Mediating the Power of Buddhas

Ritual in the Mañjuśrīmūlakalpa

By Glenn Wallis

Subjects: Asian Studies
Series: SUNY series in Buddhist Studies
Paperback : 9780791454121, 279 pages, July 2002
Hardcover : 9780791454114, 279 pages, July 2002

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Table of contents



1: Introduction


1. 1 Aims
1. 2 Methods
1. 3 The Text: Mañjusrımulakalpa
1. 4 The Ritual


2: The Source of Power: The Assembly (sannipata)


2. 1 Cosmology
2. 2 Mmk 1: vision and cult
2. 3 The text as cult image
2. 4 Revelation and transmission


3: The Refraction of Power: The Cult Image (pata)


3. 1 The pata as image and animated object
3. 2 Creation of the cult object (patavidhana)


4: The Empowered Practitioner (sadhaka)


4. 1 The practitioner in the text
4. 2 The sadhaka
4. 3 Epithets and space


5: Summary and Conclusion





Analyzes a seventh-century ritual manual that provides both a rich source of information of medieval Buddhist life and addresses the ongoing concern of how an adherent can encounter the power of a buddha.


Mediating the Power of Buddhas offers a fascinating analysis of the seventh-century ritual manual, the Mañjusrimulakalpa. This medieval text is intended to reveal the path into a ritual universe where the power of a buddha abides. Author Glenn Wallis traces the strategies of the Mañjusrimulakalpa to enable its committed reader to perfect the promised ritual, uncovering what conditions must be met for ritual practice to succeed and what personal characteristics practitioners must possess in order to realize the ritual intentions of the Buddhist community. The manual itself was written at a key point in Buddhist history, one when Hindu forms of practice were still imitated and on the cusp of the shift from Mahāyāna to Vajrayāna (or Tantric) Buddhism. In addition, the Mañjusrimulakalpa presents a rich compendium of Buddhist life in an earlier era, containing information on a variety of its readers' concerns: astrology, astronomy, medicine and healing, ritual practice, iconography, devotion, and meditation.

Glenn Wallis is Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion at the University of Georgia.


"Wallis sheds much new light on the transition between 'sutra' and 'tantra' literature of Buddhist India. " — John J. Makransky, author of Buddhahood Embodied: Sources of Controversy in India and Tibet

"Wallis brings alive the world of the Mañjusrimulakalpa and its ritual practitioner, and he draws on a variety of medieval and modern sources to illuminate the text. The Mañjusrimulakalpa is a crucial text for understanding medieval Indian Buddhism, yet, because of its immensity, it has been studied rather sparingly and incompletely—and never before with the particular ritual studies-cum-comparative-Indological perspective that Wallis brings to bear. " — Roger Jackson, coeditor of Buddhist Theology: Critical Reflections by Contemporary Buddhist Scholars