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Demon Women, Talking Animals, and Mute Androids: Narratives Candrakīrti Tells and Why

Karen C. Lang - The University of Virginia Professor Emerita
Tuesday, April 11, 2017 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm
Thomson Hall Room 317

Candrakīrti (c. 570-650 CE) is well known as an Indian Buddhist philosopher whose commentaries on the works of Nāgārjuna and Āryadeva influenced the development of the Madhyamaka thought in India and in Tibet. Candrakīrti in his commentary on Āryadeva’s Four Hundred Verses (Catuḥśataka), depicts the path to the attainment of Buddhahood as organized around the accumulation of merit and knowledge. The first half of this commentary contains numerous narratives from such sources as the Mahābhārata and the Divyāvadāna. At issue here is why a philosopher known for his learned commentaries on philosophically sophisticated texts employs narratives about demon women, talking animals, mute androids, and other subjects. This talk will explore the questions of how and why Candrakīrti selects particular narratives to support his arguments for Mahāyāna Buddhist ethics and its teachings of compassion and emptiness.

Supported by The Department of Asian Languages and Literature and the South Asia Center (Jackson School of International Studies).

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