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Relics of the Buddha : Buddhisms: A Princeton University Press Series - John S. Strong

Relics of the Buddha

Buddhisms: A Princeton University Press Series

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Buddhism is popularly seen as a religion stressing the truth of impermanence. How, then, to account for the long-standing veneration, in Asian Buddhist communities, of bone fragments, hair, teeth, and other bodily bits said to come from the historic Buddha?

Early European and American scholars of religion, influenced by a characteristic Protestant bias against relic worship, declared such practices to be superstitious and fraudulent, and far from the true essence of Buddhism.

John Strong's book, by contrast, argues that relic veneration has played a serious and integral role in Buddhist traditions in South and Southeast Asia-and that it is in no way foreign to Buddhism.

The book is structured around the life story of the Buddha, starting with traditions about relics of previous buddhas and relics from the past lives of the Buddha Sakyamuni. It then considers the death of the Buddha, the collection of his bodily relics after his cremation, and stories of their spread to different parts of Asia.

The book ends with a consideration of the legend of the future parinirvana (extinction) of the relics prior to the advent of the next Buddha, Maitreya. Throughout, the author does not hesitate to explore the many versions of these legends and to relate them to their ritual, doctrinal, artistic, and social contexts.

"In an engaging new study, John Strong surveys a number of legends surrounding the Buddha's relics in South and Southeast Asia. [He] suggests that narratives about the Buddha's relics ... extend the Buddha's legacy far beyond ancient India and contributed to the spread of dharma and the legitimization of Buddhist kings."--Holly Gayley, Buddhadharma "John S. Strong, in his Relics of the Buddha ... has achieved the first comprehensive study of Buddhist relics to date... [His] work will undoubtedly constitute, for decades to come, the standard for research on the larger meaning of relic veneration in the Buddhist world."--Brian O. Ruppert, Journal of Asian Studies "John S. Strong has produced a highly readable, engaging, lucidly argued and authoritative analysis of the place of relics across the Buddhist world. His book should be read by anyone in Buddhist studies and really by anyone interested in comparative religion, particularly in aspects of religion and material practice."--Jacob N. Kinnard, Religion

List of Tablesp. xi
Prefacep. xiii
Note and Abbreviationsp. xix
Introduction: Relics of the Buddhap. 1
Relics and the Biographical Processp. 5
Types of Buddha Relicsp. 8
Bones and Booksp. 8
Bones and Beadsp. 10
Relics, Bones, and Burial Practices in India and Beyondp. 12
Bones and Bodiesp. 16
Relics and Imagesp. 18
Limitations of This Studyp. 20
Outlinep. 22
Relics of Previous Buddhasp. 25
Sakyamuni and His Predecessorsp. 25
Past Buddhas, Relics, and Soteriologyp. 30
The Case of Kasyapa and His Stupap. 32
Two Buddhas at Oncep. 36
Relics and the Spread of the Traditionp. 39
Relics Dispersed and Not Dispersedp. 44
Relics and Compassionp. 47
Conclusionp. 48
Relics of the Bodhisattvap. 50
Relics and the Jatakasp. 51
Jataka Stupas in North Indiap. 52
Sumedha's Hairp. 55
The Bodhisattva's Bonesp. 56
Bodhisattva Relics in the Final Birth as Gautamap. 60
The Embryo in the Relic or the Relic as Embryop. 63
The Relic of the Bodhisattva's Hairknotp. 65
Relics and the Certainty of Buddhahoodp. 68
Conclusionp. 69
Relics of the Still-Living Buddha: Hairs and Footprintsp. 71
Hair and Nail Relicsp. 72
Trapusa and Bhallikap. 73
The Hair Relics at the Shwe Dagon Pagodap. 76
Sri Lankan Traditionsp. 80
The Chronicle of the Six Hair Relicsp. 82
Footprintsp. 85
The Saccabandha and Nammadafootprintsp. 90
The Footprint on Adam's Peakp. 92
Conclusionp. 94
The Parinirvana of the Buddhap. 98
The Duties to the Corpsep. 99
The Funeral of a Cakravartinp. 100
The Corpse's Clothingp. 101
The Iron Coffinp. 106
The Veneration of the Buddha's Bodyp. 110
Cremationp. 115
Collection, Dispute, and Distribution: The "War of the Relics"p. 116
The Construction of the Stupasp. 121
Conclusionp. 122
Asoka and the Buddha Relicsp. 124
The Collection of the Relicsp. 125
The Relics at Ramagramap. 126
The Underground Chamber of Mahakasyapa and Ajatasatrup. 127
Relic Security and the Roman Robotsp. 132
The Construction of the 84,000 Stupasp. 136
The Rupakaya and the Dharmakayap. 138
The "Unveiling of the World" and the Descent from Trayastrimsa Heavenp. 139
The Divine Eye and the Buddha's Smilep. 141
From Centrifugality to Centripetality: The Power of Compassionp. 142
The Festival of the Relicsp. 144
Asoka's Autocremationp. 147
Conclusionp. 148
Predestined Relics: The Extension of the Buddha's Life Story in Some Sri Lankan Traditionsp. 150
The Transplanting of the Bodhi Tree and the Multiplication of Relicsp. 152
The Collarbone Relic and Its Enshrinement in the Thuparamap. 157
Dutthagamani, the Ramagrama Relics, and the Mahathupap. 160
The Building of the Stupap. 161
The Making of the Relic Chamberp. 164
The Acquisition and Enshrining of the Relicsp. 166
The Death of Dutthagamani and Burial ad Sanctosp. 171
Conclusionp. 175
Further Extensions of the Buddha's Life Story: Some Tooth Relic Traditionsp. 179
The Kashmiri Tooth: Relics and Elephantsp. 182
The Eyeteeth of the Buddhap. 185
Daoxuan's Toothp. 187
The Kalingan / Sri Lankan Toothp. 190
Relics and Rulep. 196
Puja and Perahera: God, King, and Monkp. 199
Personal Pietyp. 203
The Tours of the Chinese Toothp. 205
Conclusionp. 210
Relics and Eschatologyp. 211
The Buddha's Bowl: A Recycled Relicp. 211
The Buddha's Robep. 216
Mahakasyapa and the Buddha's Robep. 218
The Decline of the Dharma and the Parinirvana of the Relicsp. 221
Conclusionp. 226
Conclusionsp. 229
Relics and the Biographical Processp. 229
Relics and Buddhologyp. 230
Relics and the Spread of Buddhismp. 231
The Episodic Nature of Buddha-relicsp. 232
Relics and the Demands of Darsanp. 234
Relics and the Post-liminal Statep. 235
Relics and Polityp. 235
Strategies of Legitimationp. 236
Relics as Performative Objectsp. 238
The Dialectic of Continuity and Discontinuityp. 239
Bibliographyp. 241
Indexp. 279
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691117645
ISBN-10: 0691117640
Series: Buddhisms: A Princeton University Press Series
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 320
Published: 26th July 2004
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.2  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.48