Date of Graduation

Spring 2019


Master of Arts in Religious Studies


Religious Studies

Committee Chair

Stephen C. Berkwitz


chang, beer, Buddhism, Tibet, tantra, symbols, ritual tools, women, alcohol

Subject Categories

Buddhist Studies | History of Religions of Eastern Origins | Social and Cultural Anthropology | South and Southeast Asian Languages and Societies


In this thesis, I analyze the use of beer (Tib. chang) in Tibetan tantric Buddhism and emphasize its importance for studying themes of purity and pollution, meaning, and power in this context. In doing so, I argue that beer functions as a social marker and influences gender dynamics in Tibet. Beer also functions as a religious ritual tool for transactions of power. Lastly, beer is present as a multivalent symbol in Tibetan tantric songs and stories, useful as both a negative and positive metaphor for qualities or states of mind. As something that informs social, religious, and literary worlds within the Tibetan Buddhist context, beer is more than another transgressive substance or nutritious drink. Through looking at hagiographies, ritual texts, and performative songs, I present beer as useful and relevant in understanding how Tibetan Buddhists spread messages, reinforce hierarchies, and describe religious meaning.


© Kayla J. Jenkins

Open Access