Chapter

The Politics of Enlightenment

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/10.1093/0195168380.003.0006
The Politics of Enlightenment

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Most people who have studied Buddhism to any degree are familiar with the tale of the Buddha's enlightenment at Bodh Gaya. However, Bodh Gaya was also the foremost location at which to perform funerary rites and was therefore one of the most haunted places in India. I demonstrate in this chapter that the Buddha's famous encounter with Mara (the deity who presides over desire and fear) serves as the template for all successive confrontations between supernatural beings and members of the monastic community. In this manner the Buddha himself established the precedents by which a monk or nun may subdue troublesome local spirits and, in so doing, helps to establish a social role for the ostensibly insular monastic community.

Keywords: Bodh Gaya; Enlightenment; Mara; Funerary; Buddha

Chapter.  6761 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Buddhism

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