Rediscovering the Buddha: The Legends and Their Interpretations

Hardcover | October 8, 2009

byHans H. Penner

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Hans Penner takes a new look at the classic stories of the life of the Buddha. In the first part of the book, he presents a full account of these stories, drawn from various texts of Theravada Buddhism, the Buddhism of South and Southeast Asia. Penner allots one chapter to each of the majormilestones in Buddha's life, with titles such as: Birth and Early Life, Flight from the Palace, Enlightenment and Liberation, Last Watch and Funeral. In the process, he brings to the fore dimensions of the myth that have been largely ignored by western scholarship. In Part II, Penner offers his ownoriginal interpretations of the legends. He takes issue with Max Weber's assertion that "Buddhism is an other-worldly ascetic religion," a point of view that remains dominant in the received tradition and in most contemporary studies of Buddhism. His central thesis is that the "householder" is anecessary element in Buddhism and that the giving of gifts, which creates merit and presupposes the doctrine of karma, mediates the relation between the householder and the monk. Penner argues that the omission of the householder - in his view one-half of what constitutes Buddhism as a religion - isfatal for any understanding of Buddha's life or of the Buddhist tradition. This boldly revisionist and deeply learned work will be of interest to a wide range of scholarly and lay readers.

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Hans Penner takes a new look at the classic stories of the life of the Buddha. In the first part of the book, he presents a full account of these stories, drawn from various texts of Theravada Buddhism, the Buddhism of South and Southeast Asia. Penner allots one chapter to each of the majormilestones in Buddha's life, with titles such ...

Hans Penner is John Philips Professor of Religion, Emeritus at Dartmouth College.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 9.3 × 6.1 × 0.7 inPublished:October 8, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195385829

ISBN - 13:9780195385823

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Table of Contents

Part IIntroduction to Part I1. Cosmology and the Great Declaration2. The Perfection of Giving3. The Birth and Early Life of Gotama4. Flight From the Palace5. Enlightenment and Liberation6. The Buddha Begins to Teach7. The Buddha Becomes a Wonder Worker8. The Buddha Meets a King and Two Brilliant Ascetics9. Rules, Rules and More Rules10. The Buddha Goes Home11. The Buddha Receives a Gift and Befriends a King12. Meeting a Murderer, A Visit Home, and a Quick Trip to Heaven13. Devadatta Attempts to Kill the Buddha14. The Buddha's Last Days15. Once the Buddha Was a Universal Monarch16. The Last Watch and The FuneralPart IIIntroduction to Part II17. The Quest for the Historical Buddha18. The Cosmological Structure19. The Legends as Rites of Passage20. The Great Agent: Universal Monarchs and Buddhas21. The Gift, the Renouncer and the HouseholderNotesBibliographyIndex