Journal Article

Listening to the <i>Dharmabhāṇaka</i>: The Buddhist Preacher in and of the Sūtra of Utmost Golden Radiance

Natalie D. Gummer

in Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Published on behalf of American Academy of Religion

Volume 80, issue 1, pages 137-160
Published in print March 2012 | ISSN: 0002-7189
Published online March 2012 | e-ISSN: 1477-4585 | DOI:
Listening to the Dharmabhāṇaka: The Buddhist Preacher in and of the Sūtra of Utmost Golden Radiance

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The self-referential discourse that characterizes the subgenre to which the Sūtra of Utmost Golden Radiance (Suvarṇa-(pra)bhāsottama Sūtra) belongs has led scholars to posit a “cult of the book” focused on the written sūtra as potent object. While Buddhists in various times and places have certainly revered the material text, the central role many such sūtras accord to the dharmabhāṇaka (the Buddhist preacher) demands that greater attention be paid to the role of oral performance in the actualization of the sūtra's self-proclaimed transformative potential. Through an examination of both what the sūtra has to say about its preacher, and how the preacher's performance changes the meaning of the text, this article argues for the centrality of oral performance and aural reception in the sūtra's normative vision, and for the importance of deriving an interpretive methodology from that normative vision.

Journal Article.  9061 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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