Pure Land Roots: Origins

Pure Land Roots: Origins

  • Saturday, June 1, 2013 | 1:15 – 2:45pm | Gage Residence, Fort Camp Lounge

Robert Szuksztul (Jagiellonian University) “Possible Roots of the Pure Land Buddhist Notion of Practice in Light of Some Early Buddhist Sources”

Many constitutive ideas of Pure Land Buddhism can be traced even in the earliest strata of Buddhist texts, such as the Pali Canon. They are concerning the characteristics of Buddha, descriptions of some idealised lands as well as a set of practices and attitudes leading to the rebirth there. I will try to illustrate that several of such seminal ideas of the last category, like faith (p. pasanna, saddhā), vows (p. paṇidhi) or recollections (p. anussati), are connected in the Pali Canon with householders or with monks of minor abilities and are oriented towards the goal of reaching heaven instead of attaining nirvana. The development of practice in the Pure Land tradition may be thus seen as a consequence of (a) putting emphasis on Early Buddhist practices leading to easy rebirth in heaven as well as (b) adapting these to new ideas in cosmology thus replacing heavens with pure lands.

M.K. Edwards Leese (Independent Scholar) “On the Roots of the Pure Land Tradition: The South Asian Context and the Buddhist Cave Sanctuary as Heavenly Realm”

This paper addresses the South Asian background of the Pure Land tradition. Drawing upon various sources—Buddhist sites, imagery, architecture, inscriptions and texts (including Pāli references to cosmology and meditative states)—the paper offers evidence that certain cave-sanctuaries refer to specific heavens. The paper then identifies notable images within an excavated vihāra’s side-chapel as Amitāyus/Amitābha with his attendants and holds that the chapel itself can be associated with the heaven of Sukhāvatī, a “Pure Land.” After considering details of the chapel’s immediate and extended context, the paper discusses the chapel’s date and link with Pure Land developments elsewhere in Asia.

Sonam Spalzin (Qualified-University Grant Commission N.E.T.) “Archaeological Investigation of Buddhism in Kashimir”

Located on the northern most part of India, Kashmir played a pivotal role in the dissemination of Buddhism to Ladakh, Central Asia, from Central Asia to China, etc. During the ancient period, Kashmir was formed a part of Gandhara. Later it was divided and it is certain that Buddhism came to Gandhara and Kashmir at the same time. Though there are controversies among scholars regarding the date of emergence of Buddhism in Kashmir, present paper, based on the archaeological data, entails an attempt to prove that Buddhism made inroads into the valley of Kashmir as early as third century B.C. The fact is that Srinagri, present Pandrethan the capital of Kashmir was founded by Asoka. Towards the southern side, above the mountain spur, he is credited to have built a huge stupa in honour of the Buddha. Subsequently vigorously dissemination of Buddhism begin with the advent of Kushanas particularly when Kanishka hosted by the fourth Buddhist council in Kashmir architectural and imagery remains of Kushanas period are encountered from Harwan, Ushkara etc. The architectural grandeurs unearthed from sites like Pandrethan, Harwan, Ushkara, Malangpur, Parihaspora, etc. help us to understand the effluence stage of Buddhism under various royal patrons.