Ritual as History in Tibetan Divine Kingship: Notes on the Myth of the Khotanese Monks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


An analysis of the methodological issues surrounding religious biography and divine kingship with particular reference to Tibetan narratives of the story of the Khotanese monks, the first known depiction of Tibet's first Buddhist king Songtsen Gampo as a human form of the celestial bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. Through an examination of this story in its various redactions from the eleventh through to the fourteenth century, it is argued that such hagiographies actually constitute a form of 'constitutional mythology' - that is a means for Tibetans to explore constitutional ideas, rather than simple pious elaboration by the faithful. This opens up new avenues of historical analysis not previously available in our understanding of Tibetan historical culture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-220
Number of pages2
JournalHistory of Religions
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012



  • religion
  • Tibet
  • constitutional mythology
  • Buddhism
  • methodological issues
  • Asian studies (general)
  • divine kingship

Cite this