niversary of Kōbō-Daishi’s Nir­vāṇam = Acta Indo­lo­gica (Nar­itas­an) 6 (1984), pp. 369–381.

Revised reprint in: A. McKay (ed.), The his­tory of Tibet, Volume 2 (Lon­don, 2003), pp. 123–33.

  1. Über die Nikāy­as der Śrāva­kas und den Ursprung der philo­soph­is­chen Schu­len des Buddhis­mus nach den tibet­ischen Quel­len. In: Zur Schulzuge­hö­rig­keit von Werken der Hīnayāna-Lit­er­­at­ur, ed. H. Bech­ert, Erster Teil (= Sym­posi­en zur Buddhis­mus­forschung, III,1, Abhand­lun­gen der Akademie der Wis­senschaften in Göt­tin­gen, Philo­lo­­gisch-His­t­or­is­che Klasse, Dritte Folge, Nr. 149), pp. 111–126. Göt­tin­gen, Vand­en­hoeck und Ruprecht, 1985.
  2. Pur­port, implicature and pre­sup­pos­i­tion: Sanskrit abhiprāya and Tibetan dgoṅs pa/dgoṅs gži as her­men­eut­ic­al con­cepts. Journ­al of Indi­an Philo­sophy 13 (1985), pp. 309–325.
  3. Does the Mād­hyami­ka have a thes­is and philo­soph­ic­al pos­i­tion? In: Buddhist logic and epi­stem­o­logy, ed. B. K. Mat­ilal and R. D. Evans, pp. 229–237. Dord­recht, Reidel, 1986.
  4. An Indi­an source for the her­men­eut­ic­al term dgoṅs gži ‘inten­tion­al ground’. Journ­al of Indi­an Philo­sophy 16 (1988), pp. 1–4.
  5. A Karma bKa’ brgy­ud work on the lin­eages and tra­di­tions of the Indo-Tibetan dBu ma (Mad­hya­maka). In: Ori­entalia Iosephi Tucci memori­ae dicata (Giu­seppe Tucci Memori­al Volume, Serie Ori­entale Roma LVI), ed. G. Gnoli and L. Lan­ci­otti, Volume 3, pp. 1249–1280. Rome, Isti­tuto Itali­ano per il Medio ed Estremo Ori­ente, 1988.
  6. La pensée tibé­taine [accom­pag­né d’une tra­duc­tion du rTen ‘brel bstod pa Legs bšad sñiṅ po de Tsoṅ kha pa (pp. 1589–1591)]. In: Encyc­lopédie philo­sophique univer­selle I (L’Uni­vers philo­sophique), pub­liée sous la dir­ec­tion d’André Jac­ob. Pp. 1586–1591.  Par­is, Presses Uni­ver­si­taires de France, 1989.
  7. Allus­ive­ness and oblique­ness in Buddhist texts: saṃd­hā, saṃdhi, saṃd­hyā and abhisaṃdhi. In: Dia­lect­es dans les lit­térat­ures indo-ary­ennes, ed. C. Cail­lat (Pub­lic­a­tions de l’In­sti­tut de Civil­isa­tion Indi­enne, Fas­cicule 55), pp. 295–328. Par­is, E. de Boc­card, 1989.
  8. A Tibetan’s Odys­sey (review art­icle on H. Stod­dard, Le men­di­ant de l’Am­do, Par­is, 1985). Journ­al of the Roy­al Asi­at­ic Soci­ety, 1989, pp. 304–311.
  9. The Buddhist notion of an ‘imman­ent abso­lute’ (tathāgatagarbha) as a prob­lem in her­men­eut­ics. In: The Buddhist her­it­age (Buddh­ica Brit­an­nica, Series Con­tinua I), ed. T. Skorupski, pp. 229–245. Tring, Insti­tute of Buddhist Stud­ies, 1989.
  10. Review art­icle of D. Snellgrove, Indo-Tibetan Buddhism (Lon­don, 1987). Journ­al of the Roy­al Asi­at­ic Soci­ety, 1989, pp. 171–176.
  11. A Note on the trans­lit­er­a­tion of Tibetan. Journ­al of the Roy­al Asi­at­ic Soci­ety, 1989, pp. 176–178.
  12. On the author­ship of some works ascribed to Bhāvaviveka/Bhavya. In: Earli­est Buddhism and Mad­hya­maka, ed. D. Sey­fort Ruegg and L. Schmithausen, pp. 59–71. Leiden, Brill, 1990.
  13. mChod yon, yon mchod and mchod gnas/yon gnas: On the his­tori­ography and semantics of a Tibetan reli­­gio-social and reli­­gio-polit­ic­al concept. In: Tibet­an his­tory and lan­guage (Stud­ies ded­ic­ated to Uray Géza on his seven­tieth birth­day, Wien­er Stud­i­en zur Tibet­o­lo­gie und Buddhis­muskunde, Heft 26), ed. E. Steinkell­ner, pp. 441–453. Vienna, Arbeit­skre­is für Tibet­ische und Buddhist­ische Stud­i­en, Uni­versität Wien, 1991.  Reprin­ted in: A. McKay (ed.), The his­tory of Tibet, Volume 2 (Lon­don, 2003), pp. 362–72.
  14. On Pramāṇa-the­ory in Tsoṅ kha pa’s Mad­hya­maka philo­sophy. In: Stud­ies in the Buddhist epi­stem­o­lo­gic­al tra­di­tion, ed. E. Steinkell­ner (Öster­reich­ische Akademie der Wissen­schaften, Philo­soph­isch-His­t­or­is­che Klasse, Denk­schrift­en, 222. Band = Bei­träge zur Kul­tur- und Geistes­geschichte Asi­ens, Nr. 8), pp. 281–310. Vienna, Ver­lag der Öster­reichis­chen Akademie der Wissen­schaften, 1991.
  15. The ‘Coun­cil of Tibet’ in two early Tibetan works. In: Pro­ceed­ings of the XXXII Inter­na­tion­al Con­gress for Asi­an and North Afric­an Stud­ies (Ham­burg, 1986) (= Zeits­chrift der Deutschen Mor­gen­ländis­chen Gesell­schaft, Sup­ple­ment IX, 1992), p. 218.
  16. On the Tibetan his­tori­ography and dox­o­graphy of the ‘Great Debate’ of bSam yas. In: S. Ihara and Z. Yamagu­chi (ed.), Tibetan stud­ies: Pro­ceed­ings of the 5th Sem­in­ar of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation for Tibetan Stud­ies, Nar­ita 1989 (= Mono­graph Series of Nar­itas­an Insti­tute for Buddhist Stud­ies, Occa­sion­al Papers 2), pp. 237–244. Nar­ita, Nar­itas­an Shin­shoji, 1992.
  17. Some reflec­tions on trans­lat­ing Buddhist philo­soph­ic­al texts from San­skrit and Tibetan. Asi­at­ische Studien/Études asi­atiques 46.1 (1992) (Études bouddhiques offertes à Jacques May), pp. 367–391.
  18. Notes on some Indi­an and Tibetan reck­on­ings of the Buddha’s Nir­vāṇa and the dur­a­tion of his teach­ing. In: The dat­ing of the his­tor­ic­al Buddha/Die Datier­ung des his­tor­ischen Buddha, Part 2, ed. H. Bech­ert (Sym­posi­en zur Buddhis­mus-Forschung IV,2, Abhand­lun­gen der Akademie der Wis­senschaften in Götting­en, Philo­lo­­gisch-His­t­or­is­che Klasse, Dritte Folge, Nr. 194), pp. 263–290. Göt­tin­gen, Vand­en­hoeck und Ruprecht, 1992.

