Papers on Religion II

4:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Room F

  • Chaired by Stefania Travagnin
  • Laura Lettere, “The Missing Translator: A Study of the Biographies of the Monk Baoyun 寶雲 (376?–449)”
  • Anna Sokolova, “A Missing Buddhist Biography: Li Yong 李邕 (678–747) and His Stele Inscription for Daoxuan 道宣 (596–667)”
  • Xingyi Wang, “Yuanzhao’s Method of Meditation in Pure Land Practice”
  • Jin Sun, “The Relevance of ‘Ghost or Monster Pregnancy 鬼胎’ to Tantric Bhuddism”
  • Pi-fen Chung, “Ancient Indian Astrological Traditions and Tibetan Elements on the Tangut Astral Maṇḍala”

Laura Lettere, “The Missing Translator: A Study of the Biographies of the Monk Baoyun 寶雲 (376?–449)”

This study examines the biography of the monk Baoyun 寶雲 (376?–449) and lists all the titles of the translation projects in which Baoyun was involved. By comparing the information provided by different Buddhist catalogues, several discrepancies between the information on Baoyun provided by Buddhist bibliographer Sengyou 僧祐 (445–518) and by later accounts became evident. While in Sengyou’s catalogue Baoyun is incidentally mentioned as taking part in many translation projects and praised for his knowledge of Indic languages, later biographic accounts and catalogues do not provide recognition of Baoyun’s many contributions. By comparing the information provided by sixth-century catalogues and hagiographies, this study will evidence a shifting characterization of the monk Baoyun’s figure, with particular reference to the importance of his role as translator. This study will focus on these discrepancies and explain the possible reason that led to a marginalization of Baoyun’s role as translator. This study provides a list of Baoyun’s translations based on information derived by historical catalogues; by means of a TACL database search, it will trace internal evidence for Baoyun’s authorship of the translations, thus evidencing connections among apparently unrelated texts.

Anna Sokolova, “A Missing Buddhist Biography: Li Yong 李邕 (678–747) and His Stele Inscription for Daoxuan 道宣 (596–667)”

This paper explores the vinaya monastic community which was active in the prefecture of Zizhou 淄州 (Henan Province) during the mid-Tang dynasty. This community was led by hitherto unknown disciples of Daoxuan 道宣 (596–667) who is regarded as the de facto founder of the vinaya ‘school’ in China. The first recorded biography of Daoxuan was a stele inscription composed by the scholar-official Li Yong 李邕 (678–747). No longer extant, this inscription was the main biographical source on Daoxuan until the Song Dynasty as well as Zanning 贊寜’s (919–1001) primary source for his entry on Daoxuan in the Song gaoseng zhuan 宋高僧傳 (Biographies of Eminent Monks [Compiled] under the Song Dynasty). This paper investigates the intricate network in which Li Yong’s stele inscription for Daoxuan was commissioned and composed. I explore how Li Yong spent several years in Zizhou following his exile from Chang’an. I argue that a group of monks from Zizhou commissioned Li Yong to compose a number of stele inscriptions for Daoxuan himself as well as several of the latter’s disciples and associates who served as national preceptors in the court-sponsored monasteries of Chang’an. Moreover, I argue that some members of the Zizhou group entrusted Li Yong to add their own biographies to his eulogies for these prominent masters. The conclusion is that Zizhou’s monastic community not only helped to establish the vinaya tradition but also cemented Daoxuan’s reputation as a “patriarch” of the vinaya “school.”

Xingyi Wang, “Yuanzhao’s Method of Meditation in Pure Land Practice”

