An inter­view with

Peter Verhagen

Pos­i­tion & Affil­i­ation: Uni­ver­sity Lec­turer of Lan­guage and Cul­ture of Tibet, Leiden University
Date: May 31, 2019 in Ams­ter­dam, Netherlands
Inter­viewed by: Anna Sehnalova

Cite this archive

Oral His­tory of Tibetan Stud­ies. (2021, Decem­ber 2). An inter­view with Peter Ver­ha­gen. Retrieved 31 Janu­ary 2023, from
“An inter­view with Peter Ver­ha­gen.” Oral His­tory of Tibetan Stud­ies, 2 Dec. 2021,
Oral His­tory of Tibetan Stud­ies. 2021. An inter­view with Peter Ver­ha­gen. [online], Avail­able at: [Accessed 31 Janu­ary 2023]
Oral His­tory of Tibetan Stud­ies. “An inter­view with Peter Ver­ha­gen.” 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.


Additional info

Curriculum vitae

1957born in Ams­ter­dam on Septem­ber 1957
1976–1984stud­ied Ind­ic and Ira­ni­an lan­guages and cul­tures, with Sanskrit, Tibetan and gen­er­al lin­guist­ics, Uni­ver­sity of Amsterdam
1987–1991PhD research­er, Leiden University
1991PhD under the super­vi­sion of T.E. Vet­ter and J. Bronk­horst (Lausanne), Leiden University
1991–1996research fel­low on behalf of the Roy­al Neth­er­lands Academy of Arts and Sci­ences (KNAW), Leiden University
1996–2009uni­ver­sity lec­turer for Ind­ic reli­gious his­tory, in par­tic­u­lar later Buddhism and Tibetan lan­guage and lit­er­at­ure, Leiden Uni­ver­sity, 0.5 fte
1996–1998replace­ment teach­ing tasks of Prof. dr T.E. Vet­ter, on behalf of the Neth­er­lands Organ­iz­a­tion for Sci­entif­ic Research (NWO), 0.3 fte
1998–2003post-doc research­er on behalf of the Neth­er­lands Organ­iz­a­tion for Sci­entif­ic Research (NWO), 0.5 fte
2003–2007replace­ment teach­ing tasks for vacant Buddho­logy chair, Leiden Uni­ver­sity, 0.3 fte
2008–2009research­er on behalf of the Jan Gonda Found­a­tion, 0.5 fte
2009-presentuni­ver­sity lec­turer for the lan­guage and cul­ture of Tibet, Leiden Uni­ver­sity, 0.5 fte

Special activities and positions

  • Par­ti­cipant to many con­fer­ences all over the world from 1987 to the present
  • Full mem­ber of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation of Tibetan Stud­ies, since 1989
  • Full mem­ber of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation of Buddhist Stud­ies, since 1994
  • Mem­ber of the advis­ory board of the “Sticht­ing Hulp Aan Tibetan­en” (SHAT) found­a­tion, since 1997
  • Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai vis­it­ing pro­fess­or, SOAS, Uni­ver­sity of Lon­don, autumn 2000
  • Extra-­ordin­ary vis­it­ing lec­turer in Bud­dhism, Theo­logy Fac­ulty, Kath­olieke Uni­versiteit Leuven, terms in 2001–2003
  • Mem­ber of the found­ing com­mit­tee dept. ‘World Reli­gions’, June 1999-May 2000
  • Mem­ber of the advis­ory com­mit­tee Jan Gonda Found­a­tion, Roy­al Neth­er­lands Academy of Arts and Sci­ences (KNAW), April 1999–2010
  • Mem­ber of the edit­or­i­al board of the “Indo-Tibetan Lex­ic­al Resource” data­base (Ham­burg Uni­ver­sity), since 2011


Tibetan expert­ise in Sanskrit gram­mar – a case study: gram­mat­ic­al ana­lys­is of the term Pratītya-samut­pāda.” Journ­al of the Tibet Soci­ety 8 [appeared 1996]: 21–48.