53a. Some obser­va­tions on the present and future of Buddhist stud­ies (Pres­idential Address to the Tenth Con­fer­ence of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation of Buddhist Stud­ies, UNESCO, Par­is, July 1991), Journ­al of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation of Buddhist Stud­ies 15 (1992), pp. 104–117.

53b. Some obser­va­tions on the present and future of Buddhist stud­ies.  In: Buddhist stud­ies present and future: Tenth Inter­na­tion­al Con­fer­ence of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation of Buddhist Stud­ies, ed. Ananda W. P. Gurugé, pp. 193–205.  Per­man­ent Del­eg­a­tion of Sri Lanka to Unesco, Par­is, 1992.

  1. Ahiṃsā y el veget­ari­an­ismo en la his­tor­ia de Budismo. Rev­ista de Estu­di­os Budis­tas No. 6 (1993–94), pp. 47–61. [Span­ish trans­la­tion of no. 26.]
  2. Pramāṇ­ab­hūta. *pramāṇa(bhūta)-puruṣa, pratyakṣadhar­man and sākṣātkṛta­dhar­man as epi­thets of the ṛṣi, ācārya and tathāgata in gram­mat­ic­al, epis­temological and Mad­hya­maka texts. Bul­let­in of the School of Ori­ent­al and Afric­an Stud­ies 57 (1994), pp. 303–320.
  3. La notion du voy­ant et du “Con­nais­seur Suprême” et la ques­tion de l’au­to­ri­té épistémique. Wien­er Zeits­chrift für die Kunde Südasi­ens und Archiv für indis­che Philo­soph­ie, 38 (1994), pp. 403–419.
  4. The Tan­tric cor­pus (rGy­ud ‘bum) of the Tibetan bKa’ ‘gyur accord­ing to a recent pub­lic­a­tion. (Review art­icle on: H. Eimer, Der Tan­tra-Kata­­log des Bu ston im Ver­gleich mit der Abteilung Tan­tra des tibet­ischen Kan­jur. Indica et Tibet­ica 17, Bonn, 1989.)  Buddhist Stud­ies Review 11 (1994), pp. 179–186.
  5. Some reflec­tions on the place of philo­sophy in the study of Buddhism. (Pres­id­en­tial Address.) Journ­al of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation of Buddhist Stud­ies 18 (1995), pp. 145–181.
  6. Valid­ity and author­ity, or Cog­nit­ive right­ness and prag­mat­ic effic­acy? Asi­at­ische Studien/Études asi­atiques 49 (1995), pp. 817–27.
  7. On trans­lat­ing Tibetan philo­soph­ic­al texts. In: Doboom Tulku (ed.), Buddhist trans­la­tions: Prob­lems and per­spect­ives (New Del­hi, 1995), pp. 75–86.  [Abridged ver­sion of no. 51.]
  8. Notes sur la trans­mis­sion et la récep­tion des traités de gram­maire et de lex­ico­graph­ie sanskrites dans les tra­di­tions indo-tibé­­taines. In: N. Bal­bir et G.-J. Pin­ault (ed.), Langue, style et struc­ture dans le monde indi­en — Cen­tenaire Louis Ren­ou (Bib­lio­thèque de l’É­cole Pratique des Hautes Études, Sci­ences his­toriques et philo­lo­giques, tome 334, Par­is, 1996), pp. 213–32.
  9. The Pre­­cept­or-Donor (yon mchod) rela­tion in thir­teenth-cen­tury Tibetan soci­ety and polity, its Inner Asi­an pre­curs­ors and Indi­an mod­els. In: H. Krass­er, M. T. Much and E. Steinkell­ner (ed.), Tibetan stud­ies –- Pro­ceed­ings of the 7th Sem­in­ar of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation for Tibetan Stud­ies, Graz, 1995 (Öster­reichis­che Akademie der Wis­senschaften, Philo­soph­isch-His­t­or­is­che Klasse, Denk­s­chriften, 256. Band, Vienna, 1997), vol. ii, pp. 857–72.
  10. Sanskrit-Tibetan and Tibetan-Sanskrit dic­tion­ar­ies, and some prob­lems in Indo-Tibetan philo­soph­ic­al lex­ico­graphy. In: B. Oguibén­ine (ed.), Lex­ico­graphy in the Indi­an and Buddhist cul­tur­al fields (Stu­dia Tibet­ica: Quel­len und Stud­i­en zur tibet­ischen Lex­ico­graph­ie, Vol. 4, Munich, 1998), pp. 115–142.
  11. A new pub­lic­a­tion on the date and his­tori­ography of the Buddha’s decease (nir­vāṇa): a review art­icle. (On H. Bech­ert [ed.], The dat­ing of the his­tor­ic­al Buddha/Die Datier­ung des his­tor­ischen Buddha, Parts i‑iii, Sym­posi­en zur Buddhis­mus­forschung IV/1–3, Göt­tin­gen, 1991, 1992 and 1997.) Bul­let­in of the School of Ori­ent­al and Afric­an Stud­ies 62 (1999), pp. 82–87.
  12. Remarks on the place of nar­rat­ive in the Buddhist lit­er­at­ures of India and Tibet. In: A. Cadonna (ed.), India, Tibet, China: Gen­es­is and aspects of tra­di­tion­al nar­rat­ive (Ori­entalia Vene­tiana VII, Florence, 1999), pp. 193–227.
  13. In memori­am J. W. de Jong (1921–2000), Indo-Ira­n­i­an Journ­al 43 (2000), pp. 313–17.

Reprin­ted in: H. Bode­witz and M. Hara (ed.), Gedenk­s­chrift J. W. de Jong (Stu­dia Philo­lo­gica Buddh­ica, Mono­graph Series xvii, Tokyo, 2004), pp. xiii-xvi.

