Dan Hirshberg, MA in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies with Tibetan Language '05

Dan Hirsberg, Naropa Alum, MA in Buddhist Studies with Tibetan LanguageDan Hirshberg is Assistant Professor of Asian Religions at the University of Mary Washington. At Naropa he studied Tibetan and Sanskrit while completing the MA of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, and was in the first graduating class of the Shedra track in 2005. After Naropa he began his PhD in Inner Asian and Altaic Studies at Harvard University where his dissertation research focused on the textual and religious innovations of Nyang-rel Nyima Ozer (1124–1192), who would become renowned as the first of the great Buddhist treasure revealers, and his development of the first Padmasambhava biography. After receiving his doctorate degree in 2012, Dan accepted a teaching postdoc in Tibetan Studies at UC Santa Barbara, which was followed by a research postdoc for the project "Kingship and Religion in Tibet" at Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich before taking up his post in the Department of Classics, Philosophy, and Religion at UMW.

Greg Seton, MA in Buddhist Studies with Tibetan Language '05

Greg SetonAfter receiving my MA in Buddhist Studies with Tibetan language at Naropa University in 2005, I went on to receive another MA in Religious Studies with Sanskrit from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2008, and am now finishing up research for my PhD in Buddhist Studies at Oxford University in England. 

My dissertation is focused on Ratnākaraśānti’s Quintessence (s āratam ā) commentary on the 8,000 verse Perfection of Wisdom sutra.  Even though the Quintessence was historically one of the two most important commentaries on one of the most important Mahāyāna sūtras, it was lost for hundreds of years in Tibet.  Since the Quintessence emphasized practice over philosophical argumentation, it was neglected by later Tibetan scholars, who were more and more interested in scholasticism and debate. Despite this neglect, the 8,000 verse Perfection of Wisdom sutra forms the backbone of all Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna practice. 

For the past two years, I have been working to restore the original Sanskrit text based photographs of the only two extant Sanskrit manuscripts, which were written on palm leaves in the 11th and 13th centuries, respectively.

At the moment, I am still in this middle of this work and writing my dissertation.Through the process of philological reconstruction and philosophical argumentation, I hope to demonstrate that this Quintessence commentary, which has great value for both scholars and practitioners, deserves much more attention than it has received in the past five hundred years or so.

Even though my philological work is challenging and time consuming, I am thoroughly enjoying each day’s discovery of philosophical nuances in this masterfully written text.  I can’t thank Naropa enough for providing me with the foundation in both Buddhist philosophy and Tibetan and with the inspiration to do this highly fulfilling work.