02: Buddhism and Its Relation to Other Religions

Fri., Aug. 22nd, 09:00-14:30

Why Did Buddhism and Jainism Develop Differently in India?

Bronkhorst, Johannes (University of Lausanne, Pully, CHE)

Buddhism and Jainism arose in the same region of India, roughly during the same period. Both of them offered solutions to the same problem: how does one put an end to potentially endless rebirths. Both of them put the remains of their founders in stūpas, or so it seems. Both exerted a profound influence on one another during the early period. Buddhism incorporated what we may safely consider jaina practices in its own arsenal of practices at an early stage, even before its Sūtras had attained their classical form. Influence the other way round, from Buddhism onto Jainism, becomes visible at a time when Buddhism had elaborated its Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma: a number of its features can be recognized in Śvetāmbara canonical texts.

With so many features in common, how do we explain that the developments of Buddhism and Jainism on the Indian subcontinent are so radically different? Indeed, one of the striking differences is that Jainism only developed on the Indian subcontinent, whereas Buddhism developed both there and elsewhere. But as striking as it is, this difference does not appear to explain all. Already on the Indian subcontinent Buddhism developed in a manner quite different from Jainism. I therefore propose to consider some developments of Buddhism and Jainism that took place on the subcontinent, and what is more: in geographical regions that the two religions shared.

This paper will draw attention to a number of divergences between the two religions that become manifest during the Kuṣāṇa period, especially in and around Mathurā.


Discovery of a Text Comparing the Three Teachings Written in the Tang Dynasty in Japan

Fujii, Jun (Komazawa University, Tokyo, JPN)

Comparing the advantages of the three teachings (Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism) is one of the famous topics in Chinese philosophy in the Tang dynasty. However, there are few texts that deal with this topic other than the Bian zheng lun, Discriminating Which Teaching is Correct, written by the apologistic Buddhist monk named Fa-lin (572-640). A manuscript treating this topic, Sanjiao buqilun, The Three Teachings are not of Equal Value, was identified by me in the Tokyo Metropolitan Library. I published it in 2011. Here I will present this text and contribute further research in this field.

The text was written by an aristocrat named Yao-bien in the 8th century. Yao-bien was not an aristocrat of high status, and he does not seem to have been a famous person because there is no record about him in historical documents.

The text was introduced into Japan by the famous Japanese monks Saichō and Kūkai in the early Heian period, ca. 800 AD. Both of them noted this text in their catalog of books imported by them from China. Studies in the modern era said that this text was missing or identified it as one Dunhuang text, S5645 (Makita Tairyō, 1912-2011). However, the new discovery proves this identification to be false. After I found this text, another two manuscripts written between the 15th and 19th century have come to light. One was preserved in the Ishiyama temple and another in one temple of Koyasan in Japan.

The text was written under the following circumstances. Around 724 AD, under Xuanzong’s reign, female Taoists advocated that there is no difference between Buddhism and Taoism. But Yao-bien refuted this idea and evaluated Buddhism higher than Taiosm.

The text discusses the advantages of each by comparing the family lineage and the number of disciples from biographies of Confucius, Laozi and Buddha, the founders of the teachings. Because Buddha is described as a superhuman in Buddhist scriptures, compared with Confucius and Laozi, Buddha is the greatest and Buddhism is best according to this text.

As the author was an aristocrat or layman, not a monk, his text has a few pecularities. First, Yao-bien emphasizes the rule to acquire good fortune, and to remove misfortune and calamities, something mainstream Buddhism does not necessarily emphasize. Second, Yao-bien recognizes the rule of discrimination by which Buddhism gives a negative sense or has an affirmative recognition, compared with orthodox Buddhist ideas. Third, Yao-bien frowned upon the Taoist’s idea of being born in heaven, but praises the idea of being reborn in the paradise of Buddhism. I will introduce the outline of this discovered text in this presentation.


