International Conference on Atisha and Cultural Renaissance

Venue : 11 Man Singh Road, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi-110011.

Date : 16th to 18th January, 2013


Silver Jubilee Celebration

Home > Kalakosa Division > Area Studies > International Conference on Atisha and Cultural Renaissance

EXHIBITION - Twin Art Gallery, C.V.Mess, Janpath, New Delhi

from 16th -23rd January, 2013
Timing- 10.00 a.m. to 06.00 p.m.

Closed on Sundays and National Holidays






Atisha Dipankara Srijnana, a great Buddhist saint-philosopher of 10th-11th century, least known in India, has been venerated as an outstanding personality in Asian countries especially in the Himalayan region. He has been a symbol of peace, compassion, humanism, self sacrifice, harmony and amity who devoted his energies in the dissemination of Dhamma to Universities of Odantapuri, Vikramasila, Sompuri, Nalanda and institutions of excellence and monastic complexes. He played a significant role in infusing wisdom and resurgence of Buddhism and laying its foundation in pure form. His philosophy has brought significant changes among monks as well as the common people in the concept of their moral purity, self sacrifice, nobility of character, idealism and revolutionized the social, religious and cultural lives of the people. The people and the kings of Tibet invited him to reform the religious and social condition of Tibet at that time.

It is generally believed that he was borne in the village Vajrayogini in the Bikrampur region of Bengal, currently in Bangladesh, in 982 CE. Accounts of the spiritual teacher’s life are found in 44 Tibetan texts—biographies, doctrinal works, catalogues and hymns written in praise. His birth in the year 980/982 also saw a major power shift in Bengali politics as the resurgent Pala dynasty seized control of the region, disposing of the incumbent Kamboja rulers. His childhood name was Chandragarbha. From a very young age he showed an extraordinary aptitude for spirituality and studied sincerely under more than 100 teachers. He received, practiced, and mastered the instructions on the Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana schools of Buddhism and was regarded highly by all the traditions of Buddhism in India at the time

Atisha had studied sixty-four kinds of arts including music and logic, and accomplished them by the age of twenty two. According to Tibetan sources, Atisha was ordained into the Mahasamghika lineage at the age of twenty-eight by the Abbot Silaraksita and studied almost all Buddhist and non-Buddhist schools of his time, including teachings of Vaisnavism, Saivism, Tantrism. He studied, practiced and transmitted the three main lineages of Buddhism.

At the age of thirty-one, Atisha with 100 disciples set off on a perilous journey, travelling for thirteen months to Sumatra in order to study under the reputable Suvarnadvipi Dharmakirti, sometimes called Dharmaraksita and known in Tibetan as Serlingpa (Wylie:Gser-gling-pa), a supposed master of bodhichitta. Goddess Tara was his guiding spirit and continued to be so until the end of his life. Under the guidance of Dharmaraksita, Atisha remained there for twelve years. Finally, after over a decade of intensive training, Dharmaraksita advised him to "go to the north, to the Land of Snows." From his Master, Dharmaraksita, Atisha learnt one meditation that became one of the Tibetans fundamental meditation techniques, i.e. Tongleng Meditation that aims to recycle supposedly negative energy into loving and healing energy.

He then returned to Magadha where he met great Buddhist scholars who all acknowledged his superior knowledge and scholarship. Soon enough he was appointed to the position of steward, or abbot, at the Vikramasila University. Atisha's rise to prominence coincided with a flourishing of Buddhist culture and the practice of Dharma, and in many ways Atisha's influence contributed to these developments.

In the 11th century, the Tibetan king byang-chub 'Od invited Atiśa. He entered Tibet in an age when monastic Buddhist tradition of Tibet had been nearly wiped out after King Langdarma's intolerant reign. He has been an important figure for last ten centuries in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition because he revived, refined, systematized, and compiled an innovative and thorough approach to bodhichitta known as "mind training" (Tib. lojong), in such texts as A Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, and established its primacy to the Mahayana tradition in Tibet. Atisha's closest disciple, Dromtönpa, is considered the founder of the Kadam school, which later evolved into the Gelug, one of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

Atiśa wrote, translated and edited more than two hundred books from Sanskrit into Tibetan to spread Buddhism. He also wrote several books on Buddhist scriptures, medical science and technical science in Tibetan. Several books written by him in Sanskrit are extant only in Tibetan translations now. 79 of his compositions have been preserved in Tibetan translation in the Tanjur (bstan-sgyur). Some of them are Bodhi-patha-pradipa, Charya-sanggraha-pradipa, Satya-dvayavatara, Bodhi-sattva-manyavali, Madhyamaka-ratna-pradipa, Mahayana-patha-sadhana-sanggraha, Siksa-samuchchaya Abhisamya, Prajna-paramita-pindartha-pradipa, Ekavira-sadhana and Vimala-ratna-lekha.

In Tibet after staying at Ngari, he went to Samye where he discovered the store of Sanskrit texts at Pekar Kordzoling, the library. The degree to which the Vajrayana had spread in Tibet was unparalleled, even in India. Dromtonpa, the principal disciple of Atiśa kept the complete legacy of Atiśa and this became later known as the Kadampa (Bka'-gdams-pa) tradition of Buddhism. This was later revived by the Tibetan teacher Tsongkhapa (Btsong-ka-pa), the founder of the Gelug (Dge-lugs) tradition. Since that time the Kadampa school of Atiśa is named Old Kadampa and Tsongkhapa's Gelug school is named New Kadampa.