  1. The con­tents, ante­cedents and influ­ence of Tsong-kha-pa’a Lam rim chen mo. In: J. Cut­ler et al. (ed.), The Great Treat­ise on the Stages of the Path to Enlight­en­ment by Tsong-kha-pa (Ithaca, 2000), pp. 17–32.
  2. On the expres­sions chan­daso āropema, āyataka gītas­sara, sar­abhañña and ārṣa as applied to the ‘Word of the Buddha’ (buddha­va­cana). In: R. Tsuchida and A. Wez­ler (ed.), Harān­an­da­la­harī (Feli­cit­a­tion volume for Pro­fess­or Minoru Hara, Rein­bek, 2000), pp. 283–306.
  3. A note on the rela­tion­ship between Buddhist and ‘Hindu’ divin­it­ies in Buddhist lit­er­at­ure and icon­o­logy: The laukika/lokottara con­trast and the notion of an Indi­an ‘Reli­gious Sub­strat­um’, in: R. Torella (ed.), Le parole e i marmi, Studi in onore di Raniero Gnoli nel suo 70o com­plean­no (Serie Ori­entale Roma XCII, Rome, 2001), pp. 735–742.
  4. The Indi­an and the Ind­ic in Tibetan cul­tur­al his­tory, and Tsoṅ kha pa’s achieve­ment as a schol­ar and thinker: An essay on the con­cepts of ‘Buddhism in Tibet’ and ‘Tibetan Buddhism’. Journ­al of Indi­an philo­sophy 32 (2004), pp. 321–43.
  5. Aspects of the study of the (earli­er) Indi­an Mahāyāna. Journ­al of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation of Buddhist Stud­ies 27 (2004), pp. 3–62.
  6. Intro­duct­ory remarks on the spir­itu­al and tem­por­al orders. In: C. Cüp­pers (ed.), The rela­tion­ship between reli­gion and state (chos srid zung ’brel) in tra­di­tion­al Tibet (Lumbini Inter­na­tion­al Research Insti­tute, Lumbini, 2004), pp. 9–13.
  7. The Kalawān cop­per-plate inscrip­tion: Early evid­ence for Mahāyāna-type think­ing? Journ­al of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation of Buddhist Stud­ies 28 (2005), pp. 3–9.
  8. The Svātan­trika-Prāsaṅ­­gika dis­tinc­tion in the his­tory of Mad­hya­maka thought. Indo-Ira­n­i­an Journ­al 49 (2006), pp. 319–346.
  9. La tra­duc­tion de la ter­min­o­lo­gie tech­nique de la pensée indi­enne et bouddhique depuis Sylvain Lévi. In: L. Bansat-Boud­on et R. Lardinois (éd.), Sylvain Lévi: Études indi­ennes, his­toire sociale. Bib­lio­thèque de l’École des Hautes Études, Sci­ences reli­gieuses 130 (His­toire et pros­opo­graph­ie de la Sec­tion des sci­ences reli­gieuses 3, Turnhout, 2007), pp. 145–171.
  10. The tem­por­al and spir­itu­al orders in the gov­ernance of Tibet and the so-called ‘priest-pat­ron rela­tion’ in Inner Asia. 2014. On the web­site .
  11. Tex­tu­al and philo­soph­ic­al prob­lems in the trans­la­tion and trans­mis­sion of tathāgatagarbha texts. The Sanskrit expres­sions avinir­muk­takleśakośa, amuktajña/amuktajñāna & tathāgatagarbha-śūnyatārthanaya, and their Tibetan trans­la­tions in the bKa’ ’gyur and bsTan ’gyur. Bul­let­in of the School of Ori­ent­al and Afric­an Stud­ies 78 (2015). Pp, 317–332.
  12. On trans­lat­ing Buddhist texts: A sur­vey and some reflec­tions. (Paper presen­ted at a Sym­posi­um held at the Uni­ver­sity of Ham­burg in July 2012.)  In: Dorji Wangchuk (ed.), Cross-cul­tur­al trans­mis­sion of Buddhist texts: The­or­ies and prac­tices of trans­la­tion (Indi­an and Tibetan Stud­ies vol. 5), Ham­burg, 2016.  Pp. 193–265.
  13. Louis de La Vallée Poussin (1869–1938). In: Gelong Lodrö Sangpo et al. (ed.), The col­lec­ted Works of Louis de La Vallée Poussin, Vol. II.1 (Vijñapti-mātratā-siddhi in Eng­lish trans­la­tion), pp. 1–22.  Del­hi, Motilal Banarsi­dass, 2017.
  14. Remarks on updat­ing, renew­al, innov­a­tion and cre­ativ­ity in the his­tory of some Indi­an and Tibetan know­ledge sys­tems and ways of thought. Forth­com­ing in a col­lect­ive volume edited by     V. Eltschinger, V. Tourni­er and M. Sernesi in 2018.




Edit­or of: Monu­menta Tibetana 1: Geshé Ngawang Nyima, Memor­anda on logic (bsDus grva’i brjed tho).  Leiden, 1970.  Pre­face, pp. i‑ii.

Edit­or of: Monu­menta Tibetana 2, Parts I‑IV: Geshé Ngawang Nyima, Intro­duc­tion to the doc­trines of the four schools of Buddhist philo­sophy (Naṅ pa’i grub mtha’ smra ba bži’i ‘dod tshul gsal bar bšad pa Blo gsar rig pa’i sgo ‘byed).  Leiden, 1970.  Pre­face, p. i.

Pre­face in: Tāranātha, Life of the Buddha and His­tor­ies of the Kāla­cakra and Tārātan­tra, pp. i‑iii.  Pub­lished by Ngawang Gelek Demo.  New Del­hi, 1971.

Ded­ic­a­tion to Th. Stch­er­b­at­sky in Journ­al of Indi­an Philo­sophy 1 (1971), pp. 213–216.

Earli­est Buddhism and Mad­hya­maka, edited by Dav­id Sey­fort Ruegg and Lam­bert Schmithausen, Pan­els of the VIIth World Sanskrit Con­fer­ence (1987).  Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1990.

Edit­or of the col­lec­tion Tibetan and Indo-Tibetan Stud­ies, Pub­lished by the Insti­tute for the Cul­ture and His­tory of India and Tibet, Uni­ver­sity of Ham­burg.  Volumes 1 (1989) through 5 (1993).  Stut­tgart, Franz Stein­er Ver­lag, 1989–1993.

Tibetan Tulkus: Images of con­tinu­ity.  Intro­duc­tion to a book of pho­to­graphs by Mar­tine Franck (Mme. Carti­er-Bresson).  Lon­don, Rossi and Rossi, 2000.  Pp. 1–3.



