Samten Gyeltsen Karmay (bsam-gtan rgyal-mtshan mkhar-rme'u) (1936-) is a writer and researcher in the field of Tibetan Studies. His work is focused on the study of Tibetan myths, beliefs, Bon religion and religious history.
Life and work
Samten Gyeltsen was born in 1936 in Sharkhog, eastern Tibet. He received religious training in Dzogchen meditation from his uncle. He completed his studies in the Bon monastery in 1955, obtaining the degree of Geshe, and left with a group of friends to the Gelugpa monastery of Drepung, near Lhasa. The monastery was known for its high philosophical training.
After leaving Drepung due to the difficult political situation, Samten moved to Nepal and later to India. After working for some time in Delhi, he was invited to England by David Snellgrove under a Rockefeller fellowship. Upon moving to Europe, he assumed the surname Karmay. He studied under two mentors, Snellgrove and Rolf Stein, who both recognized Samten's knowledge of Tibetan texts. He earned an M. Phil degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
In 1980 he moved to France, where he entered the CNRS (National Centre for Scientific Research). During his time there, he was awarded with the CNRS Silver Medal for his contribution to Human Sciences. A number of Revue d'Etudes Tibétaines was dedicated to him in November 2008. He also held the post of the President of the International Association of Tibetan Studies between 1995 and 2000, being the first Tibetan to be elected to the post. In 2005 he was a visiting professor at the International Institute for Asian Studies, under the sponsorship of Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai.