Event — Buddhist Studies Lectures

A Tibetan Witness to the End of Buddhism in India: The Translator Khro Phu

A lecture in the framework of the Buddhist Studies Lectures Series by Péter-Dániel Szántó (1980), Associate Professor at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary.

This lecture takes place in the IIAS Conference room from 16:00 - 17:00 p.m. (not online).

All are welcome. Please register, as seating is limited.

The Lecture

It is the end of the world for Buddhism in India around the year 1200. The circumstances surrounding the series of events that led to the downfall of the religion in its region of birth are still debated. A newly studied Tibetan travelogue provides an eyewitness account of the period.

The centrepiece of this lecture is a hitherto little-researched Tibetan travelogue dictated by the translator Khro Phu to his disciples. Khro phu undertook several trips to the south during the last decade of the 12th century, trying to reach Bodh Gaya, the dream of every Buddhist pilgrim. Each time, his attempts were frustrated by the tragic events that were unfolding on the Gangetic plains. During this time, mostly due to military incursions from west of the Khyber Pass, institutional Buddhism suffered a blow it would never recover from. Khro phu was there to witness this downfall. He and his Tibetan contemporaries went from humble seekers of the Dharma to becoming the consecrated heirs of Buddhism within the span of a few decades. 

The translator's biography is not only a record of his trials and tribulations but also a precious historical account of a contested period. This talk discusses highlights from this text, with special reference to the Indian pundits Khro phu invited to Tibet: Buddhaśrījñāna, a Kashmiri-Nepalese scholar, Śrīmitra, an erstwhile royal chaplain turned wandering yogi, and Śākyaśrībhadra, a master of Vinaya, who played a crucial role in resuscitating monastic observance in Tibet. 

The Speaker

Péter-Dániel Szántó (1980) is an associate professor at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, where he is also head of the Department of Buddhology and Tibetology. His main area of expertise is mediaeval Indian Buddhism, especially tantric literature. He defended his thesis at Oxford University in 2012, where he also held two post-doctoral positions. From 2019 to 2022, he worked at Leiden University as a researcher. He is the co-author of three monographs (The Amṛtasiddhi and the Amṛtasiddhimūla, Earliest Texts of the Haṭhayoga Tradition with James Mallinson; Tantra and Pramāṇa, a Study of the Sāramañjarī with Serena Saccone; Saraha's Spontaneous Songs with Klaus-Dieter Mathes) and several dozen articles. 


This is a lecture in the framework of the Buddhist Studies Lectures Series, jointly organised by the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) and the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies (LIAS).

Registration (required)

All are welcome. Please register via the web form on this page, as seating is limited.