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  3. P. Hack­er, Vivarta: Stud­i­en zur Geschichte der illu­sion­istischen Kosmo­logie und Erken­nt­nis­the­or­ie der Inder. Wies­baden, 1953. Journ­al of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 78 (1958), pp. 81–83, with Note, ibid., p. 140.
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  6. J. Var­enne, La Mahā-Nārāy­aṇa-Upan­iṣad. Par­is, 1960. Journ­al of the Amer­ican Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 82 (1962), pp. 88–90.
  7. R. V. Joshi, Le rituel de la dévo­tion kṛṣṇaïte. Pon­di­ch­erry, 1959. Indo-Ira­n­i­an Journ­al 6 (1962), pp. 70–72.
  8. Y. Oji­hara et L. Ren­ou, La Kāśikā-Vṛtti (adhyāya I, pāda 1) traduite et com­mentée, 1re partie. Par­is, 1960. Indo-Ira­n­i­an Journ­al 6 (1962), pp. 72–73.
  9. Mar­ie-Thérèse de Mall­mann, Les ensei­gne­ments icon­o­graph­iques de l’Agni-Pur­a­na. Par­is, 1963. Indo-Ira­n­i­an Journ­al 8 (1965), pp. 226–227.
  10. B. Mukher­jee, Die Über­liefer­ung von Devad­atta, dem Wider­sach­er des Buddha in den kan­on­is­chen Schriften. München, 1966. T’oung-Pao 54 (1968), pp. 164–168.
  11. H. V. Guen­ther, Tibetan Buddhism. Leiden, 1966. T’oung-Pao 55 (1969), pp. 220–226.
  12. H. Hoff­mann, Sym­bo­l­ik der tibet­ischen Reli­gion­en und des Scham­an­is­mus. Stutt­gart, 1967. T’oung-Pao 56 (1970), pp. 338–343.
  13. Y. Oji­hara et L. Ren­ou, La Kāśikā-Vṛtti (adhyāya I, pāda I) traduite et com­mentée. 2e partie, Par­is, 1962; 3e partie, Par­is, 1967. Indo-Ira­n­i­an Jour­nal 13 (1971), p. 206.
  14. Srinivasa Ayya Srinivas­an, Vācaspatim­iśras Tat­tvakaumudī, Ein Beitrag zur Tex­tkritik bei kontamin­iert­er Über­liefer­ung. Ham­burg, 1967. Indo-Ira­n­i­an Journ­al 13 (1971), pp. 290–292.
  15. S. D. Joshi, The Sphoṭanirṇaya of Kauṇḍa Bhaṭṭa, edited with Introduc­tion, Trans­la­tion and Crit­ic­al and Exeget­ic­al Notes. Pub­lic­a­tions of the Centre of Advanced Study in Sanskrit, Uni­ver­sity of Poona, Poona, 1967. Indo-Ira­n­i­an Journ­al 13 (1971), pp. 292–295.
  16. Stu­art H. Buck, Tibetan-Eng­l­ish Dic­tion­ary. Wash­ing­ton, 1969. Linguis­tics 100 (1973), pp. 101–103.
  17. D. L. Snellgrove, Four Lamas of Dolpo. Oxford, 1967. Cent­ral Asi­at­ic Jour­nal 17 (1973), pp. 81–84.
  18. N. A. Jay­awick­rama, The sheaf of gar­lands of the epochs of the Conquer­or, being a trans­la­tion of the Jinakālamālī­prakaraṇam of Ratanapañña Thera of Thai­l­and. Lon­don, 1968. Journ­al of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 92 (1972), pp. 179–181.
  19. A. W. Mac­don­ald, Matéri­aux pour l’étude de la lit­térat­ure pop­u­laire tibé­taine I: Edi­tion et tra­duc­tion de deux manuscrits tibé­tains des “His­toires du cada­vre” (Vetāla). Par­is, 1967. Indo-Ira­n­i­an Journ­al 14 (1972), pp. 137–140.
  20. Acta Indo­lo­gica II. Nar­itas­an Shin­shoji, 1971/72. Journ­al of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 96 (1976), p. 151.
  21. M. L. Mat­ics, Enter­ing the Path of Enlight­en­ment, the Bod­hi­caryāvatāra of the Buddhist poet Śān­tideva. New York and Lon­don, 1971. Journ­al of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 97 (1977), pp. 88–89.
  22. G. Tucci, Minor Buddhist Texts III: Third Bhāvanākrama. Rome, 1971. Jour­nal of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 97 (1977), pp. 89–90.
  23. Y. Takeu­chi, Prob­leme der Versen­kung im Ur-Buddhis­mus. Leiden, 1972. Jour­nal of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 97 (1977), pp. 90–92.
  24. Sanskrit-Wör­ter­­buch der buddhistischen Texte aus den Tur­­fan-Fun­­den. Begonnen von Ernst Wald­schmidt, heraus­gegeben von der Akademie der Wissen­schaften in Göt­tin­gen unter der Lei­tung von Heinz Bech­ert, 1. Liefer­ung. Göt­tin­gen, 1973. Journ­al of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 97 (1977), pp. 550–552.
  25. M. Hahn, Can­drag­om­ins Lokān­andanāṭaka. Wies­baden, 1974. Journ­al of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 97 (1977), pp. 552–554.
  26. E. Conze, The Large Sūtra on Per­fect Wis­dom, with the divi­sions of the Abhi­samayālaṃkāra. Berke­ley, 1975. Journ­al of Indi­an Philo­sophy 5 (1977), pp. 187–189.
  27. Mar­ie-Thérèse de Mall­mann, Intro­duc­tion à l’icon­o­graph­ie du Tân­trisme bouddhique. Par­is, 1975. Journ­al of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 98 (1978), pp. 543–545.
  28. E. Lamotte, Le traité de la Grande Vertu de Sagesse de Nāgār­juna. Tome IV, Louv­ain, 1976. Journ­al of the Roy­al Asi­at­ic Soci­ety 1978, pp. 179–181.
  29. Sanskrit-Wör­ter­­buch der buddhistischen Texte aus den Tur­­fan-Fun­­den, 2. Liefer­ung. Edited by H. Bech­ert. Göt­tin­gen, 1976.  Journ­al of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 99 (1979), pp. 160–161.
  30. Saddharma-Puṇḍarīka-Sūtra (Kashgar Manu­script), edited by Prof. Dr. Lokesh Chandra with a Fore­word by Prof. Dr. H. Bech­ert. Tokyo, 1977; and
  31. Toda, Note on the Kashgar Manu­script of the Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra. Tokyo, l977. Journ­al of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 99 (1979), pp. 343–345.
  32. L. Schmithausen, Der Nir­vāṇa-Abschnitt in der Vin­iś­cay­as­aṃ­gra­haṇī der Yog­ācārabhūmiḥ. Vienna, 1969. Ori­ent­al­istische Lit­er­­at­ur-Zei­­tung 75 (1980), col. 275–276.
