Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Walter Yeeling Evans-Wentz (February 2, 1878 – July 17, 1965) was an anthropologist and writer who was a pioneer in the study of Tibetan Buddhism. He was born in Trenton, New Jersey, and as a teenager read Madame Blavatsky's Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine and became interested in the teachings of Theosophy. He received both his B.A. and M.A. from Stanford University, where he studied with William James and William Butler Yeats. He then studied Celtic mythology and folklore at Jesus College, Oxford (1907); there he adopted the form Evans-Wentz for his name. He travelled extensively, spending time in Mexico, Europe, and the Far East. He spent the years of the First World War in Egypt. He later travelled to Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) and India, reaching Darjeeling in 1919; there he enountered Tibetan religious texts firsthand.
Evans-Wentz is best known for his series of four books of spiritual works translated from the Tibetan. Evans-Wentz credited himself only as the compiler and editor of these volumes. The actual translation of the texts was performed by Tibetan Buddhists, primarily Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup (1868–1922), a teacher of English at the Maharaja's Boy's School in Gangtok, Sikkim who had also done translations for Alexandra David-Neel and Sir John Woodroffe.
The Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University has hosted The Evans-Wentz Lectureship in Asian Philosophy, Religion, and Ethics since 1969, funded by a bequest from Evans-Wentz.
Evans-Wentz died in 1965.
The fairy-faith in Celtic countries, London, New York, H. Frowde, 1911.
The Tibetan book of the dead; or, The after-death experiences on the Bardo plane, according to Lāma Kazi Dawa-Samdup's English rendering, with foreword by Sir John Woodroffe, London, Oxford University Press, H. Milford, 1927.
Tibetan yoga and secret doctrines; or, Seven books of wisdom of the great path, according to the late Lāma Kazi Dawa-Samdup's English rendering; arranged and edited with introductions and annotations to serve as a commentary, London, Oxford University Press, H. Milford, 1935.
Tibet's great yogī, Milarepa : a biography from the Tibetan ; being the Jetsün-Kahbum or biographical history of Jetsün-Milarepa according to the late Lāma Kazi Dawa-Samdup's English rendering (2d ed.), edited with introd. and annotations by W. Y. Evans-Wentz, London, New York : Oxford University Press, 1951.
The Tibetan book of the great liberation; or, The method of realizing nirvana through knowing the mind, preceded by an epitome of Padma-Sambhava's biography and followed by Guru Phadampa Sangay's teachings. According to English renderings by Sardar Bahädur S. W. Laden La and by the Lāmas Karma Sumdhon Paul, Lobzang Mingyur Dorje, and Kazi Dawa-Samdup. Introductions, annotations, and editing by W. Y. Evans-Wentz. With psychological commentary by C. G. Jung. London, New York, Oxford University Press, 1954.
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