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Conceiving the Indian Buddhist Patriarchs in China$
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Stuart H. Young

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780824841201

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824841201.001.0001

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Nāgārjuna Divine and the Alchemy of Hagiography

Nāgārjuna Divine and the Alchemy of Hagiography

(p.152) 4 Nāgārjuna Divine and the Alchemy of Hagiography
Conceiving the Indian Buddhist Patriarchs in China

Stuart H. Young

University of Hawai'i Press

Chapter 4 focuses on Chinese sources that depicted Nāgārjuna as a dhāraṇī master, alchemist, and Pure Land denizen, who personally appeared in Chinese oratories to provide his unique blend of ritual repertoires that reportedly derived from ancient India but were fully congruent with time-honored Chinese ritual traditions. These sources potentially engaged a broad range of medieval Chinese audiences and thus insinuated Nāgārjuna into the religious practice of Chinese devotees across social and sectarian divisions. In this context Nāgārjuna was deployed not as a model of emulation, but as an object of veneration for Chinese adepts with a taste for ostensibly Indian thaumaturgic and alchemical rituals. Though recognizably accordant with the liturgical conventions of local Chinese religions, Nāgārjuna’s ritual programs were expressly labeled Indian Buddhist and thus rendered the preserve of Chinese Buddhists.

Keywords:   Nāgārjuna, Pure Land, alchemy, spells, dhāraṇī, liturgy, Longshu wuming lun 龍樹五明論 (Nāgārjuna’s Treatise on the Five Sciences)

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