Nirv??a in Early Buddhist Inscriptions

Authors

  • Alice Collett Independent scholar

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/bsr.40416

Keywords:

nirvāṇa, relics, the Buddha, inscriptions, Apadāna, the Buddha’s presence, Mahāyāna

Abstract

Nirv??a is often considered the quintessential goal of the Buddhist path. In this article, I focus on one aspect of the conceptualization of nirv??a that becomes apparent through an analysis of its occurrence in early Indian epigraphy. Surveying pre-Gupta inscriptions, it becomes clear that the aspiration for nirv??a has one recurring feature attached to it; the aspiration of the donor for the attainment of nirv??a — whether for themselves or others — occurs when the donation is connected in some way or another to the relics or figural or non-figural representations of the historical Buddha. This suggests that the idea of being in the Buddha’s presence grew in importance in relation to the efficacy of religious practice in this period. The same ideas can be seen emerging in the later canonical P?li Apad?na, and connect to developments in the emergence of Mah?y?na.

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Published

2020-03-19

How to Cite

Collett, A. (2020). Nirv??a in Early Buddhist Inscriptions. Buddhist Studies Review, 36(2), 221-247. https://doi.org/10.1558/bsr.40416

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