Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor

Holly Gayley

Second Advisor

Ruth Mas

Third Advisor

Jules Levinson


This thesis considers three different dimensions of the Tibetan Buddhist gcod ritual; its role as a type of applied soteriology, the foundations of its ritual structure, and for its apotropaic functionality. One must consider gcod as a performative ritual and a philosophical discipline and these different yet complementary aspects of the practice can be clearly formulated and analyzed under the rubric of Buddhist sacrifice. It is crucial to examine how the Buddhist tradition has negotiated its relationship to sacrifice to see how gcod could come to be and gain widespread acceptance in Tibetan Buddhism. We must consider what allows gcod to function within a normative Buddhist framework of doctrine and praxis. I will argue that gcod operates as an internalized sacrificial practice, allowing adherents to assert an orthodox standard in opposition to antinomian activities, which those within the tradition have deemed irreconcilable to normative Buddhist practice.