Research topic: Tibet
Tibetans inside and outside Tibet have Tibetan as their first language; in addition, Tibetan is widespread as a liturgical language throughout the Tibetan Buddhist cultural area. Tibetan culture and language are today under strong pressure.
Tibet has today the status of an autonomous region (TAR) in the People’s Republic of China. The number of Tibetans living in China is disputed. According to official Chinese statistics, the number is 4.6 million, and under half of these live in the TAR, while the rest are found in other Chinese provinces.
Somewhat more than 100,000 Tibetans live in South Asia, primarily in India, and in the West. According to the Tibetan Government in Exile, the total number of Tibetans is approximately 6 million.
Tibetan Buddhism is a strong and living religious tradition in Tibetan areas in China and parts of neighbouring countries. Together with Zen Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism is the Buddhist movement which has spread most widely in the West.
Buddhism came to Tibet in the 7th century A.D., first and foremost from India. It assimilated local religious traditions and became what we call Tibetan Buddhism. The Tibetans adopted an Indian alphabet in order to translate Buddhist texts and for practical purposes in the country's administration, and is still used today.
Much of the Buddhist literature that was lost in India exists today in Tibetan translations, and Tibetan is therefore one of the important languages in the study of Buddhism.
Since the 11th century, Tibetans have also composed their own Buddhist literature, which consists of historical, biographical and liturgical texts, commentaries, meditational texts,