Buddhism and the Religious ‘Other’: Six Responses in Text and Tradition

Harris, Elizabeth (Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool, GBR)

In this paper I argue that Buddhist responses to the religious ‘other’ can be categorized into six broad areas: adherence to a code of conduct predicated on respect for the ‘other’, co-existence and non-violent yet rigorous debate; the robust teaching of ideas that opposed or challenged those taught by other religious leaders; ridicule of the practices/beliefs of the ‘other’; the demotion or subordination of these practices/beliefs; the appropriation and modification of practices and symbols from the religious ‘other’; polemical defence of Buddhism if a perceived threat to the dhamma from the ‘other’ is identified. The first five responses can be seen both in the texts and in the lived tradition. The sixth emerged most visibly during the period of European colonial expansionism in the nineteenth century and continues to the present.

To illustrate these responses, I take examples from the Pali texts and from the lived Buddhist tradition of Sri Lanka. With reference to the latter, I emphasize particularly the co-existence that developed in the country between Buddhists and Saivites, and Buddhists and Muslims, rooted in the first and the fourth of the above responses (although the third emerged occasionally). This co-existence, however, was threatened in the twentieth century by ethnic conflict, and continues to be threatened by nationalist Buddhists seeking to create sacred areas that are peopled by Buddhists alone. I illustrate this with reference to Dambulla, a town in the central province of the country that is home to a prestigious and ancient Buddhist temple complex, the ‘Golden Temple of Dambulla’. In 2012, the mosque in Dambulla was attacked by Buddhists and demands were made that it should be moved further away from the Buddhist temple. In 2013, a similar attack was made on the Hindu kovil with a similar demand: that the kovil should be moved.

The paper builds on my contribution on ‘Buddhism and the Religious Other’ in a forthcoming book: Understanding Interreligious Relations (Eds. Douglas Pratt, David Cheetham & David Thomas, Oxford University Press, 2014). It adds to this the case study of Dambulla as an illustration of the theoretical framework proposed.


Criticism of Heretics in the Laṅkāvatārasūtra: Towards Constructing a Philosophy of Multicultural Coexistence from the Point of View of Buddhism

Horiuchi, Toshio (Toyo University, Bunkyo-ku Tokyo, JPN)

The Laṅkāvatārasūtra (hereafter LAS) is a Mahāyāna scripture composed at the time of the middle period of the Mahāyāna in India. We have the Sanskrit original, three Chinese translations and two Tibetan translations (one is a translation from Chinese).

There are two Tibetan commentaries on the LAS. One is Jñānaśrībhadra’s, from the 11th century. The second commentary is Jñānagarbha’s, which cites Jñānaśrībhadra and must therefore have been published later. Although they have a Tantric point of view, they are invaluable when one wishes to read the terse phrases and tough compounds that appear in the sūtra in the Indian and Tibetan traditions.

The sūtra is unique in several aspects. One of the most unique characteristics of this sūtra is that Mahāmati, interlocutor of the sūtra, sometimes dares to condemn the Buddha by identifying his teachings with those of heretics (tīrthakara) or asks the difference between the similar teachings of heretics. The sūtra also criticises heretic teachings such as those of Sāṃkhya, Vaiśeṣika, and Lokāyata, referring to their names. Thus, we can know how the sūtra differentiated the doctrine of Buddhism from that of heretics and how it thought of the innate characteristics of the Buddhist doctrine. We can also read these arguments as a dialogue with heretics as suggesting how Buddhism faces the heretics. Fortunately enough, thanks to the two Tibetan commentaries, we can further know which doctrines of the heretics this sūtra criticised.

In this presentation, I would like to take up some of the criticisms of heretics and investigate their characteristics from the textual point of view by the guide of the two Tibetan commentaries. And further, I investigate if there is any possibility to extract the wisdom of cultural coexistence from the point of view of Buddhism from these arguments.


