The Center for Buddhist Studies is glad to announce the first lecture of the Pu Yin Buddhist Studies Lecture Series in 2019 spring at UA. Prof. Lars Fogelin will give the first lecture on early Buddhism. The lecture is free and open to public.
Prof. Lars Fogelin, School of Anthropology, University of Arizona
Date and Time:
4:00–5:30 pm, Feb. 7 (Thursday).
Tubac Room, Student Union
Material Practice and Metamorphosis of a Sign: Early Buddhist Stupas and the Origin of Mahayana Buddhism
From at least the 3rdcentury BCE, much of Buddhist ritual focused on stupas, stylized replicas of the mounds of earth in which early Buddhists interred relics of the Buddha and other important figures. Beginning in the 2ndcentury BCE, Buddhist monks and nuns (the sangha) in Western India began manipulating the physical shape and proportions of stupasto make them appear taller and more massive than they actually were. These manipulations were intended to assist in asserting monastic authority over the Buddhist laity. These intentional manipulations of the shape of stupas by the sangha unintentionally led to the progressive detachment of the primary signs of Buddhism from their original referents. Where earlier stupas consisted of icons of the Buddha encased within indexes of his presence, later stupas were more abstract symbols of the Buddha and Buddhist theology. This change in the material practice of Buddhism reduced stupas’emotional immediacy in favor of greater intellectual detachment. In the end, this shift in the meaning ascribed to stupas created the preconditions from which the Buddhist image cult and Mahayana Buddhism emerged in the 1stthrough 5thcenturies CE. The development of Mahayana Buddhism and Buddha images signified a return to the iconic worship of the Buddha by the sangha.
Prof. Lars Fogelin, a professor from School of Anthropology at the University of Arizona, studies the archaeology of Buddhism in South Asia. Fogelin also engages in broader research on the archaeology of religion, architecture and the application of the philosophy of science to archaeology. His major publications include the following monographs: An Archaeological History of Indian Buddhism(Oxford2015) and Archaeology of Early Buddhism(Altamira Press 2006).