|Title / Titel||Religious difference in the debate narratives of the Pali Canon|
|Abstract (PDF, 14 KB)|
|Original title / Originaltitel||Konstruktionen religiöser Differenz im frühen Buddhismus: Differenzreflexion und Abgrenzungsmechanismen in Lehrgesprächen des Pali-Kanons (Dissertation)|
|Summary / Zusammenfassung||This study aims at investigating the relationship between early Buddhism and its religious environment. It focuses on a literary analysis of the Buddha’s religious teaching debates as transmitted in the Pali canon. Particular attention will be brought to the literary construction of the non-Buddhist opponent (or counterpart) in the dialogue situation.
Many texts of the canonical literature of Theravada Buddhism are cast in the literary form of historicising narratives about debates involving the Buddha. Audience and counterparts include disciples or devotees, but also adherents of other, non-Buddhist religious groups and doctrines. These texts provide important information about the religious environment in which the Buddha and his disciples lived. At the same time, the debate genre represents a literary device which has become an essential means of Buddhist self-portrayal and self-understanding.
The literary creation of an opponent within canonical scriptures generally serves to enhance the presentation of one’s own prefered teaching. Of great interest are the means and arguments used to demarcate different positions, as well as the picture drawn of the religious environment from which the authors of the texts want to distinguish and dissociate themselves.
Careful analysis of the literary dialogues will enable us to draw conclusions about the “religious market” in which Buddha and his devotees participated, and uncover their differentiated strategies of standing up to the diverse religious movements at this time’s competition. It remains to be seen to what extent the generally accepted perception of the Buddha as a peaceful, tolerant figure will persist. Buddha as a figure of power, apologetics, and dogmatics may well represent alternative possibilities, that is a Buddha who would have been conscious of his situation as one competitor among others and who would have tried to fight against this.
The study’s aim is not to hypothetically reconstruct the “historical” Buddha, but to question the homogenised picture Buddhist tradition conveys of its historical origins.
|Publications / Publikationen||- C. Widmer, Reflexion religiöser Differenz und die Darstellung des 'Anderen' im buddhistischen Lehrgespräch – Ein Arbeitsbericht, in: Asiatische Studien/Études asiatiques 62 (1, 2008) 425-446.
- C. Widmer, "…und dann wurde er einer der Arahants…". Erzählungen über den Werdegang zu Lebzeiten Erlöster im Majjhimanikāya, in: A. Bigger, R. Krajnc, A. Mertens & M. Schüpbach (Hg.), Release from Life - Release in Life: Indian Perspectives on Individual Liberation (Welten Süd- und Zentralasiens/Worlds of South and Inner Asia/Mondes de l’Asie du Sud et de l’Asie Centrale, Bern – New York: P. Lang, 2010, 303-325.
- PhD dissertation completed december 2011, accepted April 2012 (Faculty of Theology, Faculty of Arts and Letters); publication in prep.
|Keywords / Suchbegriffe||Early Buddhism, Pali canon, discourse analysis, religious identity, boundary definition, self-portrayal vs. portrayal of the other, reflection on difference, religious history of ancient India|
|Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
|Other links to external web pages||http://www.religionswissenschaft.uzh.ch|
|Funding source(s) /
|Universität Zürich (position pursuing an academic career), Forschungskredit der Universität Zürich
PhD thesis, submitted December 2011
|In collaboration with /
In Zusammenarbeit mit
|Duration of Project / Projektdauer||Feb 2006 to Dec 2011|