Ducher’s dissertation is a veritable tour de force of a record of a little-known and now defunct Tibetan lineage, the rediscovery of which sheds more light on the bKa’ brgyud (Kagyu) tradition as a whole and reveals the lineage’s numerous vestiges and influences within the larger Tibetan religious sphere. The dissertation has a clear conceptual framework and offers an interesting assessment of a relatively under-researched area. The work makes a valuable and original contribution to the field, is critical, detailed and meticulous, and includes careful reflection on terminology. It also presents a richly diverse methodology, drawing from the fields of history, sociology, and historical anthropology, and situating itself within wider theoretical frameworks.
Ducher’s grasp of her materials is impressive, and although the scope of the project is vast, ranging from the origins of the bKa’ brgyud tradition in India in the tenth century up to the present situation in Tibet’s gZhung Valley, she manages to document the genesis, development, flourishing, and dissolution of the Mar rNgog lineage, as well as its influences on other traditions and later attempts to preserve and revive its practices. Her discussions on hagiography as a valid source of information about religious and social forces and on the concept of lineage are enlightening, and the excursion into Bourdieu’s theories about “capital” is stimulating. “It is a great honor for me to have been awarded this year’s Award for Outstanding PhD Dissertation in Buddhist Studies by Khyentse Foundation. I feel much gratitude and joy that my work on the history of the Mar rNgog bKa’ brgyud lineage is recognized by such a distinguished foundation and can in this way contribute to shedding some light on this central yet relatively forgotten tradition that constitute the core of the bKa’ brgyud tantric wealth,”