An interview with
Position & Affiliation: Professor of Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, University of Vienna (retired)
Date: April 11, 2019 in Vienna, Austria
Interviewed by: Anna Sehnalova
Cite this archive
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.
- 0:00 Intro
- 0:34 I want to ask you about your family background. Where did you grow up
- 7:44 Could you tell me when you were a sailor, how old were you and where did you go? How do you remember your travels at this time?
- 11:44 Why did you become interested in Buddhism?
- 15:46 When you came to the university to study unofficially, what did the classes look like, who were your teachers?
- 17:56 Was it unusual to study Tibetan and Sanskrit at that time? How did your environment think about it?
- 19:49 How do you remember these classes?
- 20:46 You said there was colloquial Tibetan, did you learn?
- 22:53 And who was the teacher for colloquial Tibetan at the time? How do you remember him?
- 24:11 How did you come to study at Deprung Monastery?
- 25:11 What did you study there? With whom?
- 26:18 How did you study there? Through texts or debating?
- 27:14 How do you remember the monastery at the time?
- 28:07 Were you the only foreigner there?
- 29:35 Did you continue to build on this experience in your future work?
- 30:36 Was this your first time in India and in a Tibetan environment?
- 32:06 How do you remember your travels in the 1970s?
- 36:02 Was this your first time in Asia? Did you interact with other Westerners along the way?
- 38:05 It must be beautiful traveling at that time. Any significant experiences that you will always remember?
- 40:15 What happened afterwards, you were in Drepung and then?
- 42:51 Did you both teach and do research?
- 45:38 What did you like about research?
- 46:39 Which aspects of Madhyamaka did you find fascinating?
- 47:51 Did you have some students who were particularly important who may be continuing in your work?
- 49:34 You’ve been involved in many research projects, how did you choose the topics such as philosophy, history, development of Tibetan literature? How did you come to these interests?
- 52:22 Do you have a special connection to Western Tibet? How did this happen?
- 56:04 You said you have a story from travels when smoking saved your life. Can you tell us more about it?
- 57:23 Can you please say something about the Csoma de Kőrös symposiums?
- 1:00:54 How do you remember the meeting? Who were the people who came? Was it Tibetan Studies?
- 1:07:21 Can you say more about Tibetan studies or studies related to Tibetan in Vienna?
- 1:05:48 You mentioned your PhD, can you say more about it?
- 1:10:20 Have you seen some changes or developments through your career?
- 1:12:20 Can you say more about the origin of this department in Vienna?
- 1:16:46 What about the development of the dept., of the topics, languages, or disciplines that are studied?
- 1:20:32 Do you see any overall changes in Tibetan and Buddhist studies in general?
- 1:23:14 Tibetan studies in Vienna is a very successful field at the university. Do you have any explanation for this?
- 1:28:02 Since you worked in philosophy, do you have a favourite philosopher?
- 1:29:48 Which philosophers do you like to read in Tibetan?
- 1:30:41 What has your career given to you personally? How has it changed your life?
- 1:33:04 What did you find most interesting/most challenging in your work?
- 1:33:52 What do you see as your most significant contributions to academia and why?
- 1:35:09 Are there topics you would like to pursue?
- 1:36:11 We are conducting this project for future people interested in studies in Tibet, do you have a message for them?
Prof. (ret.) Dr. Helmut Tauscher – personal data
Helmut Tauscher studied History, Art History, and Anglistics at the University of Innsbruck (1970–1974), Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, Indology, and Art History at the University of Vienna (1974–1981), and Madhyamaka philosophy at Drepung Loseling Monastery, Mundgod (South India) (1983–1984). His PhD (1981) and Habilitation (1996), both in the field of “Tibetan and Buddhist studies”, he obtained from the University of Vienna where he worked until his retirement (2015), focusing on Buddhist philosophy, with an emphasis on Tibetan Madhyamaka, and Kanjur research.
As a guest lecturer he was frequently teaching at the universities of Bratislava, Brno, Cluj-Napoca, Göttingen, Krakow, Napoli, Praha, and Szeged (2001–2018), and in SS 2017 he was holding the Numata chair for Buddhist Studies at Leiden University.
Within various research projects on “Western Tibetan Manuscripts” he was regularly engaged in field research in the western Himalaya since 1989. Presently he is directing the research project “Kanjur collections from Tibet’s southern and western borderlands”.
sPug Ye shes dbyangs, mDo sde brgyad bcu kungs. An Early Tibetan Sūtra Anthology, Introduced and Edited. Wien 2021.
Catalogue of the Gondhla Proto-Kanjur. Wien 2008.
Phya pa Chos kyi seṅ ge, dBu ma śar gsum gyi stoṅ thun. Wien 1999.
