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Spotlight | Anthony Aris | A very special birthday party and book launch

“Authors get the light, publishers stay in the shade – a famous twinned Tibetan concept, nyin and drib. But writers tend to overlook the fact that without the drib, there would not, could not, be nyin. There are well established conventions for celebrating scholarly achievement – the Festschrift – being the standard offering, while publishers can count themselves lucky if they can escape opprobrium and get away with obscurity.” So write Charles Ramble and Ulrike Roesler in answer to the question Why a Book? at the beginning of Tibetan & Himalayan Healing: An Anthology for Anthony Aris, published by Vajra Books, Kathmandu. “When we heard in June 2014 that Anthony was not in the best of health, an anthology on the subject of healing seemed like an appropriate gesture as a larger-than-life get well card.”

“Medicine Buddhas and Divination: Four Short Tibetan Texts on Healing”; “Melancholia in the Teaching on the Six Lamps”; “The Great Rite which Redeems for the Crosses of Malicious Gossip”; “A Frozen Stiff Upper Lip: The Maladies and Remedies of the Younghusband Mission of 1904”; “A Note on Tsha chu. The Therapeutic Hot Springs of Bhutan”; “How to Recognise a Useless Doctor: Excerpts from an Indian Yoga Comedy”; “The Call of the Cuckoo to the Thin Sheep of Spring: Healing and Fortune in Old Tibetan Dice Divination Texts” . . . Sixty contributions by leading luminaries are gathered in a single volume, opening a window on to some of the core therapeutic beliefs, traditions and practices that lie at the heart of Himalayan and Tibetan civilization. Embellished with superb illustrations, this collection is a most unusual and intriguing read for the uninitiated, yet curious, such as myself.

The book launch held last Friday at the Kailash Centre in St John’s Wood was also a birthday celebration for Anthony Aris. Passionate champion of the Humanities, scholar of Tibetan studies and a source of inspiration to all who know him, he founded Serindia Publications thirty-nine years ago, (now under the care of Shane Suvikapakornkul in Chicago), to bring Tibetan & Himalayan history and culture to modern audiences. The list also reflects Antony’s interests in Central Asia, Asian Art and Traditional Medicine. It is a mine of information for novices, specialists, researchers and mainstream publishers.

Anthony Aris and his identical twin brother, the late Michael Aris, an academic and lecturer in Asian history at St Antony’s College, Oxford who helped to establish a specialist Tibetan and Himalayan Studies centre at Wolfson College, have between them disseminated the knowledge of and love for Himalayan cultures throughout the English-speaking world. What about the future of their contribution?

On 22 October 2015 at 5.30pm, Wolfson College will host the inaugural annual Aris lecture in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies – named after the wonder twins. To endow it as an annual Aris lecture, donations can be made c/o William J. Conner, Development Director at Wolfson. The Tibetan proverb, “A child without education is like a bird without wings,” is apt.

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georgia DC

Bilingual editor, rewriter, French-to-English translator. Has written for 3am magazine, words without borders, The Independent, The Lady, Banipal, Prospect Magazine, Times Literary Supplement. Currently writes for The BookBlast Diary. Founder (1997) of London-based writing agency BookBlast.

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