Heroes and Saints: The Moment of Death in Cross-cultural Perspectives

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9781847181602: Heroes and Saints: The Moment of Death in Cross-cultural Perspectives

The present volume makes a unique contribution to the study of dying in ancient cultures by focusing on what happens in the critical moments before death. Employing a wide range of literary sources, the essays in this volume focus exclusively on the moment of death and practices associated with the transition from this world to the next. Five of the essays deal with Asian religions, primarily Buddhism in India, Tibet, China, and Japan. The other five essays deal with the moment of death in the West, old Norse-Icelandic, Old English, and the Judeo-Christian tradition. The authors explore the many ways in which the ?good? death was envisioned. Remarkable parallels emerge between the ?good? death in religious texts and in heroic sagas . Despite the diversity of cultures, time periods and religious traditions represented in these essays, this volume vividly illustrates the fundamental human need to see in the inevitable moment of death a possibility of choice and a promise of hope.

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About the Author:

Phyllis Granoff teaches Indian religions in the Department of Religious Studies at Yale University. She has written on medieval image worship and the formation of sacred sites in Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Her current projects include research on the development of classical Hinduism and early Tantric ritual. She edits the Journal of Indian Philosophy. With Koichi Shinohara she edited Pilgrims, Patrons and Place, Localizing Sanctity in Asian Religions, ed. University of British Columbia Press, 2003 and Images in Asian Religions: Texts and Contexts, University of British Columbia Press, 2004, in which she has articles on pilgrimage sites in Northeast India and attitudes towards image worship in classical Indian religions. Koichi Shinohara teaches East Asian Buddhism in the Department of Religious Studies at Yale University. He has been studying the writings of a seventh century scholar monk Daoxuan and the anthology of scriptural passages and miracle stories compiled by his colleague Daoshi. He has written on monastic biographies, sacred places, and image worship in medieval Chinese Buddhism. With Phyllis Granoff he edited Pilgrims, Patrons and Place, Localizing Sanctity in Asian Religions, ed. University of British Columbia Press, 2003 and Images in Asian Religions: Texts and Contexts, University of British Columbia Press, 2004, in which he has articles on The Story of the Buddha's begging bowl: Imagining a biography and sacred places,' and Stories of Miraculous Images and Paying Respect to the Three Jewels: A Discourse of Image Worship in the Seventh Century China .

Review:

'There is much here both for those interested in the topic of death in Buddhist traditions and for those with broadeer interests in death and dying as a category of comparison within the history of Religions... the book covers a great deal of ground in terms of time and space... the book will interest students of death and dying in Buddhist traditions.' Liz Wilson, Miami University, Religious Studies Review, Vol. 36, No. 3, September 2010

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