Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationEmory U.
Grant numberGr. 9385
Approve DateOctober 17, 2016
Project TitleNamdul, Tenzin, Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'A Desirable Death: Tibetan Medical Approaches to Death and Dying among Tibetan Refugee, South India,' supervised by Dr. Bradd Shore
TENZIN NAMDUL, then a graduate student at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, received funding in October 2016 to aid research on “A Desirable Death: Tibetan Medical Approaches to Death and Dying among Tibetan Refugee, South India,” supervised by Dr. Bradd Shore. Death and dying in Tibetan Buddhist culture is understood as an important reference point for motivating an ethical life. This perception about death being a critical phenomenon is reinforced at the time of death as Tibetan medical doctors (TMDs) and Tibetan Buddhist monks (TBMs) work with family members of a dying person. In an initial phase of this project (August – November 2016), 74 study participants—comprising of 26 TMDs, 30 TBMs, and 18 family members—have been interviewed. Employing participant-observation, four dying patients have been observed at home. Although TMDs, TBMs, and family members share similar cultural view about death, they differ when it comes to deeper interpretation of death. While TMDs and family members—who are mostly lay people—conceive death as an inherent nature of life, TBMs conceive death as an opportunity for spiritual advancement, and hence, a moment of joy. Likewise, the conception of a “good death” and a “bad death” among family members, TMDs, and TBMs differ: family members relate to a pain-free death as a good death; TMDs see death with pain or without pain but no-remorse as a good death; and TBMs see a death without fear, and if possible, a loving and a joyful death as a good death. Data was collected employing semi- and unstructured interviews and participant-observations at Mundgod Tibetan settlements and its neighboring regions.