Een Tibetaanse ver­telling geschilderd, de eer­ste boeddhisti­sche kon­ing van Tibet.” In: Hugo Kreijger (samen­stelling), Godenbeel­den uit Tibet: Lamaïstische kunst uit Neder­lands par­ticuli­er bez­it, ’s Graven­hage-Ams­ter­­dam, SDU Uit­gever­­ij-Open­baar Kunstbe­zit, pp. 28–33.


De oceaan­gelijke goer­oe.” Trouw, 8 decem­ber 1989, p. 17.


The man­tra ‘Om mani-padme hum’ in an early Tibetan grammati­cal treat­ise.” JIABS 13,2: 133–138.


Sanskrit gram­mat­ic­al lit­er­at­ure in Tibet: a study of the Indo-Tibetan canon­ic­al lit­er­at­ure on Sanskrit gram­mar and the develop­ment of Sanskrit stud­ies in Tibet, [s.l.]. – unpub­lished PhD thes­is Leiden; slightly altered pub­lished A his­tory of Sanskrit gram­matical litera­ture in Tibet vol. 1: Trans­mis­sion of the canon­ic­al litera­ture, Leiden 1994.
“Her­man Buiskool: Sanskrit­ist en lex­icoloog.” In: Han­neke van den Muyzen­berg en Thomas de Bruijn (red.), Waarom Sanskrit? Hon­der­d­vijfentwin­tig jaar Sanskrit in Neder­land: tien lezin­gen, Leiden (Kern Insti­tute Mis­cel­lanea 4), pp. 30–36.
“Sanskrit gram­mat­ic­al lit­er­at­ure in Tibet: a first sur­vey.” In: J.G. de Cas­par­is (ed.), Sanskrit out­side India, Leiden etc. (Pan­els of the VIIth World Sanskrit Con­fer­ence, Leiden 1987, vol. 7), pp. 47–63.
Review of: Tom J.F. Tille­mans and Derek D. Her­forth, Agents and actions in clas­sic­al Tibetan: the indi­gen­ous gram­mari­ans on bdag and gzhan and Bya byed las gsum, Wien 1989 (Wien­er Stud­i­en zur Tibet­o­lo­gie und Buddhis­muskunde 21). BSOAS 54,1: 208–210.


‘Roy­al’ pat­ron­age of Sanskrit grammati­cal stud­ies in Tibet.” In: A.W. van den Hoek, D.H.A. Kolff and M.S. Oort (eds), Ritu­al, state and his­tory in South Asia: essays in hon­our of J.C. Heester­man, Leiden-New York-Köln (Mem­oirs of the Kern Insti­tute 5), pp. 375–392.
“A ninth-cen­tury Tibetan sum­mary of the Indo-Tibetan mod­el of case-semantics.” In: S. Ihara and Z. Yamagu­chi (eds), Tibetan stud­ies: pro­ceed­ings of the 5th sem­in­ar of the Internati­onal Associati­on for Tibetan Stud­ies Nar­ita 1989, Nar­ita: Nar­itas­an Shin­shoji (Mono­graph Series of Nar­itas­an Insti­tute for Buddhist Stud­ies, Occa­sion­al Papers 2), pp. 833–844.


Man­tras and gram­mar: obser­va­tions on the study of the lingui­sti­cal aspects of Buddhist ‘eso­ter­ic for­mu­las’ in Tibet.” In: K.N. Mishra (ed.), Aspects of Buddhist Sanskrit: pro­ceed­ings of the inter­na­tion­al sym­posi­um on the lan­guage of Sanskrit Buddhist Texts, Oct. 1–5, 1991, Sarnath: Cent­ral Insti­tute of High­er Tibetan Stud­ies (Samy­ag-Vak Series 6), pp. 320–346.
“Sgra-sby­­or-bam-po-gñis-pa on the term Man­dala: ‘Seiz­ing the essence’ [title erro­neously prin­ted as: The Sgra-sby­­or-bam-po-gñis-pa on the Man­dala: ‘See­ing the essence’].” Stud­ies in Cent­ral and East Asi­an Reli­gions 5,6 (1992–1993): 134–138. – No proofs were received by the author.


