Chapter

Ghost Stories

Robert DeCaroli

in Haunting the Buddha

Published in print October 2004 | ISBN: 9780195168389
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835133 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195168380.003.0005
Ghost Stories

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This chapter examines the relationship between local deities and the ancestral dead. There are a vast number of tales in the early Buddhist literature that detail situations in which a dangerous demigod or ghost confronts the Buddha, a monk, or a nun. With few exceptions, these tales conclude when the supernatural being realizes that it is unable to sway or harm its intended victim and, after a brief sermon, the creature ends up being converted to Buddhism as a new guardian of the faith. These tales demonstrate the Buddhist efficacy in helping the dead and relate to the development of the monks’ role as funerary experts. This growing association between the Buddhist community and the dead receives additional support from an analysis of the thousands of votive stupas (relic mounds) that have been dedicated by lay devotees to the memory of deceased relatives and are found at the majority of early Buddhist sites.

Keywords: Ghost; Dead; Buddhist; Conversion; Guardian

Chapter.  6876 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Buddhism

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