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Transcript
Oliver Freiberger
Norms and Practices in the History of Indian Buddhism
This course focuses on the relations between norms and practices in Indian
Buddhism and in Buddhist Studies. Recurring questions will be: What do
prescriptive texts say about the ideal life as a Buddhist? Are there several,
perhaps even contradictory ideals? Which of those ideals, if at all, did Buddhists
try to follow in their religious practices? What other factors – social, political,
economic – must we take into account? What are Western scholars’ “norms,” or
expectations and presuppositions, in approaching Indian Buddhism, and where
do these expectations come from? To what extent might they obstruct the
understanding of historical events and processes? By discussing selected topics
in a roughly chronological order, the course also addresses more general
developments in the history of Indian Buddhism, such as doctrines and followers
of early Buddhism, the expansion of the mainstream Buddhist schools, the
emergence of the Mahayana, the esoteric ideas and practices of the Vajrayana,
Buddhism’s decline in India, and its revival in the 19th and 20th centuries.