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Between Love, Renunciation, and Compassionate Heroism: Reading Sanskrit Buddhist Literature through the Prism of Disgust

Institute for the Preservation and Conservation of Ancient Chinese Books, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China
Religions 2020, 11(9), 471; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11090471
Received: 15 July 2020 / Revised: 6 September 2020 / Accepted: 10 September 2020 / Published: 15 September 2020
Disgust occupies a particular space in Buddhism where repulsive aspects of the human body are visualized and reflected upon in contemplative practices. The Indian tradition of aesthetics also recognizes disgust as one of the basic human emotions that can be transformed into an aestheticized form, which is experienced when one enjoys drama and poetry. Buddhist literature offers a particularly fertile ground for both religious and literary ideas to manifest, unravel, and entangle in a narrative setting. It is in this context that we find elements of disgust being incorporated into two types of Buddhist narrative: (1) discouragement with worldly objects and renunciation, and (2) courageous act of self-sacrifice. Vidyākara’s anthology of Sanskrit poetry (Subhāṣitaratnakoṣa) and the poetics section of Sa skya Paṇḍita’s introduction to the Indian systems of cultural knowledge (Mkhas pa rnams ’jug pa’i sgo) offer two rare examples of Buddhist engagement with aesthetics of emotions. In addition to some developed views of literary critics, these two Buddhist writers are relied on in this study to provide perspectives on how Buddhists themselves in the final phase of Indian Buddhism might have read Buddhist literature in light of what they learned from the theory of aesthetics. View Full-Text
Keywords: disgust; Buddhist literature; Indian aesthetics; rasa; Subhāṣitaratnakoṣa; Buddhacarita; Nāgānanda; Sa skya Paṇḍita disgust; Buddhist literature; Indian aesthetics; rasa; Subhāṣitaratnakoṣa; Buddhacarita; Nāgānanda; Sa skya Paṇḍita
MDPI and ACS Style

Li, S. Between Love, Renunciation, and Compassionate Heroism: Reading Sanskrit Buddhist Literature through the Prism of Disgust. Religions 2020, 11, 471.

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