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Spells, Images, and Mandalas


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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables Acknowledgments Introduction Part I. The Three Ritual Scenarios 1. The Recitation of Spells in the Dharani Collections 2. The Image Ritual of the Eleven-Faced Avalokitesvara 3. The Mandala Initiation Ceremony 4. The Formation of the All-Gathering Ceremony Part II. The Evolution of Dharani Sutras and the Introduction of Visualization Practice 5. Dharani Sutras and Their Evolution in Esoteric Sutras Translated by Bodhiruci 6. The Tradition of the Amoghapasa Sutras Part III. Toward a New Synthesis: "Mature" Rituals of Visualization 7. Yixing's Commentary on the Mahavairocana Sutra: Creating the Great Mandala 8. Amoghavajra's Ritual Manuals Conclusion Appendix: The Day-by-Day Instructions for the All-Gathering Mandala Ceremony in the Collected Dharani Sutras Notes References Index

About the Author

Koichi Shinohara teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at Yale University. He is the coauthor of Speaking of Monks: Religious Biography in India and China and the coeditor of Images in Asian Religions: Texts and Contexts and Sins and Sinners: Perspectives from Asian Religions.


This book will transform the scholarly discourse concerning the relationship between dharani scriptures and esoteric Buddhism in the late Mahayana. In an area rife with confusing and competing theories, Shinohara has waded in and done the nitty-gritty textual work necessary to advance a coherent thesis on the evolution of the use of images and the emergence of practices of visualization. -- Charles D. Orzech, Glasgow University Spells, Images, and Mandalas is the first study of early Buddhist Tantra to make full use of a vast trove of Chinese sources that predate, often by many centuries, extant Sanskrit and Tibetan materials. Through exacting detective work, Koichi Shinohara reconstructs the evolution of Buddhist Tantra from its origins in simple incantation rituals to more elaborate forms of image worship and finally to full-blown ma??ala and visualization rites. The result is a groundbreaking account of the development of Buddhist ritual traditions. -- Robert Sharf, University of California, Berkeley Shinohara has given us an insightful and detailed examination of the transition between Mahayana and early Esoteric Buddhism based on Chinese sources. He has illuminated the development of practices that include the worship of images, visualizations, and the use of mandalas, and his painstaking discussions of rituals give us a vivid sense of how practices might have been performed. -- Paul Groner, University of Virginia Shinohara has produced a bold, insightful, and original work that marks a milestone in the study of Esoteric Buddhist ritual. Among his many important findings are well-reasoned hypotheses regarding textual accretion, ritual theory, and the evolving role of images and visualization in the development of Esoteric Buddhist rituals between the fifth and ninth centuries. Shinohara's hard-won erudition is palpable on every page and expressed in clear and concise prose. Spells, Images, and Mandalas is sure to remain the definitive work on Esoteric Buddhist ritual for years to come. -- James Robson, Harvard University Spells, Images, and Mandalas is a tour de force and the culmination of a lifetime's scholarly accomplishments... It is a great contribution not only to the field of Chinese Esoteric Buddhism, but to the study of Buddhist tantra as a whole. -- Zhaohua Yang Studies in Chinese Religions An important contribution to the study of Esoteric Buddhism. Journal of the American Academy of Religion Impressive. Review of Religion and Chinese Society This is a landmark study that greatly advances our understanding of the history of Buddhist ritual practice in both India and East Asia. -- Paul Copp Journal of the American Oriental Society An important book by the right person. Religious Studies Review

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