About the Book:
On its broadest level, this book contributes to an ongoing expansion of both the history of religious and Buddhist studies by focusing on what is a far too frequently ignored aspect of religious experience: visual images.
This is a study that is intended to speak to, and be relevant for, not only those interested specifically in Buddhism, but also scholars and students in the field of religion at large who are interested in the dialectical ways abstract, abstruse and even rarified textual discourses interact with devotional practices 'on the ground'.
The specific focus of this book is on the Buddhist visual practices surrounding the visual representation of a single, central concept, prajna, or wisdom, in medieval north India. Prajna, however, was not only an intellectual state and spiritual goal to which to aspire. Rather, wisdom also becomes a quality to be visually represented and ritually responded to, even an active presence to be venerated in much the same manner as the Buddha himself.
This book explores the ways in which the production and use of artistic images involving prajna constituted a central, if not the central, component of Buddhist religious practice in Medieval India.
About the Author:
JACOB N. KINNARD teaches at Northwestern University, Illinois.
Three "Imaging and Imagining the Buddha" takes up the problem of the initial images of the Buddha and the association with meditating on the Buddha. Chap. Four is on "The Image of Wisdom". By 'Wisdom' Kennard means raffia in Buddhism. And by 'image' he especially means the two representations of the Buddha-the 'earth-touching gesture' and the 'turning the wheel-of-dharma gesture'. While he seems to prefer 'Wisdom' for raffia, he does recognize the meaning 'insight' because this implicates 'seeing'. This Chap. Four is full of interesting material. Chap. Five "Representing Prajriaparamita" is well illustrated with sculptures. It explains his title "Imaging wisdom" although he grants that such representations are some centuries later than the actual Prajfiaparamita scriptures. His last chapter (Seven) entitled "Seeing and Knowing" shows the difference between `seeing', e.g. a book on Raffia, and the 'knowing' through the development of raffia. The entire book is easy to understand, and makes an excellent addition to a Buddhist library.
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