Books as Bodies and as Sacred Beings - James W Watts

Books as Bodies and as Sacred Beings - James W Watts

Aspiring Narratives of Previous Births: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Written and Visual Media in Ancient Gandhara

Books as Bodies and as Sacred Beings - James W Watts

Jason Neelis [+-]
Wilfrid Laurier University
Jason Neelis is Associate Professor and Chair, Religion and Culture, at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Description

It has long been known that Buddhist sutras have functioned as relics to embody the Dharma since at least the first centuries C. E. Jason Neelis focuses on narratives of the Buddha’s past lives to show that these stories also transmit the Dharma both verbally and visually. He describes the religious lives of these narratives by tracing them in the iconographic programs of reliefs from ancient Gandhāra, some of the earliest extant examples of Buddhist art. Gandhāri scribes and artists appropriated these narratives by associating them with local people and shrines. As a result, people made pilgrimages to these places from as far away as East Asia in order to retrace the path by which the Buddha became enlightened across his many lives. Neelis argues that the goal of such pilgrims, and of the artists who marked their routes for them, was to come closer to enlightenment themselves by bodily following the spiritual path of the Dharma as described in these narratives.

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Citation

Neelis, Jason. Aspiring Narratives of Previous Births: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Written and Visual Media in Ancient Gandhara. Books as Bodies and as Sacred Beings. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 97-114 Oct 2021. ISBN 9781781798850. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=38095. Date accessed: 22 Jan 2022 doi: 10.1558/equinox.38095. Oct 2021

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