Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Āl̲vārs
The Buddhist monk Upagupta, who preached and taught meditative practices in Northwest India over two thousand years ago, is venerated today by the laity in parts of Burma, Thailand, and laos as a proctective figure endowed with magical powers. The author demonstrates a remarkable continuity among traditions focused on Upagupta in ancient Sarvastivadin Sanskrit materials, key Pali texts, medieval Thai and Burmese texts, and rituals in Southeast Asia. In so doing he reflects the orientation of popular Sanskrit Hinayana Buddhism, which allows for new perspectives on such classic questions as the nature of enlightnment, the evil, the worship of the Buddha image, the veneration of saints, master-disciple relationships, the treatment of heterodoxy, and the relation of myth and ritual.
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