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Reading the Mahāvamsa – The Literary Aims of a Theravada Buddhist History - Columbia Scholarship Online
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Reading the Mahāvamsa: The Literary Aims of a Theravada Buddhist History

Kristin Scheible


Vamsa is a dynamic genre of Buddhist history filled with otherworldly characters and the exploits of real-life heroes. These narratives collapse the temporal distance between Buddha and the reader, building an emotionally resonant connection with an outsized religious figure and a longed-for past. The fifth-century Pali text Mahāvamsa is a particularly effective example, using metaphor and other rhetorical devices to ethically transform readers, to stimulate and then to calm them. Reading the Mahāvamsa advocates a new, literary approach to this text by revealing its embedded reading advice (to ... More

Keywords: Theravāda Buddhism, Sri Lanka, Pāli, Mahāvaṃsa, Dīpavaṃsa, Saṃvega, pasāda, nāga, relics, Buddha, history

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2016 Print ISBN-13: 9780231171380
Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: September 2017 DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231171380.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Kristin Scheible, author
Reed College