James Gentry, Director of Graduate Studies (DGS)
James Gentry is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies. He specializes in Tibetan Buddhism, with particular focus on the literature and history of its Tantric traditions. He is the author of Power Objects in Tibetan Buddhism: The Life, Writings, and Legacy of Sokdokpa Lodrö Gyeltsen, which examines the roles of Tantric material and sensory objects in the lives and institutions of Tibetan and Himalayan Buddhists.
James’s research ranges across Tibetan and Himalayan intellectual history, material culture, contemplative and ritual practice, and scriptural translation, revelation, and canonicity, from the Tibetan imperial period to the present. His current projects include a study of the reception in Tibet from the 9th century to the present of the “Five Protectors” (Pañcarakṣā)—a set of five Indian Tantric Buddhist texts that have been among the most popular scriptures used for pragmatic purposes throughout the Buddhist world. James is also doing a study of a comprehensive literary treatment of Himalayan religious material culture: a 20th century compilation entitled A Treatise on the Paraphernalia and Musical Instruments of the Old School of Secret Mantra. His work on this compilation is directed toward the creation of a multimedia encyclopedia of Tibetan Buddhist material culture for use among scholars, teachers, and students of Asian religions.
Before joining Stanford, James was on the faculty of the University of Virginia. He has also taught at Rangjung Yeshe Institute’s Centre for Buddhist Studies at Kathmandu University, where he served as director of its Master of Arts program in Translation, Textual Interpretation, and Philology. He has also served as editor-in-chief of the project 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, which aims to commission English translations of the Buddhist sūtras, tantras, and commentaries preserved in Tibetan translation and publish them in an online open-access forum (http://84000.co).