A Brief Historical Overview
This chapter provides a brief synopsis of the main elements of Tibetan Buddhism and sketches the history of the tradition. To contextualize Tibetan scholasticism, it heuristically delineates three sets of four: four periods in the history of Tibetan Buddhism, four layers in Tibetan Buddhism, and four schools of Tibetan Buddhism. To grasp the whole sweep of the history of Tibetan scholasticism, it defines four periods: a first period of assimilation (seventh to ninth century) , called the “early propagation of the teaching”; a period of full assimilation (tenth to mid-thirteenth century), which marks the beginning of the “later propagation of the teaching” associated with the age of the “new translations” in Tibet, focusing on the new schools and the role of monasticism; a classical period (mid-thirteenth to sixteenth century), when Tibetan intellectuals develop their own interpretive schemes; and a more strictly scholastic period (sixteenth century to the present), characterized by high scholasticism and the rise of sectarianism.
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