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The Weaving of Mantra


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Ryuichi Abe has been a recipient of the Philip and Ruth Hettleman Award for distinguished teaching.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Interaction of Kukai with the Nara Clergy Illustrations Introduction 1. Kukai and (Very) Early Heian Society: A Prolegomenon Part I. Origins, Traces, Nonorigin 2. Kukai's Dissent: Of Mendicancy and Fiction 3. Journey to China: Outside Ritsuryo Discourse 4. (No) Traces of Esoteric Buddhism: Dharani and the Nara Buddhist Literature Part II. Cartography 5. Category and History: Constructing the Esoteric 6. The Discourse of Complementarity: Constructing the Esoteric II Part III. Writing and Polity 7. Semiology of the Dharma; or the Somaticity of the Text 8. Of Mantra and Palace: Textualizing the Emperor, Calamity and the Cosmos 9. Genealogy of Mantra and Kukai's Legacy Post-Script Problems of the Category of Heian Buddhism Kukai and the Limitation of Kuroda's Kenmitsu Theory Glossary Abbreviations Notes Selected Bibliography Index

About the Author

Ryuichi Abe is Kao Associate Professor of Japanese Religious Studies in the Departments of Religion and East Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University. He is the coauthor of Great Fool: Zen Master Ryokan-Poems, Letters, and Other Writings, and has been a recipient of the Philip and Ruth Hettleman Award for distinguished teaching.


This is a remarkable book about one of the most remarkable figures in the history of Japanese Buddhism...Abe's book will certainly emerge and remain the primary examination of Kukai's life and thought for many years to come. It is thus a crucial read for anyone interested in early Japanese religion and intellectual history...The Weaving of Mantra provides a very lengthy, detailed, and substantial intellectual historical analysis of Kukai...[T]his book is a monumental achievement that will fascinate students of Japanese religion and stimulate much discussion among historians. -- Steven Heine Journal of Asian Studies Abe has made a major contribution to our understanding of the figure of Kukai, of Esoteric Buddhism, of the political, intellectual and religious situation of the Nara and early Heian periods, and of our view of medieval Japanese Buddhism as a whole. He has command of an impressive range of sources, both classical and modern, and he has a sophisticated grasp of recent theoretical discussions... Both in the new readings of early and medieval Japanese Buddhism that it advances and in the discussions that it will stimulate, this volume stands as a major addition to the field. -- Paul B. Watt Journal of Asian History

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