A his­tory of Sanskrit gram­mat­ic­al lit­er­at­ure in Tibet, vol. 1: Trans­mis­sion of the canon­ic­al lit­er­at­ure, Leiden-New York-Köln (Hand­buch der Ori­ent­al­istik 2,8). – Revised PhD thes­is, Leiden 1991.
“Port­ret van een Lama in het Rijks­mu­seum.” Azi­at­ische Kunst 24,3: 26–30.
Review of: Thomas Ober­lies, Stud­ie zum Can­dravyākaraṇa: eine kriti­sche Bearbei­tung von Can­dra IV.4.52–148 und V.2, Stutt­gart 1989 (Alt-und Neu-Indis­­che Stud­i­en 38). IIJ 37,2: 171–175.


Stud­ies in Tibetan indi­gen­ous gram­mar (2): Tibetan phon­o­logy and phon­et­ics in the Byis-pa-bde-blag-tu-”jug-pa by Bsod-nams-rtse-mo (1142–1182).” AS/EA 49,4: 943–968.

Tibetan expert­ise in Sanskrit gram­mar (2): ideo­logy, status and oth­er extra-lin­guist­ic factors.” In: Jan E.M. Houben (ed.), Ideo­logy and status of Sanskrit: con­tri­bu­tions to the his­tory of the Sanskrit lan­guage, Leiden (Brill’s Indo­lo­gic­al Lib­rary 13), pp. 275–287.
“Influ­ence of Ind­ic vyākaraṇa on Tibetan indi­gen­ous gram­mar.” In: Cabezón, J.I. & Jack­son, R. (eds), Tibetan lit­er­at­ure: stud­ies in genre: essays in hon­or of Geshe Lhun­dup Sopa, Ithaca, New York (Stud­ies in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism), pp. 422–437.
“Stud­ies in Tibetan indi­gen­ous gram­mar (1): CG 16 = Q3?” WZKS 40: 115–122.


Tibetan expert­ise in Sanskrit gram­mar (3): on the cor­rect pro­nun­ci­ation of the inef­fable.” In: Dick van der Meij (ed.), India and bey­ond: aspects of lit­er­at­ure, mean­ing, ritu­al and thought: essays in hon­our of Frits Staal, Lon­­don-New York-Leiden-Ams­ter­­dam (Stud­ies from the Inter­na­tion­al Insti­tute for Asi­an Stud­ies [2]), pp. 598–619.
“Stud­ies in Tibetan indi­gen­ous gram­mar (3): Sanskrit nipata, Tibe­tan tshig-phrad.” In: H. Krass­er, M.T. Much, E.Steinkell­ner & H. Tauscher (eds), Tibetan stud­ies: pro­ceed­ings of the 7th con­fer­ence of the Inter­na­tion­al Associ­a­tion for Tibetan Stud­ies, Graz, 1995, vol. 2, Wien (Beiträge zur Kul­tur- und Geis­tesge­schichte Asi­ens 21, Öster­reichische Akademie der Wissen­schaften, Denk­s­chriften 256), pp. 1011–1022.
“[Con­fer­ence report] sem­in­ar ‘Pil­grim­age in Tibet,’ Interna­tional Insti­tute for Asi­an Stud­ies, Leiden, The Neth­er­lands, 12–13 Septem­ber 1996.” The Tibet Journ­al 22,2: 111–113.
“Tibet.” In: K.R. van Koo­ij & P. Lun­singh Sch­eur­leer (eds), A com­pan­ion to Buddhist art: an intro­duct­ory course in Buddhist Art at Leiden Uni­ver­sity, Leiden, pp. 80–91.
Review of: Roy A. Miller, Pro­leg­om­ena to the first two Tibetan gram­mat­ic­al treat­ises, Wien 1993 (Wien­er Stud­i­en zur Tibet­o­lo­gie und Buddhis­muskunde 30). BSOAS 60,1: 173–175.


