Reading the Mahavamsa: The Literary Aims of a Theravada by Kristin Scheible

By Kristin Scheible

Vam?sa is a dynamic style of Buddhist heritage choked with otherworldly characters and the exploits of real-life heroes. those narratives cave in the temporal distance among Buddha and the reader, development an emotionally resonant reference to a large spiritual determine and a longed-for earlier. The fifth-century Pali textual content Mahavamsa is a very potent instance, utilizing metaphor and different rhetorical units to ethically rework readers, to stimulate after which to calm them.

Reading the Mahavamsa advocates a brand new, literary method of this article by means of revealing its embedded studying recommendation (to adventure sam?vega and pasa¯da) and affective paintings of metaphors (the Buddha's dharma as mild) and salient characters (na¯gas). Kristin Scheible argues that the Maha¯vamsa calls for a selected type of examining. within the text’s proem, exact directions draw readers to the metaphor of sunshine and the na¯gas, or salient snake-beings, of the 1st bankruptcy. Na¯gas are either version worshippers and unworthy hoarders of Buddha’s relics. As nonhuman brokers, they problem political and historicist readings of the textual content. Scheible sees those slippery characters and the narrative’s effective and playful metaphors as suggestions for refocusing the reader’s recognition at the text’s emotional goals. Her paintings explains the Maha¯vamsa’s principal motivational function in modern Sri Lankan Buddhist and nationalist circles. It additionally speaks generally to suggestions of interpreting spiritual texts and to the inner and exterior cues that supply such works lives past the page.

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