Thus Have I Seen: Visualizing Faith in Early Indian Buddhism

Thus Have I Seen: Visualizing Faith in Early Indian Buddhism

by Andy Rotman
     
 

Although Buddhism is often depicted as a religion of meditators and philosophers, some of the earliest writings extant in India offer a very different portrait of the Buddhist practitioner. In Indian Buddhist narratives from the early centuries of the Common Era, most lay religious practice consists not of reading, praying, or meditating, but of visually engaging

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Overview

Although Buddhism is often depicted as a religion of meditators and philosophers, some of the earliest writings extant in India offer a very different portrait of the Buddhist practitioner. In Indian Buddhist narratives from the early centuries of the Common Era, most lay religious practice consists not of reading, praying, or meditating, but of visually engaging with certain kinds of objects. These visual practices, moreover, are represented as the primary means of cultivating faith, a necessary precondition for proceeding along the Buddhist spiritual path. In Thus Have I Seen: Visualizing Faith in Early Indian Buddhism, Andy Rotman examines these visual practices and how they function as a kind of skeleton key for opening up Buddhist conceptualizations about the world and the ways it should be navigated.
Rotman's analysis is based primarily on stories from the Divyavadana (Divine Stories), one of the most important collections of ancient Buddhist narratives from India. Though discourses of the Buddha are well known for their opening words, "thus have I heard" - for Buddhist teachings were first preserved and transmitted orally - the Divyavadana presents a very different model for disseminating the Buddhist dharma. Devotees are enjoined to look, not just hear, and visual legacies and lineages are shown to trump their oral counterparts. As Rotman makes clear, this configuration of the visual fundamentally transforms the world of the Buddhist practitioner, changing what one sees, what one believes, and what one does.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195366150
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
12/23/2008
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
3 Months

Table of Contents


Introduction 3 Pt. I The Practice of Sraddha
1 Seeing and Knowing 23
2 Getting and Giving 39 Pt. II The Practice of Prasada
3 Agency and Intentionality 65
4 Participation and Exclusion 89
5 Proximity and Presence 113
6 Politics and Aesthetics 129 Pt. III Seeing the Buddha
7 Past and Present 151
8 Images and Imagination 177 Epilogue 197 Appendix Contents of the Divyavadana 203 Abbreviations 205 Notes 209 Bibliography 281 Index 311

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