ISBN 9780231137089,Head, Eyes, Flesh, And Blood: Giving Away the Body in Indian Buddhist Literature

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


Reiko Ohnuma






Publication Year 2007

ISBN 9780231137089

ISBN-10 0231137087

Hard Back

Number of Pages 389 Pages
Language (English)

Religion: general

Head, Eyes, Flesh, And Blood is the first comprehensive study of a central narrative theme in premodern South Asian Buddhist literature: the Buddha's bodily self - sacrifice during his previous lives as a bodhisattva. Conducting close readings of stories from Sanskrit, Pali, Chinese, and Tibetan Literature written between the third century B. C. E. and the late medieval period, Reiko Ohnuma argues that this theme has had a major impact on the development of Buddhist philosophy and culture. Whether he takes the form of king, prince ascetic, elephant, hare, serpent, or god, the bodhisattva repeatedly fives his body or parts of his flesh to others. He leaps into fires, drowns himself in the ocean, rips out his tusks, gouges out his eyes, and lets mosquitoes drink from his blood, always out of selflessness and compassion and to achieve the highest state of Buddha hood. Ohnuma places these stories into a discrete subgenre of South Asian Buddhist literature and approaches them like case studies, analyzing their plots, characterizations, and rhetoric. She then relates the theme of the Buddha's bodily self - sacrifice to major conceptual discourses in the history of Buddhism and South Asian religions, such as the categories of the gift, the body (both ordinary and extraordinary), kingship, sacrifice, ritual offering, and death. Head, Eyes, Flesh, and influential perception of the body in South Asian Buddhist literature and Highlights the way in which these stories have provided an important cultural resource for Buddhists. Combined with her rich and careful translation of classic texts, Ohnuma introduces a whole new understanding of a vital concept in Buddhists studies.