As Atisha grew old, he moved to explore Central Tibet. Atisha spent nine years in Nyetang, a town near Lhasa, where he discovered Tibetan libraries with impressive collections written in both Sanskrit and Tibetan. The venerable monk moved around the region for another five years before passing away in 1052 at the prophesied age of seventy-two in a village called Lethan, near Lhasa. He was enshrined near his last permanent home in the town of Nyetang.

An international Conference and exhibition on the “Atisha and Cultural Renaissance” is being organised by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi during 16th to 18th January, 2013. The Conference aims at investigating into Atisha’s life, vision, mission, activities, works, essence of his teachings, religio- cultural contributions, legacy, relevance of his precepts in modern time. This Conference also plans to undertake discussions on Tibetan treaties and other primary and secondary accounts on Atisha.

Research papers will be presented from academia from Australia, Bangladesh, China, England, Germany, Indonesia, India, Japan, Mongolia, Nepal, Taiwan, Thailand and USA on the following themes:

  1. Life of Atisha

  2. Atisha’s voyage to Sumatra/ Suvarnadvipa

  3. Challenges, vision and mission of Atisha

  4. Atisha’s vision on Wisdom and Compassion

  5. Contemporaries of Atisha in India and Tibet

  6. Atisha as seen through visual arts

  7. Relevance of the teachings of Atisha in present day life.

Speakers from Abroad

  1. Prof. Atmadi Brahmantyo - Atisha and Dharmakirti Sri Jnana in the Era of Sriwijaya Hegemony

  2. Christel Pilz, German Journalist - Video presentation: On the footsteps of Atisha and Atisha Born with a mission

  3. Prof. Dr. Dan Martin, Isreal - Atisha's Method of Conseration of Buddhist statues and paintings.

  4. Elisabeth Inandiak, Indonesia, Voice of Ashes

  5. Prof. Gabrielle yablonsky, USA - Atisha and his legacy, documented from various museums in the US

  6. Garrey Foulkes, Australia - Stupa symbolism: Gyantse and Borobudur

  7. Dr. Hui-ju Yen, Taiwan - Analysis on the Various Tantric Lineages of Atisha based on his Biographies

  8. Prof. Hubert Decleer, France - Atisha's spiritual journey from Panchamani to Tholing, Portrayed in a golden scroll painting from 11th centurey.

  9. Prof. Kaie Mochizuki, Japan, Dipankarasrijanana at Vikramasila monastery

  10. Prof. Kuo Wei Liu, Taiwan, The Tara Ritual Written or Translated by Atisha

  11. Prof. Liu Yongzeng, China

  12. Jing Yao temples: The Newly Discovered Caves in Gansu Province, Continuation of Atisha's

  13. Prof. Peng Jing Zhang, China - Newly Discovered Caves in the Northern Site of Dunhuang Grottoes Related to Atisha

  14. Prof. Robert Mayer, UK, Tibetan Tantrism upon Atisha's Arrival

  15. Serinity Young, USA - Human Divine and Material Links to Atisha: Thangkas from the American Museum of Natural History's collection.

  16. Sunmin, China, Documentary on Atisha in Western Tibet

  17. Prof. Susanne von der Heide, Germany - Atisha's Stay in Mustang and his Connections with Lama mentsun

  18. Prof. Thierry Dodin, Germany, Indonesian Traces Through Tibetan Sources

  19. Prof. Zhang Zong, China, Comparison of Buddhist Theory of Images between Ven. Atisha in Tibet and Han Nationality Region

  20. Professor Zhang Jianlin, China, The Legacy Atisha: Excavations at the Tholing Monastery

The Indian Scholars

  1. Dr. Bandana Mokhopadhyay, the Asiatic Society, Kolkata

  2. Prof. Suniti Kumar Pathak, Shantiniketan

  3. Dr. C. P. Sinha, Director, K. P. Jaiswal Research Institute, Patna

  4. H H Taisitupa Rimpoche, Head, Palpung Shenabling Monastery, Himachal Pradesh

  5. Prof. Sacchidananda Sahai

  6. Prof. H. P. Negi, Delhi University

  7. Dr. Amarendra Nath, former Director, ASI

  8. Prof. Prem Shanar Shrivastav, Nava Nalanda Mahavihar

  9. Dr. Om Prakash, Allahabad

  10. Prof. Karunesh Shukla, Nagarjun Buddhist Foundation, Gorakhpur

  11. Prof. Andrea Loseries, HOD, Deptt. of Buddhist Studies, Vishvabharati

  12. Dr. Harapal Gang Negi, Delhi University

  13. Rev. Lochan Tulku, Spiritual Head & Director of key Monastery, Spiti, Himachal Pradesh

  14. Dr. Nawang Tsering Shakspo, J&K

  15. Ven. Sumati Sasana, Teacher and coordinator at Tushita Centre, New Delhi

  16. Dr. Sushma Jatoo, IGNCA

  17. Dr. Sudhir Lall, IGNCA

  18. Kishor Kumar Tripathy - Ācārya Atisha Dīpamkara's vision of Humanistic Religion: Doctrines and Practices


Dr. N.D Sharma
Head of the Department
Kalakosa Division
Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts
11, Man Singh Road, New Delhi
Tel. No. : 23388423, 23388224, Mob. 09716829523
E-mail : 

Dr. Shashibala,
Senior Coordinator of the Conference
Mobile No. 09811841183;

Dr. Ajay Kumar Mishra
Co-ordnator of the Conference
Research Officer, Kalakosa Division
Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts
11, Man Singh Road, New Delhi
Mobile No. 9811841183;
Dr. E.N. Sajith
Programme Director
Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts
11, Man Singh Road, New Delhi
Ph. 23388155,

Sri Kishor Kumar Tripathy
Senior Research Fellow
Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts
11, Man Singh Road, New Delhi
Tel. No23388224,, 09650820241


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