The belief and practice of Amitābha’s Pure Land, often traced to Lushan Huiyuan 廬山慧遠 (334–416) and cultivated through the efforts of Shandao 善導 (613–681), has long attracted scholarly attention. Yet the way in which Amitābha’s Pure Land idea and practice spread widely across all major Buddhist schools and showed considerable social mobilization in the Song, remains insufficiently studied. This paper is structured around Yuanzhao’s 元照 (1048–1116) writings on his sudden conversion and on his idiosyncratic understanding of Pure Land belief. I argue that Yuanzhao’s sudden awakening to Pure Land belief marks his most important divergence from Daoxuan 道宣 (596–667). Yuanzhao deemed that the observation of Vinaya rules alone had ceased to be regarded as adequate for liberation. Working out of his own experience of personal transcendence and influenced by the interest in seeking rebirth in the Pure Land shown by Tiantai thinkers in his circle, Yuanzhao created his own meditative practise of Pure Land Buddhism. He conceptualized the practice of following monastic behaviour codes together with Pure Land practices to form his unique vision of an ethical religious life. However, this combination of ethically disciplined self-formation with faith beyond good and evil was not without cost. When Yuanzhao’s works were brought back and studied by the Pure Land school in Kamakura Japan—which maintains a clear distinction between self-power (Jap. jiriki 自力) and other-power (Jap. tariki 他力)—he was seen as indecisive in his reliance on both.

Jin Sun, “The Relevance of ‘Ghost or Monster Pregnancy (鬼胎)’ to Tantric Buddhism”

“Having a connection with gods, ghosts or monsters 鬼交” is a disease name which was first seen in the Chinese traditional medical books in Wei and Jin Dynasties. The patients were mainly women. People with this disease will experience some symptoms of mental disorder, such as falling into a trance state, suddenly feeling sadness, irritability or fear, tending to be alone, talking to themselves, singing, or claiming to see or hear the voice of gods, ghosts or monsters. Therefore, the patient was thought to be having a connection with gods, ghosts or monsters. And the symptoms mentioned above were considered as the signs of being communicating with them. In many cases, the connection especially refers to sexual relationship.
The interpretation of this disease in medical books had changed slightly over time. For instance, in Song Dynasty, patient with irregular menstruation was thought to be pregnant with a ghost or monster`s child. And this situation was called “ghost or monster pregnancy 鬼孕 “at that time. According to the book Yi jian zhi 夷堅志, records of anomalies in Song Dynasty, woman who had a “monster pregnancy” was treated by reciting the Mahāmāyūrī-vidyārājñī tantra. This paper will discuss the relevance of the “ghost or monster pregnancy” to Tantric Buddhism.

Pi-fen Chung, “Ancient Indian Astrological Traditions and Tibetan Elements on the Tangut Astral Maṇḍala”

This paper approaches a significant and particular topic: astral image and atrological thoughts. It involves a series of cross-cultural issues: Tangut, Tibetan and artistic traditions, ancient Indian astrology, which have been little discussed in academic circles due partially to the relative obscurity of the primary sources. Hence, the purpose of this paper is to explore the possible explanation of the origin of Tangut mandala of Tejapraba Buddha and Nine Planets.
In 1908, Pyotr Kuzmich Kozlov (1863–1935) and his companion made a most sensational discovery in the ruins of the Tangut city of Khara-Khoto in western Inner Mongolia, where they found over 3,500 paintings, scrolls, manuscripts and books. Amongst this vast collection of paintings, there was a peculiar type of depiction of astral images. Obviously, this study of astral images provides clues for exploring how the Tangut people adjusted their religion and culture through the acceptance of the knowledge of Buddhist art from China and Tibet, and then adapted the content to a new socio-political environment.
The astral maṇḍala exhibits an early Tibetan-inspired astral image based on its style and composition. It bears the distinctive Tibetan style, compositional scheme and ancient Indian iconography. In other words, the structure of this maṇḍala highlights close connection between Tangut and Tibetan artistic traditions.
The source of this maṇḍala has never been clear. An astral maṇḍala with such compositional features seems to have no Chinese or Tibetan precedent. Whether it should be considered as a copy from India or even a Tangut creation is still a moot point. It is difficult to assess because our knowledge of the Tibetan elements of Tangut astral paintings during the period is fragmentary.
It is worthy to note, however, that the astral maṇḍala originates from Vedic tradition of India and Babylonian astrology. Hence, the emphasis on the divergent theories aims to afford a complicated background to decode the schema and iconography of the Tangut astral maṇḍala.
To date, there are few texts in relation to the discussion of direction and colours of planets that hinder the investigation of the Tangut astral mandala. The solution to overcome the obstacle is to utilize Indian astrological works. They provide valuable knowledge to scrutinize the configuration of this astral mandala.

Event Timeslots (1)

Room F