  33. J. W. de Jong (ed.), Nāgār­juna, Mūla­mad­hya­makakārikāḥ. Ady­ar, 1977. Indo-Ira­n­i­an Journ­al 22 (1980), pp. 247–249.
  34. E. Conze, The Pra­jñāpāram­itā lit­er­at­ure. Tokyo, 1978. Journ­al of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 101 (1981), p. 471.
  35. The sDe dge Tibetan Tripiṭaka: bsTan ‘gyur, dBu ma, volumes 1–17. Tokyo, 1977–1979. Journ­al of Indi­an Philo­sophy 9 (1981), pp. 101–103.
  36. Pad­man­abh S. Jaini, Amṛtacandrasūri’s Laghutattva­sphoṭa. Ahmedabad, 1978. Journ­al of Indi­an Philo­sophy 10 (1982), pp. 101–103.
  37. G. Ober­ham­mer, Struk­turen yogis­cher Med­it­a­tion. Vienna, 1977. Indo-Ira­n­i­an Journ­al 24 (1982), pp. 57–60.
  38. H. Eimer, rNam thar rgy­as pa, Mater­i­ali­en zu ein­er Bio­graph­ie des Atiśa (Dīpaṃkaraśrījñāna). Wies­baden, 1979. Indo-Ira­n­i­an Journ­al 24 (1982), pp. 74–76.
  39. P. S. Jaini, Sāratamā, A Pañjikā on the Aṣṭasāhas­rikā Prajñāpāram­itā Sūtra by Ācārya Rat­nākaraśānti. Pat­na, 1979. Indo-Ira­n­i­an Journ­al 24 (1982), pp. 156–157.
  40. Beiträge zur Indi­en­forschung Ernst Wald­schmidt zum 80. Geburtstag ge­widmet. Ed. H. Här­tel. Ber­lin, 1977.  Journ­al of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 103 (1983), pp. 649–650.
  41. A. Yuyama, Vinaya-Texte. (Sys­tem­at­ische Über­sicht über die bud­dhist­ische Sanskrit-Lit­er­­at­ur, Erster Teil.) Wies­baden, 1979.  Journ­al of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 103 (1983), pp. 650–651.
  42. E. Wald­schmidt, Kleinere Sanskrit-Texte III/IV. Ber­lin, 1979. Journ­al of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 103 (1983), pp. 651–652.
  43. Die Sprache der ältesten buddhistischen Überlieferung/The lan­guage of the earli­est Buddhist tra­di­tion. Ed. H. Bech­ert. Göt­tin­gen, 1980.  Journ­al of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 103 (1983), pp. 652–657.
  44. Marco Pal­lis, A Buddhist spec­trum. Lon­don, 1980. Journ­al of the Inter­national Asso­ci­ation of Buddhist Stud­ies 7 (1984), pp. 159–162.
  45. T. Skorupski, The Sar­vadur­ga­ti­par­iśod­hana Tan­tra. Del­hi, 1983. Bul­letin of the School of Ori­ent­al and Afric­an stud­ies 48 (1985), pp. 166–167.
  46. Yoshiro Imaeda, His­toire du cycle de la nais­sance et de la mort: Étude d’un texte tibé­tain de Touen-hou­ang. (Centre de Recherches d’His­toire et de Philo­logie de la IVe Sec­tion de l’É­cole pratique des Hautes Etudes, II, Hautes Études Ori­entales 15.) Genève et Par­is, Droz, 1981. Bul­let­in de l’É­cole Française d’Ex­trême-Ori­ent 74 (1985), pp. 532–533.
  47. Sanskrit-Wör­ter­­buch der buddhistischen Texte aus den Tur­­fan-Fun­­den, 3. Lief­­erung, edited by Georg von Sim­son, Göttin­gen 1983 (?); and 4. Liefer­ung, edited by Michael Schmidt, Göt­tin­gen, 1984 (?). Journ­al of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 106 (1986), pp. 596–597.
  48. Yoshiro Imaeda, Cata­logue du Kan­jur tibé­tain de l’édi­tion de ‘Jang Sa-tham. Seconde partie (Bib­lio­theca Philo­lo­gica Buddh­ica, Series maior, IIb). To­kyo, 1984. Journ­al of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 106 (1986), pp. 597–598.
  49. The Col­lec­ted Works of Alex­an­der Csoma de Körös. Four volumes, edited by J. Ter­jék. Bud­apest, 1984.  Journ­al of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 106 (1986), pp. 598–599.
  50. Erich Frauwall­ner, Kleine Schriften. Edited by G. Ober­ham­mer and E. Stein­kellner. Wies­baden, 1982.  Wien­er Zeits­chrift für die Kunde Südasi­ens 30 (1986), pp. 189–191.
  51. O. von Hinüber, A new frag­ment­ary Gil­git manu­script of the Saddharma­puṇḍarī­kasūtra. Tokyo, 1982. Journ­al of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 106 (1986), p. 879.
  52. G. M. Bongard-Lev­in and M. I. Vorob’eva-Desjatovskaja, Pam­jat­niki indijskoi pis’mennosti iz central’noj Azij (Bib­lio­theca Buddh­ica xxxiii). Moscow, 1985; and
  53. G. M. Bongard-Lev­in, New Sanskrit frag­ments of the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa­sūtra. Tokyo, 1986; and
  54. K. Mat­suda (in col­lab­or­a­tion with G. M. Bongard-Lev­in), Sanskrit frag­ments of the Mahāyāna Mahā­par­inir­vāṇasūtra. Tokyo, 1988. Bul­let­in of the School of Ori­ent­al and Afric­an Stud­ies 51 (1988), pp. 576–578.
  55. H. Inagaki, The Anan­tamukh­anirhāra-dhāraṇī sūtra and Jñān­agarbha’s com­men­tary. Kyoto, 1987. Bul­let­in of the School of Ori­ent­al and Afric­an Stud­ies 52 (1989), pp. 156–157.
  56. Y. Fukuda and Y. Ishi­hama, A com­par­at­ive table of Sa-bcad of the Pra­māṇa­­vārttika, found in the Tibetan com­ment­ar­ies on the Pramāṇavārt­tika. Tokyo, 1986. Journ­al of Indi­an Philo­sophy 17 (1989), pp. 207–208.
  57. sDe dge Tibetan Tripiṭaka: bsTan ‘gyur, Sems tsam (Cit­tamātra). Tokyo, 1979–1981; and
  58. sDe dge Tibetan Tripiṭaka: bsTan ‘gyur, Tshad ma (Pramāṇa). Tokyo, 1981 ff. Journ­al of Indi­an Philo­sophy 17 (1989), pp. 208–209.
  59. D. L. Snellgrove, Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, Indi­an Buddhists and their Tibetan suc­cessors. Lon­don and Boston, 1987. Journ­al of the Roy­al Asi­at­ic Soci­ety 1989, pp. 171–176.
  60. Peter della Santina, Mad­hya­maka schools in India. Del­hi, 1986. Buddhist Stud­ies Review 7 (1990), pp. 142–144.
