Gregory Schopen, distinguished professor of Asian languages and cultures and an authority on Sanskrit and Buddhism, was the recipient of stirring tributes in celebration of his 20-year career at UCLA.
Fellow Buddhist scholars — including peers and many former students — gathered to celebrate his many contributions to Buddhist studies at a special event called “Schopen Matters: Reflections on and Appreciations of the Scholarship of Gregory Schopen.”
The event was cosponsored by UCLA’s Center for Buddhist Studies and the Asian languages and cultures department. Robert Buswell, distinguished professor of Buddhist studies and director of the center, and Shayne Clarke, associate professor of religious studies at McMaster University in Canada, organized and hosted the tribute.
The event featured a who’s who of prominent scholars of Buddhism and religious studies who took turns commending Schopen’s meticulous research, reminiscing and gently teasing him about his love of basketball, colorful ties and calligraphic handwriting. Speakers included Robert Brown, professof or Indian and Southeast Asian art at UCLA; Dan Boucher, Cornell University; Patrick Olivelle, University of Texas; Richard Salomon, University of Washington; and Daniel S. Lopez, Jr., University of Michigan.
“[His] numerous studies of the rich and still relatively unexplored terrain of Buddhist monastic law codes have made us entirely re-envision the religious and non-religious lives of Indian Buddhist monks and nuns,” said Clarke, a former student of Schopen, “and by extension, our understanding of the religious life — what it meant to be Buddhist, what it meant to be non-Buddhist, and even human, in India in the first few centuries of the common era and beyond.”
Lopez highlighted the impact of Schopen’s work, saying “Gregory Schopen has transformed our understanding of Buddhism more than any other scholar over the past half-century, not just in North America, but in the world.”