Gongga Laoren (1903-1997)

Her Role in the Spread of Tibetan Buddhism in Taiwan


Through the biography of an unusual Manchu Chinese female devotee who contributed to the spread of Tibetan Buddhism in Taiwan, the book provides a new angle at looking at Sino-Tibetan relations by bringing issues of gender, power, self-representation, and globalization. Gongga Laoren’s life, actions and achievements show the fundamental elements behind the successful implementation of Tibetan Buddhism in a Han cultural environment and highlights a process that has created new expectations within communities, either Tibetan or Taiwanese, working in political, economic, religious and social contexts that have evolved from martial law in the 1960s to democratic rule today.

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Fabienne Jagou, Ph.D. with habilitation (1999, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris) is Senior Associate Professor at the École française d’Extrême-Orient. She has published widely on the modern Sino-Tibetan political and cultural history and is the author of The 9th Panchen Lama (1883-1937): A Life at the Crossroads of Sino-Tibetan Relations, Chiang Mai, Silkworm/EFEO, 2011 and the editor of The hybridity of Buddhism: Contemporary Encounters between Tibetan and Chinese traditions in Taiwan and the Mainland, Paris, EFEO (Coll. “Études thématiques no. 29”), 2018.
"This is an exceptionally well-researched work, and although one might criticize the somewhat dated methodological use of Weber, this volume grants an undeniably invaluable insight into a figure that has received next to no prior scholarly attention, as well as the intricate world of Tibetan Buddhism in Taiwan as a whole. More broadly, those with an interest in religion and globalization as well as religion and gender and self-representation will have much to gain from this volume. - Joseph Chadwin, University of Vienna, Religious Studies Review https://doi.org/10.1111/rsr.15601
"Gongga Laoren (1903–1997) offers a groundbreaking study of this remarkable figure whose life spanned from the late Qing Dynasty to post-martial law Taiwan and who played a crucial role in initiating the development of Tibetan Buddhism there. This volume will be of great interest to all students of modern Chinese and Tibetan religious life. Additionally, those interested in religion and gender, sociology of religion, or transnational studies more broadly will also find much of value in this volume." - Eben Yonnetti is a PhD candidate in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, Reading Religion, November 28, 2022.
List of Figures


1 Life in China and in Tibet (from 1903 to 1958)
 1 Birth and Early Childhood
 2 Youth and Majority
 3 Heading towards the Bo Gangkar Monastery
 4 From the Bo Gangkar Monastery to Hong Kong

2 Building Religious Legitimacy in Taiwan (from 1958 to 1980)
 1 Arrival in Taipei
 2 Publication of the First Dictated Autobiography
 3 Esoteric Teachings
 4 Retreats
 5 Using the Secret

3 Contribution to the Development of Tibetan Buddhism in Taiwan (from 1980 to 1997)
 1 Vows Taken with the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rikpé Dorjé
 2 Invitations Extended to Karma Kagyü School’s Reincarnated Masters
 3 Place in the Karma Kagyü School’s International Network
 4 Links with the 14th Dalai Lama

4 Spiritual Heritage
 1 Death and Mummification
 2 Succession
 3 Maintaining Links with the Karma Kagyü School
 4 Continuing Charity Projects


Appendix: Timeline of Gongga Laoren’s Life (1903–1997)
Glossary of Tibetan Names
Specialists in religious studies/Buddhism, historians of Asia, Tibet, China, and Taiwan in particular. Practitioners of Buddhism.
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