Expres­sions of viol­ence in Buddhist Tan­tric man­tras.” In: J.E.M. Houben & K.R. Van Koo­ij (eds), Viol­ence denied: viol­ence, non-viol­­ence and the ration­aliz­ation of viol­ence in South Asi­an cul­tur­al his­tory, Leiden (Brill’s Indo­lo­gic­al Lib­rary 16), pp. 275–285.


31. The clas­sic­al Tibetan gram­mari­ans.” In: S. Auroux, E.F.K. Koern­er, H.-J. Niederehe & K. Ver­stee­gh (eds), His­tory of the lan­guage sci­ences: an inter­na­tion­al hand­book on the evol­u­tion of the study of lan­guage from the begin­nings to the present, vol. 1, Ber­­lin-New York (Hand­books of Lin­guist­ics and Com­munication Sci­ence 18.1), pp. 207–210.
“32. The influ­ence of the Sanskrit tra­di­tion on Tibetan indi­genous gram­mar.” In: S. Auroux, E.F.K. Koern­er, H.-J. Niede­rehe & K. Ver­stee­gh (eds.), His­tory of the lan­guage sci­ences: an inter­na­tion­al hand­book on the evol­u­tion of the study of lan­guage from the begin­nings to the present, vol. 1, Ber­­lin-New York (Hand­books of Lin­guist­ics and Com­mu­nic­a­tion Sci­ence 18.1), pp. 210–214.
“Aspek­ten van her­men­eu­t­iek in het Indo-Tibetaans boeddhisme.” In: Jaarverslag 2000, Gebied Geesteswetenschap­pen, Neder­landse Organ­isa­tie voor Wetenschap­pelijk Onderzoek, ’s Graven­hage, 64–69.


A his­tory of Sanskrit gram­mat­ic­al lit­er­at­ure in Tibet, vol. 2: Assimila­tion into indi­gen­ous schol­ar­ship, Leiden-Boston-Köln (Hand­buch der Ori­ent­al­istik 2,8,2).
“Stud­ies in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist her­men­eut­ics (1): issues of inter­pret­a­tion and trans­la­tion in the minor works of Si-tu Pan-chen Chos-kyi-‘byung-gnas (1699?-1774).” Journ­al of the Inter­national Asso­ci­ation of Buddhist Stud­ies 24,1: 61–88.
“Stud­ies in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist her­men­eut­ics (2): notes apro­pos to the role of her­men­eut­ics in Buddhist sec­tari­an­ism in India and Tibet.” Indi­an Inter­na­tion­al Journ­al of Buddhist Stud­ies 2 (Spe­cial issue includ­ing pro­ceed­ings of the col­loqui­um on “Buddhism: schools and sects” held at the Cath­olic Uni­ver­sity of Leuven (Bel­gi­um) on May 26–27, 2000): 121–134.


Stud­ies in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist her­men­eut­ics (3): grammati­cal mod­els in Buddhist for­mu­las.” In: H. Blez­er (ed.), Relig­ion and sec­u­lar cul­ture, Tibetan Stud­ies II. PIATS 2000: Tibetan Stud­ies: pro­ceedings of the ninth sem­in­ar of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation for Tibetan Stud­ies, Leiden 2000, Leiden-Boston-Köln (Brill’s Tibetan Stud­ies Lib­rary 2,2), pp. 143–161.


Tsongkhapa Lobz­ang Drakpa (1357–1419), De hymne ‘Es­sentie van de Goed Gefor­muleerde [Leer]’.” In: J. Bor & K. van der Leeuw (ed.), Vijfen­twin­tig eeuwen Oost­erse filo­sofie, Ams­ter­dam, pp. 253–263.


Notes apro­pos to the oeuvre of Si-tu Paṇ-chen Chos-kyi-‘byuṅ-gnas (1699?-1774) (2): Dkar-chag mater­i­als.” In: H.W. Bode­witz and Minoru Hara (eds), Gedenk­s­chrift J.W. de Jong, Tokyo: the Inter­na­tion­al Insti­tute for Buddhist Buddhist Stud­ies (Stu­dia philo­lo­gica buddh­ica Mono­graph series 17), pp. 207–238.


