Weaving of Mantra K�kai and the Construction of Esoteric Buddhist Discourse

ISBN-10: 0231112874
ISBN-13: 9780231112871
Edition: Reprint 
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Description: The great Buddhist priest Kkai (774-835) is credited with the introduction and establishment of tantric -- or esoteric -- Buddhism in early ninth-century Japan. In The Weaving of Mantra, Ryichi Ab examines this important religious figure --  More...

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Book details

List price: $50.00
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 10/25/2000
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 620
Size: 6.00" wide x 8.50" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 1.848
Language: English

The great Buddhist priest Kkai (774-835) is credited with the introduction and establishment of tantric -- or esoteric -- Buddhism in early ninth-century Japan. In The Weaving of Mantra, Ryichi Ab examines this important religious figure -- neglected in modern academic literature -- and his profound influence on Japanese culture. Offering a radically new approach to the study of early religious history -- combining historical research, discourse analysis, literary criticism, and semiology -- Ab contends that the importance of Kkai's transmission of esoteric Buddhism to Japan lay not in the foundation of a new sect but in his creation of a general theory of language grounded in the ritual speech of mantra. The Weaving of Mantra embeds Kkai within the fabric of political and social life in ninth-century Japan and explains how esoteric Buddhism played a crucial role in many societal changes in Japan -- from the growth of monasteries into major feudal powers to the formation of the native phonetic alphabet, kana. As Ab illustrates, Kkai's writings and the new type of discourse they spawned also marked Japan's transition from the ancient order to the medieval world, replacing Confucianism as the ideology of the state. Ab begins by placing Kkai's life in the historical context of medieval Japan and the Ritsuryo state, then explores his interaction with the Nara Buddhist intelligentsia, which was seminal to the introduction of esoteric Buddhism. The author discusses Kkai's magnum opus, Ten Abiding Stages on the Secret Mandalas ( Himitsu mandara jujushinron) and introduces a number of Japanese and Chinese primary-source texts previously unknown by Western-language scholars. Instead of tracing Kkai's thought through literal readings, The Weaving of Mantra explores the rhetorical strategies Kkai employed in his works, shedding valuable light on what his texts meant to his readers and what his goals were in creating a discourse that ultimately transformed Japanese culture.

Acknowledgments
Chronology of Kukai's Interaction with the Nara Clergy
Illustrations
Introduction
Kukai and (Very) Early Heian Society: A Prolegomenon
Buddhism and the Ritsuryo State
Kukai and His Alliance with the Nara Clergy
Origin, Traces, Nonorigin
Kukai's Dissent: Of Mendicancy and Fiction
Kukai's Youth: Confucian Learning vis-a-vis Buddhist Practice
The State, Ubasoku, and Popular Buddhism
Lacuna of Esotericism: The Sango shiiki as a Self-Portrait
Apologetics or Apologia: The Fictivity of the Roko shiiki
The Dilemma of Kukai's Fiction and Mikkyo
Journey to China: Outside Ritsuryo Discourse
Foreign Language Studies and Esoteric Buddhism
Master Hui-kuo and the Study of Esoteric Rituals
Mantra and Abhiseka, the Genealogical Technologies
Abhiseka as a General Theory of Englightenment
(No) Traces of Esoteric Buddhism: Dharani and the Nara Buddhist Literature
The Zomitsu/Junmitsu Scheme and Its Limitations
(In)visibility of Esotericism in the Nara Buddhist Culture
Dharani: Exoteric and Esoteric Functions
Esoteric Dharani in the Nara Ritual Space
Discourse, Taxonomy, and Kukai's Bibliography
Cartography
Category and History: Constructing the Esoteric, I
"Shingon School" as an Ambivalence in Kukai's Writings
Tokuitsu and Kukai: The Delineation of Mikkyo, the Esoteric
Proof of the Dharmakaya's Preaching of the Dharma
Troping the Lineage: The Construction of the Esoteric Nagarjuna
The Discourse of Complementarity: Constructing the Esoteric, II
On the Ritual of the Golden Light Sutra
The Exoteric and the Esoteric Reading of the Prajna-paramita
From Dharani to Mantra: A Paradigm Shift
Writing and Polity
Semiology of the Dharma; or, The Somaticity of the Text
Of Voice, Letter, and Reality
Syntax of the World-Text
On the Science of Writing
Mantra as Textile Production
Letters, Life Breath, and the Cosmic Palace
Of Mantra and Palace: Textualizing the Emperor, Calamity, and the Cosmos
Rectification of Names and the Ritsuryo State
Ritsuryo Buddhism and the Discourse of Calamities
Refiguration of the Emperor: A Reinterpretation of Kukai's Ten Abiding Stages
Mantra and the New Science of Calamities
The Mishuho and the Ritual Reconstruction of the Imperial Palace
A Genealogy of Mantra: Kukai's Legacy
The Emperor's Coronation Abhiseka (sokui kanjo)
Growth of Extra-ritsuryo Esoteric Monasteries
Landscape of the Medieval Shingon School
Institution of the Dharma Emperor (hoo)
Esotericism, Orthodoxy, and the Relic
Conclusion: Kukai and Writing--Toward the Kukai of Extra-sectarian History
Postscript
Problems with the Category of Heian Buddhism
Kukai and the Limitations of Kuroda's Kenmitsu Theory
Glossary
Abbreviations
Notes
Selected Bibliography
Index

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