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Open AccessArticle

For the Love of Dogs: Finding Compassion in a Time of Famine in Pali Buddhist Stories

Department of Religious Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA
Religions 2019, 10(3), 183;
Received: 15 February 2019 / Revised: 6 March 2019 / Accepted: 8 March 2019 / Published: 12 March 2019
This paper focuses on stories from the 13th century Rasavāhinī in which feeding a starving dog is described as an act of great merit, equal even to the care of a monk or the Buddha. It begins with a reevaluation of passages from Buddhist texts that have been taken by scholars as evidence of pan- Buddhist concern for taking care of animals. It argues that they have been over-read and that the Rasavāhinī stories are distinctive. The setting in which these acts occur, a catastrophic famine, helps us to understand the transformation of the despised dog into an object of compassion. In such dire circumstances, when humans themselves behave like animals, compassion for a starving dog is both a new recognition of a fundamental shared kinship between human and animal and a gesture of recovering lost humanity. View Full-Text
Keywords: dogs; Buddhism; famine; merit dogs; Buddhism; famine; merit
MDPI and ACS Style

Granoff, P. For the Love of Dogs: Finding Compassion in a Time of Famine in Pali Buddhist Stories. Religions 2019, 10, 183.

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