Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: A structuralist examination of the origins of the Māra Mytheme and its function in the narrative of the Dàoxíng Bōrě Jīng, the earliest complete recension of the Aṣṭasāhasrikā-prajñā-pāramitā-sūtra
Author: Giddings, William James
ISNI:       0000 0004 5367 974X
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
By comparing the instances of the Māra mytheme in the narratives of the prajñāpāramitā-sūtras with those found in non-Mahayana texts, this thesis explores how this vitally important persona, one central to the narrative account of the bodhisattva quest for awakening, developed from earlier mythic prototypes. Pali sources identify a number of alternative identities for Māra the most significant of which being Namuci, an asura who took control over the mind of Indra. Using linguistic ideas originally developed by Saussure, the storylines of the Māra and Namuci myths can be reduced to a simple, common narrative statement or syntagm. Adopting this approach demonstrates how apparently new narratives can be derived through the application of paradigmatic changes within that syntagm. Furthermore, drawing upon the findings of historical linguistics, it was possible to interpolate potential Proto-Indian-European origins for the Māra mytheme. Rather than supporting the traditionally accepted view of Māra as an allegory for death, this enabled the signification of the actual name Māra to be seen as pointing towards a ‘grinding-away’ or oppression of the mind. This was achieved by relating the Māra of Buddhist mythology with the mare-hag common to a number of Indo- European folklores. Support for this argument is also found in Pali narratives which depict Māra entering the thoughts of others engaged in meditation during the night in order to induce feelings of fear and uncertainty. Finally, based upon these findings, it was possible to scrutinize the narrative and nested tales of the Aṣṭasāhasrikā-prajñā-pāramitā-sūtra in its earliest recension, the Dàoxíng Bōrě Jīng, and identify how the original Māra myth underwent structured, paradigmatic modifications that reflect a bodhisattva’s progress towards final awakening.
Supervisor: Yao, Xinzhong Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available