Genealogies of Mahayana Buddhism offers a solution to a problem that some have called the holy grail of Buddhist studies: the problem of the "origins" of Mahayana Buddhism. In a work that contributes both to a general theory of religion and power for religious studies as well as to the problem of the origin of a Buddhist movement, Walser argues that that it is the neglect of political and social power in the scholarly imagination of the history of Buddhism that has made the origins of Mahayana an intractable problem. Walser challenges commonly-held assumptions about Mahayana Buddhism, offering a fascinating new take on its genealogy that traces its doctrines of emptiness and mind-only from the present day back to the time before Mahayana was "Mahayana." In situating such concepts in their political and social contexts across diverse regimes of power in Tibet, China and India, the book shows that what was at stake in the Mahayana championing of the doctrine of emptiness was the articulation and dissemination of court authority across the rural landscapes of Asia.
This text will be will be of interest to undergraduate and postgraduate students and scholars of Buddhism, religious studies, history and philosophy.
Joseph Walser is Associate Professor of Religion at Tufts University, USA.
Acknowledgements Part I: Genealogies of Mahayana Introduction: On Origins and Genealogies Mahayana in Retrospect: From My House to the Dalai Lama (looking back from 2017 - 1930) Assessing the Essence Tibet as Buddhist: Tracing the Lines of Power Emptiness and the Analytic of Power Inculcating Dispositions to Authority: the Kalacakra Mahayana in the Republic, Mahayana in the Empire: Tracing "Religion" from Republican China to the Early Qing Dynasty (1920's - 1723) Religion vs. Superstition in 20th Century East Asia The Fin de Siecle Turning Point The Qing Imperium and the Usefulness of Mahayana The Yonghegong Temple in Beijing and the Political Work of Monuments Emperor Qianlong: the Tantric Initiate and the Tantric State Tantra, Emptiness and the Reincarnate Emperor/Lama, or why it's never too late to have a venerable past. Yongzheng Emperor and the Great Ming Debate The Image of Emptiness across the Landscape of Power (China: 11th Cent. B.C.E - 15th Cent. C.E.) The Ancestor Image The Image of Emptiness: Di, Space and the Celestial Pole The Image of the Earth and control of the cults Exorcism and the State: When possession is nine-tenths Religion in the Service of Taxation Buddhist Exorcism and the Heart of Mahayana Conclusion Buddha Veda: an Indian Genealogy of Emptiness (20th century - 6th century CE.) Emptiness and Power in Orissa: From Mahima Dharma Sampradaya to Jagannatha of Puri Buddhism and Brahmanism in Maitripa (ca. 1010-1097 CE) Bhaviveka's 6th Century Mahayana Bhaviveka, Mahayana and Yogacara Bhaviveka, Mahayana and Brahmanism Preliminary Conclusion Part II: The Genealogy of the Perfection of Wisdom What did the text of the Perfection of Wisdom look like? The Versions The Quest for the Ur-Sutra The Core Pericope The Ending Subhuti's Non-Apprehension The Mindlessness Section The Message of the Original Perfection of Wisdom Mahayana Bodhisattvas What's missing? Mahayana Sutra as Palimpsest: Discerning Traces of the Tripitaka Beyond "origin" as mere event Heteroglossia and Textual Rationale Intertextuality and Adaptation in Buddhist Literature The Non-Apprehension section and its Intertexts Sermon on Selflessness? Nominalism? Cessation of Cognition Selflessness... but differently The Perfected as Untraceable Fearlessness Abhidharma echoes Conclusion: The Perfection of Wisdom Palimpsest Part Two: Brahmanical Writings on the Tripitaka The Importance of Incoherence The Context of Abhidharma Literature? The Context of Other Schools? The Context of Luminous Thought and Varieties of Unaware Thought The Context of Acitta Neither Existing nor Not Existing as Anti-Brahmanical Dependent Origination The Context of Absence of Mental Construction (avikalpa) Nirvikapla Brahmanical Intertexts and their Implications Placing Early Mahayana Placing the Perfection of Wisdom in the Early Mahayana Suite Manjusri's Inquiry Concerning the Office of the Bodhisattva Placing the Early Perfection of Wisdom Mistaken Sounds Subhuti's Aranavihara: Preaching or Penetration? Emptiness, Brahmin Nuns, Tulkus and the Power of Possession Putting it together Conclusion On Sites and Stakes: Meditation on Emptiness and Imperial Aspirations Shifting Contexts, Shifting Interpretations The Unnabhabrahmanasutta and the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad on cosmic foundations The Horse Sacrifice Piling the Fire Altar and Legitimation Regress Buddhist Brahmins On Power and Reproduction Sovereign Echoes: on Manhood and Celibacy; On thrones and Crowns Buddhist Brahmodya as court debates The Mahayana Genealogy from The Vedas to the Sutras to Tantra to Zen Index