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By Reiko Ohnuma

Head, Eyes, Flesh, and Blood is the 1st finished learn of a imperative narrative subject matter in premodern South Asian Buddhist literature: the Buddha's physically self-sacrifice in the course of his earlier lives as a bodhisattva. undertaking shut readings of news from Sanskrit, Pali, chinese language, and Tibetan literature written among the 3rd century B.C.E. and the past due medieval interval, Reiko Ohnuma argues that this subject matter has had an important effect at the improvement of Buddhist philosophy and culture.Whether he is taking the shape of king, prince, ascetic, elephant, hare, serpent, or god, the bodhisattva time and again provides his physique or elements of his flesh to others. He leaps into fires, drowns himself within the ocean, rips out his tusks, gouges out his eyes, and we could mosquitoes drink from his blood, continuously out of selflessness and compassion and to accomplish the top country of Buddhahood. Ohnuma locations those tales right into a discrete subgenre of South Asian Buddhist literature and ways them like case experiences, reading their plots, characterizations, and rhetoric. She then relates the subject of the Buddha's physically self-sacrifice to significant conceptual discourses within the background of Buddhism and South Asian religions, reminiscent of the types of the present, the physique (both traditional and extraordinary), kingship, sacrifice, ritual providing, and demise. Head, Eyes, Flesh, and Blood finds a really refined and influential notion of the physique in South Asian Buddhist literature and highlights the best way those tales have supplied an incredible cultural source for Buddhists. mixed along with her wealthy and cautious translations of vintage texts, Ohnuma introduces a complete new knowing of an important idea in Buddhists experiences. (6/1/2007)

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Head, Eyes, Flesh, and Blood: Giving Away the Body in Indian Buddhist Literature

Head, Eyes, Flesh, and Blood is the 1st finished learn of a imperative narrative subject in premodern South Asian Buddhist literature: the Buddha's physically self-sacrifice in the course of his past lives as a bodhisattva. engaging in shut readings of news from Sanskrit, Pali, chinese language, and Tibetan literature written among the 3rd century B.

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Extra resources for Head, Eyes, Flesh, and Blood: Giving Away the Body in Indian Buddhist Literature

Example text

Thus, when the hare unexpectedly dies, this death calls attention to itself; it brings home to one the reality of extreme self-sacrifice with new and unanticipated force. This forcefulness derives from the story’s relationship to the larger generic tradition rather than from the story itself. In support of this interpretation, I might point out that Peter Khoroche has claimed that the Jātakamālā does indeed show a much greater concern with emphasizing the bodhisattva ideal of self-sacrifice than does the Pāli Jātaka collection.

Here is another example of the play of generic conventions. In the sixth chapter of Āryaśūra’s Jātakamālā, we find an interesting version of the famous story of the Buddha’s previous birth as a hare, roughly the same story as the one I previously quoted from the Cariyāpitaka. Once ˙ again, this hare lives in the forest with an otter, a jackal, and a monkey, and once again, he delivers a sermon to them on the necessity of offering food and hospitality to wandering travelers, but then immediately begins to fret about his own ability to do so.

This forcefulness derives from the story’s relationship to the larger generic tradition rather than from the story itself. In support of this interpretation, I might point out that Peter Khoroche has claimed that the Jātakamālā does indeed show a much greater concern with emphasizing the bodhisattva ideal of self-sacrifice than does the Pāli Jātaka collection. 5 Thus one could argue that Āryaśūra, when deciding which tales from the earlier tradition to include within his collection, showed disproportionate favor toward the theme of extreme self-sacrifice.

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