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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Contents

XI
25
XII
30
XIII
32
XIV
44
XV
48
XVI
50
XVII
51
XVIII
60
XXXVIII
148
XXXIX
150
XL
152
XLI
157
XLII
160
XLIII
175
XLIV
179
XLV
182

XIX
69
XX
71
XXI
72
XXII
85
XXIII
94
XXIV
98
XXV
99
XXVI
100
XXVII
101
XXVIII
106
XXIX
110
XXX
115
XXXI
116
XXXII
121
XXXIII
122
XXXIV
124
XXXV
125
XXXVI
136
XXXVII
144
XLVI
185
XLVII
190
XLVIII
205
XLIX
210
L
211
LI
216
LII
226
LIII
229
LV
230
LVI
231
LVII
232
LVIII
234
LIX
235
LXI
236
LXII
238
LXIII
239
LXIV
241
LXV
279
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Page 17 - 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 1 - 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 xvi - 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 the Charles A. Dana Professor of Religion at Bates College. He received an M.A. from Hartford Seminary and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. His research and teaching focuses on the History of Religions, Asian Religions, and Buddhist Studies.

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