From Buddhology to Aesthetics: Literary Design and Religious Emotions in the "Lalitavistara"


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


Department of Religion


the Group of Buddhist Studies at the University of California, Berkeley


This project focuses on the Sanskrit Buddhist text the Lalitavistara, an early biography of the Buddha, dated between the second and the seventh centuries C.E.. Through a close analysis of the literary and descriptive art of the Lalitavistara, the emotions that these literary devices construct, and the community who read or hear this text, this project suggests the importance, hitherto often neglected, of literary forms and literary culture to the understanding of Buddhist aesthetics, emotions, and community. On the other hand, it suggests the Buddhist contribution to Sanskrit literary culture and thus suggests the importance of rethinking Sanskrit literary culture through a reflection on a genre of texts that are usually left out of consideration in Sanskrit literary tradition.