Friday 4/11: John Strong, "The Buddha's Miracles at Śrāvastī: A Reconsideration"

John Strong (Bates College) spoke for the Buddhist Studies Seminar on Friday, April 11th, from 5:00 - 7:00pm in the Faculty House, Seminar Room 2. Professor Strong's talk is entitled, "The Buddha's Miracles at Śrāvastī: A Reconsideration."

LISTEN to John Strong's talk here:

Abstract

The great miracle performed by the Buddha at Śrāvastī is often dismissed by scholars as a late addition to the legendary biography of the Buddha, a product of the pietistic imagination of Buddhist devotees.  In fact--together with the episode of the Buddha’s preaching to his mother in Heaven, and his descent back down to earth at Saṃkāśya--the Śrāvastī story appears quite early on as a necessary and expected part of the narrative of the Buddha’s life.   In time, staging a miracle at Śrāvastī came to be listed as one the “obligatory duties” of a Buddha and Śrāvastī itself became one of the eight great pilgrimage sites.   The question is why;  what is it about this tale that made it so important to the tradition?  The answer(s) will involve us in a reexamination of the episode in its many textual variants in light of its connections to buddhological questions, to the annual cycle of Buddhist rituals, and to pilgrimage practices, among other things.