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Extra info for Body Language: Indic sarira and Chinese sheli in the Mahaparinirvana-sutra and Saddharmapundarika

Sample text

The Blessed One's � with dances . . let us carry it to the south, around the outside of the town, and cremate the Blessed One's body to the south of the town . " In this passage, all occurrences of the term used for the corpse of the Buddha, sarfra, are in the grammatical singular, and there is nothing particularly difficult to understand. Although obviously none of the corresponding Chinese versions is a translation of this Pali sutta, and all three in fact belong to sectarian lineages other than the Theravada (even if it is not clear precisely which these are in some cases), there can be little doubt of the identity of the key technical terms in the Chinese texts and the Pali version.

R ffij�mM-� /Fffl t(�� �O-r¥�¥Bjj The Buddha because he is pure inside and out comes to have a � (shen) of the Brahma world. Originally he descended by means of his spirit, and now leaves it here. W rapped in cotton, in a thousand layers of finely woven cloth, there is no need to cloth [his] � (qii) . Moreover, it is not washed clean, but it is pure and thoroughly bright. Much of this is highly obscure, but seems nevertheless to point to a docetic view of the nature of the Buddha and his corporeal manifestation or incarnation in this world.

Here the narrator, speaking of the Buddha as seen by the Mallas, employs sheli in the sense of the Buddha's corpse. The text continues saying that others try to light the fire, and again the gods immediately extinguish the flames. iJc�1

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Body Language: Indic sarira and Chinese sheli in the Mahaparinirvana-sutra and Saddharmapundarika by Jonathan A. Silk


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