odd Lewis is part of a small group of scholars who have been quietly revolutionizing our understanding of Mahayana Buddhism. Despite prevailing beliefs that Nepalese Buddhism is “inauthentic,” “corrupt,” and unworthy of serious consideration due to its syncretism with Hinduism, scholars like Todd Lewis have taught us to view Nepalese Buddhism as a perfectly orthodox expression of Mahayana Buddhism in its authentic cultural context. They have emphasized the importance of understanding Buddhism within its historical and cultural framework, rather than relying solely on elite doctrinal and philosophical texts divorced from real-life Buddhist practices.
Moreover, Todd Lewis and others have demonstrated that Nepalese Buddhism, historically revered by other Mahayana Buddhists for its purity and vitality, offers valuable insights into the nature of late Indian Buddhism. This is particularly significant for understanding the development of Tibetan Buddhism, as the Buddhism transmitted to Tibet has deep roots in Nepal. It has become increasingly evident that a comprehensive understanding of Tibetan Buddhist history requires frequent reference to Buddhism in Nepal.
For years, Todd Lewis’s book has been an indispensable resource for those seeking to explore Nepalese Buddhism. Lewis writes in a clear and accessible manner, and his translations of important texts not only shed light on the nature and daily practice of Buddhism in Nepal but also captivate readers with their beauty and engaging style. This book has become a standard reference, highly recommended for anyone seeking a genuine understanding of lived Mahayana Buddhism in its Indic context, rather than relying solely on more commonly studied Mahayana Buddhism in China or Japan.