The Question of Modernity

in The Madman's Middle Way

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780226493169
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226493220 | DOI:
The Question of Modernity

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This chapter analyzes the question of modernity in the Adornment. If there is a single theme that runs through the work, it is that Gendun Chopel seems to be objecting to the command delivered by Mañjusri, the bodhisattva of wisdom, when he appeared in a vision to Tsong kha pa. Mañjusri told Tsong kha pa to guard the conventional, to preserve the appearances of the world. Judging from the polemical responses it elicited, the Adornment clearly was regarded as subversive by the Dge lugs orthodoxy. Part of the perceived subversion may be traced to Chopel's concerted attempt to wrest certainty, and hence the control of enlightenment, away from its traditional scholastic moorings. The chapter also argues that the Adornment may be judged a modernist work from the perspective of its style: it is a collage of elements drawn from disparate sources, its tone vacillating between pious poetry and biting satire. In its content, however, it is highly traditional.

Keywords: modernity; innovative; theme; command; bodhisattva; wisdom

Chapter.  4902 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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