The Center for Buddhist Studies and the Department of East Asian Studies are pleased to announce that Tianyu Lei has received the 2023 Lingyin Buddhist Studies Best Paper Award for a paper titled “The Making of a Goddess: Rethinking the History of the Cult of Zhunti (Cundī) in China.” An award ceremony will take place in conjunction with the East Asian Studies ceremony on Friday, May 5, 2023.
Tianyu Lei is a doctoral student in the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Arizona and will graduate in May 2023. His research interests include Buddhism in late imperial China and Chinese Buddhist literature. Recently, Tianyu successfully defended his PhD dissertation, titled “The Mother of All Buddhas: The Formation and Transformation of the Cult of Zhunti (Cundī) in China.” His research paper, titled “The Making of a Goddess: Rethinking the History of the Cult of Zhunti (Cundī) in China,” will be published soon in the peer-reviewed publication Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society.
The cult of Zhunti 准提/準提 (Sanskrit: Cundī) is a unique religious and cultural phenomenon in China. However, the scholarship devoted to its history has long been dominated by two problematic models—the model of “Sinification” according to which the goddess Zhunti is a Chinese Buddhist deity borrowed from an Indian source, and the “evolution” model that depicts the persistence of the Zhunti cult as a continuous and gradual process. Tianyu challenges these views and instead argues that, far from being a foreign transplant, Zhunti is a deity “invented in China,” and there is no evidence of continuity in the cult’s development from the Liao to Ming-Qing times. To justify these assertions, Tianyu reexamines the development of the cult of Zhunti by exploring its vicissitudes throughout history and highlighting the “Chinese creations” in the process of the making of the goddess Zhunti.
For more information: Student Awards | Center for Buddhist Studies | University of Arizona.