Per­son­i­fic­atie van “het kwaad” in het boeddhisme: vijand of vriend?” In: R. Wiche (red.), Des duiv­els: het kwaad in reli­gieuze en spirituele tra­dit­ies, Leuven-Voor­burg, pp. 19–29.
“Hoe leg je de woorden van de Boeddha uit.” Vorm & Lee­gte: Boeddhisme, mens, samen­lev­ing 10,4 [Bericht­en uit de Academie], p. 9.
“Stud­ies in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist her­men­eut­ics (4): the Vyakhyay­ukti by Vas­ub­andhu.” JA 293,2: 559–602.
“Stud­ies in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist her­men­eut­ics (5): the Mkhas-pa-rnams-”jug-pa”i‑sgo by Sa-skya Pan­dita Kun-dga’-rgyal-mtshan.” JIABS 28,1: 183–219.


Stud­ies in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist her­men­eut­ics (6): valid­ity and val­id inter­pret­a­tion of scrip­ture accord­ing to Vasubandhu’sVyakhyayukti.” In: R. Gom­brich & C. Scher­­rer-Schaub (eds), Buddhist stud­ies: papers of the 12th World Sanskrit Con­fer­ence, vol. 8, Del­hi, pp. 233–258.
“Notes apro­pos to the oeuvre of Si-tu Pan-chen Chos-kyi-‘by­ung-gnas (1699?-1774) (1): Belles-Lettres in his Opera Minora.” In: O. Almogi (ed.), Con­tri­bu­tions to Tibetan Buddhist lit­er­at­ure, PIATS 2006: Tibetan stud­ies: pro­ceed­ings of the elev­enth sem­in­ar of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation for Tibetan Stud­ies, König­swinter 2006, Halle: Inter­na­tion­al Insti­tute for Tibetan and Buddhist Stud­ies (Beiträge zur Zen­t­ralasi­en­forschung 14), p. 513–548.


Bsod-nams-rtse-mo.” In: H. Stam­mer­jo­hann (ed.), Lex­icon gram­maticor­um: a bio-bib­­li­o­­graph­ic­al com­pan­ion to the his­tory of lin­guist­ics, second ed., revised and enlarged, volume I, Tübin­gen: Max Niemey­er Ver­lag, p. 217.
“Sa-skya Paṇḍita Kun-dga’-rgyal-mtshan.” In: idem, vol. II, Tübin­gen, pp. 1331–1332.
“Si-tu Paṇ-chen Chos-kyi-‘byung-gnas’. In: idem, vol. II, Tübin­gen, pp. 1401–1402.
“Smṛtijñānakīrti.” In: idem, vol. II, Tübin­gen, p. 1417.
“Thon-mi Samb­hoṭa.” In: idem, vol. II, Tübin­gen, p. 1487.
“Zha-lu Lo-tsā-ba Chos-sky­ong-bzang-po.” In: idem, vol. II, Tübin­gen, p. 1683.


Notes apro­pos to the oeuvre of Si-tu Pan-chen Chos-kyi-‘byung-gnas (1699?-1774) (3): the ‘Edit­or’ Si-tu Paņ-chen.” In: A. Chayet et al. (eds), Edi­tion, édi­tions: l’écrit au Tibet, évolu­tion et devenir, München: Indus Ver­lag (Col­lectanea Him­alay­ica 3), pp. 465–482.


Review of: Dragomir Dimitrov (nach Vor­arbeiten von Thomas Ober­lies), Lehr­s­chrift über die Zwan­zig Prä­ver­bi­en im Sanskrit. Krit­ische Aus­gabe der Viṃśaty­u­pas­ar­gavṛtti und der tibet­ischen Über­set­zung Ñe bar bsgy­ur ba ñi śu pa’i ‘grel pa (Edi­tion­en von Tex­ten der Cāndra-Schule I) , Mar­burg 2007 (Indica et Tibet­ica: Mono­graph­i­en zu den Sprac­hen und Lit­er­at­uren des Indo-Tibet­is­chen Kul­tur­raumes 49). JA 2011–1: 472–475.


