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Searching for the Origins of Mahayana and Moving toward a Better Understanding of Early Mahayana
Author Tsai, Yao-ming (著)
Source Dissertation Abstracts International
Volumev.59 n.3 Section A
PublisherProQuest LLC
Publisher Url
LocationAnn Arbor, MI, US [安娜堡, 密西根州, 美國]
Content type期刊論文=Journal Article
InstitutionUniversity of California, Berkeley
AdvisorLancaster, Lewis R.
Publication year1998
KeywordIndian Literature; Treatment of Mahayana Buddhism; Folk Belief Systems Religion In India; Mahayana Buddhism; Treatment in Indian Literature
AbstractFar from being a monolithic whole, early Mahayana, recorded in a variety of documentary mediums, is a melange of different practices and teachings that developed and altered over time. Our body of documents, incomplete and complex, leave the origins and formative stages of these practices and teachings veiled in obscurity. In an effort to add to our overall understanding of Mahayana, this study proposes a methodology that will first recognize the multiplicity of early Mahayana documents and the obscurity of their formative stages; then ask how our extant documents can be applied to different categories, such as early Mahayana, its formative stages and its origins; and finally explore a new approach to the age-old inquiry into what characterizes Mahayana.

The present study begins with an examination of the ways scholars have defined or characterized Mahayana. In particular this study explores what the notion of origin means to a rigorous study of Mahayana, paying special attention to how scholars' conclusions about the characterization of Mahayana are shaped by the ways in which they inquire into the date or the place of its origins. I argue that such discourses almost inadvertently fall prey to linear notions of development or lead to a hasty localization of Mahayana's geographical origins.

I further explore the relevance of the origin-discourse to the analysis of early Mahayana by tracing through three major documentary mediums, textual, epigraphical, and visual sources. In considering a wide range of documents, I weigh each medium's yana distinction and raise concerns about commonly cited exemplars in identifying each medium with the Mahayana tradition. This study demonstrates both how our conceptualization of Mahayana has influenced our interpretation of documentary sources and how our understanding of early Buddha images has shaped our exploration of early Mahayana. Finally, I concentrate especially on discerning the significance of the term bodhisattva-samyaktva-niyama for further exploration into the dynamics of Buddhist yanas.
Created date1999.12.28
Modified date2022.03.31

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