  61. Sanskrit-Texte aus dem buddhistischen Kan­on: Neuent­deck­un­gen und Neuedi­tion­en. Edited by Fumio Enomoto, Jens-Uwe Hart­mann and Hisashi Mat­sumura. San­skrit‑Wörter­buch der buddhistischen Texte aus den Tur­­fan-Fun­­den, Bei­heft 2. Göt­tin­gen, 1989.  Journ­al of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 113 (1993), pp. 602–603.
  62. Kan­on­is­che Zit­ate im Abhid­har­makoś­ab­hāṣya des Vas­ub­andhu. Edited by Bhikkhu Pāsādika. Sanskrit‑Wörter­buch der buddhistischen Texte aus den Tur­­fan- Fun­den, im Auftrage der Akademie der Wis­senschaften in Göttin­gen herausge­geben von Heinz Bech­ert, Bei­heft 1.  Göt­tin­gen, 1989.  Journ­al of the Amer­ican Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 114 (1994), p. 523.
  63. Sanskrithand­s­chriften aus den Tur­fan­fun­den. Teil 6 (nos. 1202–1599). Her­ausgegeben von H. Bech­ert, Bes­chrieben von K. Wille.  Verzeich­nis der Ori­entalischen Hand­schriften in Deutsch­land, Band X.6.  Stut­tgart, 1989.  Jour­nal of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 114 (1994), p. 523.
  64. Tibet­ische Hand­s­chriften und Block­drucke. Teil 10: Die mTshur-phu-Aus­­gabe der Sammlung Rin-chen gter-mdzod chen-mo, Bände 1 bis 14. Described by Peter Schwieger.  Verzeich­nis der Ori­ent­al­is­chen Hand­s­chriften in Deutsch­land, Bd. XI,10.  Stut­tgart, 1990.  Journ­al of the Roy­al Asi­at­ic Soci­ety 4 (1994), pp. 434–436.
  65. Cata­logue of Tibetan manu­scripts and xylo­graphs and Cata­logue of thankas, ban­ners and oth­er paint­ings in the Lib­rary of the Wellcome In­stitute for the His­tory of Medi­cine. By Mari­ane Winder. Lon­don, 1989.  Journ­al of the Roy­al Asi­at­ic Soci­ety 4 (1994), p. 436.
  66. Indo-Sino-Tibet­ica: Studi in onore di Luciano Petech. Edited by Paolo Daffinà. Rome, 1990. In Journ­al of the Roy­al Asi­at­ic Soci­ety 5 (1995), pp. 146–148.
  67. Hun­dert Strophen von der Lebensklugheit: Nāgār­junas Pra­jñāśataka, Tibet­isch und Deutsch. Eingeleitet, heraus­gegeben und über­set­zt von Michael Hahn. (Indica et Tibet­ica 18.)  Bonn, 1990.  Buddhist Stud­ies Review 12 (1995), pp. 73–75.
  68. Die Rat­nāvalīṭīkā des Ajit­amitra. Heraus­gegeben und erläutert von Yuki­hiro Okada. (Indica et Tibet­ica 19.).  Bonn, 1990.  Buddhist Stud­ies Review 12 (1995), pp. 75–78.
  69. Don­ald S. Lopez (ed.), Buddhist her­men­eut­ics. (Kur­oda Insti­tute Stud­ies in East Asi­an Buddhism 6.) Hon­olulu, 1988.  Bul­let­in of the School of Ori­ent­al and Afric­an Stud­ies 58 (1995), pp. 573–577.
  70. H. Bech­ert et al. (ed), Sanskrit-Wör­ter­­buch der buddhistischen Texte aus den Tur­­fan-Fun­­den und der kan­on­is­chen Lit­er­at­ur der Sar­vāstivāda-Schule. Parts 5–8. Göt­tin­gen, 1987–1994. Journ­al of the Amer­ic­an Ori­ent­al Soci­ety 118 (1998), pp. 552–554.
  71. Nāgārjuna’s Sūtrasamuc­caya: A crit­ic­al edi­tion of the mDo kun las btus pa. By Bhikkhu Pāsādika. Fontes Tibetici Havni­enses II. Akademisk For­lag i Kom­mis­sion.  Copen­ha­gen, 1989.  Buddhist Stud­ies Review17 (2000), pp. 222–4.
  72. Der Lob­pre­is der Vorzüg­lich­keit des Buddha. Udbhaṭasiddhas­vāmins Viśeṣastava mit Prajñā-karavarman’s Kom­ment­ar, nach dem tibet­ischen Tan­jur heraus­gegeben und über­set­zt. By Johannes Schneider. Indica et Tibet­ica 23. Bonn 1993.  Buddhist Stud­ies Review 17 (2000), pp. 229–32.
  73. Tibet­ische Hand­s­chriften und Block­drucke. Teile 11–12: Die mTshur-phu-Aus­­gabe der Sammlung Rin-chen gter-mdzod chen-mo. Nach dem Exem­plar der Ori­ent­ab­teilung, Staats­bib­lio­thek zu Berlin–Preussischer Kul­turbesitz, Hs Or 778, Bände 14 bis 40, 34 bis 40 . Described by Peter Schwieger. (Verzeich­nis der Ori­ent­al­is­chen Hand­s­chriften in Deutsch­land, Band XI, 11–12.)  Stut­tgart, 1995 and 1999.  Journ­al of the Roy­al Asi­at­ic Soci­ety 11 (2001), pp. 104–06.
  74. Cata­logue of the Tucci Fund in the Lib­rary of IsMEO. Volume 1. By Elena de Rossi Filibeck.  Rome, 1994.  Journ­al of the Roy­al Asi­at­ic Soci­ety 11 (2001), pp. 106–07.
  75. Buddhist manu­scripts, Volume I. Manu­scripts in the Schøy­en Col­lec­tion I. Edited by Jens Braar­vig et al. Her­mes Pub­lish­ing, Oslo, 2000.  Bul­let­in of the School of Ori­ent­al and Afric­an Stud­ies 65 (2002), pp. 188–91.
  76. A his­tory of Sanskrit gram­mat­ic­al lit­er­at­ure in Tibet. By Pieter C. Ver­ha­gen. Volume 1: Trans­mis­sion of the canon­ic­al lit­er­at­ure; Volume 2: Assim­il­a­tion into indi­gen­ous schol­ar­ship.  Hand­buch der Orientalistik/Handbook of Ori­ent­al Stud­ies, Sec­tion 2, Volume 8.  Leiden, Brill, 1994 and 2001.  Journ­al of the Roy­al Asi­at­ic Soci­ety 13 (2003), pp. 123–7.
  77. Mad­hya­makahṛdayam Bhavyakṛtam: Mad­hya­makahṛdayam of Bhavya. Edited by C. Lindtner. Ady­ar (Chen­nai), The Ady­ar Lib­rary and Research Centre, 2001.  Buddhist Stud­ies Review 20 (2003), pp. 88–92.
  78. Buddhist manu­scripts, Volume II. Manu­scripts in the Schøy­en Col­lec­tion III. Edited by J. Braar­vig et al.  Her­mes Pub­lish­ing, Oslo, 2002. Bul­let­in of the School of Ori­ent­al and Afric­an Stud­ies 70 (2007), pp. 622–624.
  79. Tibetan renais­sance: Tan­tric Buddhism in the rebirth of Tibetan cul­ture. By R. M. Dav­id­son. New York, Columbia Uni­ver­sity Press, 2005. Bul­let­in of the School of Ori­ent­al and Afric­an Stud­ies 70 (2007), 624–627.



