This dissertation deals with the Buddhist mythic figure "Mara," who represents the realm of rebirth and death that Buddhists aspire to overcome. Previous scholarship on Mara has focused on the philosophical and psychological valences of the figure. While concentrating on important aspects of the symbol, these past approaches also neglected the literary context of the figure and did not pursue its potential connection to other religious traditions in India. In this project I read the Buddhist myths of Mara from a literary perspective, investigating the degree to which the figure and its symbolism were connected to other Indian mythic traditions, particularly those of Hindu Brahmins. In so doing, I reveal the extent to which Buddhist myths of Mara appropriated preceding and contemporary Hindu mythic figures and tropes, demonstrating that the symbol is a prime example of Buddhist connection to the Indian Brahmanical milieu. In addition, this work shows that even as Buddhist authors appropriated Brahmanical myths through Mara, they often used the symbol to invert, satirize, and critique Brahmin ritual and social values. This demonstrates a previously unexplored social dimension to the Buddhist mythology of Mara.
【学科】Literature, Asian.;South Asian Studies.;Religion, Comparative.;Religion, History of.