7 The Impact of Modernisation Processes in the Himalayas: Tibetan and Nepalese Traditions in Transition?

In: Religious Transformation in Modern Asia
Author: Lionel Obadia

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Based on first-hand ethnographic evidence and historical information, this section aims at portraying the transformations of religious traditions in the Himalayan mountain barriers, situated on the frontier between two great civilisations: Chinese, in the North, and Hindu, in the South. It specially focuses on Buddhist and Shamanic traditions installed in the Himalayan regions of Northern Nepal, on the Tibetan borderland. In Nepal, like in other regions in the Asian world, modernisation processes assume different forms and have varied effects on each religious tradition. Mahayana (Tibetan) Buddhism and (oracular) Shamanism in the Northern area of the Nepalese Himalayas are subjected to somewhat similar driving forces of modernisation, but respond to them in different ways. These two attitudes offer interesting grounds for highlighting and questioning theoretical and methodological issues regarding the use of the (originally Western-styled) concept of “modernity” in the context of the Himalayas.

Religious Transformation in Modern Asia

A Transnational Movement