In this episode we speak with Samuel Grimes about his research and experience with the tradition of Newar Buddhism in Nepal. We discuss the unique history of Buddhism in Nepal, the decline of Buddhism in India, and what it means to be the only living "Sanskritic Buddhist" tradition in South Asia. We then discuss the meaning and role of yoga within Buddhist traditions, previewing Grimes' upcoming online course, BS 112 | Yoga in Buddhism.
Dr. Samuel M. Grimes is the Shinjo Ito Postdoctoral Fellow in Buddhist Studies, at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a scholar of South Asian Buddhism and Hinduism in the medieval and modern periods, with a specialization in the tantric traditions of Nepal, and with broader interest in historiography and ritual studies. Nepal is host to the only place in Asia with unbroken traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism existing side-by-side, and as a result the two religions there exhibit a high degree of exchange. A scholar must be expert in both to study either. Grimes works with the primary texts of these traditions directly, reading in Sanskrit, Newar, and Tibetan, frequently consulting sources that are only preserved in handwritten manuscripts.
Dr. Grimes’ research into yoga primarily involves an investigation of Vajrayāna, tantric Buddhism. This research ranges from purely textual studies of premodern texts to on-the-ground ritual training in Nepal. He is especially interested in the dynamic interactions between the visualized objects and somatic activity in ritual practice. He has conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork with the Newar Buddhists of Kathmandu, who practice the only living Buddhist tradition that still conducts all ritual and preserves all liturgy in Sanskrit.