Embodying the Dharma

Buddhist Relic Veneration in Asia

Edited by David Germano & Kevin Trainor

Subjects: Buddhism, Asian Studies, Asian Religion And Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791462188, 211 pages, January 2007
Hardcover : 9780791462171, 211 pages, October 2004

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Table of contents


1. Introduction: Beyond Superstition
Kevin Trainor

2. Buddhist Relics in Comparative Perspective: Beyond the Parallels
John S. Strong

3. Living Relics of the Buddha(s) in Tibet
David Germano

4. Buddhist Relics and Japanese Regalia
Bernard Faure

5. The Field of the Buddha's Presence
Jacob N. Kinnard

6. Signs of the Buddha in Northern Thai Chronicles
Donald K. Swearer

7. On the Allure of Buddhist Relics
Robert H. Sharf



Examines the practice of relic veneration in a variety of forms of Buddhism.


Embodying the Dharma explores the centrality of relic veneration in Asian Buddhist cultures. Long disregarded by Western scholars as a superstitious practice reflecting the popularization of "original" Buddhism, relic veneration has emerged as a topic of vital interest in the last two decades with the increased attention to Buddhist ritual practice and material culture. This volume includes studies of relic traditions in India, Japan, Tibet, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, as well as broader comparative analyses, including comparisons of Buddhist and Christian relic veneration.

David Germano is Associate Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Virginia. He is the coeditor (with Helmut Eimer) of The Many Canons of Tibetan Buddhism and the founder and director of the Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library. Kevin Trainor is Associate Professor of Religion at the University of Vermont and the author of Relics, Ritual, and Representation in Buddhism: Rematerializing the Sri Lankan Theravada Tradition.


"The originality of every contribution is remarkable. " — Journal of the American Oriental Society

"…[this book] is a testament to the growing interest in the material and ritual dimensions of Buddhism. " — Buddhadharma

"The chapters accomplish a reenvisioning of Buddhism in society, past and present. With excellent scholars known for their command of their sources, and many controversies and unsolved questions in Buddhist studies being touched upon, the exemplary value of this book is proven. " — Todd T. Lewis, author of Popular Buddhist Texts from Nepal: Narratives and Rituals of Newar Buddhism

"Perhaps fearing that conceptions of Buddhism would be tainted by superstition, Western scholars have tended to overlook relics and the practices surrounding them. Embodying the Dharma brings together essays by scholars who take holy remnants seriously. The reader will emerge with a good sense of the complexity—and importance—of relic worship in the Buddhist world. " — Roger R. Jackson, coeditor of Tibetan Literature: Studies in Genre