Surūpa-avadāna of the Avadānaśataka depicted at Borobudur. Photograph courtesy of Anandajoti Bhikkhu CC-BY-SA3.0 photodharma.net
Time: Monday February 14, 2022 – 4:00pm GMT/ 8:00am PST/ 10:00am CST/ 11:00am EST
Abstract: Across various Buddhist texts we find, again and again, a story of how the Buddha in a past life (as Bodhisattva) made a great sacrifice in exchange for a single verse of true teaching. Although we can interpret such stories as simply glorifications of Buddha or dharma, more interesting questions also arise, such as: What is the nature of the teaching and how is it available in the world before the Buddha’s awakening? How does the Bodhisattva’s sacrifice – of wealth, body, life and family – in exchange for a verse of teaching relate to other stories in which he makes similar sacrifices but for different reasons? Why does the huge Pāli jātaka collection fail to include any stories of this type and what does that tell us about perceptions of the Bodhisattva across different contexts? In this paper I will offer some preliminary answers to these questions, and explore the implications of this cluster of stories for our understandings of the relationship between sacrifice, dharma and Buddhahood.
About the Speaker: Naomi Appleton is Senior Lecturer in Asian Religions at the University of Edinburgh. Her primary research interest is the role of stories in the construction, communication and challenge of religious ideas in early India. She has a particular passion for jātaka stories (stories of the Buddha’s past lives) but also enjoys exploring the ways in which the narrative traditions of Buddhist, Jain and Hindu traditions interact. She is the author of three monographs and a range of other articles and books on related themes, including translations of Pāli and Sanskrit narrative texts.
This event is organized by the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford; sponsored by Lingyin Temple, Hangzhou China.