4. Are Relics Important to Buddhists?

Buddhism in Five Minutes - Elizabeth J. Harris

Kevin Trainor [+-]
University of Vermont
TRAINOR KEVIN specializes in South Asian religious traditions. His area of research includes Theravada Buddhist traditions, especially Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Other research interests include gender analysis and ritual studies. He completed an M. Div. degree in Church History at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and a Ph.D. in Religion at Columbia University; his B.A. in Religion is from Colgate University. His publications include: Embodying the Dharma: Buddhist Relic Veneration in Asia, edited with David Germano (SUNY Press, 2004), Buddhism: The Illustrated Guide (Oxford University Press, 2004), Relics, Ritual , and Representation in Buddhism: Rematerializing the Sri Lankan Theravada Tradition (Cambridge University Press, 1997), “Constructing a Buddhist Ritual Site: Stupa and Monastery Architecture”, in Unseen Presence: The Buddha and Sanchi , edited by Vidya Dehejia (Marg Publications, 1996), “In the Eye of the Beholder: Nonattachment and the Body in Subha’s Verse (Therigatha 71)”, Journal of the American Academy of Religion 61 (1993): 57-79, and “When Is a Theft Not a Theft? Relic Theft and the Cult of the Buddha’s Relics in Sri Lanka”, Numen 39, (1992): 1-26.


In Buddhism in Five Minutes , academic specialists offer answers to over 80 questions about Buddhism that people curious about Buddhism might ask. The questions cover the Buddha, what the Buddha taught, Buddhist monasticism and the role of lay people, the historical development of Buddhism, Buddhist art, Buddhist ethics, Buddhist responses to other religions, and Buddhist thought on contemporary issues. They include: Who is the fat Buddha figure? Can we know what the historical Buddha taught? What is Nirvāṇa? Why do Buddhists meditate? Does Buddhism support gender equality? What is Zen Buddhism? Are Buddhists pacifist? What do Buddhists think about those who are LGBTQI? Are alcohol and drugs ever acceptable to Buddhists? How do Buddhists view Artificial Intelligence? Are there Buddhists in Latin America? Taken together the questions cover most aspects of Buddhist belief and practice in the contemporary world. The collection is sponsored by the UK Association for Buddhist Studies but contributors are drawn from Asia, North America and Latin America, as well as Europe. The questions are answered in accessible, non-specialist language without too many footnotes. Each should take not much more than five minutes to read.

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Trainor, Kevin. 4. Are Relics Important to Buddhists?. Buddhism in Five Minutes. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Jan 2022. ISBN 9781800500907. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=40741. Date accessed: 27 Feb 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.40741. Jan 2022

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