Born 1931.

Uni­ver­sity study:

1948–1949 School of Ori­ent­al and Afric­an Stud­ies, Uni­ver­sity of London

1949–1950 Uni­versität Zürich

1950–1957 Uni­versité de Par­is (Insti­tut de Civil­isa­tion Indi­enne, Sor­bonne) and École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE).  Cer­ti­ficat d’Études indi­ennes (June 1951);

Research in India (March 1953-Feb­ru­ary 1955)

Diplôme de l’É­cole Pratique des Hautes Études, Sec­tion des Sci­ences His­toriques et Philo­lo­giques (June 1957)

1957–1961 Research in India

1961–1966 Research in Par­is as Mem­ber of the École française d’Ex­trême-Ori­ent 1964–66

Docteur ès lettres (Doc­tor­at d’Etat), Uni­versité de Par­is (June 1969)


Hon­or­ary Degrees and Memberships:

Hon­oris causa doc­tor­al degree of Vāk­pati, Cent­ral Insti­tute of High­er Tibetan Stud­ies, Sārnāth (Vārāṇasī, India), March 2003

Hon­or­ary Fel­low, Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation of Buddhist Stud­ies, August 2014


Aca­dem­ic posts held:

1964–1966 Membre, École française d’Extrême-Orient

1966–1972 Pro­fess­or in the Chair of Indi­an Philo­sophy, Buddhist Stud­ies and Tibetan, Uni­ver­sity of Leiden (Neth­er­lands)

1972–1983 Pro­fess­or in Buddhist Stud­ies, Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton (Seattle, USA)

1983 Pro­fess­or of Tibetan Stud­ies, Uni­ver­sity of Ham­burg (Ger­many). Retired in Septem­ber 1993

Vis­it­ing Pro­fess­or­ships and Lectureships:

Vis­it­ing Pro­fess­or, Uni­ver­sity of Toronto (Canada), Depart­ment of Sanskrit and Indi­an Stud­ies, Spring 1972

Vis­it­ing Pro­fess­or, State Uni­ver­sity of New York, Stony Brook (USA), Depart­ment of Reli­gious Stud­ies, Septem­ber-Decem­ber 1974

School of Ori­ent­al and Afric­an Stud­ies, Uni­ver­sity of Lon­don (UK): Jordan Lec­­turer in Com­par­at­ive Reli­gion, March 1987

Pro­fess­or­i­al Research Asso­ci­ate, School of Ori­ent­al and Afric­an Stud­ies, Uni­ver­sity of London

Collège de France (Par­is), Pro­fes­seur invité, Autumn 1992

Uni­ver­sity of Vienna (Aus­tria), Gast­pro­fess­or, Insti­tut für Tibet­o­lo­gie und Buddhismus­kunde, April-May 1994

Japan Soci­ety for the Pro­mo­tion of Sci­ence (Nihon Gak­ujutsu Shinkōkai), Vis­it­ing Fel­low, based at Kyōto Uni­ver­sity, Octo­ber 1995

Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai (Numata) Vis­it­ing Pro­fess­or of Buddhist Stud­ies, School of Ori­ent­al and Afric­an Stud­ies, Uni­ver­sity of Lon­don, Spring 1998

Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai (Numata) Vis­it­ing Pro­fess­or of Buddhist Stud­ies, Har­vard Uni­ver­sity  Octo­ber-Decem­ber, 2002


Mem­ber of edit­or­i­al boards:

Journ­al of Indi­an Philosophy

Journ­al of the Tibet Society

Journ­al of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation of Buddhist Studies

Journ­al asiatique


Pro­fes­sion­al posts occupied:

Pres­id­ent of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation of Buddhist Stud­ies, 1991–1998

Region­al Sec­ret­ary for Europe, Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation of Buddhist Stud­ies, 1999–2015

Mem­ber of Coun­cil, Pali Text Soci­ety, 1983-

David Ruegg, Eminent Buddhologist, Dies at 89

(writ­ten by Nadia Mar­gol­is — Pub­lished with the author’s permission)

Dav­id Sey­fort Ruegg, a world-renowned author­ity on Indi­an and Tibetan Buddhism, died on Feb­ru­ary 2, in Lon­don, of com­plic­a­tions from Covid-19.

His interest in Buddhism ori­gin­ated with his moth­er, paint­er Aimee Sey­fort, and her fas­cin­a­tion with East­ern spir­itu­al­ity, as imbibed from Rus­si­an ment­ors dur­ing her fine arts train­ing in Par­is and later fostered in such New York ven­ues as the Roerich Museum dur­ing the 20s and 30s. He also pos­sessed a keen gift for mod­ern and ancient lan­guages, includ­ing the Sanskrit and Tibetan so essen­tial to his research. He primar­ily stud­ied in Par­is in the 1950s and 60s, where his most influ­en­tial teach­ers were Jean Fil­lioz­at and Louis Ren­ou for Indo­logy, and Mar­celle Lalou and Rolf Stein for Tibet­o­logy. Ruegg developed a spe­cial tal­ent for syn­thes­iz­ing new ideas based on those of his ment­ors and his own encyc­lo­ped­ic know­ledge of this highly tech­nic­al, often arcane field. These he shared in a lucid, access­ible style, mak­ing him a uniquely enga­ging teach­er, known for his incis­ive sem­in­ar exchanges with stu­dents as well as col­leagues. Through­out his long, cos­mo­pol­it­an aca­dem­ic career in Europe, Eng­land, India and the United States, he and his moth­er con­tin­ued to inspire each oth­er: she by her lumin­ous paint­ings that visu­ally inter­preted what Ruegg verbally trans­lated and analyzed—often in pion­eer­ing fashion–from primary Buddhist philo­soph­ic­al writ­ings. His twelve books and over eighty art­icles and oth­er writ­ings explore many aspects of Tibetan and Indi­an reli­gions, his­tory, philo­sophy and lin­guist­ics, yet he kept return­ing to and expand­ing upon two favor­ite philo­soph­ic­al top­ics: Buddha nature (Tath­agatagarbha) or con­cep­tions of mind and enlight­en­ment, and the Buddhist philo­sophy of the middle (Mad­hya­maka), which from its begin­nings in around 100 CE, emerged as the dom­in­ant type of Buddhist thought in Tibet, spread­ing into East Asia.

