Nils Martin Wins Khyentse Foundation Award for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation in Buddhist Studies

- through Henry Oudin

Published on

Evaluation of Nils Martin's thesis in 2022. From left to right: Charles Ramble, Charlotte Schmid, Nils Martin, Christian Luczanits, Emmanuelle Delqué-Količ and Matthew Kapstein. Image courtesy of Khyentse Foundation

The Khyentse Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by revered Bhutanese lama, filmmaker and author Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, announced that it has awarded this year the Khyentse Foundation Award for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation in Buddhist Studies for Europe to Nils Martin of East Asian Civilizations Research. Center (CRCAO) in Paris.

"Martin's thesis, The Wanla Group of Monuments: XNUMXth Century Tibetan Buddhist Wall Paintings in Ladakh, prepared at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (EPHE) in Paris and defended in March 2022, is a masterful contribution to the history of art and Buddhism in the Western Himalayas,” the Khyentse Foundation said in a statement. announcement shared with BDG. “It further provides a model for interdisciplinary research on painted monuments, combining an excellent command of iconography and stylistic conventions with archaeometric analysis, epigraphy and a first-hand assessment of literary sources in Classical Tibetan. As such, it represents an outstanding contribution to Buddhist studies.

The Khyentse Foundation awards the US$8 Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award in Buddhist Studies to authors of outstanding doctoral dissertations in the previous two academic years. To be eligible, the dissertation must be based on original research and must significantly advance the understanding of the subject or Buddhist scriptures being studied. The prize is awarded to scholars from Asia and Europe every other year.

Documentation of the ceiling of a gateway stupa in Nyoma, Ladakh, 2015. Image courtesy of Khyentse Foundation

“I am extremely honored and grateful to receive this award from the distinguished Khyentse Foundation. I would particularly like to thank the members of the jury for the careful consideration of my application and the eventual selection of my dissertation, especially since it falls outside the historical field of textual studies,” Martin observed. “This award is an important recognition of research developed over a decade under the patient and insightful leadership of my supervisor Charles Ramble and my co-advisor Christian Luczanits, and with the continued support of my colleagues, friends and family. It will contribute to publishing it in a form more accessible to all, including the guardians of the monuments it considers. At a threshold in my life, it also gives me confidence to pursue my career in academia.

The Khyentse Foundation was founded by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche in 2001 with the aim of promoting the teachings of the Buddha and supporting all traditions of Buddhist study and practice. The foundation's activities include major text preservation and translation projects, support for monastic colleges in Asia, a worldwide scholarship and awards program, the development of Buddhist studies at major universities, training and development Buddhist teachers and the development of new Dharma-inspired education for children.

“The imposing four-volume thesis (by Nils Martin) totaling more than 1 pages is the result of nine years of extensive research during which Martin, previously trained in art history at the prestigious École du Louvre in Paris, acquired a solid knowledge of Buddhist and literary studies. Tibetan and thoroughly documented a dozen sites, some of which are endangered, during a sustained campaign of repeated, long-term fieldwork,” the Khyentse Foundation said. “After dating the sites to the 450th and early 14th centuries, and establishing their relative chronology – supported by a large sample of carbon-XNUMX dating – (Martin) proposes that these monuments represent a coherent whole constructed by a network of artists and patrons, featuring iconography influenced by the eclectic teachings of the Drikung Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. In doing so, Martin also makes an important contribution to the understanding of a rather obscure page in the history of Ladakh. More broadly, the work contributes to renewing our current understanding of the significance of the Western Himalayas and its connections to other regions of the Buddhist world. Martin, who collaborates with eminent scholars working on the region, has already published many results from his research on Ladakhi art and epigraphy. He is further encouraged to prepare his thesis for publication as a monograph, in order to make his results more widely available and to stimulate discussion in the field.

Achievements of the Khyentse Foundation over the past 20 years include over 15 million pages of Buddhist texts preserved and made available online; the education provided to the children of more than 1 families; support for Buddhist studies at more than 000 major universities through endowed chairs and professorships, support for graduates, and the establishment of centers for Buddhist studies; more than $35 million in sponsorship for Buddhist teacher training awarded; sacred Buddhist texts translated into more than 15 languages, through the efforts of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, the Kumarajiva Project, and the Khyentse Vision Project; more than $1,8 million in funding awarded to support Buddhism in its home countries, including local partnerships to revitalize interest in Buddhism in India; more than 2 scholarships and awards in recognition of excellence in Buddhist study and practice; supporting over 000 monks and nuns to maintain the tradition of Buddhist scholarship in a monastic setting; and over 3 open-access Ashoka and Trisong scholarships distributed to support Dharma and wellness programs.

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche. Image courtesy of KF

Born in Bhutan in 1961, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche is the son of Thinley Norbu Rinpoche and was a close student of master Nyingma Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910-1991). He is recognized as the third incarnation of the 1820th century Tibetan terton Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1892–1893), founder of the Khyentse lineage, and the immediate incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö (1959–XNUMX).

In addition to the Khyentse Foundation, his projects include Siddhartha's Intent, an international collective of Buddhist groups supporting Rinpoche's Buddhadharma activities by organizing teachings and retreats, distributing and archiving recorded teachings, and transcribing, editing and translating manuscripts and practice texts; 84000, a global non-profit initiative to translate the words of the Buddha and make them accessible to everyone; Lotus Outreach, which runs a series of projects aimed at ensuring the education, health and safety of vulnerable women and children in developing countries; and Lhomon Society, which promotes sustainable development in Bhutan through education.

photo of author

Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

Leave comments