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Tibet as a Stateless Society and Some Islamic Parallels

Geoffrey Samuel
The Journal of Asian Studies
Vol. 41, No. 2 (Feb., 1982), pp. 215-229
DOI: 10.2307/2054940
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2054940
Page Count: 15
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Tibet as a Stateless Society and Some Islamic Parallels
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Abstract

Tibet is the most numerically significant society practicing Vajrayana (Tantric) Buddhism. The unusual features of religion in Tibetan society are often understood in terms of differences between Vajrayana and other forms of Buddhism. The author suggests here that Tibet is not a "typical" Vajrayana society compared to the Newars or the Balinese, and that what is special about religion in Tibet is related to structural differences between Tibetan society and Buddhist states elsewhere in Asia. Tibet historically has been a region where a centralized state was barely achievable, and Tibetan political structures have more in common with stateless societies than with states. Buddhism in Tibetan society has analogies with Islam in structurally similar Islamic societies.

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