Ruegg was born in Bing­hamton, NY on Aug. 1, 1931 to his artist moth­er and tex­tile mag­nate Erhart Ruegg. After his high school and early col­lege years spent in Bing­hamton then Santa Fe (where he and his moth­er befriended Geor­gia O’Keeffe and her circle) then Lon­don and Zurich, he and his moth­er traveled to and lived in India for years, where he did research with Indi­an, Tibetan, and Mon­go­li­an schol­ars, while also study­ing in Par­is, at the Sor­bonne and Ecole des Hautes Etudes, receiv­ing his doc­tor­ate (Doc­tor­at d’Etat) from the Uni­ver­sity of Par­is in 1968. His aca­dem­ic career had already begun at the Ecole fran­caise d’Extreme-Orient in Par­is, then as Pro­fess­or of Indi­an philo­sophy at the Uni­ver­sity of Leiden, the Neth­er­lands in 1966. Not long after, he was appoin­ted Pro­fess­or of Buddhist Stud­ies at the Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton, Seattle, leav­ing a dec­ade later for Ham­burg, Ger­many to assume the chair of Tibetan Stud­ies which he held until his retire­ment in 1993. Inter­spersed with these posts were vis­it­ing pro­fess­or­ships at Toronto, SUNY Stony Brook, the Col­lege de France, Vienna, and Har­vard, as well as Lon­don. From then on until his death, he resided at Cadogan Square, Lon­don with his immense lib­rary, where he received many not­able schol­ars from around the world and con­tin­ued to pub­lish, main­tain­ing his research affil­i­ation with the School of Ori­ent­al and Afric­an Studies.

He is pre­de­ceased by his par­ents, half-broth­er Erhart Ruegg, Jr., and a niece, Valer­ie Mar­gol­is, and sur­vived by his sis­ter, Diane S. R. Kensler, of North Hamp­ton, NH and nieces Nadia and Aimee Mar­gol­is, of Gorham, Maine and North Hamp­ton, respect­ively. Due to Cov­id, memori­al events will be announced at a later date.

Remembering Professor David Seyfort Ruegg

© Tsadra Foundation

Today is the 21st day since the passing of Pro­fess­or Dav­id Sey­fort Ruegg, one of the most out­stand­ing mod­ern schol­ars in the field of buddha-nature and Middle Way stud­ies. I first met Prof. Sey­fort Ruegg in 1998 when I approached him with a request to be the extern­al super­visor for my doc­tor­al research on empti­ness at Oxford. He had already retired from aca­dem­ic pos­i­tions by then and was devot­ing his time to writ­ing, but after my per­sist­ent requests dur­ing three vis­its, he kindly agreed, mak­ing me, to my know­ledge, the last PhD stu­dent he form­ally supervised.

In the four years of doc­tor­al work that fol­lowed, I would vis­it Prof. Sey­fort Ruegg reg­u­larly to dis­cuss the chapters of my thes­is, which I would post to him a couple weeks in advance. If I failed to send a chapter on time, I would receive a short note as a polite remind­er. Our meet­ings at his home in Cadogan Square in Lon­don would invari­ably begin with a glass of apple juice, one or two pieces of Duchy Ori­gin­als short­bread, some pleas­ant­ries, and updates on Tibetan and Buddhist Stud­ies before he delved into the detailed dis­cus­sion and cri­tique of what I had writ­ten. We spent hours going through my chapters page by page, the longest ses­sion being one from 2–10pm. The ses­sions were both tax­ing and uplift­ing, filled with advice and instruc­tions on which book to read or word to choose, and a ruth­less assess­ment of my writing.

Prof. Sey­fort Ruegg was a king in his field. A lead­ing author­ity on Middle Way and buddha-nature stud­ies in the Indo-Tibetan tra­di­tion, he was relent­less in the rig­or, pre­ci­sion, clar­ity, and sub­stance of his works. Two incid­ents still remind me of the high stand­ard he held and wished his stu­dents to aim for. When I included a long cri­tique of a cer­tain author on Nāgār­juna in my writ­ing, to my sur­prise, he dis­missed it, say­ing the work in ques­tion did not deserve such atten­tion and effort. After I sub­mit­ted my thes­is for viva voce, he insisted that I wait (which I did for eight months) to have accom­plished schol­ars on the top­ic as examiners.

Born in 1931 in New York and hav­ing under­taken Indo­logy and Tibet­o­logy in Par­is for his uni­ver­sity edu­ca­tion, Prof. Sey­fort Ruegg devoted much of his long and rich aca­dem­ic career to the study of buddha-nature and the Middle Way. Start­ing from his doc­tor­al thes­is, La théor­ie du tathāgatagarbha et du gotra, in 1969, he has writ­ten many books and art­icles on buddha-nature, includ­ing Le traité du tathāgatagarbha de Bu ston Rin chen grub in 1973, and Buddha-nature, Mind and the Prob­lem of Gradu­al­ism in a Com­par­at­ive Per­spect­ive: On the Trans­mis­sion and Recep­tion of Buddhism in India and Tibet in 1989. His writ­ings on the Middle Way include, among oth­er titles, his import­ant work The Lit­er­at­ure of the Mad­hya­maka School of Philo­sophy in India pub­lished in 1981, Stud­ies in Indi­an and Tibetan Mad­hya­maka Thought, Part 1 & 2, and the most recent com­pil­a­tion of fif­teen art­icles by him, The Buddhist Philo­sophy of the Middle: Essays on Indi­an and Tibetan Mad­hya­maka. His oth­er writ­ings include books and art­icles on lin­guist­ic philo­sophy, epi­stem­o­logy, her­men­eut­ics, his­tory and art, and many dozens of book reviews.

As a Sanskrit­ist and Tibet­o­lo­gist, Prof. Sey­fort Ruegg also held pro­fess­or­i­al chairs in Indi­an Philo­sophy, Buddhist Stud­ies, and Tibetan Stud­ies at major uni­ver­sit­ies, includ­ing Leiden, Seattle, Ham­burg, and the School of Ori­ent­al and Afric­an Stud­ies at the Uni­ver­sity of Lon­don. He has super­vised numer­ous stu­dents like myself, giv­ing them his time and know­ledge very gen­er­ously. Des­pite his for­mid­able out­put and renown for his work, Dav­id Sey­fort Ruegg was, as a per­son, a quiet, private, and gentle being. His kind­ness and soft char­ac­ter was evid­ent par­tic­u­larly in his care for his senile moth­er who lived with him. Our aca­dem­ic dis­cus­sions in his house were at times inter­rup­ted by the care he was giv­ing her.

Dav­id Sey­fort Ruegg passed away on Feb­ru­ary 2, 2021 due to com­plic­a­tions related to Cov­­id-19. Far away in the midst of the land and people he stud­ied, I lit a but­ter lamp in homage and chanted some heart­felt pray­ers. May his con­scious­ness find peace, and may his wis­dom and com­pas­sion con­tin­ue to shine his own path and the paths of oth­er sen­tient beings.

Karma Phunt­sho (Writer-in-Digit­­al-Res­id­ence)