Die Lehre von den Zwei Wirklichkeiten in Tsoṅ kha pas Madhyamaka-Werken. Wien 1995.
Verse-Index of Candrakīrti’s Madhyamakāvatāra (Tibetan Versions). Wien 1989.
Candrakīrti — Madhyamakāvatāraḥ und Madhyamakāvatārabhāṣyam (Kapitel VI, Vers 166–222), übersetzt und kommentiert. Wien 1981.
“Manuscript fragments from Matho. A preliminary report and random reflections.” M. Clemente, O. Nalesini and F. Venturi (eds), Perspectives on Tibetan Culture. A Small Garland of Forget-me-nots offered to Elena De Rossi Filibeck. Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines 41. 2019. 337–378.
“The Rnal ‘byor chen po bsgom pa’i don manuscript of the ‘Gondhla Kanjur’.” Text, Image and Song in Transdisciplinary Dialogue. PIATS 2003: Tibetan Studies: Proceedings of the Tenth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Oxford, 2003. Vol. 7. 79–103.
“The ‘Early Mustang Kanjur’ and its Descendants.” E. Forte, Liang Junyan, D. Klimburg-Salter, Zhang Yuan, H. Tauscher (eds), Tibet in Dialogue with its Neighbors: History, Culture and Art of Central and Western Tibet, 8th to 15th century. Beijing: China Tibetology Publishing House & Wien: Arbeitskreis für Tibetische und Buddhistische Studien, 2015. 292–295 (plates), 463–481. Co-authored by Bruno Lainé.
“Kanjur.” J.A. Silk (ed.), Brill’s Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Vol. 1: Literature and Languages. Leiden 2015. 103–111.
“Manuscripts en Route.” In: Patrick McAllister, Cristina Scherrer-Schaub, Helmut Krasser (eds.), Cultural Flows across the Western Himalaya. Wien 2015. 365–392.
“Remarks on Phya pa Chos kyi seng ge and his Madhyamaka treatises.” In: Roberto Vitali (ed.), The Earth Ox Papers. Proceedings of the “International Seminar on Tibetan and Himalayan Studies Held at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, Dharamsala September 2009. Dharamsala 2010. 1–35.
“Western Tibetan Kanjur Tradition.” Deborah Klimburg-Salter, Liang Junyan, Helmut Tauscher, Zhou Yuan (eds): The Cultural History of Western Tibet. Recent research from the China Tibetology Research Center and the University of Vienna. Wien, Beijing 2008. 339–362. Co-authored by Bruno Lainé.
“The Rnal ‘byor chen po bsgom pa’i don manuscript of the ‘Gondhla Kanjur’.” Text, Image and Song in Transdisciplinary Dialogue. PIATS 2003: Tibetan Studies: Proceedings of the Tenth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Oxford, 2003. Vol. 7. Ed. Deborah Klimburg-Salter, Kurt Tropper, Christian Jahoda. Leiden, Boston 2007. 79–103.
“Phya pa chos kyi seṅ ge as a Svātantrika.” The Svātantrika-Prāsaṅgika Distinction. Ed. Georges B.J.Dreyfus & Sara L.McClintock. Boston 2003. 207–255.
“Controversies in Tibetan Madhyamaka exegesis: sTag tshaṅ Lotsāba’s critique of Tsoṅ kha pa’s assertion of validly established phenomena.” Études Bouddhiques, Offertes a Jaques May a l’Occasion de son Soixante-cinquième Anniversaire. Asiatische Studien, Études Asiatiques 46/1. Ed. J.Bronkhorst, K.Mimaki, T.J.F.Tillemans, Bern etc. 1992. 297–306.
|1996||Habilitation (Tibetan and Buddhist Studies)|
|1983–1984||Studies of Madhyamaka philosophy at Drepung Loseling Monastery, Mundgod (South India)|
|1981||Ph.D. (Tibetan and Buddhist Studies)|
|1974–1981||University of Vienna (Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, Indology, Art History)|
|1970–1974||University of Innsbruck (History, Art History, Anglistics)|
|2001-04, 2006-10||Deputy Director of the Dept. for South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, University of Vienna|
|2000||Director of the Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, University of Vienna|
|2017(-2022)||Research project “Kanjur collections from Tibet’s southern and western borderlands” (project leader)|
|2017 (summer term)||Numata visiting professor at Leiden University|
|2001–2015||Visiting lecturer at the universities of Bratislava, Brno, Cluj-Napoca, Göttingen, Krakow, Napoli, Praha, Szeged|
|1991–2013||Research project “Western Tibetan Manuscripts” (2001–2013 project leader)|
|1989, 1991, 1995–2016||Field research in Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh, and Ladakh / Zanskar, Jammu & Kashmir, India|
Buddhist Philosophy, with an emphasis on Tibetan Madhyamaka