The Making of a Savior Bodhisattva
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: University of Hawai'i Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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This book grew out of my doctoral dissertation, which was submitted to the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Arizona. I am tremendously grateful to the Reverend Hou Zhong for his broad vision of monastic education and to the congregation at the Mahāprajnā Buddhist Society for their unstinting support of my graduate studies. In a similar...
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Introduction: Problems and Perspectives
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My first encounter with the Bodhisattva Dizang 地藏 (Ksitigarbha) took place more than two decades ago at the Chinese temple of a lay Buddhist society in Singapore called the Buddhist Lodge (Jushi lin 居士林). It was the last night of the seventh lunar month of the Chinese calendar, a month traditionally consecrated to the welfare of deceased relatives, especially...
PART 1: Early Images: The Bodhisattva of This Defiled World
1. Early Scriptural Representations: Texts and Contexts
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Imagine being transported across vast expanses of time to early medieval China. What would be one’s initial impressions of the Bodhisattva Dizang? Literary sources suggest that Dizang first appeared in China sometime in the late fourth or early fifth century, first as an audience bodhisattva—that is, a member of the entourage gracing the Buddha’s assemblies in the...
2. Cultic Beginnings Reconsidered
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Two groundbreaking studies were responsible for calling attention to Sanjie jiao and Longmen for understanding early Dizang worship. In a seminal work published in 1927, Yabuki Keiki devotes a chapter to mapping the relationship between Sanjie jiao and Dizang worship. Yabuki shows that Sanjie jiao regarded the...
PART 2: Multiple Images: This World, Hell, and Pure Land
3. Indigenous and Accretionary Scriptures
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Between the sixth and tenth centuries, a small corpus of scriptures foregrounding the Bodhisattva Dizang appeared in China. To a greater or lesser extent, this set of “Dizang scriptures” reflects broader patterns of religious and cultural amalgamation that existed at the time. Each scripture connects Dizang to varied aspects of Chinese religion that cannot...
4. Art and Epigraphy
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Written texts are not the sole medium in which religious negotiations and innovations take place. Visual and material objects document devotional practices that written records often overlook, especially forms of religious piety that take shape outside so-called orthodoxy and are thus marginalized by the elite clerics responsible for writing religious history. As discussed...
5. Narative Literature
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The need to move beyond an exclusive focus on the written word in the study of medieval religion and culture has been voiced repeatedly in modern scholarship. But the study of the oral aspect of medieval culture poses its own methodological problems. Aaron Gurevich, an expert in the field of western medieval popular culture, frames the problem as...
Conclusion: Reassessing Dizang, Lord of the Underworld
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In the modern encounter described in the Introduction, Dizang Bodhisattva presides over a set of afterlife rites, all of which were introduced by Tang Buddhism. On the thirtieth day of the seventh lunar month, Dizang’s birthday, local temple celebrations seamlessly synchronize a medley of rites for feeding deceased ancestors reborn as hungry ghosts and hell...
Appendix 1: The Scripture on the Ten Wheels: Reevaluating the Traditional Dating
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Appendix 2: Antecedents of Dizang? Ksitigarbha in India and Central Asia
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Appendix 3: Translations of Scriptures
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About the Author
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Publication Year: 2007