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Buddhist Medical Demonology in The Sūtra of the Seven Buddhas

Tibet Himalaya Initiative, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
Religions 2019, 10(4), 255;
Received: 27 February 2019 / Revised: 25 March 2019 / Accepted: 31 March 2019 / Published: 9 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhist Medicine in India, Tibet, and Mongolia)
PDF [297 KB, uploaded 9 April 2019]


This essay begins with a brief discussion of the marginalization of demonology in the study of both Indian Buddhist traditions and Āyurvedic medicine. Unlike the study of Buddhist traditions in other geographic regions, there has been relatively little scholarship on the dialogue between Indian Buddhist communities and the localized spirit deity cults with which they have interacted for more than two millennia. The modern study of Āyurverda, with few exceptions, demonstrates a similar trend in the marginalization of bhūtavidyā, or demonology, which has constituted a legitimate branch of Āyurvedic medicine from at least the time that the earliest Āyurvedic compendium, the Carakasaṃhitā, was composed. This essay argues that this lack of proper attention to Indian Buddhist and Āyurvedic medical demonology is symptomatic of a broader, persistent bias in the human sciences. The essay then examines a handful of stories from the Karmaśataka, a collection of Buddhist avadānas, to argue that certain Buddhist communities may have held their own biases against systems of medical demonology, albeit for entirely different reasons. The balance of this essay then concludes with an analysis of The Sūtra of the Seven Buddhas that presents this work as an example of Buddhist medical demonology. View Full-Text
Keywords: Āyurveda; Buddhist medicine; demonology; kriyātantra; disenchantment Āyurveda; Buddhist medicine; demonology; kriyātantra; disenchantment
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Krug, A.C. Buddhist Medical Demonology in The Sūtra of the Seven Buddhas. Religions 2019, 10, 255.

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