Martin Brauen studied ethnology and religious history at the University of Zurich and Buddhology at the University of Delhi. He earned a doctorate after defending a thesis in Zurich on Holidays and ceremonies in Ladakh. Since 1975 he has been head of the "Himalaya, Tibet and the Far East" department at the Ethnological Museum of the University of Zurich, as well as becoming a lecturer within that subject. From 2008 to 2012 he was chief curator at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York.
Brauen is the author of several books and exhibitions on Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, Ladakh, and Japan. Among his books, Mandala: Sacred Circle in Tibetan Buddhism is best known to the general public and has been translated into six languages.
Martin Brauen has also produced several films and documentaries on Tibet and the Himalayas, and has worked in the areas of aid and development policy in an NGO. He met the 14th Dalai Lama for the first time in 1970 during an interview, and has since been committed to the Tibetan cause. He is married to the Tibetan artist Sonam Dolma Brauen, with whom he had two children, actress and writer Yangzom Brauen and Tashi Brauen, teacher and artist.
- 1974: Heinrich Harrers Impressionen aus Tibet. Gerettete Schätze, Pinguin, Innsbruck / Umschau Frankfurt am Main
- 1980: Feste in Ladakh. Akademische Druck- und Verlags-Anstalt, Graz
- 1982: Junge Tibeter in der Schweiz. Studien zum Prozess kultureller Identifikation, met Detlef Kantowsky, Rüegger, Diessenhofen
- 1983: Peter Aufschnaiter. Sein Leben in Tibet, Steiger, Innsbruck
- 1992: Das Mandala. Der heilige Kreis im tantrischen Buddhismus. DuMont, Köln
- 1994: Irgendwo in Bhutan. Wo die Frauen (fast immer) das Sagen haben, Waldgut, Frauenfeld
- 2000: Traumwelt Tibet. Westliche Trugbilder, Haupt, Bern
- 2003: Bambus im alten Japan. Kunst und Kultur an der Schwelle zur Moderne (mit Patrizia Jirka-Schmitz), Arnold, Stuttgart. ISBN 3-89790-190-0
- 2005: Die Dalai Lamas. Tibets Reinkarnationen des Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, Arnold, Stuttgart. ISBN 3-89790-219-2
- 2009: Mandala. Sacred circle in Tibetan buddhism (with Helen Abbott), Arnold, Stuttgart. ISBN 978-3-89790-305-0
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