Notes apro­pos to the oeuvre of Si-tu Pan-chen Chos-kyi-‘byung-gnas (1699?-1774) (4): a Tibetan Sanskrit­ist in Nepal.” Journ­al of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation of Tibetan Stud­ies 7 (Them­at­ic issue: Si tu pan chen: cre­ation and cul­tur­al engage­ment in eight­teent-cen­tury Tibet): 316–339. – Pro­ceed­ings of con­fer­ence in con­junc­tion with the exhib­i­tion “Pat­ron and paint­er: Situ Panchen and the reviv­al of the encamp­ment style”, Rubin Museum of Art, New York, Janu­ary 6–8, 2009.


‘Tools of the trade’ of the Tibetan trans­lat­ors.” In: J. Rheingans (ed.), Tibetan lit­er­ary genres, texts, and text types: from genre clas­si­fic­a­tion to Trans­form­a­tion, Leiden-Boston: Brill (Brill’s Tibetan Stud­ies Lib­rary 37), pp. 182–196.

What’s in a word in Tibet? Indo-Tibetan schol­astics on lan­guage and scrip­ture. Place of pub­lic­a­tion to be determ­ined [prob­ably: Boston: Wis­dom Pub­lic­a­tions (Stud­ies in Indi­an and Tibetan Buddhism)].
& M.A.G.Th. Klop­pen­borg (eds), Tibetan, Asi­an-Archae­o­lo­­gic­al and Buddhist stud­ies in memory of Ron­ald Poel­meijer. Place of pub­lic­a­tion to be determ­ined [prob­ably Wien­er Stud­i­en zur Tibet­o­lo­gie und Buddhismuskunde].
“Stud­ies in Tibetan indi­gen­ous gram­mar (4): a six­teenth-cen­tury sur­vey of Sum-rtags and related lit­er­at­ure (Appendix: descrip­tionof Mkhas-pa”i‑kha-rgyan).” In: M.A.G.Th. Klop­penborg & P.C. Ver­ha­gen (eds), Tibetan, Asi­an-Archae­o­lo­­gic­al and Bud­dhist stud­ies in memory of Ron­ald Poelmeijer.
“Tibetan Klog-thabs, ‘Manu­als of pro­nun­ci­ation’.” In: G.L. van Driem (ed.), Him­alay­an lin­guist­ics, Ber­lin: Mouton de Gruyter (Trends in Linguistics).
“Obser­va­tions on Sanskrit stud­ies in Tibet. [Sum­mary].” In: E. Stutch­bury (ed.), Pro­ceed­ings ‘Tibet in Con­text’ con­fer­ence, ANU Can­berra, Feb­ru­ary 1996.
“Stud­ies in Tibetan indi­gen­ous gram­mar (5): Sum-cu-pa 1 revis­ited: vow­el phon­o­logy in Smra-sgo-mtshon-cha-lta-bu and the Sum-rtags tra­di­tion.” In: E. Sper­ling (ed.), Pro­ceed­ings IATS 1998 Blooming­ton, Bloomington.
“Stud­ies in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist her­men­eut­ics (7): Sa-skya Pandita’s Mkhas-‘jug on the Sanskrit-Tibetan inter­face: syn­thes­is, com­par­ison­and trans­la­tion.” In: C. Ramble (ed.), Pro­ceed­ings 10th sem­in­ar Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation of Tibetan Stud­ies, Oxford, Septem­ber 2003.
“Notes apro­pos to the oeuvre of Si-tu Pan-chen Chos-kyi-‘byung-gnas (1699?-1774) (5): the ‘Eight-stanza hymn to Mahākāla’: a glimpse of the trans­lat­or at work’, [to be pub­lished in E. Gene Smith memori­al volume, ed. J. Silk].