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Title: Edition of the Karunapundarika, with an introduction and notes
Author: Yamada, Isshi
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 1967
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The title of the critical edition which is presented here is "The White Lotus of Compassion" (karuna-pundarika), symbolizing the supreme compassion of Sakyamuni Buddha. It is by virtue of his vows (pranidhana) that Sakyamuni Buddha appeared in Saha, this impure world of fivefold defilements (panca-kasaya), and, having attained buddha-hood, dedicated himself to saving countless beings. Therefore, Sakyamuni Buddha is compared to the white lotus, whereas numerous other buddhas in other buddha-lands are likened to other flowers. The task of the Karunapundarika is to explain the reason for Sakyamuni's choice of this impure Saha world and instruction of inferior beings in religion, against the background of well-established Pure Land Buddhist theory. Thereupon, narrating the story of the former life (purvayoga) of Sakyamuni and other buddhas in the pure buddhalands, including Amitabha (Amitayus) in the western Sukhavati and Aksobhya in the eastern Abhirati, at the time of a Past Buddha called Ratnagarbha, the Karunapundarika introduces a comprehensive collection of pranidhanas and vyakaranas. It concludes that Sakyamuni Buddha who has chosen the impure Saha world and the salvation of helpless beings is ultimately motivated by the highest compassion, in contrast to those who have chosen the pure worlds and pure beings. Thus, in the Karunapundrarika, Amitabha Buddha and Aksobhya Buddha, who have enjoyed great popularity from an early period in Mahayana Buddhism, as well as many other buddhas in the pure buddhalands, are assigned no more than supporting roles in order to illuminate the unique position of Sakyamuni Buddha. In this way, the Karunapundarika succeeded in restoring Sakyamuni Buddha once more as the central object of worship. However, having once passed through the stage of the cults of the Pure Land Buddhism, the nature of Sakyamuni Buddha itself underwent a basic change and he came to be worshipped as an actively altruistic saviour.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral