Borrowed Arguments: Scriptural Authority and Religious Debate in South Asia, Seventh – Thirteenth Centuries


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


Department of Religion


My project reconstructs the history of Buddhist arguments related to the justification of scriptural authority during the period that begins with the activity of Dignaga in the sixth century and ends with the twilight of Buddhist intellectual production in mainland South Asia during the thirteenth. This period is of importance to the history of Buddhism as it witnessed the rapid expansion of epistemological and tantric text-traditions that arose in conversation with the comparable traditions of non-Buddhists. My project argues that epistemological engagement with Mimamsa, Shaiva, and other groups transformed Buddhist standards of scriptural authority and impacted exegetical strategies used by tantric commentators wrestling with a new corpus of texts. This dissertation illuminates further our understanding of these developments by tracing the history of Buddhist and non-Buddhist approaches to scriptural authority and by interpreting these approaches and their influence within the broader field of cultural production within which they developed.