The Death and Return of Female Revenants in Tibet

Spring 2018 Grant Recipient Graduate Student Kamaoji (Religious Studies) This dissertation is a study of the biographies of female revenants or delok (Tibetan, 'das log). Delok is a Tibetan word that literally means "passed on and returned," which generally refers to someone who has undergone a death experience but returned from death to deliver messages from those she encountered on her journey through the postmortem realms. These delok narratives are thus important sources for reconstructing Tibetan beliefs, especially ethics, to help us better understand "popular religion" in Tibet to complement our understanding of monastic Buddhism and other highly literate elite practices. Through understanding the ethics in lived religion of Tibetan Buddhist beliefs and practices regarding death and afterlife, the social world, gender, their cosmology and Hell from these narratives, I argue that a bridge can be discerned between Tibetan cosmology and Tibetan Buddhist ethics, which has been largely ignored by scholarship on Tibet in general.