chapter  2
Pages 16

The NKT’s historical and institutional roots in Britain go back much further than 1991, the year when its Tibetan founder, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (b. 1931), announced its official creation. The emergence of the NKT must, in particular, be considered against the context of another contemporary Western Gelug movement called the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT). Geshe Kelsang (see Figure 2.1) was originally brought to Britain to teach at an FPMT centre called the Manjushri Institute, but he split away from this organisation to develop a parallel network of his own that he later unified and gave a distinct identity as the NKT. As well as providing the immediate historical backdrop necessary for understanding the development of the NKT, the FPMT represents an alternative way of articulating and marketing Tibetan Buddhism for Western consumption. Though similar in many ways, these international Buddhist networks are also very different, and a comparative analysis will help illuminate the nature of Tibetan, and particularly Gelug, Buddhism both in Britain and in the West generally. The emergence and development of the FPMT, and the nature of Geshe Kelsang’s relationship with it, will be examined in the next chapter.