Buddhism and the Pātañjala Yogaśāstra

Maas, Philipp (University of Vienna, Department for South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, Vienna, AUT)

The Pātañjala Yogaśāstra (PYŚ), a work of the philosophical system of Sāṅkhya-Yoga that can be dated with some confidence to the early fifth century CE, reflects a rather ambivalent attitude of its author(s) towards Buddhist religion and philosophy. On the one hand, the work contains harsh polemics against philosophical positions that are associated with the Sautrāntika school of Śrāvakayāna Buddhism and with the early Yogācāra school of Mahāyāna Buddhism. On the other hand, as was shown in several publications by Senart, La Vallée Poussin, Larson, and others, many yogic key terms and conceptions are assimilations of corresponding Buddhist counterparts. Moreover, as was shown by Wezler, also the treatment of the philosophical problem of causation in PYŚ 2.28 is based on conceptions that have a close parallel in Asaṅga’s Abhidharma­samuccaya and in Vasubandhu’s Madhyāntavibhāgabhāṣya. In addition, the PYŚ contains an assimilation of the Sarvāstivāda doctrine that all entities exists throughout the three time periods of past, present and future in PYŚ 3.13 and 4.12. A fresh look at this doctrine will be the main topic of this presentation. First, I shall scrutinize the teaching of existence throughout the three time periods in the contexts of the PYŚ and its commentaries, after which I shall compare this teaching with its Buddhist parallels as far as they are accessible to me in Sanskrit, Tibetan translations or translations from Chinese into modern western languages. This will lead me to return to the question of the historical relationship between the Yogic and the Buddhist versions of the doctrine of existence throughout the three time periods. Finally, I shall try to arrive at a preliminary characterization of the nuanced intellectual attitude of the author of the PYŚ towards Buddhism, which, I hope, will contribute to a better understanding of the complex interrelation between Hinduism and Buddhism in pre-modern South Asia.


Buddhist and Jaina Stories of Śreṇika Bimbisāra and Kūṇika Ajātaśatru: Parallels and Divergences

Wu, Juan (University of Tokyo, Tokyo, JPN)

As two prominent contemporaries of the Buddha and Mahāvīra, the Magadhan king Śreṇika Bimbisāra and his son Kūṇika Ajātaśatru are widely featured in both Buddhist and Jaina literature. In comparing Buddhist and Jaina sources, scholars have generally focused on the shared episode of Kūṇika Ajātaśatru’s causing the death of his father, with rather less attention given to other stories concerning the two figures. For instance, so far as I know, almost no previous study has looked closely into the parallels between Buddhist and Jaina accounts of Kūṇika Ajātaśatru’s previous life, his conception and birth. Also, there seems to have been little exploration of the remarkable divergences between Buddhist and Jaina attitudes towards the salvation of the two figures.

In this paper, I will take an overall look at Buddhist and Jaina stories of Kūṇika Ajātaśatru and Śreṇika Bimbisāra, investigating into the afore-mentioned parallels and divergences. In particular, I will consider how the divergences may tell us about different karmic views and soteriological emphases of Buddhists and Jainas who composed the stories. Remarks will also be made on Buddhist and Jaina accounts of Kūṇika Ajātaśatru’s political activities, which have not been given enough attention in previous studies.


Oirot Prophecy: Arrested Buddhism in the Altai Area, 1890s-1920s

Znamenski, Andrei (The University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, USA)

The paper discusses a little-known case of the advancement of Tibetan Buddhism in southern Siberia (Mountain Altai) at the turn of the twentieth century. Known as Ak-Jang (White Faith), it represented an attempt of “self-conversion” to Buddhism. Having emerged in opposition to local shamanism, the movement heavily borrowed from Mongolian Buddhism. It was also centered on the prophecy about Oirot-khan, a legendary prince that was expected to come from Mongolia and save the Altaians from Russian land encroachment. For political reasons, earlier scholarship stressed the unique nature of the “White Faith,” downplaying its links with the Mongol-Tibetan world. In contrast, this paper suggests that, culturally and spiritually, the Altai indigenous nomadic population was under the heavy influence of Mongol Buddhism, moving toward the adoption of Tibetan Buddhism – a process that was terminated by the advance of the powerful secular Communist prophecy that arrested this process. The paper is based on archival sources.


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