Buddhist manuscript cultures: knowledge, ritual, and art by Stephen C. Berkwitz, Juliane Schober, Claudia Brown

By Stephen C. Berkwitz, Juliane Schober, Claudia Brown

Buddhist Manuscript Cultures explores how spiritual and cultural practices in premodern Asia have been formed by way of literary and inventive traditions in addition to through Buddhist fabric tradition. This examine of Buddhist texts specializes in the importance in their fabric types instead of their doctrinal contents, and examines how and why they have been made. jointly, the publication bargains cross-cultural and comparative insights into the transmission of Buddhist wisdom and using texts and pictures as ritual gadgets within the creative and aesthetic traditions of Buddhist cultures. Drawing on case reports from India, Gandhara, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Mongolia, China and Nepal, the chapters integrated examine the variety of pursuits and values linked to generating and utilizing written texts, and the jobs manuscripts and photographs play within the transmission of Buddhist texts and in fostering devotion between Buddhist groups. Contributions are by means of reputed students in Buddhist reviews and signify diversified disciplinary ways from spiritual experiences, paintings heritage, anthropology, and historical past. This publication can be of curiosity to students and scholars operating in those fields.

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However, regardless of what the Gandh¯arans might have thought about the matter, it is a fact that many of these scrolls have in fact survived for some two thousand years, well past the then-predicted lifespan of the Dharma. Therefore, if the Buddhists of ancient Gandh¯ara had intended these deposits to serve as lasting records of the words of the Buddha, their wishes can now be said to have been fulfilled by their recent rediscovery. 3 Materiality and merit in Sri Lankan Buddhist manuscripts Stephen C.

However, more importantly in connection with the main topic of this article, the phrasing of the inscription implies that the donor or sponsor of the deposit considered the manuscripts to be functionally equivalent to bodily relics of the Buddha. There is of course nothing surprising in this, since the equivalence of bodily relics and “dharma-relics,” that is, textual relics, is a familiar one in Buddhist tradition generally (see, for example, Allon 2007: 4). But what is remarkable here is that, in view of the condition of the scrolls and the inclusion of an index to them, the Senior scrolls were apparently written out for the express purpose of being interred in a st¯upa or other funerary monument.

Here, however, I disagree with Strauch’s claim that the manuscripts were not ritually buried, because “a square chamber of stone slabs about half a meter of diameter” is in fact typical of chambers in which reliquaries were deposited in Gandh¯aran and other Buddhist st¯upas. For example, in central India, the relic chamber at Andher st¯upa III, as described in Cunningham 1854: 225 and illustrated by him in pl. 3–4, consisted of four stone slabs placed vertically with a fifth laid over them as a cover.

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