Relics of the Buddha

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Princeton University Press, 2004 - Philosophy - 290 pages
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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.

 

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buddha relics

Contents

XI
21
XII
26
XIII
28
XIV
40
XV
44
XVI
46
XVII
47
XVIII
56
XXXVIII
144
XXXIX
146
XL
148
XLI
153
XLII
156
XLIII
171
XLIV
175
XLVII
178

XIX
65
XX
67
XXI
68
XXII
81
XXIII
90
XXIV
94
XXV
95
XXVI
96
XXVII
97
XXVIII
102
XXIX
106
XXX
111
XXXI
112
XXXII
117
XXXIII
118
XXXIV
120
XXXV
121
XXXVI
132
XXXVII
140
XLVIII
181
XLIX
186
L
201
LI
206
LII
207
LIII
212
LIV
222
LV
225
LVI
226
LVII
227
LVIII
228
LIX
230
LX
231
LXII
232
LXIII
234
LXIV
235
LXV
237
LXVI
275
Copyright

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Popular passages

Page 13 - hair of the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, colon, intestines, stomach,
Page xxi - cast the pieces into a brazier which stood ready for the purpose; after which the ashes and the charcoal together were cast into the river, in sight of all
Page xii - helped me in the writing of this book, and I would like to express my gratitude to them here.

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About the author (2004)

John S. Strong is Professor of Religion and Chair of the Religion and Philosophy Department at Bates College. He is the author of several books on Buddhism, including The Legend of King Aśoka and The Legend and Cult of Upagupta (both from Princeton).

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